In this morning’s LA Times, Tim Rutten has a worthwhile, if somewhat unorganized column in which he talks about the fact that law enforcement alone can’t solve the gang problem (which everyone with any sense, including our police chief and our sheriff, has been saying for years).
But Rutten has another point to make. He writes that, although two city-commissioned reports (each costing megabucks) have told us in detail what kinds of gang intervention and prevention strategies the city ought to be supporting for maximum effectiveness, due to political squabbling and turf battles among city officials, nobody’s very likely to convert the recommendations into action anytime in the near future.
(At least that’s generally what he said. Rutten’s column was littered with some strange analogies that, at moments, tended to muddy his thesis.)
Here are a few clips.
Gang violence is to Los Angeles politics as the weather is to conversation: Everybody talks about it, and nobody ever does anything about it.
Policing occasionally provides a temporary surcease, [surcease???] as it did last week when a drive-by murder next to a grammar school playground and a subsequent shootout between heavily armed gunmen and Los Angeles Police Department officers paralyzed parts of two neighborhoods northeast of downtown for hours. Early Wednesday morning, a police sweep apprehended 19 alleged gang members and seized guns and drugs.
But though the department is willing to take on gang violence where it becomes particularly virulent, treating this solely as a policing issue is a bit like asking the overextended, understaffed LAPD to engage in an endless game of Whac-a-Mole.
Every few years, our political establishment runs out of ways to look away and begins demanding another study, a fresh approach, a new initiative. First came an assessment of Los Angeles’ anti-gang efforts commissioned by the City Council and written last year by civil rights attorney Connie Rice.
She’s one of those civic activists who is both principled and shrewd, but the report is a dead letter. It’s more than 100 pages long and demands new programs by the carload.
Meanwhile, City Controller Laura Chick this month issued her own audit of ongoing anti-gang efforts. She doesn’t see a need for any new funds, but she wants to reallocate money from some programs and consolidate all of them under a single anti-gang czar, who would report directly to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He likes the idea, as do Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Police Chief William J. Bratton.
Chick’s proposal, however, is unlikely to go any further than Rice’s because it’s opposed by Councilman Tony Cardenas, who chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development.
Ironic that good gang policies are falling victim to bickering about who controls what “territory” between the supposed adults.
Anyway, read the rest here.
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You could see Cardenas was upto a political end-run when he held a very dramatic session in City Council the very day before Chick and the Mayor, Carr and Bratton in tow, made their announcement and agreed that centralizing anti-gang efforts under the Mayor’s office made the most sense, in terms of financial and political accountability.
Cardenas almost cried at his own helplessness in guaranteeing his own street safe for his own son, banged on the table in fury, and got the Council to virtually give him a blank check without a plan. He accused the Mayor and Chick of politicizing the gang issue, and trotted in a variety of intervention workers to prove that he had a handle on the situation ahead of the Mayor.
Janice Hahn is on that Ad Hoc Committee, and constantly carries on about how she wants to tax homeowners for “her” own “guaranteed revenue stream” for “her” own gang program. She admitted recently that she has no plan, either, but assures us that if we agree to tax ourselves once again, she’ll come up with a very good one. (She was also prominent at the Mayor/Chick/Bratton news conference, hedging her bets it would seem.) I much prefer Chick’s ocmmon sense proposal, that the city should better utilize the money it’s spending before taxing citizens any more.
Another of Chick’s valid arguments for centralizing programs under the Mayor’s office was so that individual Councilmembers like Cardenas, Hahn (and Reyes and Alarcon) couldn’t arrange for a disproportionate amount of funds to go to their own districts; the Mayor and the Chief would have a city-wide vision. I’m with Chick/the Mayor on this. And with them having Bratton on their side, I think Rutten’s premonitions that all will come to naught are unfounded. (Rutten also keeps bashing the Mayor, Weiss and anyone who supports the Police Protective League on their concerns about the financial disclosures; the League wrote him a caustic letter, saying he’s the one who’s trying to politicize the situation at the expense of the cops and should just butt out. So Rutten’s not batting too solidly.)
WBC, I agree with your Cardenas, Hahn (et al), Chick assessment. Chic had some VERY smart people on her team, and although she has her own agenda (like everyone), her approach makes the most sense. With the rest, the multiple hidden agendas are wearying…despite some of the good intentions.
Yeah, Rutten’s in and out, but he made a good point, however poorly.
An Idiot convinced another idiot, Senor Cardenas, to cry for money. Then the money this idiot got went directly to the original idiot’s pockets – a nice percentage. All the idiots in this story got a cut of the apple pie and even a bigger idiot got a bigger cut in State Prison.
So, who is the real idiot in this story? Those who gave the money or those that spent it?