Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ironic Timing



Ah, the world if full of ironies. One day following the City Council Mansoor-led majority's decision to ignore the advice and counsel of their top law enforcement officers and trash can the intervention and prevention elements of the CMPD's gang initiative, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a sweeping new initiative in that city which includes - here it comes, folks - a significant element dedicated to intervention and prevention!

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Villaraigosa's plan was applauded by Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. Bratton is quoted as saying this about the plan, developed in concert with police, gang experts and neighborhood leaders, "Mayor Villaraigosa's $168 million for gang prevention and intervention is the vital component missing from the city's gang plan."

In the article Villaraigosa is quoted as saying, "Take it from a former high school dropout: Fighting gangs is fundamentally a question of putting people on a path to a productive life."

Hello! That's precisely what Chief Christopher Shawkey and Captain Ron Smith attempted to tell the council last Tuesday night. When asked specifically whether, in their best professional opinion, resolving the gang problem in Costa Mesa was possible without the intervention/prevention elements of their proposal, both men replied unequivocally that it was not. Using Captain Smith's analogy, no matter how fast you drain the tub of gang-bangers, unless you turn off the spigot to stop the flow of new members into the tub, you will never win the battle. And yet, in a snit about how the Newport-Mesa Unified School District manages it's money, the Three Stooges who form the majority on the council gave our top cops the stiff arm and rejected that part of their proposal. They also dismissed, without debate, any consideration of the Truancy Ordinance that was included in the CMPD's proposal.

I don't know Antonio Villaraigosa, but I do know that he's an effective politician. His ideology, in a broad sense, is far from mine. It wouldn't surprise me if he becomes the next Governor of this state. I do know Chief Bratton, though, and respect his skills as one of the top law enforcement officials in this country. I agree with Bratton that this proposal is a giant step in the right direction for the City of Los Angeles, and the entire southern California region.

The timing of Villaraigosa's announcement couldn't have been better - unless your name is Allan Mansoor, Eric Bever or Wendy Leece. It emphatically points out the lack of understanding of the problem by our city council majority. Our young jailer/mayor continues to display an amazing lack of understanding of actual law enforcement, despite being a Deputy Sheriff for fourteen years. Bever seems intent on righting wrongs he experienced as a whippersnapper, growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood. Whatever affronts he experienced as a kid - maybe he was harassed about his pigtail hairdo - he seems determined to take it out on the budding Costa Mesa gangs by authorizing only ramped-up use of force instead of a plan designed to seriously address the deeper issue of how to nip the gang growth in the bud - by intervening with the at-risk kids in their early school years.

Leece, who seemed to be sympathetic to the intervention plan during the discussions, turned out to be merely pathetic as she read her prepared statement before the vote. Obviously, these three "leaders" have no interest in hearing from residents nor their senior staff - they already have their minds made up before they get to the meetings.

Like Bever, I, too, grew up in a part of Los Angeles that had a significant gang population. That part of the city was the focus in a recent series done by the Los Angeles Times. The predominant gang way back then was Los Avenues, which is still the largest gang in Los Angeles. It is now in it's fourth generation of gang-bangers - a systemic problem no matter how you cut it.

In their presentation before the council Chief Shawkey and Captain Smith said that Costa Mesa's gang problem is not "generational". The word that was missing was "yet". If nothing is done to divert the young people at risk from becoming gang members I fear we will be seeing the same kind of generational infestation in Costa Mesa that Los Angeles is currently attempting to resolve.

Residents of this city should put pressure on the council majority to re-consider their rejection of the intervention/prevention element of the CMPD's proposal. The majority should get over their snit with the NMUSD and do what is right for this city, instead of fanning the flames of discontent. I stated in an earlier post that I thought they actually wanted a gang problem in this city to help meet their broader goal of the removal of all Latinos from our borders. One way for them to prove me wrong is to institute the intervention/prevention element and let the police do their job.



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14 Comments:

Anonymous westside said...

Removedor:

I do agree that prevention is a key element, perhaps the most important one, to fight gangs and other form of criminal activities. Our government, Bever, Mansoor, and Leece (Katrina and Linda don't count any more), believes that tough enforcement will do the job. I guess is a combination of the two.

If you go back to our history, you'll find out that our worst gang problem happened in the early 1990s. Does "Varrio Little Town" and "Shalimar gang" ring any bells? Back then, they were kings of the Westside. Gangs threatened our schools, neighborhoods, children, and the stability of our city. The local government legislated preventive measures. Police chief Dave Snowden, community leaders, especially el senor Roy Alvarado, who should have

4/19/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

Modeling CM after LA: where is the benefit???? Really now, follow the former Gang Member, now current Mayor of LA??? Even you cannot want that for our city.

4/19/2007 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

I have an IDEA, with both the ADW and the shooting this week on the Westside, lets stop calling the police and instead call an interventionist...Silly police wasting time enforcing the law, protecting the citizens...maybe they can eat more doughnuts while the interventionist stops the violence. Also I noticed that you give Anonymous LPT, and others, a hard time on the Pilot blog, what about DVS????

4/19/2007 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew... Sometimes you just leave me shaking my head! Who better to listen to on the issue of gangs than a former gang member who has rehabilitated his life and is arguably the most powerful Latino in this state? His politics are way too liberal for me, but his idea on the intervention/prevention for Los Angeles has much merit. Los Angeles is fighting a different battle than we here in Costa Mesa. They have an entrenched gang infrastructure four generations deep that they must overcome. Here we can keep that from happening if we are in the position to nip it in the bud.

Your second post is so moronic it doesn't deserve a comment. If you are going to participate here at least give what you write a little thought to keep from embarrassing yourself even more than you've already done. What about dvs? It so happens that he identified himself to me a long time ago. Those cowards who post anonymously on the Pilot have no credibility with me. You'll notice that I frequently ignore their taunts - what they think means nothing to me. If they are unwilling to put their names on their comments then they are just a bunch of spineless chimps, chattering in the trees. At least you are willing to state your views and take the shots that follow.

4/19/2007 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous zenofobe said...

I watched Mayor reconquista's talk and wondered why he did not include attackig illegal immigrants in his gang suppression program. What a joke! All these millions, and no mention of repealing special order 40? Imagine LA without thousands of illegals clogging schools, emergency rooms, freeways, apartments, and swelling gang membership. (oh no, lettuce just went up 50 cents, but me rent went down $100 AND MY WAGES WENT UP $1.00/HR)

4/20/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

Yes Geoff – my second comment was witless, off base, and “moronic”. That was my point in making the comment. Kinda like saying...humm...the mayor wants gangs to always be around to expunge the latinos. I am of “latino” or Hispanic decent, as is my wife and my kids and your comment was, well….moronic and is at some level offensive. Problem is I don’t get offended to easily so it is hard to quantify my own statement.

4/20/2007 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Andrew, I guess we'll just have to bumble along together, trying to figure out the nuance of each others comments, huh? There's no sense arguing about this. I welcome your comments here, as you attempt to "educate" me. We have differing views on several subjects, but this is a place where we can debate them. I'll keep doing my best to understand your submissions and hope you will do the same with mine. For example, I interpret your last one to mean that I somehow slurred you as a Hispanic person. I didn't, so I'm curious as to how you got that from my comment. Yes, I did criticize your comment - it made no sense to me. If you want to send me an email so we can hash out these kinds of things off-line, use the address on my profile. I look forward to future communications with you.

4/20/2007 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

I too enjoy reading some of your articles and the postings that follow. It has opened my eyes to many differing views, and to the power of Blogs…No, you did not slur me. I would not have shared my ethnicity, which also includes eastern European, (but I get the nice tan form south of the border) but to make a point. The gang issue is not a race issue, it’s a quality of life issue, and even more basic it’s a public safety issue. The root cause of gangs are socioeconomic and education level. Both weigh heavily on the path inner city children will make. Society as a whole has a job to help right wrongs, especially in our youth. However, when it comes to gangs, now, in CM, we need tough rules and procedures to combat them. This is going to mean getting our hands a little dirty, doing things that are not popular with all groups of people. If the gangs were eastern European, I would be screaming just as loudly, to remove the slums, pressure the parents, and enact and enforce laws that make it uncomfortable and unrealistic for a gang to operate in CM. Once the force is put on, the main players gone, and out of the lives of the youth they try to influence, then intervention to educate assist them makes perfect sense. Without removing or fixing the ‘X’s’, the ‘Y’ will not change.

4/20/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous dvs said...

Dear Mr. Dorian,

You are correct that gang activity requires actions, but your efforts will be less effective if you concentrate only on enforcement. Think of managing and removing gangs like fighting a forest fire. Sure, you can extinguish the blaze, but if you don’t also clear the brush and create fire breaks, the fire is likely to flare up in other places. You need a coordinated effort between extinguishing the fire and preventing further outbreaks. Why is this so hard for our great leaders to understand? It certainly seems obvious to me.

Now on this firefighting team, the Mayor’s troika believes that the other team members (NMUSD) are not being effective and he doesn’t want to support them. So he is unwilling to give them a ride to the fire in his truck (or fund them). All that does is make his job harder; possibly even causing him to be less cost effective in the long run. His expert firefighters could be counted on to give him appropriate advice, but alas, he is miraculously smarter than they are yet with no experience with which to base his knowledge. I have likened the mayor before to an adolescent. He again proves me right. As every teenage child, he knows more than the experts. I can only hope he grows up soon and realizes he is much less brilliant than his current state of delusion leads him to believe. Otherwise the fire will most certainly overtake us before he figure out how myopic he has been.

4/20/2007 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

The City of Los Angeles and its liberal leadership has once again tripped over its own feet in a rush to waste taxpayer dollars on another gang intevention program guaranteed to fail.

Just 6 weeks ago, The Los Angeles Times published an article about the LA Bridges gang intervention program and the fact that it was a $100 million failure. Now they propose to waste $160 million more!

Link:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bridges6mar06,1,4205851.story?coll=la-headlines-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Some relevant quotes:

"The city spends $14 million annually on Bridges, which essentially screens and gives money to community organizations that do the actual intervention. Bridges I is a gang prevention program that provides after-school tutoring, counseling and other services to students from 27 middle schools. Bridges II offers job training to gang members in the hope that employment will get them out of gang life. The contracts range from $227,000 to $1.7 million."

"L.A. Bridges was launched during a crackdown on gang violence in 1997, largely in response to public outrage over the fatal gang shooting of a 3-year-old girl whose family car was ambushed on a street in Cypress Park."

"But almost from the beginning, critics have said the program is ineffective. In 2000, the city controller recommended that L.A. Bridges be shut down and redesigned, saying that the contractors lacked the required coordination with other gang programs, the police, schools and community groups.

Then-Controller Rick Tuttle also concluded that Bridges agencies were not required to show what effect the program might be having on gang violence and membership."

Intervention alone does not work. It is wasteful, and when city funds are funneled to other organizations there is no accountability.

Our own situation is a prime example. NMUSD gets $8 million from the feds for intervention, yet still needs $65K from Costa Mesa? For what? Where is the accountability for the $8 million?

The LA Bridges example also points out that huggy-feely social programs DON'T deter hard-core criminal gang members from committing crimes. Do you really think that the carload of teen gang-bangers who attacked a lone rival gang member in broad daylight at Pomona and James would be deterred from such activity by after school counseling? Do you really think a 17 year old strolling down Pomona carrying a handgun would bother to attend after school counseling? Who are you kidding?

Intervention is needed, but it must be realistic and address the root causes. It must also be coupled with hard hitting enforcement. You don't drive around in a car full of weapons or beat down someone waiting for a taco in broad daylight on a busy city street if you fear an aggressive and unrelenting police department.

4/20/2007 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

rob, "I" am not "kidding" anyone! No one is suggesting that the CMPD shouldn't continue to aggressively pursue the gangs in our city. Don't fall into that trap that Mansoor and his cronies have set, attempting to have you believe that an effective intervention/prevention program is a "huggy feely" program. Unless there is a program in place to identify and divert those young people at risk of becoming gang members early, Costa Mesa will likely end up like Los Angeles and Santa Ana, with generation after generation of gang-bangers infesting our city. Enforcement alone will not win this battle - just ask the folks in Los Angeles.

That carload of thugs you mention apparently included several young kids. If we had an effective intervention program in place some of those might not have been there. You're correct, intervention probably won't help those young men. Aggressive police work will take them off the streets and send them to prison, where they are likely to hook up with prison gangs. When that happens they are lost. We've got to get to them sooner - intervention.

If you watched the proceedings at the last council meeting, you know that $65K doesn't provide much, but it would give the CMPD more data with which to mount their battles. I understand your frustration with the NMUSD and this whole "accountability" issue. However, the fact is that the school district is not accountable to the city government, despite Mansoor's demand for performance. The can, and may, tell our young jailer/mayor to take his pontificating and shove where the sun doesn't shine. The NMUSD is accountable to us - the voters of these two cities. Until we begin paying more attention to them - shining the light on their activities - nothing will change. When did you last attend one of their meetings or even view it on television? I admit that I've never attended one and have only watched a few.

There is a new superintendent in place now who is wrestling with many issues, not the least of which is the salary issue for teachers. Your anger is better directed at him and the trustees of the school board, don't you think? As always, thanks for writing and contributing to this debate.

4/21/2007 12:30:00 AM  
Anonymous rob dickson said...

Geoff,

It is frustrating to watch the politicizing of the gang issue. It is extremely disappointing that certain members of the council and public have decided to completely ignore Lt. Epperson, a seasoned veteran police official who lives in the city and obviously cares about its future, simply because he expressed his political opinion in the last election. Dismissing him outright demonstrates a willful ignorance that has no place in productive civil discourse.

I don't agree with Lt. Epperson on some things, but I am 100% certain that he knows more about the gang issue in Costa Mesa than I do, and probably much more than any of the sitting council members do! His report was disappointing because he failed to address the most obvious aspect of our gang problem - its root causes.

In a previous post I indicated that I did think the $65k should be given to NMUSD, simply so that Costa Mesa would have a vested interest in prying into how NMUSD conducts its intervention program. If $65k gives us a voice we did not previously have, it is well worth it.

Yes, we do need intervention, but it has to be founded in an understanding of what causes gangs to thrive in Costa Mesa. Fashioning it after Los Angeles' laughably inept gang intervention programs would be a tragedy, which is why I posted here. Los Angeles should never, ever be an example for Costa Mesa. Their programs are huggy-feely. Be nice to them, feed them, give them token jobs, and they will abandon their gang lifestyles and start voluntarily painting over grafitti and helping old ladies across the street - NONSENSE. Hard core criminals are just that - you have to find out what makes gangs tick in Costa Mesa, and then agressively intervene to cut them off at the roots. Otherwise, we're just wasting time and money and endangering more people.

I hope that the police department comes back with a proposal that the majority likes, because we know for a fact that they won't vote for a similar intervention program.

I don't care who someone voted for or which side of the Improver/Return to Reason side they are on, if they can tackle gangs effectively, they have my support! Hopefully the rest of Costa Mesa comes around and will take the same position.

4/21/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

DVS – your fire analogy is a good one, problem is I think the brush to get rid of is the gang members. They are the ones with the most access to the kids in trouble, and they get far more time with them then any interventionist will ever get. Let’s also remember there is/are many, many intervention programs in CM, they have been here for a long time and the gangs have thrived. Remove the main attribute and the playing fields will level.

4/21/2007 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

Look at the bright side. The mayor has handed Chief Christopher Shawkey the ultimate "get out of jail free" card. When the gang problem gets worse, Chief Shawkey can say he wasn't given the proper tools to get the job done. The good news is that Katrina and Linda can ride this all the way to reelection in '08 since they are the only true leaders in the city. Maybe Lt. Clay will run for the 3rd seat. It is a win-win-win-win situation.

4/23/2007 07:25:00 AM  

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