By G.W. Schulz
It’s not healthy for the press to be relentlessly pessimistic. In that spirit, hats off to Gavin Newsom for introducing a new plan designed to counter the city’s surge in violence. Critics, including this newspaper, have repeatedly demanded a bold plan, and the mayor appears to be stepping up to the plate. Here's part of it.
There are a few problems with the plan, however. Newsom intends to enforce a controversial city curfew for kids 13 and under that’s already on the books. He says he’s willing to expend the political capital necessary to make it work. We’re proud of you for being bold, Gav. Seriously. This city needs strong leadership.
But police commissioner Joe Marshall pointed out recently that a cursory glance at crime statistics shows much of it is being committed by people 18 and older. Newsom wants to target young people when they’re deciding which direction to head in their life. That’s a great idea, but only a small part of the puzzle.
To be fair, Newsom is calling for $2.4 million to pay cops overtime for increased patrols. Another $500,000 would go to the city’s juvenile and adult probation programs. Good. The number of people in San Francisco who are on probation with little to no direction is startling. (I’m at home right now. My numbers are at work. Otherwise, I’d list them here.) He's also cranked up the amount in award money the city's offering for tips leading to convictions in 15 unsolved homicides.
Daly is calling it a stop-gap measure, and frankly, he appears to be right. Mirkarimi wants more energy put into job training and foot patrols. He’s very right about that as far as priorities go. Again, however, this is a good start for the mayor if he’s sincere. We’re all just kind of tired of the gruesome headlines. Five dead people in one day. Four people shot all at once near 3rd and Market.
I can’t pass up the opportunity to rib the mayor on the hilarious quote he dished out the other day. At the very bottom of the Chron’s Tuesday story, here’s what the Gav gave us:
“Overall, homicide rates are up, and I don’t sleep very well at night because of it. I feel like running outside in the street and saying, ‘Shoot me instead of these kids.’”
Jeez, Gav. Think you can get anymore melodramatic for us? Are you prepared to do the same to stop MUNI accidents? “Sometimes I just wanna run out in the street and yell, ‘Run me over instead you union bastards!’” A colleague suggested recently that the mayor might be cracking up. I think it’s the wine. Switch to whiskey, my man. That should do it.
By the way, if you want to see Gary Delagnes of the city's cop union flip his lid at the police commission, check out tonight's meeting as soon as it's available on the city's Web site. Perhaps it's not so cool they failed to show up for a 9/11 rememberance. Perhaps, however, it's cool that they did show up for an important national conference on street-level violence.