The needler in the haystack.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Community forum turns from technology to rallying the community to curb gangs


From west and east, north and south, Plainfield residents from across the community turned out Sunday afternoon to discuss the Robinson-Briggs administration's ShotSpotter® proposal and address the issues of at-risk youth, gangs, and gang-related violence in the city.

Moderated by 4th Ward resident Nan Anderson-Bennett, the discussion quickly moved beyond the technology proposal once Councilor Adrian Mapp explained the city's finances would not allow the proposal to advance at this moment.

After opening remarks by Anderson-Bennett and the steering group which helped her put the meeting together (Councilors Mapp and Carter, and residents Nancy Piwowar, Tony Rucker, Mel Cody and Deborah Dowe), the meeting was opened to the forty or so attendees for comments and suggestions. 4th Ward Councilor Bridget Rivers said she was there 'to listen to your concerns and ideas'. Councilor Mapp noted that Councilor Storch wanted very much to attend but was prevented by a family emergency which took him out of state.

Many topics were addressed, including the need for mentors for teens and more recreation outlets.

But the two items that drew the most interest were reviving and strengthening block associations and neighborhood watch groups, and the question of jobs for teens, young adults and those re-entering the community from prison.

There are fewer active block associations in the community than in the past and they have clearly suffered a decline citywide since the Prosecutor's office abandoned the SALT program a few years ago.

Block associations serve a double need in the community: They are promoters of positive approaches to and pride in the neighborhood and its residents, homes and amenities; but also act as extra 'eyes on the street' for law enforcement in the work of combating drugs, guns and other negative influences.

Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, longtime community activist and current Board of Ed member, has been pretty much a 'voice crying in the wilderness' about jobs and a re-entry program for years now.

The consensus of the meeting seemed to be that investing in programs that reach out to the community and those at risk is a much better way to spend the city's scarce dollars, though there are no 'quick fixes' and there must be a commitment to a long-term effort to have real results.

Though Councilors Mapp, Carter and Rivers can take the positive ideas brought forward and try to advance them at the level of city government, it is unfortunate that neither Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs nor members of her administration were in attendance.

Too bad, they would have heard a hopeful, respectful and reasoned conversation by taxpayers concerned not only with their tax bills but with the community's success.

And that is a good thing whenever and wherever it happens.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The mayor's confidential aide showed up sometime after 5 but she didn't say anything.

Anonymous said...

These are all old ideas. Nothing new.

Anonymous said...

How much would a $1,000,000 bond cost the city each year? $50,000K? Add to that the cost of maintainence: $150Kish? How much will that buy you in terms of jobs for young unemployed and non-hardcore ex-cons? Who in the city will provide those jobs? Who will administer them, at what cost, and with what guarantee of continual funding? As much as I agree that jobs are what's needed, expecting the city to supply more than a small handful of precarious jobs is a fantasy.

A related question: is the reason that the "ShotSpotter" proposal has been withdrawn/tabled/whatever because the city's bond rating will simply no longer permit them to borrow? What impact will that have for all manner of debts that the city has and will incur?

Anonymous said...

Well the Bond Counsels are VERY Happy ! Oh you think the city gets 100% of it ? Forget about it, everyone gets a cut before the money is availalbe in the city's checking account, plus we end up paying for it [mortgage] payments for 20 years !!!!

Anonymous said...

None of those ideas will work, with the exception of an entry-programs for those entering the community from jail. What has to happen is convict anyone caught in gang activity as terrorist. Why? what do you thing they do to the community? they terrorize and contribute to the downfall of the community value. Once we instill into the minds of youngster the consequences of joining a gang and what the involvement with gangs can bring, then this will be solved.

Concerned Citizen said...

TO ANON 6:02pm

The reentry program would help indeed. As far as treating perps like terrorist, not a good idea. I agree these individuals cause major harm to our community. But their motivation is financial.

Do you really want this segment of our society that already feels like they have nothing to lose to think of themselves as terrorists? To be motivated purely by hate.

These gangs are a scary thing but to trust our government to carry out an anti-terrorism strategy against U.S. citizens, between racial profiling and a expanded Patriot Act I would have to leave the country.