Crime And Punishment (And Spin) in Baghdad-by-the-Bay

Yesterday it was announced that “Chemo”, a little puppy adopted by a cancer patient at UCSF Children’s Hospital was returned to its owner after being stolen by thugs last week. I was glad to hear the dog was returned – but the story served as Yet Another Reminder that San Francisco has become a more dangerous city to live in. If a kid with cancer can’t be assured his dog is safe at the hospital, you begin to wonder – just who the Hell is safe?
Last week, San Francisco had a parade of high profile incidents, starting with a record number of murders in one day, followed by a nutcase who managed to hit and run 14 people on City streets.
Once this happened, the Disinfo Spin Machine kicked in. The Media covered the “news” in detail. The Mayor made a point of comforting the victims of the hit and run guy on site (and on TV). And predictably, the coverage and the chatter turned away from hard questions and to politicking, spinning, and making sure people “felt better” after the latest Big Crime Wave.

The elected officials in charge could be counted on to respond to the week’s events in the Voice of the West to show that indeed, they care. Both Mayor Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris made sure to have op-ed pieces in the paper, with soothing rhetoric to calm an alarmed public.
Feel good speeches and columns are all well and good, but the fact is that you, as a citizen, are no safer today than after these golden words were smithed in the PR department of City Hall.
If you or a loved one were to be mugged, murdered, or robbed, the chances of the perpetrator being caught, much less prosecuted is not likely to happen. If there is a “prosecution” it is more likely to be of the “wrist slap” variety. No amount of politicking can change that – nor could it. No amount of talk ever stopped a murderer, and no stack of policy papers for a re-election campaign ever put a bad guy in jail.
Put it another way – The son of the Secretary of State can get murdered and the DA’s response is to let him out with a wrist slap (and later killed someone else!) Now think about what would happen if you had a similar tragedy in your family. Hard to spin away, isn’t it?
Our punditocracy provides no illumination on the subject. The people who hate the “progressives” blamed everything on them, because everything bad is Their Fault. The people who hate the Mayor and “the Man”offered the flip side of the coin.
More talk, more chatter, more disinfo, more nonsense. Meanwhile, the City burns and the priorities of city and leaders show signs that spin and chatter have taken the place of common sense policy – and that is dangerous.
Our City Leaders can’t seem to find any police officers to stop murders in the crime-ridden parts of our City, but we can send 6 cops to stand around to pick their noses and bark “homeland security” rhetoric to to 15 paying riders/young artists who wished to ride MUNI (and send a police officer on a motorcycle to tail them as they rode a bus instead!)
At the same time, they give law-breaking Critical Mass a nice taxpayer-funded police escort for their lawbreaking party. The irony being, of course, that this dual-misplacement of manpower happened just days before that record number of homicides on August 28th. I have yet to hear the spin and chatter than explain to me why this was a sensible use of police resources. Too bad no one is asking Chief Fong or Mayor Newsom that question.
The scariest spin job, however, is the one that that keeps an unqualified political hack in charge of disaster response and security in our City. She is short on experience – but she is adroit at the art of spin and double-talk when it comes to explaining why a top terrorist target isn’t getting the money it needs to be safe. Her spin powers are wonderful – I suppose her rhetorical feats will be of great comfort should an earthquake or terrorist attack hit our City and result in death and destruction under her watch.
In light of all this, I wonder why it is our Mayor continues to stand by this person, and use the power of his mighty PR machine to keep her in her (well paid) job. I’d hate to think it will take a horrible event to scrutinize this decision.
These are just some examples, there are plenty more. But now is not the time for heaping on the rhetoric and engaging in chatter. We need people who will do something real to make sure our city is safer.
So the next time you see another crime wave in our city, and the attendant chatter and press conferences, pick up the phone, send off an email, or write a letter to your elected officials and ask them to show what they are doing, instead of the usual talk talk talk. Perhaps if enough people take a “show me” attitude towards this mess, something will get done.
Our City’s leaders and citizens will all be the better for it as well. Ultimately discussions about crime and security should not be about “gotcha” politics and scoring points – we can’t afford that anymore. We need to get something done soon, or see our City become a place none of us would want to live in.

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