|Ed. note: Ms. Wakefield's text provided to LBREPORT.com also appears on ENUF's Facebook page. The text below includes only a few very minor edits by LBREPORT.com.
(Sept. 2, 2017, 6:15 a.m.) -- It was hellishly hot, with no relief in the evening. Everybody we were counting on to show up replied that they had work, kid's game, the dog's pedicure appointment, etc. etc. But ENUF's core staff went to Council District 3's field office, hoping for the best at this year's final "Community Budget Meeting."
If the words "Community Budget Meeting" make your eyes glaze over, we understand: the subject is about as interesting as listening to the techie at Geek Squad explain what was wrong with your hard drive. But this meeting was important, because the community had this chance to say where we want the money spent in our neighborhoods. But will the city listen?
[Scroll down for further.]
So the city officials gave us glossy folders with pie charts, we heard that the ol' budget looks pretty good for 2018, but is scheduled to take a dive in the following two years. (Pensions? Iffy oil revenues?) Then the meeting opened to the public. By now the room was full to overflowing, standing room only. You know how some cheesy novels say "her heart skipped a beat"? Well, mine actually did. Maybe it was just the heat, but I felt an overwhelming surge of pride in US. We turned up to speak out, and we did.
I won't go into the first few subjects the community brought up: libraries all need to be open on Sunday, we need a skateboard park, potholes, why are the crosswalks so fancy, etc. Steve Downing from The Beachcomber broke the polite ice by ripping the city about police salaries. He got heated; city management was glib; but most of the people in the audience looked perplexed. One woman bewilderedly asked, "What IS the POA?" (It's the Police Officers Association).
Now that we had dropped the niceties, I spoke about the main concerns of ENUF: the crippling effects of state props 47 and 57, AB109 and how we are suffering from the downstream effects: crime, drugs, vagrancy, panhandling, bathroom functions performed in public, the beaches as a homeless campground, etc. I asked for more police in the budget and more enforcement of existing city ordinances. I asked for our neighborhoods back.
As I finished, there as a genuine round of applause. People are finally waking up! Nice, middle class folks who usually don't worry much about how the city runs things are now getting daily exposure to the gritty underside of drug life. One man said he was "tired of picking up human poop" in his driveway every day. A month ago, that would have brought titters from the audience. Last night, it was taken deadly seriously, because by now, we have all seen it.
How did the city respond? In varying degrees. If you have been to three or more community meetings, you have heard the platitudes so often that we can now assign them a number, to save time:
And so on and so on. I'm surprised the city people can keep a straight face when they say this stuff. If they repeat The Big Lie enough, it will become true. But wait, now the community is starting to give pushback! Number 102 ("Crime is down") was met with groans, vigorous headshakes and a few actual shouts of "No, it's NOT!" First time I have ever seen that happen. It's like the best-behaved student in the class yelled out without raising their hands and being recognized by Teacher.
So let's review and rate a few of the city responses:
Best prize for Magical Thinking -- Suzie Price relating how the other cities accuse her of sending them the homeless overflow and she sometimes wonders if they may be sending them to her. Once this is all "fixed", maybe other cities will come to Long Beach for guidance because we will be the leader in Having-Fixed-the-Big-Problem (catapulting certain people's political careers into the stratosphere?) Dream on.
Biggest Spin -- Police Chief Luna responding to Margo Parmenter's statement that the crime is getting worse. He brought out crime stats from 1992, which showed more murders, etc. Okay, but that was for the whole city, not the East side. And it was before the state downgraded many crimes to misdemeanors, such as theft of anything worth less that $950 is just a ticket, and the drug violations were downgraded, so his stats do not compute.
Most Perplexing Math -- The 2019 budget will have $14,000,000 for homeless "services." Last January's homeless census identified under 2000 homeless people. Huh?
Most Realistic, if Contradictory Police Chief Luna's 101 (see above if you forgot that one) vs his plea for the community to cooperate with calls, reports etc. So...we will call in to report crimes, for which the police's hands are tied? That's almost Existential in its absurdity. Do have to give the Chief a point, though, for reiterating that vagrants will stop panhandling our area when people stop giving them handouts. Simple, but profound
Most Inane of the Evening Dept. of Health's lady who went on at great length about how her team goes out and asks politely if the tweakers and meth heads "would like to come to a shelter." Guess what -- they almost always say no. I can't help but wonder if she has kids, and if so, when they get into unacceptable behaviors, does she ask them nicely to stop? Does she call for another study? The Mona Lisa of inane-ness was the interruption of this wispy recital by Suzie Price, who was excited to inform the community that the Anthropology Dept. of CSULB was going to send people around to do another study or assessment or whatever of the homeless. Possibly those so strung out on drugs that they can't remember to find a public restroom will magically open up to them. Voila, more magical thinking.
At this point, my ENUF colleague and I left, having had ENUF after two hours. More people were leaving the meeting than those deserting Trump's staff. With a quick stop at the refreshment table, we went outside to compare observations.
"So what do you think?" I asked.
"It was really good," he said enthusiastically.
"What, the information, the budget plan, the response of the community?"
"No, the FOOD. It was really good. People will turn out for this."
Opinions expressed by LBREPORT.com, our contributors and/or our readers are not necessary those of our advertisers. We welcome our readers' comments/opinions 24/7 via Disqus, Facebook and moderate length letters and longer-form op-ed pieces submitted to us at mail@LBReport.com.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050