(Dec. 27, 2006) -- This afternoon (Dec. 27) at 3 p.m., the Long Beach City Council has scheduled an open, special meeting to consider authorizing a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the attempted murder of two LB police officers, ambushed at midday Dec. 22 within walking distance of City Hall on this city's namesake boulevard.
That's fine, but exactly who would step forward to provide that information under current circumstances? Consider what happened when two witnesses stepped forward after three women were beaten, prosecutors say, by means likely to produce great bodily injury on a LB street about four miles north.
The first prosecution witness, in a case with hate crime allegations against most of the juveniles accused, was an 18 yr-old African-American woman. She awoke on the second day of trial to find six males she didn't recognize atop her car parked outside her residence. After she continued testifying, some person(s) drove by her residence and rammed and totaled her car.
A second witness, a Good Samaritan African-American man, intervened to stop the beatings. For his action, he testified under oath that one person present on that night (an African-American) called him a "fucking nigger." He is now terrorized into silence before offering identification testimony because his family learned what happened to the prosecution's first witness.
There has been public outrage, from the Mayor to a defense lawyer (who indicated his views parallel his colleagues and their clients) in the Halloween night case, over what happened to the first witness. It is a direct threat to civil order and to the justice system.
The facts in the Halloween night case remain to be fully adjudicated; the defense hasn't put on its case yet. But what witnesses are now seemingly expected to undergo in Long Beach won't help find the suspect(s) in the Long Beach police shootings, or the perpetrators of future outrages here. When asked, LB residents and businesses and visitors will be more likely to say they saw and heard nothing. Police say that's what they encounter now in many cases in LB neighorhoods.
That's because LB City Hall -- so quick to come up with a reward and press event now -- has effectively allowed de facto militias ("gangs") to annex parts of the City of Long Beach. Those militias rule parts of LB and enforce their will in much the same way as militias do in Baghdad. Small wonder that a U.S. Marine, who survived combat in Iraq, was killed at his family's residence just east of downtown...and his killer(s) remain at large.
These serial outrages were invited by this city's irresponsible former Mayor, her enablers and multiple City Councils who denied facts, brushed aside activists and ignored the advice of their own Chief of Police who repeatedly urged budgeting additional police. Those officers would give him boots on the ground that could reclaim parts of the city from the gang militias.
The proper motion at today's Council meeting is to authorize the reward...AND for at least one principled Councilmember to publicly announce his or her plans to agendize and force a vote at the next Council meeting (Jan. 2, 2007) directing City Manager Jerry Miller to return in two weeks with a plan that includes layoffs from city management's unionized six figure club, and non-public safety city employees whose union reps thought a massive 2002 pension spike was smart, to pursue contracting out where needed, and close City Hall one day a week each week or every other week -- to free up revenue necessary to hire fifty additional sworn police officers no later than the end of the current fiscal year, with 50 more officers to be added in FY 08.
In June 1993 -- in worse economic times -- the City Council did this...budgeting fifty more oficers entering the new fiscal year and directing then-city management to tell the Council in six months how it would add fifty more officers on top of that. (It was a compromise substitute motion by Councilman Doug Drummond when a motion to budget 100 more immediately, supported by Drummond, Robbins, Kellogg and Harwood, lacked a fifth vote.)
Then-city management came up with those 50 + 50 cops...and adding those officers and others that preceded helped produce one of the largest crime drops in this city's history.
Unfortunately for LB taxpayers, further police additions to keep pace with growth and development (that City Hall invited) were thwarted by LB's now-former Mayor and those likeminded. The legacy of their fake "successes" is amply demonstrated by those who now say LB City Hall can't do what it did thirteen years ago before those "successes."
We hope that LB taxpayers, who may soon be asked to increase the City Council's pay and powers, ease term limits and/or increase the Mayor's powers, notice that Councilmembers expect uniformed officers to protect them as they sit in their comfortable leather easy chairs downtown. While taxpayers pay to guard LB's ruling elite, those in power churn excuses for leaving taxpayers with police levels thinner than City Hall recommended reaching seven fiscal years ago, thinner per capita than L.A. although LB is overall more densely populated..
There is no justice and no peace in any city where witnesses are terrorized and Good Samaritans are silenced. The Council should offer that reward...and add those overdue police.