Special / Opinion

VIDEO: The Late Jack Smith Tells Council THIS About Neighborhood Crime/Safety And Homeless...On Oct. 11, 2016 is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(May 23, 2017, 9:45 a.m.) -- The late Jack Smith, who co-founded Better Balance for Long Beach, helped pressure City Hall officialdom into abating chronic transient/vagrant anti-social conduct in the 14th St. Park/Washington Middle School neighborhood, created LB's award winning "One Day Christmas Store -- Shopping With Dignity" and devoted countless uncompensated hours to advancing solutions to civic issues, has been dead for about five months. Mr. Smith, a former rocket scientist who won an Academy Award for applying computer systems to film production, worked within political constraints when possible but didn't flinch at speaking inconvenient truths to power when necessary.

On Oct. 11, 2016, Mr. Smith came to the City Council to speak about what he'd heard a week earlier on Oct. 4, when Mayor Robert Garcia responded to increasingly visible vagrants, anti-social behaviors and neighborhood impacting crimes by staging a City Council "study session" on homelessness that didn't seriously address neighborhood-impacting crimes and ended with no firm commitment to do much more than is being done now. We provide VIDEO below of what Mr. Smith said, when he stressed the importance of focusing on behavior and not status; to listen to the homeless not just to "service providers," "experts" and city staff, and cited the need for political will.

To see and hear Mr. Smith's final Council words, click here or on video icon below.

[Scroll down for further.]

In response to Mr. Smith's testimony, Councilmembers offered no comments. Mayor Garcia was absent for the entire Council meeting.

On March 9, 2017, city staff sent Mayor Garcia and City Councilmembers a memo on the "State of Homelessness in Long Beach" that included jaw dropping revelations about the lack of police levels to address the neighborhood impacting homeless issues. obtained the memo, published it, and urges taxpayers to read closely its section on police levels on pp. 5-6 at this link.

For over two months, the City Council has done nothing about this. The Price-Austin-Andrews agenda item didn't candidly disclose it and now proposes to do nothing (again) for up to 120 days more ...until it will be nearly too late for Councilmembers to take any actions about public safety in the FY18 budget cycle. .

As we've previously opined on tonight's agenda item, the City Council can't can't credibly claim to support a "holistic" approach to homelessness, public safety and quality of life while shortchanging the public on public safety. LB residents and businesses currently endure a thin blue line so thin that to experience LB's per capita citywide deployable police level, L.A. would have to erase roughly 30% of LAPD's budgeted officers.

In our opinion, Councilwoman Price should amend her item tonight -- and if she doesn't, then Councilmembers should make a motion to do so -- to include a direction to city management to provide options in its upcoming proposed FY18 budget to restore 30 budgeted police officers and six Park Rangers for LB taxpayers.

If Councilwoman Price offers excuses for not doing this, other Councilmembers should make a substitute motion to refer the matter to the Public Safety Committee she chairs to hold a hearing within the next 30 days -- enabling public testimony from impacted neighborhoods citywide -- followed by recommendations from her Committee to the Council on what additional budgeted resources they recommend in FY18.

Mr. Smith didn't say this. He may have expected that the Mayor and Council might actually have done something by now...but they haven't. That's why we're reminding taxpayers of what Mr. Smith said seven months ago.

We also remind taxpayers of what former 5th district LB Councilman (1988-1998) Les Robbins once said during a Council budget discussion: "There are very few serious problems in the City of Long Beach that aren't in some way related to public safety."

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