Mayor Anthony Silva’s determination to forge ahead with his crime fighting plan despite a frosty reception in City Hall shows at least one strong leadership trait. He also evinces a genuine concern for Stockton’s citizens in high-crime neighborhoods.
What puzzles is how off the rez he is regarding the city’s Marshall Plan and bankruptcy. “I think it hasn’t rolled out quick enough,” he said of the Marshall Plan.
OK, agreed; though we should also stay open to the possibility that the plan is so deep and well thought out that Stockton simply has no benchmark for it. We never did things this systemic and comprehensive way. We always just threw more money at cops. And it never worked.
We’ll see in a couple weeks when the plan debuts.
But if the problem is the Marshall Plan’s slow rollout, then shouldn’t the solution be to hasten the rollout? Instead Silva is creating a parallel plan that ignores a year of work by the county’s top crime fighters.
It’s also troubling that Silva pooh-poohs the warning by Stockton’s expert bankruptcy attorney that approving anew tax now could compromise the city’s bankruptcy case. Silva may be right that it won’t — but ignoring the expert is risky and imprudent. It is almost as if he views expert advice to his political opponents as political opposition. That is a political lens, not critical thinking.
Silva is also ignoring the career law enforcement person on the council, Elbert Holman.
“We have people — Council member Holman — who will say, ‘You can’t throw cops at the problem,’ Silva said. “When Bratton gets here, he will prove them wrong.”
William J. Bratton, the brilliant police chief who tamed New York, is a distinguished expert. But again we see Silva’s distrust of local government and its institutional expertise.
He also ignores the recent past of a council and city management that has been reformist, politically courageous and effective, and seeks to institutionalize an end-run around them as if there is no distinction to be made between them and their fiscally foolish predecessors. When we finally have leaders that are right-minded and competent, we should let them run the show, not reduce their authority.
But Silva is ignoring everything — except his populist mandate and, perhaps, political calculation: that he was elected with a mandate to make Stockton safer and if he doesn’t — or if someone else does — his political career will fizzle.
And then there’s the unnecessary new government structure Silva’s plan would create. Here’s the whole statement about it by Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.
”The focus on crime and increased police officers, by the authors of the proposed initiative, is welcomed.
”Any initiative for new police officers is good in concept but must be consistent with the work that has been done by both the City and County over the last year plus.
“The Police Chief’s Office has just recently received this document and have only done an initial review of it. It was developed without the Police Chief’s input. The document poses many questions in the following areas:
— “As presented, it does not fully fund police officers
— “There is mention of an administrator, another consultant, and an administrator’s committee to discuss how to reduce crime, yet there is already experience at the Police Department, the Chief’s Community Advisory Board, a Countywide Community Corrections Partnership, and the Marshall Plan.
— “The plan appears to impact the flexibility of the Police Department’s Policing Model
— ”The plan discusses the Police Department housing and supervising misdemeanants which is outside the standard purview of the Police Department
— ”There is an apparent mandate for part-time police officers and their duties
“Again, an initiative to restore public safety is a good concept, and discussions of such are welcomed, but it must be well coordinated.”
You don’t ignore points like this. Unless you are a exceptionally brilliant and backed by the best and brightest, or a complete loose cannon.