Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Small heads and the arrogance of power

Predictably - and with a deep sigh - the troika of shrinking heads on the Costa Mesa City Council last evening told Costa Mesa's police leadership that it didn't know what it was talking about where gang prevention and intervention is concerned. And, so, this city got a half-solution that's all stick; a methodology based in ideology that simply says beat the crap out of those gang bastards and eventually they'll go away.

Except that they won't.

Allan Mansoor, Eric Bever and Wendy Leece could not bring themselves to appropriate 65 grand for the retention of a CMPD administered gang interventionist specialist.

Mansoor rationalized his opposition with the claim that he has seen no evidence that gang prevention-intervention in the NMUSD-run ASK (Advocates Supporting Kids) program has materially reduced gang activity in Costa Mesa. He offered that the district should use part of its $8 million in federal grants to prove to the city that prevention-intervention works.

Mansoor's argument was stunningly ironic, if not unconvincing. Here's a guy who hasn't missed a beat tongue lashing the NMUSD for its failure to stem the district's truancy challenges. So then how does his dearth of confidence in the district where truancy is concerned translate to any sense of his that the district has the capability to prove that gang prevention-intervention works? It doesn't. And he knows it. His discourse was simply a gutless cover for his ideology.

We believe the mayor's rejection of the expertise and advice of the city's police leadership is cemented in his intractable ideology that embraces only enforcement, and which rejects any kind of socially based intervention as panty-waist liberalism. We'd have a lot more respect for the mayor if he'd just say that instead of peddling weak, shallow and patently disingenuous intellectualizations.

Bever's slapdown of the gang prevention-intervention component of the program struck us much more as a herculian flexing of ego, power and a self-annointed expertise in sociology based on his experiences as a tot in a "neighborhood where there were gangs." Dr. Bever theorizes, essentially, this: That tots growing up in a family where there is a gang member or members are lost causes and that not one plug nickle of taxpayer money is worth an attempt to divert them from a certain fate.

So then, Bever's gang suppression model goes something like this: Children growing up in families where there are gang influences will become gang members. This means we must prep ourselves for this inevitability, and provide ourselves the enforcement tools to remove the little bugger from society once he commits himself to gangbanging.

Bever's mental gearwork on this one is lubed with stunning arrogance and high-viscosity ignorance. Based nearly exclusively on his experiences as a youth long ago (and, of course, the times never change) - and ignoring decades of science that demonstrates prevention-intervention can be effective - sociologist Bever consigns tikes in gang families to a gangbanging fate and seems content to deal with them only after they've careened to the dark side.

As for Wendy Leece...well, we're not sure what she really thinks. At times during the discussion she seemed to lean toward an understanding of the prevention-intervention component. But, as lemmings go, she toed the mayor's line. Independent thinking, it seems, is not among her skill sets.


The Pot Stirrer said...

Once again, gets it right! It's clear from watching Bever that he's trying to payback for some perceived wrong perpetrated on him as a kid. Maybe the Latinos in his neighborhood didn't like ponytails, who knows? Regardless, he now has the power to "pay back" a new generation of people with brown skins in a city dozens of miles away. Typical Bever logic. Regarding Wendy HopeLeece, I give up. I agree with Byron - her questions showed what appeared to be a sympathetic position on the intervention/prevention part of the CMPD's equation. At the end, though, she read from a prepared script that tracked the Mayor's view precisely. It reeks of a Brown Act violation.

Len Bose said...

I attended the Mesa del Mar annual meeting last night where the Police Chief Shawkey made a short presentation. The subject of gangs was approached and I got the feeling that the Chief has something to work with. At first glance Chief Shawkey appears focused and had already come up with a plan based on the Council decision of the following night. From what I understood the gang officers have a good understanding who the gang members are and will work on the proper intervention.
What concerned me was that Chief Shawkey told us what we wanted to hear. “Things are better than you would think”. Then presented some facts on crime in Mesa del Mar and did not bring up the gang shooting’s. He also brought up the fact that he would not be living in Costa Mesa. This is all well and good if he brings us to victory! Although, I was brought up with “ you have to own what you sell”
My gut feeling is Chief Shawkey is the right man for the job and our Council has made the right decision.

The Pot Stirrer said...


I have no doubt that Chief Shawkey is the right man for the job. Given the lemons the council handed him, I suspect he will find a way to make lemonade. The truly sad thing about this issue is that every credible expert in the field tells us that it takes focused intervention and prevention to break the gang cycle. The city council majority chose to take that tool out of the hands of the police. Their idea is a bigger club, swung harder and more often. The gang detail will continue to fight this battle. Without the intervention/prevention element, they will have job security because the gang issue will not go away.

flyonthewall said...

"every credible expert" agrees with West. (according to West) nuff sed.

The Pot Stirrer said...

Anonymous Insect, trot yours out and let's hear what they have to say... I'm willing to listen to an opposing view. Are you?

Anonymous said...

Pot stirrer. You have absolutley no idea what you are talking about. You are rude, arrogant and self approving. You are also incorrect in what you say about Wendy Leece. Get a life.