Saturday, August 26, 2006

City of Victims

The good news*: 15 percent of Baltimore Crime readers haven't been the victim of a crime in Baltimore City (or never lived here). The bad news: the remaining 85 percent have been victim of a veritable myriad plethora of offenses, most prominently, a car break-in (note to self: call Safelite® re. advertising). A shocking number of readers have also been physically assaulted by a stranger, shot, stabbed, scammed, jacked and swiped from. At least eight readers have had a relative murdered in the city.

Don't forget to take the new poll (you may have to scrool to the bottom of the page if you're using Explorer), and to vote in the CP's BOBs (in case you're trying to remember for the "best scandal" category the PSC member who solicited 'ho Valerie Fletcher and released a letter blaming his acts on "ED" was named Charles R. Boutin).

*Other than that I'm back in America

... Other News

Darien Lawson, age 7, is back home after being >stabbed by another 7-year-old on a playground in Essex.

Some asshole in a dark SUV with Denali rims and a red-eyed skull sticker ran over teenager Lia Longhofer and her dog.

Billy Wells: high school student, basketball player, wholesale coke dealer.

Ex-from-hell Stephen Kokinakos of BaltoCo has defied a court order and kidnapped his three sons.

Why does Loyola College keep letting nutjobs into its grad programs? Former student Garrett Alder is charged with three counts of attempted murder, arson and stalking after harassing a professor, setting his house on fire and lurking in the woods. (The 25-year-old Connecticutian was quickly located by a Belgian Malawa. WTF that is.)

Marc Munford of Randallstown got 33 Federal months for harboring wanted bank robber Kendall Alexander Sr.

As if the Senate race wasn't weird enough, Russell Simmons went all the way from NY to Laurel to endorse Michael Steele.


Maryland teacher Ali Asad Chandia got 15 years for helping to ship 50,000 paintball pellets to Kashmir.

No matter how bad things get, sloppy cops may still be better than the well-organized ones of Bobo Freedom City, Beijing.

Airports and airlines everywhere went insane yesterday ... there was also a "mystery package" scare at De Gaulle, which closed the closed the airport and prevented trains or shuttles from coming in or going out for more than an hour.


John Galt said...

I was really hoping Anon would come back with thoughts on that Roemer paper regarding the Veil of Ignorance.

The principle is that it's 9:00 p.m. and you're getting ready to walk your dog. You don't know when you step out the door whether you will be in Roland Park, or at the corner of Pratt and Fulton, for instance. That is, you don't know whether you have to live your life, or mine.

Before finding out whose shoes you step into, you must select a set of policies (call them police deployments) with the objective of best serving you, given that you don't know whose shoes until after your decision is made.

Some folks just don't appreciate the reality of how bad the worst neighborhood might be. They figure "I live in a city. I know about crime." and underestimate it effect.

I am really quite comfortabe that if you lived my life for a month or so and then undertook the Veil of Ignorance protocol, your choice of optimal policing would provide a great deal more in the way of resources in places like mine.

That's why I bitch. Because the public choices made for neighborhoods like mine are made by people who know for sure they'll never have to live with the consequences as we do.

The City Paper quotes councilman Mary Pat Clarke as saying:

"When everyone is in charge, no one is accountable."

OK, but when only some of us are in charge, why is it that still no one is accountable to those who of us who are not in charge. That's what the Veil of Ignorance criterion resolves.

The Cybrarian said...

What's the Roemer Paper?

John Galt said...

Assigned reading.

The Cybrarian said...

I can't open the link; maybe that's something to do with it

Anonymous said...

A Belgian Malawa is a Belgian Malinois. It's a dog that sort of looks like a German shepherd.

Anonymous said...

hey cybrarian, i tried to email you but my letter got bounced back. the letter was just going to be asking you if you would put a link on here to my murder-map website:


John Galt said...


works. Just copy it into your address bar.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of material in the "Veil of ignorance" paper.

For now, I can look at it from a normative point of view and simply say that cities are not like mcmansion developments. Cities always had and always will have an extreme distribution of wealth and dysfunction. There will always be bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods. That's just the way things are.

I'll buy your argument that adding some more cops will help your neighborhood. But how far can that really go? Can you expect to halve the crime by doubling the cops? Does it mean staffing every intersection with a pair of cops?

Also, you keep saying that my district, the southeast, has more cops than it needs. I don't think that's the case at all. We have about the same level of staffing as 5 years ago. Overall crime is down. Fewer open air drug markets. Fewer wild kids. General level of seediness is way down.

The reason for this is not that we got more police. The reason is, and perhaps others from the southeast can chime in.... gentrification.

We've done the COP thing, we've done the nagging at the police station, we've done a lot of things. To be honest, gentrification works more effectively than anything else. By diffusing the extreme concentration of poverty, we have also diffused the crime.

Hey, one book I recommend is Jane Jacob's "The Life and Death of American Cities". Written in 1960, it was prophetic in its description of the problems that have beset major cities through today. It was written by an astute observer, and reads almost like an anthropology study. It covers in great detail what makes a neighborhood healthy and safe-- and no, "more cops" is not the only ingredient.

John Galt said...

Warning: this baby is long. Rant on!

And to where, pray tell, do you think the poverty (and its associated behavioral manifestations) was diffused?

Gentrification does not change the nature of the people who are near you. It selects the best of them to remain, attracts others of their type away from more mixed environments, and sends the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder to.... my neighborhood, thank you.

By gentrifying, you exported your problems into my back yard.

Having done urban reviatlization in numerous places over twenty years, I'm comfortable telling you that your gentrification depended upon policing. I absolutely guarantee that if we reallocate police from your area to mine over an extended period, the criminals will migrate back to you.

My District has rather fewer personnel than it did ten years ago. Our murders are up 50%, primarily because of a migration from East Baltimore. I'm still interested in how many murders per block per year where you are.

As I stated, the violent crime elasticity of policing is about -1. That is, a 10% increase in policing will produce a 10% decrease in violent crime, so yes, you may need a cop on every corner. Look a Southern Lebanon. There, you need a cop on every corner, only because there are that many terrorist cells and sympathizers.

One out of three yound black males is in prison, jail, or on probation in Baltimore. If you concentrate all the employed white people in an enclave, what remains will be largely black unemployed. The black middle class migrates to the suburbs. Of the black unemployed, the women stay at home or otherwise inside, while the males go do the street thing. Consequently, the street is chock full of young black criminals. It's hazardous. You need concentrated policing, because you have concentrated criminality. A cop on every corner to watch ten boys on every corner.

If you don't want me to have so many cops, howzabout you take back all the hoodie boys your gentrification sent my way?

I had dealings with Jane years ago over Westway and let me tell you, as insightful as she was about certain things, she never bothered herself with municipal budget constraints and, therefore, she was a bit of a crackpot.

That said, she had some insight into the systems ecology of metropoleis which was lacking on the part of planners, such as Moses.

Jacobs' thinking without incorporating economic concerns has resulted in an extreme class stratification of urban society, in which the high bidders all cluster together and everyone else has to make do with disaster. The middle class flees and the ghetto becomes ghetto-er. The bohemian yuppies don't really care about anyone in the 'hood, at least not enough to climb into the boat with them, and so they grant tacit assent to the creation of a good city, and that other city, just so long as they don't have to be in the latter.

Interestingly, when the real hoodies turn up in your neighborhood, who do you call? The police. Why? To chase them back into the 'hood. My 'hood.

We need vastly more police here. If you feel policing citywide is satisfactory, then please tell Jim Kraft that I can have your cops, because your area can miraculously maintain gentrification without them. I'm cool with that. You are now offered the opportunity to shut me up. [applause resound]

If I correctly infer your location, you have (as of 2004)about one quarter the number of parole/probation cases living in your zip code as I do, and my District has about 50% more murders than yours.

What do you think would happen to your neighborhood if it had one out of every four cops it now enjoys? You know as well as I that it would go to hell. A call to 911 would take 45 minutes, kinda like... the way it is in my area.

Please either advocate for more cops, or give me 75% of yours.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that "they" (the criminal element) simply moved from the southeast to waverly (where exactly are you anyway?).

Anyways, what makes you think that your area can't gentrify?

Also, the violent crime elasticity of policing being -1 does not necessarily mean that you can really expect a rate 10% crime reduction for 10% increase in policet indefinately. At some point you get sharply diminishing returns-- probably as soon as you have enough cops that they aren't always dashing from one 911 to another.

Again, I'm not saying that some more cops won't help some amount. I just think you overstate the impact of police on crime. There's a lot more to the story.

Anyways, I do hope that you are communicating effectively with your council person and police department. If you're not, you're wasting your breath. I would also add that if you're not seeing positive results and no hope of them, you are doing yourself a disservice by not moving elsewhere.

Jane Jacobs was not a crackpot at all. She has influenced the urban planning of Toronto-- one of the finest cities in North America.

John Galt said...

Two different threads here.

One: Jane Jacobs. Very insightful about some things; very bullheaded about others. Her opposition of the Spadina Expressway has created exceptional gridlock in the 7th most important conurbation on the globe. It costs the City of Toronto over $6MMM per year at a time when the City is bearing an sharply increased share of the burden for its (small, compared to ours) problem population. Urban planning folks always want to claim credit for the delightful amenities without accepting responsibility for opportunities foregone because of their activism. Toronto's infrastructure is dysfunctional.

Next item:

About gentrification, understand that it doesn't 'cure' the behavior of the undesirables. All it does is to slide them down the price gradient to someone else's neighborhood. It's kinda the same as if you cleaned out the crap in your basement by dumping it over the fence into my back yard, thanks.

If all neighborhoods gentrified about equally, the price gradient would be flat and the hoodlums would stay... exactly where they were. No change.

The influx here of urban poor is primarily from the East side, Southeast, and all the public housing that was demo'd a few years back. And the frickin' City gives them sec. 8 to come here.

There are going to be diminishing returns globally, that's why I said 10%, rather than 60%. But I'll be perfectly delighted to avail myself of the high elasticity until crime is much lower.

Yes, I engage the department and the councilmen. They inform me that staffing the police force is not a physical possibility (a lie) and that resources are diverted to other neighborhoods in the city, which happen to have much lower crime. Translation: you have my cops. You receive substantially better safety services than I do. This violates the equal protection clause, which is nothing new to Baltimore. Baltimore city has a worse record on civil rights than just about any city other than Chicago.

Now, the idea that the black communities should move somewhere else just because this rotten government diverts all the basic public services to the yuppie white neighborhoods is wrong. We went through this in 1968 already. Another round of riots will not serve y'all well.

I believe I have already demonstrated that you receive a disproportionate share of safety and I receive a disproportionate share of criminality. You should be supporting proportionate provision of essential services.

If the white bohemian community advocates for preferred status, it should be unsurprised when the wronged party directs its righteous anger their way. Your best solution is to direct your legislators and that a$$hole of a Mayor to 'Do the Right Thing'.

If the Police Commissioner 'cannot' seem to hire any cops (yes, any. The actual manpower has changed less than 2% in ten years), then you should seek his dismissal. There is no national shortage of cops. We just don't want to pay the market price for any. If that's the case, then your neighborhood should bear that burden just as mine does. But you don't. You receive disproportionate manpower.

Oh, and if you think you've identified more cost-effective strategies by which the city can relieve the crime burden at its own cost, great. Do it.


The problem is that liberal democrats have been talking about education and empowerment for years and never got any bang for the buck. As a strategy to relieve the crime burden in Baltimore, education has certainly failed. Counseling has failed. Social workers have failed. Government-funded job training has failed.

Please tell me what you would propose to do to accomplish crime reductions of, say, 5% per year for twelve years using your alternative practices which don't substantially envision cops ?

Anonymous said...

About Jane Jacobs...

I guess your view on her depends on whether or not you think cities should be designed for cars or for people.

A local example would be Fell's Point. If it were not for Barb Mikulski and company, that entire area would have become a garden of giant concrete pillars with highways on top. But hey, some people like that stuff.

Here's a link to her excellent book.

John Galt said...

I just love that cars vs. people stuff.

So, let me get this straight. You have no car. You don't consume any food products which are not grown in your neighborhood, thereby requiring transportation. When you get hit by one of those contraptions crossing the street, you won't mind your ambo being tied up in traffic while you hover between life and death. Oh, and you understand that your job will cease to exist if, in fact, its customers are not substantially local.

I went through this with some neighbors a few years ago. we wanted to install a turning lane in a major North Baltimore artery to relieve congestion and extreme hazard of accidents. Some green advocates were dead set against it because it involved removing a slice of grassy median strip. But then when the traffic can't go anywhere and it heads down their residential streets, they 'solved' the problem by denying cars access from the congested artery. Basically, they privatized their street, imposing congestion on... everybody else. As I said, such policy advocates generally have in mind that someone else should always bear the burden of their amenities.

My solution: we code your ID either Car or People. If you're coded 'People', you will not be allowed to purchase those Macadamia nuts from Hawaii or T-shirts made in China. When you go to the gas station to tank up, you won't get the $3.00/gal. gas. Yours is for 'People' and therefore costs you more like $5.00, because it isn't delivered using highways.

As for the mega-highway that Babs Mikulski diverted over to MLK-land, true, you preserved an historic port which at the time was a rat-infested waterfront slum.

But the way you did it was to move that invasive, divisive object out of the white neighborhood westward, to become the very palpable dividing line between the now-revitalizing downtown and lower-income black West Baltimore. You might just as well have erected a ghetto wall a la Warsaw. So, preservation, yes. Salutary, no.

Some people enjoy the benefits. Other people, the same other people, always seem to have to bear the consequences. Maybe West Baltimore should collect a pricey toll from all the suburbanites who drive to work on the JFX. Sufficiently high, perhaps, that no one wants to drive it and instead they either relocate their firms to the County or maybe reroute to the streets running through gentrified Federal Hill and Canton, jamming up the white neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Galt, you appear to be living in a world where everything is diabolically aligned against you.

So what would have been the "equitable" solution for the jfx construction??

John Galt said...

Um, maybe running it right through downtown, or maybe little italy!

How about an elevated that runs right past that jackass O'Malley's bay window at City Hall?

In fact, the equitable solution would be to select the mechanically best way to handle the traffic, and if it happened to cheese off Mikulski and her 'activists', tough sh!t.

One of the biggest problems in Baltimore is that government delegates considerable authority to its 'community partnerships'. These in turn engage in arbitrary and capricious behavior which would be taboo for a municipal government. We not only have shadow governments in Sheila Dixon's office and the BDC, but also in these community partnerships.

Government needs to do government's job, and it needs to do it more or less professionally, without consulting with self-interested third parties. And, government needs to stay the he!! out of the private sector, where it has such a great inclination to tamper.