Back in the high life
A landlord training program will teach property owners how to avoid renting to tenants with known criminal records for selling narcotics. It will also help create leases that reflect community standards.
A narcotics eviction program will give landlords a leg up in booting out those who conduct illegal activities on the premises.
And a trespass affidavit program will let landlords and tenants fight crimes committed in the public spaces between private buildings by vigorously enforcing "no trespass" laws.
And look, I'm reasonably sympathetic to a "get tough" method of combatting drug dealers. But this "get tough" plan doesn't seem to have much in the way of teeth, at least as its presented. Maybe this will really help out the landlords. But I doubt it. In fact, it strikes me as a plan ripe for both abuse and complaints. Isn't it the worst of both worlds - a "get tough" apporach that isn't actaully tough enough to do anything? And strangely enough, Soares is promoting it as a money-saving plan:
"Each of these calls costs more than $100 in direct costs and as many as several thousands in follow-ups," Soares said. "When we clean up these crack houses, this money can be better spent on street lighting, remedial reading classes or better sports programs for our teens."
Second issue, the politics. I thought this was a very interesting program for Soares to be backing. A few point here:
point #1 - By standing there with the mayor and police chief, this move is basically insulated politically for all involved. Obviously, this is basically a "motherhood issue." Whether you think it's a good idea or not, if you're the mayor, chief, or DA, you back it if it's going to happen. The last thing you want to be seen doing is not supporting something like this. So once it's definitely going to happen, you get behind it even if you think it's absurd. Of course, that doesn't mean you actually start believing in the plan. Good politics and good policy don't always go hand in hand. I don't know who has their heart in this and who doesn't, but if I had to bet I'd say that Soares doesn't, because...
point #2 - Isn't this somewhat different than the approach you thought Soares might take if you followed his campaign last year? I'm no expert, but didn't Soares call the "war on drugs" a complete failure. Sure, he was talking about the Rockefellar laws, but this new plan strikes me as the same old song - set up a tighter net that will catch a few more dealers and a lot more users. It's basically an empowerment of landlords to harrass people in the lower class, no? I honestly never thought I'd see this from Soares:
One of Soares' staff members will be the contact person for confronting drug dealing, prostitution, trespassing, the sale of stolen property, gambling and other illegal activities in private buildings.
"This is not a matter of the system breaking down," Soares said. "It's making sure we get the problem at the root. This is a new administration. And we are taking a more proactive approach."
point #3 - Soares might be feeling the institutional pressures of the office a bit. DA's can campaign on whatever they want, but when they get into office and want to be re-elected, they need to show that 1) they are proactive and tough on crime and 2) that they are getting results. It looks to me like Soares might be shifting toward that attitude. And that's fine. It's just surprising.
I don't want to kill the DA here. I'm not trying to lay blame. I just thought the program was strange, and an interesting plan for Soares to get behind. I'm actually quite sympathetic to David right now. He's facing a difficult set of circumstances. His high profile cases haven't been friendly to him, in the sense that the public has been divided on them. Crime - or at least violent crime - seems to be increasing recently from the perspective of the average observer. And he's obviously tangling with a police force and mayor who aren't particularly friendly or fun to work with. That's a tough situation.
I dunno. Thoughts?