Thursday, January 10, 2008

If money is the answer

I’ve talked about the gang problems in Elgin before. Things have settled down since the weather turned cold. Either they aren’t shooting at each other or we don’t hear the gunshots with the windows closed and the furnace running.

Either way, we haven’t had any reported victims in a couple of months now. Which is good.

But the citizen gang committee is meeting twice a month and even the neighborhood associations are showing they are still active. The two neighborhood groups involved in the hot zone are Gifford Park Association and Summit Park Neighborhood Association.

Gifford Park is known for wealthier folks who have purchased the Victorian mansions and restored them. The wine and cheese set is known for getting the city to install street lights worthy of their lovely homes. Picture the wrought iron look with fancy globes.

Their plan for the future includes the city granting homeowners money to clean up and paint their properties and the deconversion program (aka convert the homes with apartments in them back into single-family homes at government expense).

Step back and look at what I just wrote. There was a time in this town when you bought your own paint and the government stayed out of your house. Throwing grant money around was supposed to fix neighborhood blight. Has it? Or have people decided it is the government’s responsibility to buy paint for us?

The funny thing is that some towns (like C’ville) go to great lengths to hand out the money. The feds give the town some cash and they have to beg people to take it.

Another funny thing is that the government has no problem taking your home and turning it over to a developer “in the interest of the community as a whole.” (Trivia: A landmark case over private development and eminent domain had to do with a sandwich shop in New York. It was torn down to build the World Trade Center. Courtesy Sandwich Shop v. Port of New York Authority.)

Summit Park is a new group, brought together as a result of the gang shootings last summer. They were handed $15,000 in government money and used it for trees, a sign, and a sculpture.

They liked the idea of free cash and now want another $28,000 for street signs. Not just any street signs, mind you. These are politically correct street signs that break away when you hit them with your car.

So, follow the money here. A small group of neighbors want street signs. The government tells them what kind of signs they need to buy. I’m sure there are drawings, surveys, grant writers, approvals, contracts, vendors (all certified as paying the prevailing union wage), inspections, and ribbon-cutting parties. Are you sure $28,000 will be enough? Have enough people been fed at the government trough?

Who cares? It isn’t our money; it’s a GRANT! It’s free cash from an institution that is $9,203,784,926,906.34 in debt.

But don’t worry. This isn’t all the city is doing. They’ve increased police patrols, brought in special units to assist, purchased new surveillance equipment, and changed some officer assignments to put more “boots on the ground”. (When I use the word “surge”, please put me out of my misery!)

You and I also funded the above paragraph.

So if money is the answer we’ll have these gang shootings taken care of in no time at all. It takes a village to raise a child…and a whole lot of tax money. Past performance is no guarantee that this government initiative will fail. Close cover before striking. Not applicable in some states. Your results may vary. No refunds, exchanges, or substitutions. All bags subject to inspection. Always wear your seatbelt. Airbag may cause injury or death. Not responsible for use of this product (May not apply in all states, which means we ARE responsible in some states but we aren’t going to tell you which ones, but Alabama is probably one of them because they have really generous judges and juries and our lawyers hate cases there, but the weather is nice, except for the tornadoes……….)

1 comment:

  1. We all know what happened in C'ville. They offered grants to homeowners so they'd clean the crap out of their front yards and add some badly needed curb appeal. The stipulation was they had to commit to living there for at least 5 years. BUT, many of the targeted market feard that they would be deported if they didnt' take the grants, so they never came forward.

    I think that government coming forward saying "we'll help you clean up your 'hoods" is a good thing (and on a side note, I'd give a kidney to own one of those old Victorian mansions in Elgin...except that the neighborhood is so lousy that I'd never get to enjoy it!). But, is the grant there for the benefit of the community? Or is it a loophole for people to increase their property value at someone else's expense?

    Personally, if the gov't wants to give me free money for home improvement, that's fine. I need some new power tools....