Sunday, March 20, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtowntown Eastside


Hi All!

Well you can tell its election silly season when the Mayor and his friends at the behest of Chief Graham approve a huge increase in the police budget. And guess who gets saddled with these extra policing costs and higher taxes? Equally disturbing is that the Mayor's group was propped up by others who usually display the highest of integrity.

It was absolutely mind boggling to see city council approve an increase in the police budget for 2006. This even though, it hasn't been demonstrated that an increase in police officers in 2005 will provide any better policing services to the public.

In fact, Velvet Steel of Westenders against Violence everywhere (WEAVE) states, " I don't think the community policing efforts have been very effective in reducing the number of bashings for instance". "I'm not certain, just increasing the police budget equals improved safety", says Steel, an outspoken advocate for victims of crime.

Also unusual is that according to current police board minutes,the Vancouver Police Board hasn't approved their budget for 2006. So its really questionable why city council led by Mayor Campbell, would approve police expenditures for 2006, without first determining whether the police can improve its performance levels to the satisfaction of citizens of Vancouver. Whether increasing officers for 2005, reduces crime in 2005 is yet unknown.

Noteworthy for his continuous and unwavering support of the embattled police chief, Mayor Campbell, once again goes out on a limb for Chief Graham, saying the citizens are telling him they need more police to reduce property crime. Yet, Mr Strandberg, the vice-chair of the Davie Street Policing Centre, in the latest issue of XtraWest states, "the police department credits us with reducing property crime". So this question begs asking, who is telling the truth here?

Moreover, if property crime is being reduced in the densest neighborhood of the city at the current policing levels, one must logically conclude that it is community efforts, not policing which has the most dramatic impact on reduction of crime.

Why would the current city council vote to increase the police budget and hence lock in subsequent city councils?

The most likely reason is to shore up support for what is certain to be the most interesting election in recent memory.

But will it work?

Are citizens of Vancouver willing to be used as pawns for electioneering purposes. Many citizens have long grumbled about politicians not being responsive to their needs. Most voters when questioned, usually claim, politicians and government usually take care of themselves first.

Being mindful of voters concerns, Charlie Smith in the recent edition of the Straight, points out the huge increases to the City managers office (73.7 percent), the city clerk's office (50.6 percent), and other general government (46.9 percent).

Yet much smaller increases occurred in the parks and recreation budget (1.8 percent), Vancouver public library (2.8 percent), housing programs (4.6 percent) and Brittania Centre (3.1 percent).

It seems with the projected election budget that this COPE council has forgotten the people who provided them with their largest yet mandate to govern.

Will the people, in turn, reject COPE?

Perhaps, citizens of the city tiring of COPE's erractic ways will have the last word when voting. I wouldn't be surprised if they threw the scoundrels out!

Jamie Lee Hamilton