Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: If we could just hide those darn homeless...

Monday, December 24, 2007

If we could just hide those darn homeless...

Assemblyman Dan Sullivan is running for mayor. We already knew that because he has been acting and speaking like a candidate for the last several years.

So it wasn’t a surprise to hear Mr. Sullivan’s recent remarks regarding Anchorage crime or his suggested use of a “Guiliani-style approach” by cracking down on panhandling and other “visible offenses.”

Exactly what problem is he trying to address?

The rise in the Violent Crime index has been a result of increasing Homicide, Rape and Aggravated Assault. All of these have roots in Alaska's ever-exploding Domestic Violence problem

- According to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA), Alaska has ranked among the top five states in the nation for rape and sexual assault over the last 27 years.

- In 2006, there were 6000 cases of Domestic Violence reported in the State.

- The Alaska Bureau of Investigations reports that of 30 murder victims between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006 (FY06), 10 were domestic-violence-related and 1 involved a sexual assault. In 2005, Alaska was the 2nd most dangerous state in the country for women - 1/3 of homicides were Domestic Violence related and 80% of those were men killing women. In 2004, we were number one.

- In 2006, the number of rapes per capita in Alaska was 2.5 times that of the U.S. average. According to national statistics, when the identity of the perpetrator is known, 80 - 90% of them are previously acquainted with the victim.

Please tell me exactly how focusing on panhandling and “visual offenses” is going to fix that? Sullivan wants to do the equivalent of removing an unsightly mole while allowing Anchorage to bleed to death from an arterial wound.

I have to give Dan credit; he’s following a plan that has a successful track record. Giuliani has managed to turn police improvements started by his mayoral predecessor David Dinkins, the National downward trend in crime and the efforts of a Police Official he later fired so as not to share the limelight into a potentially successful bid for the Presidency.

And after all, who wants to take a candid look at actual solutions to Alaska’s systemic violence problem?

There is no way to slap a band aid on it. Treating the disease will involve lots of money funneled into education, social services and different prevention programs that won’t provide quantitative results for years. It will require a serious look into why so many men with a history of violence against women and children can still purchase a gun with ease. It would require truly dealing with racial issues in Alaska as five of the eight murdered Alaskan women in 2004 were American Indian/Alaska Native, just a bit out of proportion when Natives make up about 13% of the population.

On the other hand, in 2005 Alaska was ranked 38th out of 50 states when it comes to Robbery and was ranked 28th regarding Property Crimes, which includes Burglary, Larceny/Petty Theft and Vehicle Theft. These are considered to be the "street crimes" Mr. Sullivan’s “solution” would potentially be addressing.

So in Alaska, it's not the unknown panhandler or homeless person that we need to be worried about. There is no actual evidence that they are in any way responsible for violent crime, while we have lots of evidence that they are often the victims of violent crime.

However, hustling them out of sight is the easiest way to get a slap-on-the-back (or a campaign donation) from the “hang ‘em high” crowd.

Yes, it is obvious that Dan Sullivan wants to be mayor. The question is: will he address any of Anchorage’s real problems if he wins?

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