Mayor Piercy's Reply:
I take some umbrage with your comments but that’s okay. I think each of the things that have been implemented or sought to be implemented have been steps in the right direction. The one that most directly responds to your concern with behavioral issue is the exclusion zone. Police do arrest or cite people on behavioral issues all the time. You may not get consensus on what civilized means. We cannot by law dictate the language people can use, the clothes they can wear (short of nudity), or their actions unless illegal. We may not like it but that’s the law. We cannot keep people off of public sidewalks. The 9th court has limited our ability to say that people cannot sleep on our sidewalks.
I believe Chief Kerns would tell you our crime stats are still comparatively low – what is alarming is the increase. This is not hard to understand given the economic picture, the situation more and more folks find themselves in, the resource issues for local government, and the concurrent upswing in drug and alcohol use. It is also true we are a county seat where services are provided and we will therefore have more of the people needing those services. In these times, businesses or places that are struggling will find it even harder to be successful.
I don’t think there is any disconnect. I think there are different perspectives. The manager understands the issues well and the Chief has been part of our department for a long, long time. We understand the county’s condition and it’s impact on us. We understand what a public safety system requires.
And let me remind you that the crime rate was higher some years ago than it is currently. That is not to say it is acceptable. Our downtown has been struggling since the 70s and every time someone thinks they have the key to fix it. I personally think we are closer now than we have ever been but it is grindingly slow.
There is no lack of love for our city from almost all who live here.
The police department works all the time to implement the law currently on the books. They give citations each day. Jail space is quite another issue.
Of course the buck stops here and always has. That’s why we have been working on actions and solutions all the time. You may not see those as getting to the source of the problem but we do. We put more officers in the downtown for the purpose of law enforcement. We supported the red jackets to help put more eyes out on the streets. We put the exclusion zone in place to give officers and the judges more tools. We helped with getting jail beds open to build more capacity. We supported services for those in need to help get them off the streets and programs for youth to help more of them make right decisions. We took action to alter the build-up in front of the library. We brought HIV alliance into our downtown to help with those issues. We worked OLCC to reduce the alcohol related issues. We brought successful entertainment downtown to brings hundreds of those “desireable” folks into our downtown. We offered help to clean up scruffy storefronts. We helped put new development projects in place to bring the right mix into our downtown. We brought a big business in to fill the old Symantec building. We have filled first Fridays with art walks. So you can say we have done nothing if you wish but that does not make it true. You can say your comments about the Mayor but this Mayor has worked on all of these efforts and much more while respecting the humanity of us all. All the Mayors before me have worked on this as well.