Perspectives on crime

May 27, 2010

Comparing Ventura's crime with L.A.'s crime is like comparing these two pieces of fruit together.

There’s no denying that crime is bad in Ventura County, especially in places like Oxnard. It seems like at least 75 percent of deaths logged by the grassroots Parents of Murdered Children took place in the city. Brutal gang violence on a daily basis, drug problems, and the like.

Some crimes, though draw more attention than necessary. Take the Oxnard P.D. shooting of an armed robbery suspect this week.

The guy, who had just been freed from jail three weeks prior, ¬†was apprehended by authorities and shot during a standoff. Some are claiming it was another case of “Suicide by cop.”

Others are coming down on the cop for using excessive force. Others still, waving the racist, anti-Latino card once again, have even said the deceased had it coming(!).

Our local competitor’s Web site logs over 360 reader comments on the story alone. The back and forth, and back and forth … and back and forth … continues for a story that, frankly, is small potatoes in the big bad world of Los Angeles crime.

Take this blog entry, for example:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/05/homicide-report-16-killings-last-week-in-la-county-four-domesticviolence-related.html

There were 16 … count ’em, 16 … killings in L.A. County last week. Four of them were domestic violence-related. That’s in one week. Ventura County hasn’t seen the likes of that for years.

Taking the officer shooting story, along with another local story today on a very inebriated, aggressive man getting ejected from a Simi Valley bar — both standard policies for both cases — makes one wonder why we get so up in arms in the VC over incidents that don’t hold a candle to what happens south of our county line.

If it means that we live in an *overall* safer area, there should be no reason to complain … that is, unless we want to duplicate L.A.’s spate of criminal activity in Ventura.

Could that happen? Maybe. Police officials like to link medical marijuana dispensaries with a rise in crime. Many marijuana dispensaries in L.A. are closing up shop. Could they migrate north and bring crime with them here?

Scroll down three blog postings on this page to find out.

Stabbings on sale

May 20, 2010

They should never have closed the Ventura Police Department annex at the Pacific View Mall.

It’s still vacant after having shut down for over a year now … no replacement vendors, nothing. That was well before the failure of Measure A, the ambitious sales tax increase, 40 percent of which would have boosted our public safety services.

Would having the police annex do anything to curb crime at the mall? I certainly think so. Take the stabbing which occurred yesterday at the mall.

From what we’ve heard, two young men were accosted by three other young men at the mall, a fight ensued, and mall security were summoned to break up the fracas, already unnerving to shoppers and visitors.

But that wasn’t enough. After getting kicked out of the mall, another fight broke out, and one of the two original victims was stabbed. It was only then that the police were called. Arrests were made, yes, and suspects are in custody with some damn serious charges against them (attempted murder, street terrorism, etc.).

But had the cops been there to begin with, it’s likely the stabbing wouldn’t have happened, in my opinion, because arrests may already have been made. The suspects were gang members and could have had existing warrants. Or just the sheer intimidation of the law would have cut off any scuffle right there.

Instead, the mall, which I always thought was pretty safe, earns a shady reputation.

The argument isn’t really over the hypothetical “what-ifs” of the situation had the police been there first or not. It’s *why* the police weren’t there to begin with. I say it’s because of trust.

Yes, we’re still feeling the fallout of rejecting Measure A because we didn’t trust our elected officials to pump money into public safety funding through a sales tax increase. It’s a very familiar feeling that doesn’t go away: this week, we got news on the closure of a fire station, also from a lack of public safety funding.

It makes me wonder where else fights will break out … the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store?

It’s only primary election season, so we don’t have any important tax increase ballots this time around, with a public safety option, in Ventura. Still, it’s worth remembering this stuff for June 8, and in future elections:

Know the *real* details of ballot measures and proposed legislature in your city … and give elected representatives a second chance to fund critical services. How many stabbings or shootings do we need to realize that?

The mall might be a great place to go to fund stuff on sale, but aggravated assault isn’t one of them, no matter how deep the discount — or the knife wound. I’d pay an extra sales tax for that.

An ass-inine choice

May 14, 2010

A new recruit for the prolonged Rocketdyne cleanup.

I don’t know if animals will ever get the kindness and respect they’re due on Planet Earth. Even in 2010, during a time when we’re supposed to be so evolved as people, we continually treat them as some kind of inferior species.

Take a look at the news and everywhere you look, there’s some injustice being done to animals. CNN reported today …

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/homestyle/05/14/foie.gras.uproar/index.html?hpt=C2

… that people are getting up in arms again about the shi-shi class who eat foie gras, and the pain and suffering inflicted to geese and ducks by enlarging their livers for the delicacy.

We reported this week that the always-conservative congressman Elton Gallegly made a noble, yet surprise, step forward for the benefit of gerbils, mice, bunnies and kittens, victims in so-called “crush videos.”

The videos, depicting said animals being stomped and killed (usually by a dominatrix’s heel), is a cruel subset of the porn film industry, and Gallegly is crafting new laws to ban the videos after a previous ruling was recently overturned federally.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this week the EPA is looking to use mules to carry out toxicity monitoring at one of Ventura County’s two favorite nuclear dumps: the Santa Susana Field Lab, AKA Rocketdyne.

The mules, according to a video on the VC Star’s Web site, will wear special saddles on their backs with a sort of geiger counter-esque reader to determine levels of radiation and toxicity.

Rocketdyne needed cleaning up 100 yesterdays ago, but don’t you think there’s a more humane way to do this? As in, by not exploiting animals? Or their health?

You’d think with nearby Simi Valley’s affinity for horses and equine culture, there’d be a bit more sensitivity to mules, or any other four-legged animal they might send out into the trenches of contaminated rocket testing pits.

Whoever rubber stamped the decision to dispatch animals to clean up a human’s mess should ask themselves:

Who’s the real ass?

OK, so I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know why glaucoma patients should have all the fun. I’m only severely near-sighted. But if you’ve got a medical marijuana card, you’ve got carte blanche to light up and smoke away your ails.

Except in Ventura County, that is, where there are longstanding moratoriums in each of our cities against permitting marijuana dispensaries. Typical notion of typically, yet disappointingly, conservative mores we have here in (mostly) liberal Southern California.

That could change, however, since it’s been reported that over 439(!) medical MJ dispensaries in Los Angeles might be shutting their doors:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/05/the-interactive-map-above-lists-the-439-los-angeles-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-that-must-shut-down-by-june-7-when-the.html

According to the Times, they have exactly a m0nth to close up or else face misdemeanor charges that carry jail time and thousand of dollars in fines … all for growing and selling some plants.

But I’m not here to argue the illegality of marijuana in itself, but of dispensaries. Seems like many of our L.A. medical MJ providers are doing so without the proper permitting because the LAPD doesn’t properly enforce moratoriums in place here and there in L.A. County.

What? Does that mean Ventura County is actually doing something right? We have no dispensaries here (at least none that are publicly open for business).

It still doesn’t mean that after L.A.’s “weed cutoff date,” as I like to call it, of June 7, that dispensaries won’t start heading north and setting up shop here in Ventura County. It’s not unlikely at all, either; there’s a great demand for it, there are already dozens of medical MJ home delivery services, and plenty of people have tried — through the proper channels, too — to establish their own dispensaries as legitimate business ventures.

I think it’s only “high time” (pun intended) that we’ll start seeing medical marijuana dispensaries in Ventura County soon enough after the L.A. exodus.

And you don’t need to be suffering from glaucoma to not see it.