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"There is a black street. The road is black. The houses are black, and there are no lights on of any kind. A black car comes down the road with no lights on. A black dog runs in front of the car. The car swerves and misses the dog. How did the driver see the dog?" (The answer to this riddle will follow later.)
I live in Sacramento, a city where politics and greed often overshadow life and freedom for our youth. When I receive literature pertaining to a council seat for the district I reside in, I prefer transparency and truth.
The literature I received supporting District 8 candidate Betty Williams is alarming.
To use our pain and suffering from youth death and youth arrest as a propaganda vehicle to get into office insults and underestimates our intelligence, our pain, our labor and our efforts.
It is disappointing to see candidate Betty Williams would attempt to get in office by any means necessary, including the empty tactic of attempting to make yourself look good by simply making someone else look bad.
The first pamphlet I received endorsing Williams has a photo of the candidate at the gang task force press conference with Johnson and Captain Dan Scheide photographed behind her.
Candidate Betty Williams spoke at the press conference of the high-profile barbershop shooting with no mention to the youth whose deaths were not high profile.
Both Mayor Johnson and, it seems, Williams are consistently photographed by the media only when looking at high-profile cases such as the Second Saturday shooting and the barbershop shooting.
Councilmember Bonnie Pannell looks at the deaths of all our youth as worthy of addressing. She is not looking for media attention. She is looking at finding resources for the youth.
According to candidate Williams pamphlet, there were 312 crimes in District 8 in August, and 121 were violent crimes. The pamphlet does not mention crime rates from the rest of the year.
The pamphlet does not give us any research-based information comparing a crime wave or crime trend in August 2010, 2009, 2008, or previous years.
The pamphlet fails to mention whether the suspects were residents of District 8 or residents of Sacramento County or surrounding districts and cities.
Most importantly, the pamphlet fails to mention what Williams will do to effectively address crime.
The pamphlet fails to mention the numerous efforts of Pannell.
Mayor Johnson jumped on the crime bandwagon to get into office. He was not in attendance at crime forums prior to running for office. He began addressing a gang summit when gathering signatures and hoping for votes for the strong mayor initiative.
The pamphlet also reads, "Too many people not working: 52% of people in District 8 are either unemployed or out of the workforce. This means 1 of every 2 people are not working.”
The pamphlet fails to mention how many of the residents are not working because they are retired, nor how many just moved into the district or city, or the unemployment rate for the city as a whole.
The pamphlet also reads, “Too many children receive poor education: 67% of the children in District 8 are below state standards." Williams is aware the city of Sacramento does not control the state of our schools.
Williams mentions on her profile she is the president of the NAACP, but she fails to mention the NAACP should have more of a role in addressing children receiving poor education if the residents are primarily people of color. Some could argue that Williams, NAACP president, has failed.
The concerning pamphlet I received today quotes Sabrina Berhane, Advisory Board Member, Crime Victims United of California, “Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell has failed you.”
I have never seen Berhane at a meeting addressing victims of crime in District 8. I have never seen her at a funeral of a murdered resident. I have never seen her at a candlelight vigil. I have never seen her at a community forum. I have never seen her at the court appearances I have attended in a community divided into victims and suspects.
Many do not believe Crime Victims United of California has united or embraced all crime victims but instead unites and embraces law enforcement unions.
The pamphlet states in large bold letters, “Bonnie Pannell cuts police, and you pay the price." Williams knows Pannell has not stood alone in the difficult budget sessions where cuts are given to many city departments, which had to include law enforcement.
“Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell voted to cut police protection in your neighborhood, even though your district has the worst crime area in Sacramento — and now she’s threatening even deeper cuts,” it says.
The pamphlet fails to list the voices of those in attendance at the council budget cuts or the reasons given by those who voted on the cuts. This misleading propaganda could sway and prevent future councilmembers from looking after our best interest to feed and fund Sacramento’s police officers union for endorsements.
Shame on Williams for being silent and allowing this propaganda and deceitful literature to go out to residents in District 8.
The Crime Victims United of California pamphlet fails to mention Pannell’s vote to put cameras in the district, even with objections from some of us, to aid as a crime deterrent, plus other efforts to reduce crime.
It fails to mention that under Pannell’s watch, the gang-infested apartment complex known as Danger Island was cleaned up. It fails to mention that under her watch, the gang-infested G Parkway area was cleaned up, and Phoenix Park residents were given resources and job training.
When two teens were murdered in District 8, Pannell insisted the area should have a highly visible police presence. She did not stay tucked away in a city office or ride around like Johnson with a police escort in a $50,000 SUV paid for by the city.
I stood watching a large crowd gather at the site where one teen’s body lay dead. I will never forget turning to see a small group of teens, in a psychologically frozen state, and near them stood Councilmember Pannell. She was standing at the site where another teen’s lay lifeless. There was no media present. She stood with tears in her eyes, asking, “How can we stop this?”
Shame on Berhane for failing to mention that Pannell has held forums, meeting with numerous youth to hear their voices, concerns and obstacles both when Fargo was in office and when Johnson sat silent.
Shame on Berhane for failing to mention Pannell’s efforts to provide resources and opportunities for the youth of the district versus an ignorant approach of simply saturating streets with law enforcement.
Under Pannell’s leadership, new parks, libraries, improved health facilities and developments of stores, pharmacies and markets were brought to District 8. She said no to closing community centers and pools to give District 8 kids a safe place to go after school and on weekends.
Pannell has worked with Johnson to address crime supporting the Street Outreach Team and Boston Ceasefire program. She has fought for additional grant money to help our at-risk youth.
Shame on Berhane, who does not live in our district, for appearing to use the body of our dead youth, the pain of a community divided to endorse candidates for District 8.
The Crime Victims United of California pamphlet fails to mention that Williams has stood in front of cameras with law enforcement as the police officer union monopolizes the city budget, whereas Pannell has stood in front of the affected youth and been exposed to the violence by listening to those in her district and surrounding districts.
I appreciate the fact that Pannell did not attempt to make Williams look bad in an effort to making herself look good. I appreciate the fact that Pannell ran a clean campaign, putting the district before her own aspirations of remaining in office.
Shame on Berhane for playing dirty politics over truth.
Shame on Johnson for endorsing Williams when he knows her labor and efforts. To endorse another candidate to simply gain an ally on the city council is shameful.
Shame on Johnson for making the state of this city and District 8 personal to fit his self-absorbed needs when it should be business. Public safety means keeping the public safe, not keeping your political career safe.
The answer to the riddle mentioned at the beginning of the article is simple if we look beneath the surface and around the propaganda. The driver of the car missed the dog because it was daylight.
Some of us won't look below the surface of propaganda to see the obvious in the District 8 race. Campaigns should not be conducted like riddles. We should not have to look at what is not written and read misleading information.
Shame on Mayor Johnson for not insisting that we, the residents of Sacramento, deserve truth and transparency during the election process.
The riddle fails to mention the time of day or the fact it was daylight but draws us in with catch words and phrases. Sadly, we also have to look at what is not written in the literature opposing Pannell and the catch phrases of crime, school and unemployment.
Shame on Williams, Johnson and Crime Victims United for underestimating and insulting our intelligence.
What happened to all the election signs saying “Sacramento Police Endorse…”? Why are there no law enforcement endorsement signs in my neighborhood? The answer: The people have begun to ask for resources, opportunities and prevention versus suppression.
The climate has changed toward addressing youth and gang violence. Grant funding is swaying toward prevention rather than suppression. So now Crime Victims United of California is endorsing propaganda in our district.
Shame on campaign managers who stopped putting police endorsement signs in a neighborhood where crime exists and brought us Crime Victims United of California sending misleading mailers.
People in my district and throughout this city have suffered, died, lost freedom as a result of a lack of resources, while law enforcement union monopolize and strong arm the city budget. Programs which could aid in saving lives are continously cut to feed SPOA.
Who should we complain to as we become commodities?
Certainly we cannot complain to the NAACP since the president appears to allow and condone this deceitful behavior to get into public office.
Some within District 8 may be tricked into only catching the trick phrases within the riddle such as black street, black car with no lights on, black house and black dog, crime, unemployment and schools.
Some of us won't look below the surface of the District 8 race for office due to frustration over crime and pain. But the truth is law enforcement is a deterrent, not a solution.
Councilmember Pannell respects and supports law enforcement. I may not have always agreed with her votes in favor of law enforcement, but I respect the fact she is true to form and will not sell out one for the other.
This community member, a mother, who has interviewed numerous, in fact countless, community members, also in pain, who are exposed to and affected by crime in Valley Hi, Meadowview, and other council districts, endorses Councilmember Bonnie Pannell.
When running for office in District 8, do not give us any propaganda literature. We are not in the dark. We have residents engaged in community projects, dialog and council hearings.
It appears Candidate Williams is riding in the backseat with SPOA as Mayor Johnson swerves in the dark in his tinted-window, city-paid $50,000 SUV, trying to hit residents of District 8 with misleading information.
Kudos to Councilmember Bonnie Pannell for driving in the daylight. I appreciate you running a positive and truthful campaign. You have my vote!