But none of that will happen if city leaders can't get crime under control. It used to be said that crime wasn't that bad if you stayed out of certain areas or if you kept your nose clean when visiting. Not anymore. A few selfish individuals have changed that in 2010. Daylight killings of the elderly, professionals and a church going woman have people scared to come to the city.
So what can we do? Well, community activists like Defend Youngstown are helping organize events like last week's vigil. I'm setting my sights here on Mayor Williams's administration. I believe these are some good ideas for him to employ:
- Get the People's Back- We need to take a lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan. The city administration has to provide security for the city residents who want to live in a good place. No one will take a stand if they think they are on their own. This is how gangs intimidate people. What can one man do in the face of an organized threat like a street gang? People in Iraq were not willing to get on with life unless they felt secure. People on the South and East side have that same mentality. Chief Hughes may be a nice guy and effective administrator but he doesn't intimidate anyone. The mayor needs someone to rally the troops and let the people know their back is taken care of. Not someone who makes excuses at City Council meetings.
- Shrink the City- It's 2010 and Youngstown police are still patrolling as many roads as they were ten years ago. Don't get me wrong. This mayor has embraced the demolition of abandoned structures. What needs to happen now is getting long time residents out of their homes so entire city blocks can be plowed under and the their roads torn up. Grass needs planted over the blacktop. The city literally needs to reduce the amount of miles it patrols and maintains.
- Get Rid of Worthless and Absentee Landlords- In Kelo v. City of New London the Supreme Court upheld a city's right to use eminent domain laws to seize private real estate so it could be used to further economic development. The city should use this case as precedent for seizing the holdings of absentee landlords who "invest" in Youngstown by buying properties through quitclaim deeds and other methods. They don't pay taxes, they don't fix up properties and they make shrinking the city more difficult. Seize the property with the intention of reducing the amount of tax dollars spent maintaining useless areas of the city. This land can be made available for genuine economic development.