City Paper is not for tourists
Who do you like most out of the declared Democratic presidential candidates? —Ian MacNairn, Takoma Park
I think it’s way too early in the process to endorse a candidate from any of the parties. Ask me again this time next year, and I’ll have a clearer picture. But as summer arrives, my civic concerns turn inward to the woes of the District.
D.C. is changing rapidly, and mainly for the better, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. When talking with my Ward 1 neighbors, the main topics are crime and quality-of-life issues. My first question to friends is this: Do you think a “zero tolerance” approach would work in D.C.? My personal experience in New York City in the ’90s tells me it would. When Rudy Giuliani took over the mayoralty from David Dinkins, he tackled those issues. By reducing the visual impact of antisocial behavior, increasing police presence, and the oft-argued “doing the time up front” policy of dealing with petty criminals, New York was quickly turned into a place where people felt safe. Tourists returned, and families invested. With the prosperity of the Clinton years as a parallel factor, New York was righted.
This week, I read about last weekend’s crime sweeps in the District. Some are skeptical, including members of the force. (Publicity stunt, some say.) But adjustments like last weekend’s sweep can send a signal to the communities, showing some level of responsiveness to the upward-edging crime situation. I’ve lived here five years, so I don’t have a long personal history; I’m hopeful, however, that D.C. residents are not completely worn down by past failures and will give this recent sweep, and other variants of “zero tolerance,” a fair chance. —Bob Mould
Bob Mould appears on IFC’s The Henry Rollins Show on Friday, June 15, at 11 p.m. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.