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Our View: Look out for criminally misleading junk mail

Posted: February 26, 2010 5:15 p.m.
Updated: February 28, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
The handwriting is on the wall.

In the near future, you will open your mailbox and there, screaming at you from an obnoxious piece of junk mail, will be Tuesday's Signal headline, "Crime on the rise in SCV," complete with the subtext: "2009 saw increase in reports of several serious crimes ..."

It will have come from a disingenuous Santa Clarita City Council candidate who wants you to think the incumbents in the April 13 election are responsible for a rash of crimes that supposedly beset our fair city.

It will be a lie.

Crime in Santa Clarita was down in 2009.

"Huh? But you just said ..."

Crime was down by 1.1 percent in the city of Santa Clarita. It was up 3.4 percent in the unincorporated parts of our valley - for a cumulative effect of "crime on the rise in SCV." As in: the entire SCV, city and county.

Remember, the Santa Clarita City Council is responsible for spending money on law enforcement inside city limits, where crime was down.

The county Board of Supervisors is responsible for spending money on law enforcement in the unincorporated (non-city) parts of our valley, where crime was up.

We spelled it out in Tuesday's story - on the second page. But don't expect to see the second page of the story - much less the whole story - on that forthcoming piece of junk mail.

Here's a tip: Vote against whoever sent it, because that person is dishonest.

All of this begs the question: Why was crime down in the city and up in the county?

There are several reasons.

Ask the folks at Santa Clarita City Hall and they'll tell you it is because public safety is Job One in the city. It's not just the amount of money they spend on law enforcement, either - although they do spend a healthy portion of the city budget on special teams such as COBRA and CIT, which have helped curb gang crime, juvenile crime and grand theft auto within city limits.

Part of the credit goes to ancillary programs, as well: after-school educational and athletic programs that provide healthy and safe alternatives for our youth. Some are run directly by the city, others by community organizations with some financial support from the city.

Combined, they're taking a bite out of crime.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the City Council has the luxury of spending all of our local crime-deterring tax dollars within city limits.

The county, on the other hand, must divert money to other parts of greater Los Angeles that have bigger problems than we do on either side of the city border.

Some of our crime numbers are so small as to be statistically meaningless.

For instance, homicides doubled throughout the Santa Clarita Valley in 2009 - from three to six.

You could say our "murder rate" doubled - but the bigger problem locally is domestic violence, which led to some of the murders.

That's just the most extreme result of domestic violence. Add in the aggravated assaults, forcible rapes and an unknowable number of unreported domestic violence cases, and we've got a particular type of crime that truly is on the rise.

That is why it is so vital to preserve funding for domestic violence shelters in the state budget. Assemblyman Cameron Smyth came to the rescue in the second half of 2009 when the governor cut out the funding, but it looks like the reprieve was only temporary. As proposed, the governor's new budget doesn't fund domestic violence shelters.

Smyth has a real fight on his hands this year.

In the meantime, you can help our local Domestic Violence Center continue to do its important work by making a donation. Please call (661) 259-8175 or visit www.DVCSantaClarita.com today.

It's a far better use of your money than donating it to a candidate who would solicit your vote with a lie.

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