Speaking of Crime…

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The program I host on WXXI – Need to Know – tried to help push forward the dialogue on the violence aimed at young people on our city streets.

This grabbed some attention from the blogoratti in town – namely Bill Nojay (an attorney, former head of the transportation authority board, one-time congressional candidate and all the time pundit). Check out Nojay’s commentary on the program, a roundtable discussion with Mayor Bill Johnson, Police Chief Cedric Alexander, District Attorney Mike Green and people who deal with the problem of youth violence on the street level.

At one point Nojay suggested that a police officer should have been on the panel – but the organizers of the forum were afraid of the answer a beat cop might give: "double the size of the police force, give them the resources they need to do their jobs, stop throwing tens of millions of tax dollars at supporting a couple bars in the High Falls district and the ferry to Toronto, and channel those funds to additional cops on the beat. Liberal Democrats don’t like to hear those kinds of things. And liberal Democrats have run Rochester for 30 years."

I wrote back to Nojay and told him that the one-hour endeavor was an attempt at getting those panelists… and, ultimately all of us, to look at possible solutions. In the end… the answers are knowable. You articulated one of them, doubling the size of the police force. Then the question is would you be willing to pay for that. Would you accept services to be cut in other areas (knowing full well that the subsidy for the High Falls venture wouldn’t be nearly enough to cover doubling the force)? Would you accept a hike in taxes? Those are the real concrete decisions that not just the leadership, but the governed need to grapple with. Although, in the end, the leadership must embrace an approach… and then try and sell that to the governed.

Nojay’s response: There haven’t been honest discussions of those issues in this town — the public events all degenerate into broad truisms and hand wringing. WXXI and WHAM are the two outlets where the public discussions can best occur.

A rather off the point answer. But, again, it’s good that Nojay wants to help stir the pot… so long as he wants an end result that amounts to a reasoned, rational decision on the way to attack the problem.