During the Mayor’s term in office, the Mayor has closed two police stations and relocated the downtown main police station to a former grocery store. Crime is rampant in the City. The Mayor’s plan to stem crime has been a complete failure. Again, crime is up dramatically for the first seven months of this year. Documented incidents of serious crime in New Bedford (murder, rape robbery, assault, burglary, larceny auto – January – July 2004 and 2005) has gone from 1,946 incidents in the first seven months of 2004 to 2,280 incidents in the same time period of 2005, an increase of 17%. Instead of concentrating on re-focusing the police department strategy of policing and intervention, the Mayor is holding taxpayer-funded quasi-campaign meetings around the City presenting his illusory “plan” for a new public safety building. Everyone in New Bedford agrees that there should be a new central police station/public safety building in New Bedford. However, the Mayor’s approach is a pure pre-election sham. At these meetings, he dangles ten “possible” sites from around the neighborhoods. This isn’t the taxpayer-funded “pardon our dust” campaign posters ploy; this is the taxpayer-funded “Don’t notice our smoke and mirrors” campaign event. There is no budget for construction, no funding secured for construction, no design for construction, and no legitimate input from the police or public safety officials in our City on this most important public safety project.
The Mayor’s official “smoke and mirrors” tour will continue for several more meetings around the City to perpetuate this shell game. Let’s avoid another boondoggle like the Keith Middle School project, where the Mayor’s politics took priority over common sense and true neighborhood and citizen participation. Enough political games. Let’s start the project by talking with the people who will use the building, the police and public safety officials. Then, let’s begin a serious design and site selection process involving the neighborhoods. The City cannot afford to have election gimmicks overshadow the importance of this project. New Bedford’s future will be decided in this election. We can then proceed to begin to rebuild New Bedford and the public trust.