Last year, 43 people were homicide victims in Sacramento. The number was a 26% jump from 2019, when the city endured 34 homicides. The trend has continued this year, with 44 homicides as of early October.
The increase comes from a variety of factors, not just the pandemic, Police Chief Daniel Hahn says.
“For example, our specialty units, whether it’s our problem-oriented policing officers or our gang officers, they’ve been pulled out of our communities to work protests,” he says. “So they haven’t had a presence. They haven’t been working as much as they normally do in our communities.”
When the pandemic broke out, my big concern was our small business community. Obviously, global attention focused on people’s health and the rising COVID-19 death count. But I figured there was nothing much I could do about it, other than try to keep safe and my family safe.
I knew local small businesses were in for a rough time. Eager to help, our COO Daniel Nardinelli and I created the “Pledge 100% Local” campaign.
More than two years ago, the city of Sacramento embarked on a major construction project at McKinley Park—an underground water vault to pull excess water from storm drains during heavy rains. The goal was to prevent the recurrence of floods in the neighborhood.
This month the city moves to the final step—renovation of the eastern part of the park between the McKinley Rose Garden and tennis courts. Renovations include new turf, trees and picnic areas. A heater for Clunie Pool will create a year-round aquatic center.
I lived across the street for about 90 percent of the construction. It was exhausting. The nonprofit Friends of East Sacramento—founded by Lisa Schmidt and me in 2010—manages the Clunie Community Center and rose garden, adjacent to the vault construction. The impacts on the center and garden were significant.
Like everyone, I was delighted when the first COVID-19 vaccines received federal approval last December. The vaccines, developed under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed and by pharmaceutical partners in Germany, are a gift to the world.
As an active 64-year-old who enjoys good health, I decided not to rush to get the vaccine. After all, there were many people much older and less healthy who could benefit ahead of me. While I was cautious, I was never overcome with fear. I did not buy into the corporate media reporting that often focused on stoking irrational fear and even panic.
Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan was gunned down during a domestic disturbance call in June 2019. Her death sent the region into mourning. I’ll never forget waving our American flag on the Business 80 overpass as her funeral procession slowly moved from Rocklin to Elk Grove. The idea for a beautiful tribute to Tara began over cups of coffee between friends earlier this year.
The homeless crisis has defied all solutions advanced by local and state politicians. In Sacramento, strategies to end the crisis have only made the problem worse, with increased numbers of people living on our streets.
The challenges are complex and seemingly endless. Homeless people struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Many suffer from mental illness and physical health issues. Some engage in criminal behavior. Few are prepared for employment opportunities.