Diverse Viewpoints from Sacramento
No Legitimate Reason State flood board overreaches with fences By Patrick Kennedy October 2023 In 2022, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments board of directors, which I currently chair, adopted a regional trails plan that lays the groundwork for a...
The story is bleak. An unsheltered population grows by more than 250% in six years. Sixteen encampments. Daily assaults. Hypodermic needles on soccer fields. Children walking to school through human feces and urine. Unanswered calls to city authorities for help.
As district attorney for Sacramento County, my mandate is public safety. While our office would never prosecute someone for being homeless, laws apply to everyone, even unhoused people.
I was recently asked by Mayor Darrell Steinberg to offer diversion to every unhoused person faced with prosecution. The mayor’s proposal would mean dismissal of every misdemeanor committed by an unhoused person. No input from victims. No evaluation of the crime.
Hate speech and the lack of decency at City Council meetings are a shock. How did we get here?
Here’s my story. When letters to my councilmember and mayor went unanswered, I attended council meetings, first virtually, then in person. At my first council meeting, I learned other attendees were there to vehemently campaign for their personal ideologies.
I learned there was no room for alternate opinions. Audience members who disagreed with my comments turned to social media to criticize and mock me. I saw uncivil behavior at council meetings, including shouting and heckling.
For the first time in years, stakeholders in Sacramento are committed to a single plan to end homelessness. While the situation is bleak on the streets, this commitment is new and can be a game-changer.
The key to success is the shared vow of all partners to move forward with action, services and resources. This means we work together.
In November, voters elected three new City Council members. Two represent a new generation of leadership, Oak Park’s Caity Maple, 31, and Karina Talamantes, 33, of Natomas. Both earned their jobs in vigorous campaigns where they reached constituents and gained trust.
Soon, they will be joined on the council dais by another young person with a voice in council deliberations.
But this person will be different: hand-picked, never winning an election, never engaged with Sacramento voters. Why? Because a different City Council, in power days before Maple, Talamantes and Lisa Kaplan came on board, decided it was a good idea to have someone—maybe a high school sophomore—sit alongside them and weigh in on complex issues.
As crime surges in our neighborhoods, we look to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, our City Council and police department to respond. We want local authorities to make our streets safe again.
But are safe streets even possible when we have councilmembers such as Katie Valenzuela, who advocates to defund police and refuses to hold people accountable in the homeless community who break the law? This is where governments fail.
Our problems don’t stop at the city limits. The surge in crime is directly linked to state law, primarily Proposition 57.