Damn Lies and Statistics
If you tell a lie and get caught, wait a year and tell it again. That's the strategy driving Mayor Frank Jordan's regurgitation of false crime statistics March 20. Citing grand jury numbers that were debunked in February 1994 -- when he first used them -- Jordan said that 50 percent of all crimes in San Francisco are committed by youth. The true number is 10 percent, according to Attorney General Dan Lungren, who draws his numbers from the San Francisco Police Department. Jordan went on to say that juvenile arrests for homicides and attempted homicides were up by 73 percent. The latest numbers from his own Juvenile Probation Department state a 15 percent decrease. When the mayor was caught fibbing last year, he backed off his claims, but now that he's facing re-election and pushing through a program that targets repeat juvenile offenders with intense police super-vision, Jordan seems to feel more comfortable with the falsehoods. "He's crafting his re-election on the Pete Wilson model," says Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. "He wants to whip up the fear of crime so everyone will run to him." One reason Jordan is recycling the repeat offender program (which the Board of Supervisors defeated last year) is because it contains $275,000 in cop toys for probation officers -- strong Jordan supporters. The program promises them six new cars, a caged security van, cellular phones, pagers, new office furniture, computers and software.
The paint had barely dried on bike lanes along a stretch of the Embarcadero early this month when the city's Parking and Traffic Department dispatched a crew to grind the all-but-permanent thermoplastic lines out of the asphalt. The original contractor, Riley's Striping of Benicia, had performed the work satisfactorily "per plans and specs," according to a company spokesman, noting that the city had paid the bill for the work. So why did Parking and Traffic find it necessary to erase a job well done? The department's Al Herce says the Bicycle Advisory Committee nixed the stripes, noting that thermoplastic is dangerously slippery when wet. Furthermore, BAC pointed out that the bike lanes were too narrow in the first place. So, after wasting upwards of $20,000 to first paint and then remove the stripes, the city is still without bike lanes along the Embarcadero.
By George Cothran, John Sullivan