Montebello in an “Alternate Universe”
If you are a
“Star Trek” or “Stargate” fan, you might raise a brow of interest in seeing
this title. For those of us who are not fans, an alternate universe, based
on unproven theoretical physics, is one which is like ours in many ways, but
different in others. This lesson compares our Montebello with an imagined
Montebello in an alternate universe.
Montebello, according to two recent articles, our police department is
aggressively pursuing vandals, as the incidence of graffiti has increased
dramatically in the last five years. Wireless surveillance cameras are to
play an important role, thanks to funding from our city council. An officer
hired for his experience in vandal prosecution is taking the lead in
representing us in court. Our city has been awarded about $40,000 in
restitution from vandals. (Note: “awarded” is not the same as
alternate universe, we have the same city councilors and the same police
department. But, in tackling graffiti, there are remarkable differences.
The city council has provided no funding for wireless surveillance
cameras. And none for officer time to watch the monitors receiving
transmissions from the cameras. Rather, the cameras are to be installed by
residents, not the police department, and residents are to monitor on their
own time. The residents are going to do this because the city has said that
it will give rewards to residents who help in the apprehension of vandals.
The rewards will come from money collected from vandals. To increase the
chance that there be awards, residents have been authorized by the city to
pursue vandals and their families in court until restitution be made. Thus,
in the alternate Montebello, our city has created a vandalism-abatement
program based on residents creating micro-businesses, not based on funding
from the city. The residents, not the city, bear the costs of cameras and
universe, the police department still becomes involved with regard to
arresting vandals. With regard to prosecution, the alternate Montebello
introduces an option to vandals and their families: have an informal
hearing and agree to a contract with the city or go to court. The apparent
advantage here is that the alternate Montebello can fashion a solution
without the constraints of ineffective state statutes and without the
possibility that a lenient judge would hear the case, assuming, of course,
that the vandal and his or her family agree to the informal hearing.
difference between the two Montebellos is that, in ours, we use a
twentieth-century model of governance by professionals which does not give
the governed a large role, while in the alternate universe, they have
substituted a sustainable
model, that is, a model which is not
dependent on available city funds.
If you answer the multiple-choice questions
below and e-mail to
email@example.com with “Lesson answers” in the subject
field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in
community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization.
1. In tackling an issue in its community, a
city government can
(a) fund and a program and have city staff
carry it out.
(b) organize and oversee residents as the
residents paid for, carried out, and were rewarded from the program.
2. Involving residents in governance
(a) democratizes American democracy and
creates a “new millennium” model for the world.
(b) creates chaos because residents do not
have the discipline and training to participate.
(c) provides a city with a way to sustain a
needed program, as future funding of the program will not become an issue.
(d) dilutes the influence of outside
May 31, 2007