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The Federalist Diaries

 

Walks outside the Box, Part 3 

Progress is impossible without change,
and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, playwright and essayist,
1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950

"Walks around the Box” is about finding solutions when others shrug their shoulders, despair or offer palliatives.  In part 2, we looked at possible tools for self-defense against a mass killer.  Here we change the subject to the plague of graffiti in Montebello. 

On April 21, the City of Montebello had a graffiti-cleanup day.  It was good seeing adults and youth participate.  My team worked behind Montebello High School. 

I had observations which led to the thought that we would benefit from a walk outside the box.  First, the city employee who was our team leader said that taggers would soon tag what we had painted over.  (This, in fact happened.  The next morning there were large tags on one wall where we had painted over.)  Also, while we painted over much graffiti, we had only four colors, which meant that we created patchwork which would be obvious to the passerby.  Finally, there was a good number of youth and adults, but during the hour of signup in the morning, there was little mingling. 

          So where would a walk around the block take us?  On my team there was a realty broker.  He and I spoke of the possibility of an appraiser reporting on the decrease in property value because of the graffiti, this reduction to be added to the value of the loss from graffiti.  Why would this be important?  An act of graffiti resulting in a loss of $400 or more becomes a felony under California law.  An appraisal would be a professional evaluation that the loss from graffiti were more than the cost of labor and a new paint job.  Thus, every act of graffiti could become a felony. 

          One might say that state statute or case law does not include an appraisal in the loss from an act of graffiti.  But remember that we are taking a walk around the box, which means that we have chosen not to subject ourselves to priorities and values which would constrain us from exploring effective solutions.  (The epithet for such boldness would range from pioneer to maverick to loose cannon, depending on whom one asked.) 

          If we continued walking around the box, other possibilities would occur to us.  In fact, we must consider other possibilities, because the most effective solution would be holistic, starting with prevention, going to apprehension, and finishing with detention of a type which did not become a badge of honor for a tagger. 

          This need for a holistic solution would present an opportunity for a group of residents to come together, discuss, and present a proposal for an innovative, comprehensive solution to the rest of us for discussion, refinement, and implementation.  I would be among the first to join the group. 

          Importantly, the group should know about, but not be constrained by, state law.  If a challenge came later, that would be dealt with then.  (Remember the discussion in “Is Everyone ‘LOCO’?, Part 4” about the large diversity in California and a possible solution coming through greater autonomy for communities?)       

May 3, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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