As somewhat of an outsider, it is awesome to read blogs like African-American Political Opinion, Field Negro, and The Free Slave to name a few, and see the beginnings of what could become a new and powerful driving force in world of American politics. I am talking about the "blackosphere/afrosphere/Afrospear" (the third is my favorite).

I don't have too much of a comment, other than that I think this is a wonderful idea, and that I hope it will be part of a return to the power of grassroots organizing in the black political community, and a challenge to some of the more entrenched black organizations which appear to no longer work in the best interests of their people.

For example, recently in the Afrospear there has been significant anger at the Congressional Black Caucus, both for their support of the war supplemental (a criticism I do not share) and their agreement to work with FOX news for their debate (a criticism I definitely share). Check out this post by Field, and then read the comments.

Though I posted the link earlier, here is a very thorough post detailing conversations around the Afrospear about its creation.

Did I mention I was excited?


Baltimore City to Outlaw Hustle and Bustle

At least it could, if the City Council gets their way on what might be one of the stupidest bills of the year, and I hope the Mayor calls these bills what they really are, political grandstanding by Keiffer Mitchell and others on the council.

Council President, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposal is so hilarious.
Rawlings-Blake's bill had the backing of 10 council members when it was introduced. It would prohibit noise in residential neighborhoods above 55 decibels -- about the volume of a normal conversation. It would allow the police commissioner to ''close'' an offending property for up to one year, after a public hearing.
Better keep your children quiet, or you could get evicted. Heck, will I get evicted for putting out my trash at night and inviting the bone-shaking trash truck with it's loud talking sanitation workers down the alley behind my apartment? Will I be able to call the police on the back-hoe that currently rips open 32'nd street every morning?

Perhaps Ms. Rawlings-Blake can reconsider allowing the Mercy Medical to get Heli-pad near my apartment, because chances are that will be very noisy.

Of course, none of this will happen, because this bill is really aimed at giving the city yet another way to outright steal your property and give it to big developers. With new laws passed in the Maryland Senate relating to imminent domain, the City is scared that they will no longer be able to seize property without impunity and compensation.

Keiffer Mitchell, for all the vitriol he gets here, has a slightly better idea.
Another bill is sponsored by City Councilman Keiffer Mitchell. It would add homicides, assaults, firearms convictions and other violent crimes to the public nuisance law, thus allowing the city to shut a property where the incidents took place, besides prosecuting the offender. Mitchell, who is running for mayor this year, said his bill is aimed at cutting gang violence.

''This gives the police and the prosecutor another tool,'' he said. ''This is intended to go after those property owners that aren't being good stewards.''

Now, this may be going overboard, but it makes more sense than the noise = eviction bill. Kieffer wants to remove criminally negligent homeowners. Rawlings Blake wants to outlaw NOISE in a METROPOLITAN CITY. Like I said, hilarious.


Mayor Dixon and Operation Safe Streets

I suppose that Operation Safe Streets is a major component of Mayor Dixon's push for community focused policing and violence reduction.

The Mayor outlines the project in an offical press release:
OSS is based on the highly successful CeaseFire model developed at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago. CeaseFire works with community-based organizations to develop and implement strategies to reduce and prevent violence, particularly shootings and killings. The model relies on outreach workers, faith leaders, and other community leaders to intervene in conflicts, or potential conflicts, and promote alternatives to violence. Along with cooperation from police, CeaseFire includes a strong public education campaign to provide the message that shootings and violence are not acceptable.

CeaseFire also is premised upon the strengthening of communities so they have the capacity to exercise informal social control and respond to issues that affect them. Since its launch in 2000, Ceasefire has been successfully operating in 15 of Chicago's high-crime neighborhoods. With the collaboration of community groups, outreach teams, law enforcement and clergy, communities experienced reductions in shootings up to 68% in the first year of implementation.

At least this program has seen proven results in high crime, urban communities. I am anxious to see how it does in Baltimore, and to what neighborhoods and organizations the federal grant is going. The PDF above lists March 19th as the date for award announcement, but I can't seem to find it online. If anyone has any info about what neighborhoods got the awards, drop me a line.

It appears that at least one neighborhood, Cherry Hill, has applied.

While this is a novel approach to crime, one that should be encouraged should it work here, I wonder whether it is enough. Once a drug market or a gang is pushed from one neighborhood, they will simply move the next. If OSS is successful, it will hopefully receive more funding to branch out around the city.

What is also troubling about the program is that in does not explicitly include funds to deal with local drug addiction or drug markets. Not only should violence be discouraged, but the community should be enabled to help those in their neighborhood they know are suffering from addiction. The program is otherwise holistic, and for this it should be praised.

As Mayor, Martin O'Malley adopted the zero-tolerance polices of "America's mayor". Its nice to see Mayor Dixon taking something more positive from the Mayors of Chicago and Philadelphia.