Villaraigosa, Yet Again, Says L.A.'s as Safe as the 1950s

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Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Here we go again ...

click to enlarge L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  • L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood next to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck yesterday and boldly insisted once again that L.A.'s as safe as it was during the 1950s ... even though L.A. Weekly pointed out last year, in a cover story titled "Bratton: L.A. is as Safe as 1956," that such a statement is completely ridiculous.

After all, Villaraigosa promised to be a different kind of mayor compared to his first term during his inauguration speech in July, but then a day later resumed his jet-setting ways by flying to South Africa and continued with that kind red-eye governing for the rest of the year.

As a result, Villaraigosa was completely missing in action for one of the most important quality-of-life issues of last year: the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

But we still figured the mayor would have learned a lesson or two during 2009 ... maybe even made a new year's resolution to finally carry out past resolutions.

Guess not.

In the press release for Villaraigosa's announcement on 2009 crime, it states that "the Mayor and city officials also reported across the board reductions

in the city's year-end crime statistics, marking the city's safest

point in more than 50 years."

So just like last year around this time, when Villaraigosa was running for re-election and saying L.A. was as safe as 1956, we're back to the 1950s again.

A time when gangs were fighting each other with chains and knuckles not bullets and automatic weapons, when people didn't lock their car doors, when the drug war wasn't completely out of hand, and the list goes on.

But Villaraigosa still wants people to believe 2010 L.A. is really as safe and quaint as 1950s L.A. (It'll be interesting to see which media outlets fall for the mayor's line.)

To make matters worse, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is acting exactly like his predecessor Bill Bratton and refuses to contradict the mayor's incredible claim.

And who are those anonymous "city officials" the press release refers to, anyway?

The bottom line is this.

Talk with any reputable crime expert, as we did, and they'll tell you: Comparing today's crime with crime of the 1950s just doesn't work and it's not intellectually honest.

In our cover story last year, Malcolm Klein, professor emeritus of sociology at USC and a gang-crime expert, said bluntly, "It's a silly comparison."

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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