When he's not cracking down on Section 8 residents, it seems Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris is busy looking for other innovative ways to better his community.
For instance: birdsong. For the last 10 months, the city has been piping New-Agey music out of speakers along Lancaster Boulevard. In the Wall Street Journal this week, Parris claims that these soothing sounds have caused crime to plummet.
"We're not seeing that impulse-control crime," Parris told the Journal. "It has just been astonishing to us how the community has changed as a result of a one-half-mile stretch."
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Crime is, in fact, down. But it's down everywhere. Nobody other than Parris seems to see a direct link between the crime stats and the bird noises.
So: Is this a waste of money? The Journal notes that Parris paid out of his own pocket for the New Age composition. But the Journal doesn't mention that the city redevelopment agency paid for the 70 speakers that line the half-mile street.
Now that redevelopment agencies are going out of business, vital projects like this one won't get funded anymore.
But they had the money, and this is how they spent it. The idea of planting trees, which would have attracted actual birds, seems not to have occurred to anybody.