FOR THE COST of the full year’s salary the City has agreed to pay outgoing City Manager Stephanie Cutter after her replacement, Rob Hernandez, starts next month, we could fund about five more police officers for that year instead.
For the cost of the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds purchase, we could fund about 85 more police officers.
For the cost of the housing intended for that site, we could probably fund 50 more.
For the cost of the non-budgeted improvements needed for the Westside Arena project—not including the cost of the arena itself—we could probably fund about 100 more police officers.
And that would put us where we need to be: 800+ officers, not the 600-some odd fancifully quoted as a fully staffed Metro police department.
Hell, for the cost of a month’s worth of that goofy orange barrel circus on Bay Street we could hire one officer for a year.
Want to bump it up to 1000 police officers? Add in the $1.5 million that each City Council member receives out of SPLOST revenue to spend in their district with almost no strings attached. That's about another 250 officers right there.
Oh, not a big fan of police, you say?
Education, not law enforcement, is the answer to the root problems that plague Savannah, you say?
Fine, I don’t disagree. How ‘bout this:
For the cost of the latest round of E-SPLOST money going to build new school buildings and only new school buildings, we could adequately compensate each and every current teacher in Chatham County and adequately staff the classrooms of each and every school, with enough money left over to fund more afterschool programs to keep kids off the streets and in school through graduation.
The money’s out there. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.
I’m hesitant to use the phrase “tipping point” for what Savannah faces after the recent savage murder of gallery owner Kevin Reid while walking with his wife down East Waldburg.
We seem to have a lot of things in Savannah that writers like me are fond of describing as “tipping points,” but not much ever seems to really tip. Not a lotta tippin’ goin’ on.
It’s become an old Savannah trope that crime only gets people’s attention when it’s a certain type of person who gets killed.
My feeling about Mr. Reid’s death has much less to do with race or class than with the symbolism of what he represents:
Someone from literally the other side of the world who fell in love with Savannah and decided to stay here and make a difference in local arts and culture.
That in a nutshell is the new Savannah dream. A dream destroyed in seconds by three guys with guns.
Reid’s murder is a microcosm of our particular time, in this particular place.
If Eddie DeLoach loses the mayor’s gavel in 2019, it won’t be because of this one murder, but because of the total volume of deaths — as was the case with Edna Jackson and all the other politicians who lost their offices just last year.
In any case, we don’t have time for the same tired old argument anymore.
If the murder rate continues to skyrocket, deciding the winner of the argument will be a moot point anyway.
Right now what matters is A) the short-term allocation of resources to the one problem which is the most immediate threat—crime; and B) the long-term allocation of resources to the one problem which is the most pervasive threat – piss-poor education.
I know there’s a ton of money out there in Savannah to be had.
I know this because we find the money to help politically connected developers build new parking garages.
I know this because we find the money for Broughton Street streetscapes.
I know this because someone is patronizing all those new restaurants and bars with long lines to get in.
I know this because of the number of nonprofit directors making huge salaries in a town with 26+ percent poverty.
I know this because of all the public school administrators making huge salaries in a school district that ranks near the bottom of one of the worst-performing states in the union.
Don’t tell me the money isn’t out there. It’s a question of priorities, not money.
I admit it’s pretty unrealistic, possibly even stupidly juvenile, to propose stopping all spending that isn’t on crime. The real world doesn’t work like that.
We should be able to prioritize and allocate our resources to where they are most needed.
We should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
But apparently, we aren’t.