The editorial states: "The biggest challenges were perceptions that crime made Jackson an unsafe place to raise a family, that Jacksonians were helplessly watching urban decline pick up, as population bled torrents into the suburbs. Many of those perceptions remain, as do the fears that such new Census figures are sure to spur. But some don't, or shouldn't."
The editorial goes on to talk about the passage of a large school bond issue, how "Despite the figures, downtown redevelopment is going full-speed ahead" and how affordable housing is being created. The Ledger goes on to speculate that "residential development downtown that would reverse the city's declining tax base".The editorial then closes with: "Once more investment is made in crime fighting, including more jail space and a larger police force, and public confidence follows, that flight will be reversed."
My first beef with this editorial is the phrase "perceptions that crime made Jackson an unsafe place to raise a family", perhaps the more appropriate statement would have been the reality that crime has made Jackson an unsafe place to raise a family. Crime is not a perception. Crime has been bad in the past and it continues to be bad in the City of Jackson. And for those who say it is getting better look at the statistics. The latest stats show increases in auto burglaries, grand larceny's, house burglaries, armed robberies, car jackings and stable if not increasing numbers for Rape and Homicide as compared across past weeks/months and last year. For all of the talk about how Jackson is better the numbers show it is not any better off than in recent history. This from a city that from 2003 stats had triple the national rate of murders and over double the national rate of rape, burglary, car theft and robbery. The people of Jackson and the editorial board of the Clarion Ledger need to face it, Crime is not a perception in Jackson.
My second beef is the proposal that downtown residential projects will reverse the declining tax base. People do need affordable housing to live in but many of the projects that are coming to downtown Jackson are not going to be what is affordable. The Ledger muddles the fact all of this increased square footage is not affordable to a vast majority of the Jackson citizenry. Additionally, the editorial ignores the fact that affordable housing is needed in all areas of the city not just downtown. It is needed out towards Highway 80, it is needed in North Jackson, affordable housing is needed all over the place, not just downtown where the location of being downtown automatically drives many projections right out of being affordable.
My final beef is the closing statement of: "Once more investment is made in crime fighting, including more jail space and a larger police force, and public confidence follows, that flight will be reversed." This is a nice thought but it is really Pollyannish. Jackson has for years been massively understaffed on the police force and has never filled its positions. Jail space has been needed for years and never has the City Council voted for it. A change in leadership happened 2 years ago with "Do Nothing" Harvey Johnson voted out of office in favor of Frank Melton who himself has done nothing to improve the ranks of the PD and to curb the crime problem. At some point you have to be positive and and other points you have to be realistic. This is a time to be realistic not give pat answers of "Oh, it will get better" when the things it takes to make it better don't ever happen. Some times the truth hurts and the Clarion Ledger and this editorial need to quit giving the sugar coating to the city's problems.