I was saddened and outraged to read of the two African American ministers, bolstered by three dozen other Christian men of the cloth ("a preacher called by God," one of them described himself), charging Mayor James Hahn with attempting to bribe them into silence ("Clergy Scorn Funds Hahn Offered," Feb. 14).
Here are men who have known and trusted the mayor for 20 years, who have now taken the moral low road with unsubstantiated charges. Is their cause so desperate that they must resort to this?
How these men thought their action would help the cause of reappointing Chief Bernard Parks escapes me. Whether Mayor Hahn did or did not try to buy someone's silence has nothing to do with the chief's merits. And they know that--which can only invite the suspicion that their charges are meant to distract public attention away from what for most of us is still an unresolved question.
Re Bishop Charles Blake and the Rev. Cecil Murray: I am thankful that I am neither in their congregations nor the community they supposedly serve. They could have taken the grants and done something worthwhile with the money. Instead they chose the political spotlight to try to make a statement. They should look at the recent crime stats and see that more and more good people in their community are becoming victims of violent crimes. They still would have their 1st Amendment right to speak out even if they took the money.
I have been active in community policing in Van Nuys since the early '90s. Before Parks became chief we had built up an effective Neighborhood Watch program that virtually eliminated crime in our neighborhood. Under Parks the program was dismantled, with disastrous results. These results are a matter of record. Crime is up.
Over the last three years I joined with other community members to fight for the return of our community policing program. We have received only grudging concessions from the chief. We once had monthly meetings at the Van Nuys Division. The meetings would include the division commander, senior lead officers and volunteer police community representatives as well as Neighborhood Watch block captains. Vital information between neighborhoods was exchanged and networks were established. The division has not hosted a meeting in three years.
The relationship between the community and the department has suffered as a consequence of the chief's policy. Parks must not be reappointed.