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Local opinion columnists

Let the people speak

By From page A11 | May 01, 2014

The turnout Tuesday of more than 300 concerned residents at the Fairfield Civic Center was great. There were older folks right down to toddlers. It was an important show of solidarity to have the City Council, chief of police and nearly a dozen police officers, as well as Fairfield-Suisun School District’s superintendent, Suisun City mayor, Solano County supervisors, pastors and other organizations coming together.

While most of the speeches (over horrible audio) were informative, Police Capt. Joe Allio was the standout speaker. He was passionate, focused and no-nonsense. He talked about meticulous investigations the police do day in and day out and shared with us the things police do on their own time with their own money to support the community. He wasn’t afraid to point the finger at parents who aren’t holding their kids accountable.

But while I thought the turnout was nice and many of the speeches were on target, I’m still left with the feeling that the meeting was a missed opportunity.

The public input part of the meeting was mishandled. There should have been a time limit for speakers, so more people had the opportunity to talk. When you have an open forum, after the people have sat and listened to over an hour of speeches, you don’t cut it short. Twenty-five minutes into the public input portion of the meeting, it was ended so City Council members could do some last-minute cheerleading. For a meeting billed to be from 6 to 8 p.m., why did it end early? Why weren’t the people given that time?

When you have a town hall meeting, the most important thing is to hear from the people. Sometimes folks just want to vent and I don’t blame them, because if you’re hearing gunshots while you’re feeding your baby, you’re petrified. But it’s not just venting and complaints, it’s hearing suggestions and ideas from the people. By cutting off the public’s voice, the “town hall” came across more like a press conference.

I agree with Operation THUGS founder Larry Bluford that the city missed a chance to spur people to action by having signup sheets or other information available. There could’ve been tables in the lobby with displays full of information on how to set up a neighborhood watch as well as pamphlets and information from the police, Faith Partners Against Crime, Mission Solano, The Leaven and others available for residents to take home. Though Nextdoor.com, a website that allows neighbors to communicate on a secure network, was mentioned, there could’ve been a presentation about the website to show people how it works.

I know it’s not politically correct, but I hope in future meetings more minorities will show up. Whites make up less than half of the residents of Fairfield, but you couldn’t tell that by the turnout. Everyone needs to be involved if we’re to beat back crime.

Even though I thought it could’ve been more inclusive, there was a lot of information shared and at least Fairfielders know the police, city, school district and nonprofit organizations are working together to make our streets safer.

But next time, let the people speak. Peace.

Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 28 comments

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  • Mayor SanchezMay 01, 2014 - 2:20 am

    I have the same comment about the forum format but the DR reporter did not mention my observation that more time should have been allotted for public comment. But this is just the start. I was very pleased with the turn out. The public is now fully engaged in a serious search for solutions. Suisun City has some ideas that worked in the past when we had problem apartments. I look forward to subsequent forums

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  • patrickMay 01, 2014 - 11:56 am

    yes Suisun demolished the apartment complex that was I trouble spot----Fairfield wants to build more low rent apartments

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  • Rich GiddensMay 01, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    We did everything the cops suggested when that Corrections Officer and his kids were operating the disorderly party house on our Street in Suisun Mayor Sanchez. Your incompetent police and you will be answering for those betrayal's of the public's trust in Federal Court. We even went to mediation and they failed to show up and your cops let the nuisance and late night loud disturbances go on and on until we got State Officials involved. It was only then that it stopped.

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  • Horton HuMay 01, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    His name is Kelvin, not DR reporter. Lot of "I's" in the that "political look at me" comment.

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  • CD BrooksMay 01, 2014 - 6:27 am

    I regret not being able to attend but hoping they have another meeting sooner than later. I really hope they provide the opportunity to speak as you mentioned. The problems in this city can be attributed to many things but it makes no difference what anyone says and you can rant and rave all you like, but if the police aren't going to enforce the law we get what we have now, period. They are not and have made it clear by they don't intend to. Nice.

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  • The MisterMay 01, 2014 - 6:32 am

    So they don't care what the people have to say and they tell us what we want to hear... and nothing ever gets better. Anyone surprised?

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  • My2centsMay 01, 2014 - 6:34 am

    Kelvin your thoughts were echoed by many of the comments to the story about the town hall meeting yesterday. I would suggest another town hall meeting organized by residents this time. Succinct comments on city issues containing ideas and proposals about how to combat crime, each no longer than 3 minutes each could be the focus. No introduction of ANY politicians, no campaigning, no speeches bragging about what a great parent you are or what all you do for the city already. (It will be interesting to see how many politicians show up if they know they will not get to speak, ha,ha) The forum would provide an opportunity for citizens to ask questions, share ideas and talk about what is working in their neighborhoods. We need to make everyone feel welcome and safe. In other words the bigots who want to take the microphone to blame, blame, blame whatever race they are about hating at the moment, should stay home. We need to work TOGETHER. I have good, law abiding, hard working neighbors of all races in my neighborhood. There are criminals, homeless and drug addicts in our neighborhoods of all races. I will look into organizing the event and let you know when ; )

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  • CD BrooksMay 01, 2014 - 6:57 am

    My2cents, I believe you have a good idea but law enforcement and council members need to be in attendance. They need to step out of their erroneous ego-inflating mode and listen to what folks are saying directly to them. It won't be a friendly room but as you stated 3 minutes no BS, be direct and concise stay focused on the issues. BTW, you'll probably need a larger venue...

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  • my2centsMay 01, 2014 - 7:14 am

    CD no reason politicians and law enforcement should not attend, the meeting, however will be by, and for residents this time. It sounds like you've given up believing in Fairfield. I urge you not to and encourage you to attend. There are WAAAAAY more good, law abiding citizens than criminals. It is OUR city. We have the power to make it what we want.

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  • CD BrooksMay 01, 2014 - 7:34 am

    My2cents if they're not present the meeting is worthless. It may be worthless anyway but at least we'd have their ear. I would make every effort to attend and I have not given up on Fairfield. I have made it clear that without enforcement on any level, the proverbial snowball begins and everything collapses. There is an abundance of evidence that shows that is what's going on and there is no evidence to suggest it is going to change.

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  • Rick WoodMay 01, 2014 - 8:25 am

    NextDoor.com DOES provide a forum, but it takes a critical mass if users in a neighborhood to work, and for people to respect the purpose if the site. It's not hard to find or join, and FFPD uses it to communicate with people. I've never been impressed with what is accomplish at big rooms full of people.

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  • The MisterMay 01, 2014 - 8:55 am

    You are right about big rooms full of people... they are typically either a wasteful BS session or a pre-programed Delphi Technique event designed to make it seems as if the people fully support what the government has been doing or intends to do.

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  • my2centsMay 01, 2014 - 2:29 pm

    RW - I am not sure why you feel there must be a choice between either your on line forum through NextDoor OR a town hall meeting. Some people prefer the "meeting" in an on line forum, others prefer to meet neighbors and citizens in person. Both are useful and the more people that stay connected the better. It is not necessary to criticize residents idea to gather together in an effort to promote NextDoor.com. There is room for all ideas in all forms.

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  • Rick WoodMay 01, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    m2c: You're right; it's not an "either-or" choice. But I stand by what I said. Your comments about how to have an effective big meeting are right on, but rarely is that what we get. It's hard to do, especially with a "one-off" experience. I think what would be cool would be to get a critical mass of NextDoor people going, them have THEM meet to see each other face-to-face and discuss issues from time to time.

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  • LilMay 01, 2014 - 10:45 pm

    I deactivated my Nextdoor account. I don't like having my full name available to anyone who signs up from my neighborhood. I don't live in a good neighborhood. I have good neighbors in my immediate area but down the street, not so much. I live alone and that site just displays a bit too much of my info. If they would let you just have your first name, that would be different but to have my full name shown with the street I live on? No thanks.

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  • Rick WoodMay 01, 2014 - 10:53 pm

    Good comment, Lil. Pass it on to your neighborhood NextDoor site leader. If there is not already a work-around, there could be one if enough people ask.

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  • clancyMay 01, 2014 - 8:56 am

    What good is all the crime fighting going to do IG the judges are going to reduce bail allow plea deals and light sentences and let these thugs right back out on the street? I am very disillusioned. We have to hold them more accountable.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 01, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    Sounds like the complainers were shut down by the cop thugs as they lined up to demand answers to complaints of biased and ineffective policing where night after night, they were disturbed, threatened and harassed by no-gooders ( some of them cop's kids) and the cops did NOTHING. The cops like these hug-a-thug organizations and they need to be investigated as to the relationships between them and the cops. Was the public's interests damaged?

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  • Getting InvolvedMay 01, 2014 - 1:07 pm

    Over all, I felt this meeting was a venue for the Police Chief to advertise his programs and to assure the residence of Fairfield that in fact, the sky is not falling. In reality, it has already fallen. The low income housing projects combined with the surge of rental units throughout Fairfield and the addition of stores like Wal-Mart in or very near the residential areas has attracted elements that have contributed to the spike in crime for some neighborhoods. There are some groups from outside the community that have targeted Fairfield as a fertile ground introducing prostitution and drug sales as a result of the lack in community resources to prevent it. The management of the Fairfield police department seems to be trying to employ ineffective programs to reverse these trends. It is time for the Fairfield police to stop sending three cars for a traffic stop and get those officers into the neighborhoods. We need a volunteer force charged as liaisons between the police and the community to improve the perception of secured neighborhoods. Our community is diverse with significant numbers believing they don’t have a voice. Every citizen should be able to report crimes knowing that an officer will come and make a report. Each neighborhood should have an assigned officer and should make his/her presence know by walking through the neighborhood and talking to the people who live there. Neighborhood Watch is a good program if you know your neighbors, with the number of rentals and apartments having short term occupancies, this has become impractical. It is time to focus on rebuilding trust between the Fairfield residence and the police, while opening our minds to alternative neighborhood protection options.

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  • clancyMay 01, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    Getting involved.. I could not have expressed it better ! Exactly right on . Suisun as well don't know many neighbors well and one of the next door neighbors won't shut their dog up. Don't get along with them too well besides they speak very little English.

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  • patrickMay 01, 2014 - 2:45 pm


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  • Salty DogMay 01, 2014 - 4:31 pm

    Don't worry Pam Bertani will fix it and tell all of us what we want to hear

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  • Catherine MoyMay 01, 2014 - 5:35 pm

    I was unhappy that not everybody got to speak. We should have had tables with the nonprofits and others who do so much for our community and that others can join. I'd be happy to go to a forum and sit among my fellow residents. I talk all day, email and otherwise communicate with residents. I certainly don't need to talk. However, it is important that folks know what public safety is doing. Several council members are working every day, researching and looking for ways. As i always say, there are only five of us and 110,000 in town. The answers will come from listening. Let me know if you have questions that weren't answered. I will try to get the answers. [email protected] Meanwhile, I will continue to listen and work on the problems the best I know how. Thanks again for coming to the meeting. It showed concern and I did learn a lot from you.

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  • clancyMay 01, 2014 - 8:44 pm

    Patrick.. Thank you . I have called them several times. They went over once last summer and talked to them. That quieted things down for a couple days. Suisun police was nice enough to try a second time. Now animal control says I have to get written complaints from three neighbors. We have no rear neighbors the creek behind us. The neighbor to their right also barks and the neighbor on our other side are their friends. So animal control days we have to sue them. I tried writing directly to the Mayor Sanchez .don't know what I was thinking. But I appreciate the suggestion.

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  • clancyMay 01, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    It seems to me if you immigrated here from another country and move into a neighborhood you would want yo be a good neighbor and be accepted but that's just me.

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  • Mr. SmithMay 01, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    That was quite a few years ago. It's a different ballgame, Clancy. "Immigrants" today expect us to adjust to their standards.

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  • rlw895May 01, 2014 - 11:00 pm

    Interesting comment, Mr.S. Can you elaborate?

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  • Mrs. VMay 02, 2014 - 8:47 am

    While law enforcement is a vital component for a healthy, productive community, businesses partnering with communities for job training is often overlooked. They can successfully train a whole community work force often overlooked for their lack of technology, math, and science skills. Imagine neighborhood centers teaching skills, holding small business workshops, advanced job-training by local businesses? Crime is an alternative to opportunity. Why not look at community models similar to Bill Stricland's of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation of Pittsburgh and adapting to our community needs? Educate not incarcerate.

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