It is hard to fathom that so much violence is gripping Solano County communities. The recent spate of shootings – including some that have resulted in homicides in Fairfield and Suisun City – is absolutely heartbreaking.
During my 14 years at the Daily Republic, I watched as the community lost its innocence with increasing violent crime, hitting a definite low with the senseless 2008 fatal shooting of City Councilman Matt Garcia.
The headlines during the past few weeks, chronicling the shootings near Laurel Creek Park and on Interstate 80, the homicides on Travion Court and Grande Circle and another fatal shooting on Terry Lane in Suisun City are simply mind-blowing occurrences.
I’m no stranger to community violence. I served as general manager of the West County Times in Richmond for four years from 1991 to 1995. The first full year of employment – 1992 – there were more than 30 homicides in the city.
I remember vividly volunteering as Principal for a Day at one of the city’s elementary schools just a few days after one of its young students was killed on the steps just outside the school corridor. A makeshift memorial was set up on the steps. Kids were still grieving the loss of one of their precious friends. It was devastating.
One of the reasons I chose to leave Solano County and California when I retired in 2010 was the escalating crime that left an ugly scar on the Golden State. Solano County is not alone in this unprecedented increase in violence.
The move to Idaho was predicated on several factors, increased criminal activity only one of them. Close proximity to my wife’s family, cost of living and a more conservative political climate weighed heavily into the equation as well.
A few stories related through Boise media during the past few weeks certainly support our decision to relocate.
At the top of the list was a story from KTVB, the local NBC television affiliate. A report from Business Insider ranked Boise as one of the safest cities in America. According the KTVB, Boise is listed No. 7 out of the top 20 safest cities, all based on FBI crime data.
The story went on to say that Boise’s murder rate was 90 percent below average, rape was 60 percent below average and the robbery rate was 73 percent below average.
Boise does have occasional murders. In fact, two men were gunned down last week in their apartment near the city‘s center. One of two of the alleged suspects was arrested a short time later. Interesting, because he was identified as someone from the San Joaquin Valley city of Ceres – in California. The other suspect is still sought by police.
Another KTVB story identified Boise as the best place to move to in 2014. The choice was revealed in a compilation done by Simple Moving Labor, a Texas-based moving company that boasts more than 20,000 customers. Boise sat atop the list ahead of Seattle, Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix, Orlando, Minneapolis, Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Tampa and Houston. Criteria included unemployment data, median income, home value growth and home affordability.
Time Magazine in March identified several cities under a heading, “Solutions for America.” It was looking for communities that were “getting it right” when it came to a thriving economy, a booming cultural scene, quality health care and a growing university.
Boise just happened to rank first against Provo, Utah, Denver, San Antonio and Sioux Falls, S.D.
Idaho’s capital city has made some other lists during the past few years:
Unfortunately, California cities are rarely picked in many of these surveys. I wish better for my native state, but as evidenced by the violence in Solano County, it will take a sea change for a reversal of fate. We can only hope.
Bill James is a former editor and publisher of the Daily Republic, now living in Meridian, Idaho, a suburb of Boise.