Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phoenix crime is dropping

Today's Arizona Republic tells us that some categories of crime in Phoenix have "plummeted." The news is pretty good. "The rate of car thefts, rapes and aggravated assaults all plunged in 2007 under a new police strategy of focusing on criminal "hot spots" throughout Phoenix."

The Phoenix police do a pretty good job of laying out crime stats on the web, though I can't seem to find the year-end totals for 2007. One of the cooler pages are these hot spot maps that show where the crime is concentrated. I've been looking at these for a few years and one of the amazing things is the transformation of south Phoenix. Three or four years ago the area between the Salt River and South Mountain was covered with red and yellow, denoting heavy concentrations of crime. Now the map is almost completely green.

I imagine PD has targeted lots of the local gangbangers, but the other thing and probably just as important has been the economic revitalization of the area with shopping along Baseline Road, the Raven golf course, half-million dollar homes along the mountain and more affordable new homes along Southern Ave. Now if they could just do something about the Roosevelt School District.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama pro and con

Two articles on the New Republic webpage caught my interest this week -- the first, by respected historian Sean Wilentz is a lengthy takedown of Barack Obama that could have been written by Clinton strategist Mark Penn. The title, "How Barack Obama played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton," about says it all. The article has generated about 450 comments so far, overwhelmingly negative.

In stark contrast, political analyst John Judis goes back 200 years to put Obama in the context of "early generations of Americans (who) became captivated by the idea that they could create a future without reference to the past." See it here.

Judis' article is generally positive toward Obama but appropriately skeptical about the ability of any president to transcend politics in the way Obama is suggesting. It's sad that Wilentz the historian is reduced to the role of political hit man while the political pundit does the heavy historical lifting.