But this morning, just after I posted my POLITICS 24/7 tweet, I noticed that about thirty seconds before me, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey posted a “tweet” of his own. It stated that he had jut pulled someone over for littering.
CoryBooker: Just pulled some1 over on elizabeth ave 4 littering. One of the most disrespectful acts u can do in any community.
I don’t know about you, but I sure do wish I could pull over that a-hole driving in front of me who threw out their candy bar wrapper as it flew back and wrapped its way around my car antennae. But us unelected civilians, we can’t do that. And I would also advise that none of you try to do that. Especially in Newark, New Jersey. But Mayor Booker, with his police escort and protection, can and did.
Cory Booker is a Democrat and he is seen as a rising star in New Jersey…..a possible candidate for U.S. Senate or Governor. So I really do not want to compliment the guy. Odds are, I will be helping to defeat him, if and when he does run for Governor or the U.S. Senate. However; I must admit that I think what Booker did, as trivial as it may seem, was a good thing and no waste of time.
You see, back in the 1990’s, New York City, where I am originally from, was a city in financial and social turmoil. It was also becoming the crime capital of the U.S.. Every other day there were headlines about another innocent little boy or girl, or a toddler, or one of their parents, being killed by a stray bullet. In 1990, New York City saw a record annual number of more than 2, 245 murders. Not long after that, when Rudy Giuliani became Mayor, New York began to see a steady and dramatic decrease in all categories of crime, from murder, rape and muggings, to burglaries, auto theft and vandalism.
The hiring of more police, the changing of police tactics and the adoption of broken window policing, all helped to turn things around. With a zero tolerance policy, Mayor Giuliani mandated the focussed enforcement of all laws regarding quality of life issues. This was part of the “broken window policing” policy. The broken window theory is based on the school of thought that says if the windows of a building are not repaired, the tendency is for there to be more vandalism in that building and for even more windows to be broken until eventually, those vandals even break into the building and more serious trouble is born.
So Giuliani and his Police Commissioner set out to repair the little broken windows of crime, the smaller infractions that, if ignored, could turn into bigger infractions and even serious crimes.
They cracked down on public drinking and intoxication, subway fare evasion, people urinating in the streets, and the “squeegee men” who would surround your car at red lights slop fluid on the windshield and start wiping your car window and then demand a buck or two for the unasked for service.
Ridiculed at first, Giuliani’s crackdown on quality of life crimes worked.
But back in Newark, New Jersey, people there are living in a pre-1990’s New York City. Stray bullets, rapes, muggings, armed robberies, are all so rampant that the wild west of yester year looks tame and polite by comparison. For some, the task of trying to make a dent in the existing criminal free for all in Newark, might seem overwhelming and it probably is, but you have to start somewhere.
So maybe a Mayor getting out of his car to ticket someone littering their community, is a start. Maybe the 10 minutes it took Mayor Booker to stop the driver, issue them the ticket and tweet about it, was not a waste of time. Maybe, just maybe, it is a start to the creation of some sense of decency, civic pride and personal responsibility. It may only be a very small start, but it is at least a start.
Of course, if tommorow it comes out that at the same time Mayor Booker was issuing his littering summons, just a little further up the block, someone was being killed, the Mayor will be attacked and chastised for his focus on the trivial, but that is just how fate sometimes works. In the mean time, you have to give Cory Booker credit for trying.