Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow…

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!

Today is Saturday, Jan. 28.

And in the City of Philadelphia, we have already had 31 people murdered, and a whole bunch of folks shot.

At this rate, The City of Brotherly Love and Please Put The Damned Gun Down may just see the kind of murder rates that we used to see regularly in the late 90s and early 2000s where hundreds and hundreds of folks were shot dead in the streets.

During his first term, Mayor Michael Nutter promised that he’d bring the murder rates down…and would decline to run for a second term if he didn’t.

The first year or so, the rates did, indeed, go down. But starting last year, parts of Philly became Dodge City all over again, something that would occasionally make Mayor Nutter start cussin’ people out…sometimes in front of live television microphones…

At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Nutter basically told Philly’s criminal element, “I’m tired of all of this murder and shit, and i’m I’m gonna get your asses!”

Mayor Nutter announced a new program to fight the city’s crime issues. Included in this plan is a reward fund that he hopes will make folks come our of their shells and tell police about the murders they’re seeing in the streets, more money for witness protection, which might keep people from getting killed when they do decide to do the right thing, at least 220 new police on the streets charged with going into the neighborhoods where the shootings are occurring the most, and, and I’m pretty sure that this is gonna piss off the folks here in Pennsylvania that believe that a free society is a strapped society, a reward fund for people who turn in folks walking ’round with illegal guns. You get $500 for every illegal gun you get off the street.

Now on its face, this seems like a series of really good ideas.

I’ve been complaining about the sorry state of witness protection in Philadelphia for years now. But while some of the failings of Philadelphia’s witness protection program are financial, some of them stem from the fact that the witnesses that this program tries to help don’t understand that you (a) have to leave your neighborhood to be protected (b) may also have to leave the state and (c) can’t contact your homies from the block because they’ll probably lead the folks who want to keep you from testifying right to you…for the sole purpose of killing your butt! Hopefully, some of the $400,000 that’s going to this particular part of the plan will focus on educating the public on what exactly “witness protection” means…

I’m also down with the whole reward thing. Mayor Nutter came up with the idea of a reward fund designed to pay people for tips after a $20,000 bounty was placed on the heads of three men who beat a man to death in Old City, one of Philly’s tourist areas. Since you just don’t beat people to death among the tourists, we all kinda knew that Da Mayor was gonna throw down the gauntlet…

“To every criminal out there, I just put a $20,000 bounty on your head,” Nutter said. “We are coming for you. We will find you. People will give up that information.”

He hopes…

Like I said, I’m down with the whole reward thing. I like that it’s $20,000. That’s a nice round number. But it’s not like it isn’t something we haven’t tried before. Thousands of dollars go unclaimed every year because people say to themselves “I’d like that $20,000, but if I testify, I won’t be alive to spend it! Snitches get stitches…” While the money is nice, it’s not very useful if you can’t get people to take it…Which is also why I’m glad that this plan includes an anonymous tip and text line. This might just loosen things up…

But while spending money on rewards, police, and witness protection is good, many of us here in Philly, a place where you can swim in the potholes in the summertime in some neighborhoods, and where unchecked urban blight runs amok in some places have one question:

Where is our supposedly broke city, a city where city workers have been working without a contract for four years, coming up with all of this money?

Mayor Nutter has set aside $500,000 for the tips program, but could that money be used elsewhere? And could we get a little help from the same philanthropic organizations that you managed to raise a gang of money from to get rid of School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene Ackerman?

And did you have to use the word “bounty”? When I heard you say this while watching television coverage of your announcement Mr. Mayor, two things popped into my head: a mental picture of Duane “Dog” Chapman and his dysfunctional family scouring the streets of Philadelphia, looking for criminals on the lam and the voice of the late Sammy Davis Jr. singing the theme from the television show “Baretta”.

I know, I know. That’s a big literal. But my guess is that Da Mayor wants the city’s potential murderers to have those same mental pictures.

Let’s hope it works because while my Mom is no longer around to call me every time that someone gets shot to ask me if I knew this person, my older sister is…

And it’s still gonna annoy me…

So if you’re smart, you’ll take Sammy’s advice…

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