For the elected officials and staff at San Bernardino City Hall, bankruptcy is the issue that preoccupies their minds.
But if the bulk of the questions submitted by the public for last Saturday’s Mayoral Candidates Forum are any indication of what’s on the minds of San Bernardino’s residents, they’re preoccupied with rising crime and unemployment.
Federal statistics released this week validate the public’s concerns.
The Sun reported on the crime numbers compiled by the FBI:
The “Crime in the United States, 2012” report showed that violent crime across the nation increased 0.7 percent compared with 2011 statistics, and property crime had decreased 0.9 percent.
But the Inland Empire bucked the national trend in property crime.
San Bernardino showed a 24 percent increase in property crime, with Pomona at 13 percent and Redlands at 14 percent.
“We had significant increases across the board,” said San Bernardino Assistant Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. “Last year we had the 24 percent increase in property crimes, but through July of this year we’ve shown a 5.7 percent decrease.”
Burguan said there are several reasons behind the property crime increase in 2012.
“Personnel cuts, and significant restructuring are just a couple of reasons crime increased,” he said.
Homicides also jumped significantly in San Bernardino last year.
“We don’t know why the murder rate increased,” Burguan said. “But we’re very good at determining why someone’s life was taken.”
Gang violence and drugs are behind many of the homicides that took place last year, he said.
In 2012, San Bernardino recorded 47 homicides, a 56 percent increase from the previous year. There have been 30 homicides in San Bernardino so far this year.
Rising crime is often believed to be tied to unemployment and poverty.
The City of San Bernardino appears to be proving that widely held belief.
According to the United States Census Bureau, and reported by The Sun:
In 2012, 20.4 percent of San Bernardino County residents lived below the federal poverty line, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the year before and 6.0 percentage points from 2008.
That’s seen in requests for assistance from Second Harvest Food Bank, where an all-time record of 30 million pounds of food was given out in San Bernardino and Riverside counties last year, said Executive Director Daryl Brock.
It’s seen in the numbers for the city of San Bernardino, which according to the Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey had a poverty rate of 31.1 percent and an unemployment rate of 17.5 percent in 2012, the year the city filed for bankruptcy.
San Bernardino did not get into this horrible position overnight.
It happened over the course of the last eight years with an incompetent Pat Morris as the Mayor of San Bernardino.
Morris was asleep at the wheel when out of control spending took the City of San Bernardino over the fiscal cliff and into bankruptcy.
His bumbling of his duties are now costing the residents of San Bernardino by deteriorating their safety and their quality of life.
Whoever the next Mayor of San Bernardino will be it is absolutely apparent that the voters will expect two things from that person: a significant reduction in crime coupled with an increase in job opportunities.