It’s front and centre on the City of St. John’s website, right next to a smiling mugshot of Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, complete with chain of office and mayor’s chair.
The headline? “Mayor Announces Advisory Committee on Crime Prevention.”
In a nutshell, the role of the committee would be this: “The city already works on numerous crime prevention initiatives through our Neighbourhood Watch program and the mayor hopes to build upon this work by establishing the advisory committee. The main priorities of the committee will be to create a strategic action plan to address crime in the City of St. John’s, spearhead crime prevention initiatives and develop partnerships which will provide advice and direction to council on issues related to crime prevention.”
It’s got all the necessary buzzwords for a modern committee on pretty much anything: “strategic,” “partnerships,” “spearhead,” “stakeholders.” It’s only really missing the word “dialogue” used as verb, as in “The committee will dialogue with concerned residents …”
And as for membership, it has a prospective footprint that’s just about as broad as could be laid out.
“The mayor intends to invite representation from a variety of internal and external stakeholders such as:
• Royal Newfoundland Constabulary
• Neighbourhood Watch
• Canadian Mental Health Association
• provincial Department of Justice
• Eastern Health
• At large representation from residents will also be sought.
• Other appropriate stakeholders to be determined.”
This is, of course, an election year — and while a committee may well be launched and its members announced, with this being summertime, it’s likely the committee will have few meetings before the fall’s municipal election. That’s especially the case because the committee’s planned broad representation means the panel will include pretty close to a dozen members, all with competing schedules and plans.
It’s virtually impossible that any committee would be able to actually prepare an implementable “strategic action plan” before voters get to the polls.
So what do we have? Salve for voters who are concerned about the growth of crime on the northeast Avalon, and little more. It is tried and true politics: motherhood, apple pie and crime prevention.
And this isn’t a case of prejudging the committee: eventually, it may have some interesting ideas and suggested methods, although it is worth pointing out that similar committees have been tried in other jurisdictions, but have rarely actually reached their stated goals of reducing crime in any meaningful way.
This is more a question of the timing: it’s strategic, yes — and baldly political as well.
Posting it on the city’s website?
Well, it’s certainly cheaper than buying campaign signs or renting a hall to announce a political platform. But perhaps it should be viewed in pretty much the same way — sort of like when the provincial government announces that everyone’s getting a new fire truck in the months leading up to a provincial election.
Stay tuned, taxpayers.