Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Crime and the Politician

I've been seeing a lot of talk in the comments about crime in New Haven, fueled by news stories about a rash of shootings in that city. Aldon claims that overall crime in New Haven has gone down during John DeStefano's tenure, and that the city is generally a safer place than it was in the mid-1990s. This is true. Check for yourself here. It's also true for Dan Malloy's Stamford.

What's also true is that crime statewide and nationwide (see here) has dropped since 1996, although it looks like it may be ticking up slowly again. Mayors, governors and law enforcement officials across the country have been taking credit for this massive turnaround of what seemed like an unstoppable crime epidemic. Rudy Giuliani was especially sucessful at taking advantage of lower crime rates, especially in light of his new, tough policies. It could be that this is one of the reasons Republicans have stayed in power nationally for so long: they are associated with the drop in crime that happened on their watch. They get the credit.

Should they? It's hard to say. Innovative initiatives like better community policing, more police officers and programs aimed at the roots of crime may, in fact, be working.

There could be other factors at work. The economy improved dramatically in the late 1990s, and still isn't in the sort of crisis we saw in the early part of that decade, when crime was at its worst. Stephen Levitt's weirdly fascinating bookFreakonomics suggests the abortion rate is partly to blame (note: don't sic the Connecticut Family Council on me, I just think it's a unique theory). Perhaps crime goes in cycles. Maybe something else is going on. We just don't know.

Law and order is such a fundamental issue for voters that a perception of weakness in that area could lead to disaster. Alex Knopp lost in Norwalk partly because of a crime scare in that city. Michael Dukakis lost the presidency partly because of Willie Horton and a bizarre debate question about what he would do if someone killed his wife (although looking silly in a tank didn't help, either). So yes, crime and the perception of crime matters a great deal in elections.

So what about DeStefano and New Haven? New Haven is safer now than when DeStefano took over. True. The statistics bear that out. Did it have anything to do with what DeStefano did as mayor? Probably, although other factors may have been at work, too.

Even if the crime rate is lower, the perception by people living in the suburbs and the country of cities like Hartford and New Haven as crime-ridden is very real. The news media is full of stories about shootings and violence in our cities, as it has been for decades. This perception is driven by media hype, sensationalism, fear of the unknown, racist and classist preconceptions... and the fact that crime actually is higher in cities. New London and Newington have roughly the same number of people, but New London has a higher crime rate.

Both DeStefano and Malloy can point to lower crime in their cities as marks of progress. Their opponents can point to high-profile crimes and suggest that they haven't done such a good job, after all. Which is the truth? Does it matter?

I've said before that John DeStefano will have to work against the suburban and media perception of New Haven as unsafe, whether that perception is justified or not. His success may be directly tied to the marketing of New Haven as safe and livable.


Guy that never posts said...

So I wish I had a job that provided me an opportunity to post during the day because reading the previous threads are quite entertaining. A couple of things: I see a couple of folks (or perhaps just one lonely person under a number of names) that really just hate New Haven and dont really care for its mayor. But the petty way you try to vilify Mayor DeStefano seems to me to be a little far fetched, as you would make it seem that the mayor was actually the cause for the crime. From What I can tell New Haven is quite a fine city with a happening night life. It’s safe. I’ve been there often in the evening without incident. It has great residential areas and is an excellent place to own a business.
Is there crime sure, name one city that doesn’t. Has the mayor helped in cutting crime?-yes. Do I believe he goes around at night in tights and a cape fighting crime? Not really – although I would definitely vote for him if he did.

The simple fact is this – it’s really not a fact as much as my opinion, but enough people make up facts on this site and give their opinion as if it were fact – Mayor DeStefano has been good for New Haven. I think he would be a great governor.

My guess his detractors on the site are Malloy campaign staffers with nothing better to do.

Guy that never posts said...

Also I think Knopp lost because he lost his labor support. Regardless I think the year 2009 is going to be a good one for the Dems in Norwalk

Genghis Conn said...

Knopp lost for a couple reasons (including labor and parking trouble), but I remember that a string of murders had everyone a bit jittery. Definitely a contributing factor.

I'm not sure just how connected the mayor or city council ever is to the crime rate.

DeanFan84 said...

Genghis-- You write, "His success may be directly tied to the marketing of New Haven as safe and livable." Amen to that.

What kills me is that you guys' perception of New Haven is so different from those of us who actually live here. Look, New Haven isn't Hartford, it isn't Bridgeport, it isn't Meriden, and it isn't Waterbury. In contrast to those economically distressed areas, people actually choose to live in New Haven. Yes, that's right. New Haven is seen as a desirable place to live these days.

Our city has changed dramatically since DeStefano took the helm in the early 90's. Suburban flight has come to an abrupt halt, and a reverse flow has begun. Not only retirees, but young families are choosing to live in New Haven. Suburban kids are even coming to our magnet schools!

So I understand the damage that is done to our social fabric by the evening news channels. But like driving down the highway, or flying, (God forbid), in an airplane, or eating sushi, New Haven is safe. Either that, or the yuppies paying $300-$400 to live in New Haven condos have all gone nuts.

What I'd like to flesh out is to what extent the Malloy campaign is trying to exploit suburban fears and prejudices for a leg up against DeStefano. First,, I think it is clearly wrong that his staffers are posting here under the veil of anonymity. (don't argue the point guys, clearly you all are here as much as Aldon.) I'm sick of the driveby New Haven crime mentions. And Malloy deserves full blame for it when his staffers don't have the decency to identify themselves.

Tonight, I heard Dan Malloy speak to a Fairfield Dean group. When asked what he saw as the difference between himself and John, Dan skipped issues and went directly to electability. The opening to his spiel was that Stamford was "more like the rest of CT". Elsewhere in his talk, he made reference to the reality of class warfare in our fair state.

Shame on you Dan Malloy. I'm not stupid. I can put two and two together.

I give you this. Maybe you are right. Maybe your are more electable as mayor of a city that conjures up images of Fairfield County riches, Martha Stewart and Wall Street types. Catered events and Polo clubs. LandRovers and Porsches galore.

And New Haven? Jesse Jackson is a welcome figure in our city. He should be. He is a Democrat, and we are proud of him. New Haven is a union hot bed too. If you're a Democrat, your proud of that too. And a college town, with, gasp, liberals.

But Dan, please don't think you win by running away from our minorities, unions and liberals. We've got to keep the big tent together. In the long run, we all lose, if the strongest hand you are playing is the reinforcement of stereotypes, "Republicans Good, Democrats Bad", in classic-DLC/Lieberman style.

Step back from the brink. If the best argument you have for yourself is that Stamford smells sweeter than New Haven, you don't deserve my vote, his vote, her vote, or any damn Democrat's vote. Period.

Anonymous said...

My wife works in New Haven.

She finds the attitude expressed herein bizarre. said...

Trash the electability issue all you want, but the thing is, ultimately what it comes down to is electablity.

The problem is image. People in the North Central part of the state seem to know the name John Destefano, but when they meet him he comes across to most as a traditional liberal intellectual. In fact, he probably is one. Is that a bad thing? Certainly not. Destefano is a true policy wonk and understands the ins and outs of Connecticut government and politics. To his credit, he is often one of the smartest guys in any room. The bad thing is that he relishes being the smart guy, he makes sure everyone knows he's the smart guy, and in the end usually makes more foes than friends by talking down to people.

This may be effective in an Alderman-Mayor style government, but it certainly not something that plays well in consensus building at the capitol, nor is it a trait that can win the hearts and minds of voters away from the most popular governor since opinion polls for governors were taken.

To win, and I mean beat Rell win, both are going to have to not just hit Rell on failed policies, but explain to people (and simply)what their successful policies will be…..and most important, making them leave feeling confident and inspired that we can change things in Connecticut. I've seen both Destefano and Malloy give their stump speech, and Malloy, from what I saw, did that better than Destefano did with the above. DeStephano is a great speaker, but when he gets into policy he starts talking to folks like they are five, and that doesn’t fly. Malloy has his own different flair for the dramatic speech, but when he gets down to the business, he levels with people and tells them what’s bad, what’s good, and what needs to be done. I left thinking, “Ok, this isn’t that bad, we can change this.” That said Malloy doesn't have as good of name recognition and it seems is going to do some yeomen’s work to get the party nod at the convention.

Finally, a point on elections in general. When you are the Mayor of any City and you are running against a sitting Governor, her record and that of her predecessor will be what you run your campaign on. Tying it back to your record is important, don't get me wrong, but it is entirely secondary to proving that, opinion polls aside, things are not good in Connecticut and we better start working to make them better.

PS. I am not in any way affiliated with either campaign, just the observations of a conscientious observer.

ctkeith said...

Exactly why we need DeStefano,

Consensus is the exact thing that needs to be thrown out the window.If you've ever watched a legislative committee work in Hartford you would know consensus means hard decisions never get made.

If your happy with the last 10-15 yrs of decline in Ct. and want a corperatist Republican-lite administation elect DLC Dan Malloy.

If you're looking for a leader and someone unafraid to make the Democratic Majority stand for Democratic principles JDS is your only choice

Anonymous said...

"someone unafraid to make the Democratic Majority stand for Democratic principles"

Well, one party Democratic rule really works well elsewhere when it is vigorously applied

Having a liberal Democratic Governor and a liberal Democratic legislature is just as safe for taxpayers as letting the Commander of a nuclear submarine hold both keys to arm missiles

Anonymous said...

It's all about population, sadly. The reason crime dropped so drastically in the mid-90's is that there were just far fewer young men and women to commit those crimes.

Generation X, and most specifically children born in the mid to late 70's, were part of the smallest birthrate in national history.

Just look at college enrollments 10 years ago vs. today. It had nothing to do with the economy, it was just simply a lack of college aged young adults!

As the 'echo boomers' continue to work their way through society you will see an uptick in crime, which is already beginning to show today.

AN 1143 said...

Electibility is a tough issue to run on in a primary. I supported Wes Clark in the last Prez. primary and that was supposed to be a reason why people would vote for him. It turned out it was not a very good reason and people didn't vote for him. I've always thought that electibility is a good 3rd or 4th issue to have but not the focus point of a campaign. Dan Malloy has a lot to be proud of and I would hope that he chooses to run on his accomplishments rather then electibility.

Anonymous said...

8:02. NYC gained 1M residents during the 1990's and crime plummetted

Anonymous said...

Of course New Haven went to the dogs under deStefano. Why else would Joe want to sell his house and get out of the city?

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

ROTFL! DeanFan84, yesterday the various Anonymi were (racist) Republican trolls ... now they're malicious (and malingering) Malloy minions? Which is it?

Honestly, you guys just slay me.

Paul Vance said...

I often find myself nodding my head in agreement with DeanFan84 when reading his posts-- and I agree that New Haven may be a nice place to live- and that like all Cities, it has its challenges-- public safety is an ongoing concern for all cities. Many times it is the perception that needs to be dealt with-- for instance-- I have heard some of my suburban friends tell me that they are afraid of Downtown Waterbury-- one of the safest and most patrolled areas of our City. The reality needs to be marketed to defeat the perception.

I have a different perspective as someone who has a family member on the CT State Police and a family member on the New Haven PD (who chooses to live in Waterbury). There is a fear all over the state about the increased use of heroin- and this has an affect on all 169 towns and cities. I am not an expert in this area, but crime and drug related crimes are not just a city problem.

DeanFan-- why do you hurt me? I can get you statistics btw that would show you that Waterbury has one of the most active housing markets and one of the lowest crime rates of the Cities that you mentioned. Now DeanFan-- you can be my guest anytime you would like to check out the great things that are happening in Waterbury-- the Palace Theatre, a new UConn branch and the Waterbury Arts Magnet School- with the caveat that you post on this blog how much Waterbury has improved.

That being said- New Haven and Stamford are cities that have made great strides and you can see it. Waterbury does not have Yale University as NH does or the location of a Stamford-- but what Waterbury has is a group of committed DEMOCRATS who are willing to work hard to keep it a safe, clean and liveable city (with a great new theatre district!).

As far as this blog goes, I am always interested to read- but sometimes it is frustrating to see Democrats attacking Democrats. I dare say that Mayor Malloy or Mayor DeStefano would be an upgrade over the Republican Governor-- just as I believe that Alderman Vance or Senator Murphy in Congress would be a marked improvement over the Republican that holds the office at present.

Lets focus on those issues where we can agree-- that Connecticut has done very poorly over the past 20 years while we, the Democrats have spent far too much time fighting each other. Let elect Democrats of all types and all stripes-- or we are simply handing other parties the mantle of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I enjoy seeing your dad on TV, He is on more than the Governor. I'm sure this has been of no hindrance in your political career. In your house race I'm the "Distinguished Gentleman" (see Eddie Murphy films)effect will be in full bloom.

BTW, I doubt that without massive sub rosa Republican support Jarjura would have been re-elected. The Brass City finally gets competent leadership and his own Democrats try and show him the door. Figures

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, i find it comical when you attack others for stereotyping and labeling. and it seems that you adhere to the george costanza line of thinking that 'if you believe it, it's not a lie'. once more, i am a non-racist, compassionate, undecided in the primary democratic member of a town cmte. i do not live on new haven (although i have heard that you have since the 80's), something i have in common with 168 towns and cities. therefor, pereception of new haven and its crime or lack thereof is all i can go on. you have the george bush problem of not admitting when you are wrong. the sooner you realize that there is a perception problem instead of getting defensive to those you say there is, you, and the destafano campaign, will be a lot better off.

Anonymous said...

Here's how DeStefano stood behind one of his police offiers!

Paul Vance said...


Thanks for the compliment regarding my dad-- when I was growing up there were times that I hated being "Little Paul"-- it certainly does not hurt that he is well known and more importantly, well respected. (Love the movie--"Vote Jeff Johnson-- the name you know"). My dad and my mother (an ER nurse)are great parents who were always involved in the community- something that I have tried to follow. (My dad should be better known for his now 20 seasons as a basketball coach for St. Peter & Paul's in Waterbury-- especially since he is unpaid and has not had a child in the school since 1993!)

Waterbury politics never lacks for drama- that is for sure!

frankS said...


One note about the CT's UCR, it does not compile all of the reports from State PD, Yale PD, SCSU PD and New Haven PD inot a cumlative "New Haven Report. It also doesn't include attempted events (i.e. a missed shooting)

Gabe said...

Here is my experience with New Haven (for what its worth):

When I moved to CT from NY 8 or 9 years ago, New Haven is someplace we didn't go very often. My wife warned me about the train station when I visited her and told me about shootings in the mall.

2 years ago when looking to buy a house we seriously considered buying in New Haven because of the seeming turnaround the city has made.

[Aside: we ultimately decided not to because of the comparison of public schools with the other places we were looking. I know the public schools are looking up, but more needs to be done to allow young families to move in en masse. And, said the son and son-in-law and husband of three teachers, my kids aren't going to private school.]

Last summer when we brought sandwiches and picnic chairs to the green to see Blues Traveler, my wife and I talked again about who much nicer NH has gotten in the last few years.

My point is this: We are not arguing about abstract statistics with no connection to reality. If you live in the NH area, there is no question that the city is a better and safer place to live and be than it was almost a decade ago when I arrived.

Now, I'm not crediting that entire turnaround to the mayor (I refused to do it for Rudi and today isn't a good day to mess with hypocracy) - too many other factors (including a bit of good luck) are involved. But its laughable to not give the mayor some credit for a turnaround in his city on his watch.

Just for the record, the only staff I'm on is my wife's. I've met both candidates and I was more impressed with DeStefano because of his willingness to discuss bold ideas on how to fix the property tax situation (btw - Hamden revalued and my valuation doubled - am I going to have to move?). Malloy also had ideas in this regard, but they seemed more conventional.

We can all agree (at least the Dems among us) that regardless of who wins, we will be offering the candidate our support. Right?

Finally, I have become numb to electability arguments. Kerry won the nomination on the strength of his electibility and look where that got us....

Gabe said...

One final point - To the anonymous with all the websites -

Embedding the website as a link into your post is easy and fun!

Check this link to see how.

I, for one, am lazy and would be more likely to read the site if it were linked.

Dems in 06 said...

Deanfan -

What is this facination with screaming that everyone who doesnt like DeStefano is a Malloy staffer, and this crap that Malloy should be help responsible for what each of his supporters says? I don't like John DeStefano, and I don't work for any politicians. I'll give you a second to recover from the shock of this statement.

Why don't you try sticking to facts instead of conjecture and nonsense? Why don't you stop stating your opinion as fact? As is it, all you do is make this board worse. You're a troll, and nothing else. I enjoy reading Aldon's posts, even though I won't be voting for his boss, simply because he seems like a nice and reasonable guy, and more importantly a good Democrat. You are the opposite: Your only focus is destroying Democrats who don't fit into your jaded vision of what a Democrat is. When you grow up a little, you'll learn that the power of this party is in its ability to not only attract different types of people, but to speak for them and to them all at once.

You talk about "DLC Dems" dividing the party? What the hell do you think you're doing?

Proud Moderate Dem said...

Gabe, i disaggree with your assessment that kerry won based on electibility. kerry won bc there was a murder suicide in Iowa between gep and dean allowing him to get the win. if edwards were to have won iowa, we would be talking about president edwards bc he was/is more electible than kerry. further, until deanfan can take part in rational arguments i have come up with a formula to come up with value for his comments. in the following equation, the variable y=anything that deanfan has to say.
y x 0 = value

Anonymous said...

Would DeStefano and Malloy run as a team for Gov and LG or vice wersa? DeStefano is clearly the policy wonk but policy wonks don't play well in elections unless they have personality, charisma and rallying charm. Malloy talks to the people better even if he has few bright ideas on what to do to make the stae better. CT is pretty void of progressive thoughts to make the stae once again competitive in the marketplace for somebody other than WalMart to expand. Anybody, that couldn't see the Navy was still going to go ahead with their long rane plan to get out of Groton was blind. They are right on track. It's a great site for a New England revitilization just as the old hospital in Preston is but there we are looking at the Wallyworld of CT!!!

Gabe said...

Proud Moderate Dem -

I should have said perceptions of electability - see this article on exit polling.

As for Edwards - you have hit a topic near and dear to my heart - I worked on the campaign in the NH area - I agree that I thought he was the most electable. Unfortunately, that does not necessarily translate to a perception of electability at large.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

Gabe, point taken. although one could question the credibility of exit polls..... please see Ohio. as for edwards. i stood with a huge edwards sign at waterbury intersection on a very very cold CT primary day so we are certainly bonded by our great common democratic cause.

EveryoneShopsAtWalmart said...

Change of subject. Looks like all the silly anti-Walmart stuff is really working.

DeanFan84 said...

Paul Vance--

My public apology to you and Waterbury. Fact is all of CT's cities are doing much, much better these days. The hard-working people of Waterbury, Hartford, Meriden and Bridgeport deserve a ton of credit, and I shouldn't have included you in my post. My only point was that the b-b-b-booming New Haven real estate market doesn't jibe with all the sky-is-falling, New Haven sucks stuff that is being posted by anonymous people here.

dems in 06--

The Malloy staffers are here, posting anonymously. Can one know, without a doubt, who to credit with what? No.

But, the anti-New Haven facts, statistics, and links aren't being researched and propogated by just anybody. It has all the hallmarks of oppo research work. So yeah, I credit the Malloy campaign. And Malloy staffers don't want the credit, they should make it campaign policy that no one posts on the blogosphere anonymously.

In terms of dividing the Party, that's not my intent. I'm not out to destroy Dan Malloy, (who would make a much better Governor for CT than Jodi, all-hat and no-cattle, Rell). Will I be a Dan Malloy supporter if he gets the nomintaion? Probably. Will I donate to him? I dunno. It depends.

Dan's DLC connections are very troublesome to those of us are familiar with that organization. That's my beef with Dan. Against that, he gets kudos for coming out publicly against Lieberman's insane support of Bush's war. If only every Democrat was as candid and brave....

Anonymous said...

DF was probably in diapers for the last real estate bubble in 1989. Let me educate you youngins about urban real estate values. It's the accounting principle: LIFO.

Whne there is a price correction (and there always is) the less desirable urban properties that recently went way up come back to earth first.

New Haven bubbled in 1989 with a lot of the "we've become hip and happening" happy talk. Didn't last.

Don't blame bloggers, you can;t repeal Adam Smith's laws

Aldon Hynes said...

I am proud to live in Connecticut. It is a great state with a lot of great municipalities. I live in Stamford, and I think it is a wonderful city. I spend a lot of time in New Haven, and I think that is a wonderful city too. My father-in-law lives in Bethany. My wife lived in Guilford before we got married. Both towns are wonderful towns.

As I travel around the state, my appreciation of what a wonderful state we live in continues to grow. I’ve passed through Brookfield and even find that to be a nice town.

Our ability to be civil to one another is part of what I like about this state, and some of the incivility here makes me sad.

Both Mayor Malloy and Mayor DeStefano have made their cities better. They should be complimented for that. I do not believe it does anyone any good to trash their opponent’s cities.

Likewise, I don’t think ‘electability’ is a strong campaign issue. Yes, we Democrats want the most electable candidate to win the nomination. However, many people have come away from the 2004 elections realizing that talking about electability isn’t what makes a candidate electable.

What really makes a candidate electable is having a strong vision for a better Connecticut. Mayor DeStefano clearly has that vision. Connecticut is a great place. Sure, we have problems with job growth, transportation gridlock and so on. These problems severely threaten the great quality of life we have. But with Mayor DeStefano, we can address these problems and make Connecticut even better.

Sancho Panza said...

but Aldon, New Haven is "shrinking", and its impoverished, and there was a gang war with retaliatory shootings, and it doesn't "look" like the rest of CT.

Why do the suburbs hate New Haven?

MikeCT said...

Why do the suburbs hate New Haven?

This line of argument is partisan nonsense. New Haven is arguably the most vital and liveable city in CT, with the most active arts and culture scene, great restaurants, amazing architecture, the best urban green, the largest urban festivals, and lots of beautiful neighborhoods.

Dems in 06 said...


Actually, Stamford has been repeatedly ranked as one of the nation's (not just CT's) most livable cities by the US Conference of Mayors and other organizations. I can't find any such awards for New Haven. So, in that regard... I think Stamford gets the nod.

Not that there haven't been strong improvements in New Haven.

Anonymous said...

Re: New Haven v Suburbs, If you take the time to look at some of the local police logs, Shoreline Papers publish these, their are references to New Haven residents that have been arrested in these communities, that does little to improve New Haven's image.

You also have countless articles about drug activities in New Haven, some involving people coming into New Haven and this too reflects badly.