Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Follow-up on the Monroe Avenue Story

Slightly more than a week ago, the Attorney General, my landlord, some cleaners and some sheriffs, and the whole panoply of local television news showed up at my apartment building to cover the eviction of some drug users and dealers from their apartments. It made all the news shows all day.

I blogged about my experience of the day down below. Now it's time to follow up the story.

The most notable change has been the dramatic drop in drug traffic on my street! There were still some folks cruising in over the weekend, getting the news from the stragglers still here, but overall it's way, way down. The hooker who used to ply her trade out front has gone down low, but she's still here. The folks in the building down the block who were hooked up with my complex's drug dealers have gone to ground. Overall, it's a much nicer atmosphere now on Monroe.

Of course, last week's weather was cloudy and rainy, so that played a part in it, but I think it's fair to say that a hammer blow was delivered.

But. Yeah, there's always a but. We have a new hooker now. She's older, mean and part-crazy and walks right out in the middle of the street in "fuck me" clothes. Not sure where she came from, but she's a worry. It's very obvious she's a long-time pro out to make herself some money.

Although the former crowd of young men -- eyes restlessly wandering the street, cell plastered to their ears, talking with the other no-accounts who wandered by -- who just stood in the middle of the apartment drive right under my front door are gone, a new bunch has shown up. One seems to live on my block, but has made a second home right underneath my door, sitting behind the cover of the large shrub there. Another is my neighbor from behind me, who is OK in a loud and thoughtless way, and some of his friends. As best I can tell, they get bored out back and come to the front to hang out. There are signs that some of the old activity has moved down the block.

The landlord put up some fence signs mid-week warning tenants that he was pro-active about drugs and evictions. They were pulled down a couple of days later.

For the three weeks prior to the raid, we had a constant stream of police cars coming down the street. They would roust people, blare messages through their PAs, shine spotlights around the buildings and generally make their presence a nuisance to those with something to hide. Since the raid, the police patrols are back to the former, occasional, level.

I'm still told that the landlord will be putting some more folks out the first of June, including the woman on the other end of my building who is an enabler for some of the problem folk in the neighborhood. We'll see. He's been more visible and there are signs he's ready to start filling the buildings back up, though no serious clean-up crews have been around yet.

One note for County Mayor AC Wharton: AG Bill Gibbons made a well-publicised event of the evictions. It was all over the news. It was an action of County government that put a whole lot of possessions and garbage on the sidewalk. And yet, no one came to pick up the mess! Some of it is still out there today, waiting for clean-up. If you're going to tout clean street measures, then your AG dumps a lot of crap on the streets, it should behoove you to follow up, no?

One thing I didn't notice the day of the event, but which has struck me since is the fact that the whole she-bang was for nought. Supposedly, the purpose of the event was to evict a lot of drug dealers on camera. But all, repeat all, of the tenants were gone before they arrived! And I know for sure they were there the night before. So, what happened? Who leaked the word? Blew the surprise?

If I were Bill Gibbons, I'd do this regularly. Make a lot of commotion with the Sheriff's office about evicitions coming up at one complex or another. Give it a date and make some realistic preparations. Call the media. Then, don't bother. The folks will have already fled and you can do something else. Same result, but with less work!

Just a thought....

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