FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jacksonville in Crisis

As is typical of Florida metropolises, Jacksonville has too many police cars and too little in the way of actual neighborhoods. After a hard day working in a telemarketing mill and braving traffic jams through the interminable span of stoplights between home, work, and the strip mall, there isn’t much incentive to get to know one’s neighbors. Besides, odds are that they’re narcs or hoodlums of one stripe or another.

Because that’s all you see on the news. Homicides in Springfield, Terror in Bali, agitprop for a war that no one you know believes in. The scandals you read about are nothing compared to the scandals you don’t. The most undercovered mayoral tilt in recent memory coincides with below-the-radar gossip about spoiler candidates in the contest.

And the electable candidates might come from different neighborhoods, backgrounds in city government, or even races, but at heart they are all essentially the same. Apologists for a consolidated city government that bowed down to the NFL until they got their local concession; lackeys for a crew of bandits that forces students to attend state schools that don’t even teach them basic skills. In Springfield, off of Soutel, the locals get a little taste of Life In the Occupied Territories at the will of a sheriff’s office that has turned the phrase Rule of Law into a punch line.

And a kick line, and a billy club line, and a shot of mace. Folks in “nicer” neighborhoods like Mandarin and Baymeadows [both of which were developed long after Consolidation went into force in 1967] may not realize this, but officers routinely drive through poorer neighborhoods and searchlight the shrubbery, looking for evil doers, as if Osama bin Laden passed out in the bushes after too much Colt 45.

The worst thing about how the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office conducts its business of intimidation may not be that it flagrantly violates the Constitution. The Constitution lies shredded like so many unpaid bills at this point, and rumor has it that 108% of those surveyed in a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll are ready to give up “liberty for safety.” Liberty is being given up, all right. The liberty of the urban poor is being sacrificed at the altar of overpriced, unnecessary, and immoral infrastructure, and whether that sacrifice is worth it is not even up for discussion. The choice has been made, and the jails are flooded; between 1980 and 2000, adult incarceration rates nationwide rose 220%.

Despite the wrecked lives on display in our prisons, it could be argued that the worst thing about the War on Drugs, as it is manifested in Jacksonville [and virtually every other city of comparable size in the Southeast], is that local, state, and federal governments essentially soak the rich to pay for it. People who have bet their entire lives that they will be able to meet their mortgage obligations on a riverfront home have enough problems without subsidizing the hourly surveillance of every home on a block. Factory owners worried about their bottom lines chafe at having to subsidize the maintenance of a criminal justice apparatus currently touching six million lives in the United States.

$50,000 per prisoner, give or take, with roughly two million in jail. All of this is a drag on free-enterprise and a commensurate boon to the command economy that drives our domestic concentration camps. Where people get locked in solitary cages for years at a time, where newbies on the cell block find themselves at the mercy of those bigger, stronger, and willing. Wave the flag. Cover up the kanji with Made in USA stickers. Meanwhile, the next few generations don’t read or exercise enough, but are better than any prior at ordering pizzas, cooking up meth, and contracting social diseases.

It’s time for a change, in Jacksonville, and elsewhere. It is time to imbue the phrase “community standards” with new meaning. It is time to break the city up into self-governing zones roughly the size of city council districts, and to finally repudiate the doctrine of consolidation.

Who has consolidation benefited except for developers? I know I’d trade the benefits of it to be left alone by a city government incompetent in all areas except the enforcement of arbitrary laws. The false promise of resource redistribution served as cover for the encroachments of a JSO run amok, for the power moves of those who build subdivisions and call them plantations. Bold new city of the south? A flat out lie, underscored by the hundreds of thousands daily whose primary experience of consolidated government is scoring bail to get their children or brothers out of jail.

So, a modest proposal to close. Let each neighborhood police itself. Maybe even work out a system so that social services are neighborhood-based. Whether it takes a village to raise a child or not, it’s abundantly clear that a metropolis simply can’t get it done. It’s long past time to say goodbye to a discredited experiment and the political hacks that come with it. Rest in Peace, Consolidation, and take your boys with you.

Comments are welcome at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

 

More articles by:

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail