I like the poll on the newspaper’s Web site, but I would have to
say that in relation to the other problems this city faces,
graffiti (tagging) ranks somewhat important on the list.
By Brian Conroy

I like the poll on the newspaper’s Web site, but I would have to say that in relation to the other problems this city faces, graffiti (tagging) ranks somewhat important on the list.

The gang problem should rank higher, and the increase in graffiti is a sign of an increase in gang activity.

I was on a ride along almost two years ago where a man was killed at the Community Center by gang members. While in Sacramento this week I was informed of the gang fight that took place on East and First streets this week. A 7-11 clerk was stabbed recently by a gang member stealing beer, STABBED FOR BEER.

A young man newly arrived from Mexico was beaten to death a few weeks ago by a gang member with a pipe, who thought him to be a member of a different gang. He was not. I have seen a home, and the car in front of it, shot full of holes by gang members. Every time the windows were replaced in this home, gang members would come and bust them out with bats, bullets, rocks, and full cans of beer.

I do think that the tagging has impacted businesses negatively when the business has to daily paint over this stuff. And that has been the case with one prominent business who wishes to remain anonymous, and I am sure there are others.

Having to paint over this garbage eats up “man hours” or labor, not to mention material costs, and it should not be a part of doing business here in Hollister.

As for the wall behind my house, I have always just gone and covered the stuff up. I have just purchased my third gallon of paint to match the wall. I go up and down the street painting over taggings.

I talked to the police chief and he has asked me to report graffiti on the wall. They take pictures of the taggings, which are unique, in that the same tags can be attributed to the same person. It is considered property damage, and in my ride along with Gilroy police, I found that they have been able to charge some of the cases as felonies, as the property damage is in excess of what would be charged as a misdemeanor.

Our Police Chief Bill Pierpoint says that is the case here as well, that they can and will charge if the damage is enough.

The Hollister Police Department holds a class on Saturday at the high school, an anti-gang program called the Juvenile Impact Program. I talked with one officer involved and the youths are at these classes as either a condition of probation or because the parents have sought help in dealing with a child who may be involved in gangs.

The program includes classes for parents on how to recognize and deal with the gang issues and their children.

Please contact Richard Vasquez at the Hollister Police Department for more information.

I think education, early, in our schools is the most effective way to steer our valued youths away from gangs. And we should value each and every one of our youths, they are the future. Our youths must be shown that there are other paths, that there are success stories, and one does not need to travel the gang path.

It takes parents, neighbors, community groups, and schools working together. There are many success stories to point to, people who have achieved through effort, through hard work, who have overcome obstacles to make a life for themselves, and become productive members of our society.

And we need to invest in our youths, invest in their education. The education of our youths should always be viewed as an investment in all of our futures, especially theirs.

And while these programs are a part of the solution, I think those that cause damage, or injure others through gang activities need to be held accountable for their actions. Enforcement must be a part of any anti-gang strategy.

If you were to ask this Council member what ranks the highest on our list of priorities (and I speak only for myself), for me it is jobs for this community. And that includes jobs for our youths, the other path that can be taken by them.

To get there we have many issues to deal with, first and foremost a wastewater treatment plant, as we can’t build any new businesses without it.

Many speak of the fines the city may face if we don’t reach our milestones in getting a wastewater treatment facility in place, but even the maximum fine pales in comparison to the lost opportunities in luring businesses, and the jobs they would bring, to this community.

I will work in a positive and productive manner to see that we reach our goals in the coming two years, and beyond.

Brian Conroy is mayor of Hollister and is completing his first term on City Council.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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