Friday, May 27, 2011

New Developments on the Austerity Front

Santa Cruz city manager Martín Bernal has released the latest incarnation of the City of Santa Cruz budget, available here, detailing the cuts that will be made and warning that there are more to come. 1.2 million dollars of the 2.6 million dollar deficit is expected to come from increasing health care and pension costs for the city's service workers (60% of the city's workforce). 

Meanwhile, the SCPD is throwing a hissy fit over a 3% furlough and an increase to their pension pay-ins.
"You can imagine what kind of dramatic effect these cuts will personally have on our police officers and their families," Conner said Tuesday.
What Mike Conner, head of the Police Officer's Association, fails to account for is the effect that these cuts are having on everyone else. Joe Hernandez, who's been with the SCPD for 8 years, has said that "his family is identifying cuts in activities for his children and other household costs" (from the Sentinel, 5/25). While disabled people and their working-class caretakers are wondering how to support themselves, while families on welfare or children on medi-cal are worrying about how they'll make ends meet, the children of police officers are having to chose between tennis and piano lessons (since Mom can't afford both). 

Towards the eastside, Capitola is sweating bullets over its 350,000 deficit. The city was hit hard by the flooding of the village back in March, and is also losing $122,000 a year in police department grants. The city council has considered cutting discretionary spending such as their contributions to the homeless shelter, the arts and cultural commission, or beach lifeguards. Once again, the police are absent from the chopping block. The situation is a little more stark here than it is in Santa Cruz. In Capitola, part of the deficit is created by a decrease in grants to the police department. That means that money is being actively allocated away from other programs to support the police department. 

While the situation in Copitola is no particular surprise, it clarifies one of the central facts of policing and of austerity. The police are in place to maintain divisions in society. As economic downturn and austerity exclude more and more people from the benefits of this society, possibilities for rage and resistance are also growing. The police are in place to protect those with power from this anger. In California, we cannot repeat the errors of Wisconsin, where police were allowed to express solidarity with the Capitol occupation, preventing the situation from developing a stronger anti-state perspective. Revolt against austerity must be revolt against the entire network of control and coercion, if it is to be revolt at all. 

[the publications Early Spring for the Badger, about the anti-austerity struggle in Wisconsin, is now available online. Lessons from Wisconsin are important kindling with which to stoke the fires of The Coming California.]

No comments:

Post a Comment