Delgadillo Lays Out His Plan to Take On Gangs

CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS
Delgadillo Lays Out His Plan to Take On Gangs
By Eric Bailey
Times Staff Writer

May 26, 2006

SACRAMENTO — Underdog attorney general candidate Rocky Delgadillo on Thursday unveiled a five-point plan to battle the growth of gangs in California, vowing to spread many of the tactics he embraced as Los Angeles city attorney.

Standing in front of a peace officers memorial near the gold-domed statehouse, Delgadillo recounted his own run-ins with street gangs while growing up in Los Angeles and his quest as city attorney to halt their proliferation.

“I want to see the beginning of the end of gangs in this state,” Delgadillo said.

Badly trailing Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown heading into the June 6 primary election, the Democrat from Los Angeles said that if he is elected attorney general he would appoint a “gang czar” and file civil lawsuits to seize the criminal windfall of cash, cars and houses that the most profitable gangs enjoy.

Borrowing from his experiences in Southern California, Delgadillo said he would advise and assist local prosecutors around the state in filing gang injunctions.

He also talked of promoting a statewide anti-truancy effort to “cut off the source of gang recruitment” by targeting middle school students and holding their parents responsible.

Nearly half of teenage crimes, he said, occur during school hours.

Delgadillo also pledged to promote private investment in gang-afflicted neighborhoods and launch a statewide program to encourage jobs and job training for ex-gang members and potential recruits.

“I want to plant the seed of hope so that the weeds of fear and violence don’t spread,” said Delgadillo, flanked by several police officials. “We must do more.”

Delgadillo has been waging an uphill fight against Brown, the former two-term governor still considered one of the state’s political superstars nearly a quarter-century after he last held statewide office.

One poll had Brown ahead by 41 percentage points.

In recent weeks, Delgadillo has attempted to slice away at Brown’s lead by holding news conferences and airing TV ads attacking Brown on crime in Oakland. Next week Delgadillo plans to spend the bulk of his $2-million budget for TV commercials.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face state Sen. Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno) running unopposed in the GOP primary.

Brown’s campaign spokesman, Ace Smith, said there is “nothing original” in any of Delgadillo’s anti-gang proposals and suggested that all his ideas had been inherited from his predecessor at the city attorney’s office, James K. Hahn.

“To re-coin all this as some new program he created is nothing short of political counterfeiting,” Smith said. “There’s no originality to any of it. The next thing you know Rocky Delgadillo is going to announce he’s come up with the idea of having police patrol neighborhoods.”

Brown has not made anti-gang efforts a highlight of his run for attorney general. But the Oakland mayor considers fighting gangs an important job for the next attorney general, Smith said. “It’s a top priority, no question about it.”

In recent months, Brown has been hit by criticism because the Oakland Police Department disbanded its anti-gang team amid budget cuts several years ago.

Though the team was revived, gang violence has helped push the city’s murder rate to nearly double last year’s.

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