The conventional wisdom says, "Dave, shut up and let them have their say."  Me? Conventional?  Not happening.  My belief is that when people go out of their way to say something that is misleading, wrong or ridiculous they need to be challenged so that others won't take it as truth by a lack of opposition.

Members of the community and the Yakima City Council have spent a great deal of time and energy preparing for the Yakima Youth and Family Development center Grand Opening held Tuesday night.  There was an excellent turnout, plenty of media coverage and an article in the YHR that only drew two comments so far.  Both are critical, and that's ok, but both are wrong and both authors know better.

I'm no Gandolf, but this shall not pass!

So here you go and now you know:  In response to Ms Pelayo and Mr. Hughes.

The Youth and Family Development center is quite different from a truancy center.  The School District has been a great partner in the information gathering and planning phase and once the high schools are built, remodeled and operational, I believe we will have them back at the table in a more active fashion.

Safe Cities has a different multipurpose mission and their projects did not need to go through the extensive and time consuming process to develop a model that meets the standards of the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention.  Unfortunately there is some community confusion about who is who and who is doing what - between the County’s Gang Commission & Gang Court, The City’s Gang Free Initiative and the Safe Cities group.

We are using the YPAL center as our location for now. The nature of the YPAL mission is evolving with civilians being recruited to replace the uniformed police staff who are returning to the YPD for more tradition police duties.

Steve Magallan was initially hired as a consultant to help launch the initiative.  When it came time to transition from consultant work to coordination of the project, he was available and the logical choice to continue the momentum.  There is no way we or the county would be where we are without the knowledgeable efforts of Mr. Magallan. For you to accuse him of lining his pockets is an insult and an outrage.

I would remind the readers that you Ms Pelayo sat in on a few meetings and know better so I question your motives in responding in this fashion. Perhaps the project didn’t move your way or you have been negatively influenced by some of the other disgruntled members who dropped by the wayside because they didn’t understand or share our vision.  We had hopes that you would be an active and productive contributor but whatever the cause of your dissatisfaction, Mr. Magallan does not deserve your misplaced and malicious accusation.  Yes I backed him and I still do.  Check with the Fed’s anti-gang offices, check with the Governor’s crime fighting office, check with Yakima County and you will find support without reservation for Mr. Magallan and Yakima’s GFI.  Shame on you.

You asked what’s else is new. In your haste to malign Steve Magallan you somehow missed the part about a new 211 gang screening/reporting service, mentoring, tutoring, life skills, education and behavioral treatment. All New. The gang problem didn’t pop up over night and it won’t go out that way…but the GFI is a federally approved (and thus fundable) proactive approach to heading off the next generation of potential gang members. Changing lives takes time but the process is now underway. It deserves your support.

If the article comes up short on detail for your taste, that’s between you and the paper.

Hey Nick, you were a valuable part of the development phase of GFI. We appreciate your work.  But as I recall, your “specialty” was an interest in suppression….kicking butt and taking names. It’s not surprising to me that the intervention and prevention phases might not appeal or satisfy you.

But where I come from you have to be able to back up what you say when you are criticizing, so If I may ask, where is the redundancy you charge within the city of Yakima?  What entity is providing the same services of GFI?  You know the answer.  The mission of the gang court is significantly different from the GFI.  Gang court deals with kids who have committed crimes and are in the system, while GFI seeks to provide options and support to keep kids from entering the system.  They are not redundant at all.

I don’t know how much the county has dedicated to the gang fight but I do know from the city’s perspective that it is an expensive proposition.  The question is - Can you quantify for me the cost of doing nothing?  Haven’t we seen that already?

Some of the expense will decrease after the start up phases settle in and we become more efficient and we could all probably benefit from some consolidation and it will be up to us to seek that out.  But your well documented cynicism is premature if not misplaced in such an early assessment of the GFI.  We are very mindful that tax dollars that fund this effort.  The community has invested in its future. Let’s allow a little bit more of that future to develop before you cynically judge the cost effectiveness of these kinds of efforts. Thanks.

Yakima Herald Republic