The Star-News


The blight fight never ends

Sat, Jan 19 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

A friend of mine, while walking with his wife and dog, would get irritated when he saw graffiti. Some of the writing came from gangs and some from stupid "taggers."

My friend would call the city and the eye litter would be removed in a day or two. As time went on, the removals stretched out much longer to get the stuff covered up.

My friend called the city and offered to do the eradication himself if the city would supply the paint and supplies.

Surprisingly the city agreed and he became a volunteer graffiti eraser. That was 12 years ago and he’s still on the job.
Volunteering is a great way to give back. For years my friend read to the blind for KPBS. His wife has logged many years volunteering for the Chula Vista Public Library.

Even though the various utility companies and the city are responsible for covering up graffiti on their properties, my friend covers over every kind of graffiti he sees, no matter who owns the target, be it a utility pole or cable or telephone box.

For the most part his efforts are appreciated. Occasionally a homeowner will tell him to stop, but most are grateful.

One time he said a patrol car slowed down to watch him block out some graffiti. He said, “I think the officer finally realized I was covering the markings up instead of being a tagger myself. It would be strange for an old guy, in broad daylight, using a brush, to write graffiti.”

Most taggers or gang bangers operate under the cloak of darkness and use spray cans. Gangsters don’t advertise their exploits like they did many years ago. They would advertise if they beat or killed someone. The next day a rival gang would cover up the message and the war was on.

My friend said it works best if the graffiti is covered up as soon as possible. That way, if some idiot tagger wants to show his buddies his handiwork and it is covered up by the time they show up, some of the luster of being an idiot tagger is diminished.

I tried to praise my buddy for his selfless efforts. He wouldn’t hear of it. He’s retired and has the time. And, he said, he covers up the graffiti for selfish reasons. He just doesn’t like it. Graffiti makes a good neighborhood look like a ghetto, occupied by people who don’t care about where they live.

• • •

Shame on the television people for putting “witnesses” on camera who don’t know what they are talking about. I guess it’s okay to interview them. But, once the TV folks learn the people are wrong they shouldn’t air their comments. When the Border Patrol agent shot the woman at Moss and Oaklawn the stations aired interviews of people who saw only a portion of what happened, but the media gave them eyewitnesses status.

When the police investigation was complete they cleared up the confusion. The woman was not the saint depicted by those interviewed. Evidence showed she ignored lawful orders by officers who identified themselves.

The family hired attorney Eugene Iredale to get a big payday from the feds. It is ironic because Iredale represented the federal officer who earned a cool two million against the Chula Vista police for alleged misconduct against the undercover federal agent who wouldn’t stop for the locals on a traffic stop. Maybe Iredale isn’t the feds’ hero now.

When a vehicle killed a skateboarder recently a television station interviewed a woman who remarked how cars speed down the hill so fast it is a wonder there aren’t more injuries. The only problem with her statement is the driver who hit the boy was going up the hill at a safe speed and the skateboarder was coming down the hill in the oncoming lane in the dark. It was okay to interview the woman, but the interview should never have aired.

Basinski is a retired Chula Vista police officer.


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