On a recent midday, the busiest retailers in the faded downtown were establishments selling medical marijuana. Dozens of storefronts stood vacant.Update: I rewrote this part of the post to remove unnecessary snarking.
"When you don't see streets paved, when you see crime soaring and squatters taking over foreclosed houses, something is wrong with this picture," says Bob Sampayan, 58, a retired Vallejo police officer. He now works with the Fight Back Partnership, a community group that organizes crime watch campaigns. Its operating hours, too, have been cut.
"Vallejo has always been the affordable American dream, but now that's all in jeopardy," Sampayan says. "We can't support the local theater group, the senior citizens center or the community arts group. All the things that help make up a community are not being supported."
I love local artists. My favorite place to shop around Christmas time is the artist colony in Balboa Park. When I visit Alexandria, VA, I try to get to the Torpedo Factory, another great artist colony. When we visited Santa Fe and Taos last year, I wished I was a multi-millionaire so I could buy all the wonderful things I saw there. I always try to throw a few bucks in the instrument cases of folks playing on the street corner or in parks.
It's sad to read stories like this where gifted and hard-working performers get their funds cut. I'm sure there were some in Vallejo who fought the monster pensions and the pay raises and the social spending and I'm sure they were accused of being heartless misers.
Now it looks like the heartless misers were the best friends the arts community in Vallejo had.