Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, 68 is running for California attorney general, and a poll shows him comfortably leading Republican opponent state Sen. Chuck Poochigian of Fresno. USA today reports that Brown’s bid for the job of the state’s “top cop” has hit a bump over his record on crime. “His record’s been atrocious,” says Poochigian, 57. “Crime is up significantly on his watch.” The city of 400,000 has had a vicious stretch. Poochigian says Brown has done little about it besides “public relations stunts.”
Brown says the average annual murder count since he took office in 1999 is down 30 percent from the eight years of his predecessor, Elihu Harris, the most violent period in the city’s history. In 1992, a record 165 were killed. Brown cites the problems of a thriving illegal drug trade, lack of opportunities for poor black and Latino youth, and the easy availability of guns. Poochigian criticizes Brown for opposing the death penalty, a position at odds with a majority of Californians. The attorney general has no role in capital punishment other than providing lawyers to represent the state on death-sentence appeals. Brown’s most recent anticrime effort, Operation Ceasefire – modeled after tactics used in Boston, Chicago and Stockton, Calif. – shows early signs of success, he says. The goal is to offer the city’s 100 toughest young criminals job training.