“Debunking the Injunction,” by Sharon Byrne, appeared in the Santa Barbara View earlier this month and attacked the validity of a report concerning the city’s costs for its proposed gang injunction. She also asserted that a cost analysis of city salaries is of dubious import.
Ironically enough, Byrne calls the document’s authenticity into question with the assertion that she is privy to an “unknown source.” This doesn’t stop her from declaiming in the same breath that this document “lacks footnoting, formal title” or proper attribution of sources thereby insinuating that the report itself is dubious.
Unfortunately, Byrne’s opening salvo against the opponents of the gang injunction is largely due to her misapprehension of the significance of primary and secondary sources. As every undergraduate college student knows, primary sources are original documents, papers, and materials from a source that is the subject of study. Secondary sources, on the other hand, analyze the information of primary sources. This is the basis of investigative research of whatever ilk.
According to Byrne, PODER has compiled a secondary report based on an unknown primary source. She implies that PODER has summarized data without providing supporting documentation from the proper authorities and insinuates that the cost estimates contained in the report are lacking in legitimacy as a result.
What Byrne fails to tell us is that the report is an original document provided by the City Attorney’s Office in response to PODER’s public records request for a cost analysis of the injunction. Byrne succeeds in obfuscating this fact by insisting that PODER is the author of the document when its actual author is the City Attorney’s Office. Had Byrne taken the time to verify her own sources of information, she would not have missed out on such an important detail.
She goes on to attempt to invalidate the arguments against the costliness of the gang injunction by declaring that “city staff salaries are paid annually, not by project.”
Again, she tries to obfuscate the City Attorney’s own clear record of the estimated hours spent by city officials working on the gang injunction. Though Byrne asserts that “this is just staff salaries that would have been paid regardless of what they worked on,” the fact is, time is money and together they point up the evident priorities of the city. At an estimated manpower expenditure of 7,000+ hours, city officials are obviously intent on criminalizing youth behavior rather than addressing the lack of program and resources that contribute to youthful delinquency. Therefore PODER is completely correct in its assertion that city officials have a predilection for incarceration rather than education.
In the final analysis, any argument for the proposed benefits of the gang injunction pales in the face of the inevitable lawsuits the city will be forced to settle when it is sued for violating the civil liberties of Santa Barbara’s Hispanic youth.
Kathy Swift is a graduate student at UCSB’s Gevirtz School of education and is a part-time composition instructor at Brooks Institute. She also cohosts Radio Occupy on KCSB.