by Mateja Mihinjac
Public protests and demonstrations erupted throughout the world in recent years warning us about the perils of social inequity, racial inequality, and environmental concerns. And now, over the past few weeks, as anti-government protests are underway, much of the world has united over anti-discrimination and Black Lives Matter.
One common thread that links these protests is dissatisfaction with government leaders and their inaction that underlie these disparities.
CASE IN POINT - SLOVENIA
In my home country of Slovenia in central Europe, every Friday since April citizens protest against the government’s misuse and abuse of power related to controversial decisions masquerading under the pretense of COVID-19 interventions.
The public outcry started on March 13 as the new right-wing coalition government took over the leadership following the resignation of the previous centre-left Prime Minister (just after his government declared a state of epidemic). Very quickly, problems arose in the public eye about a lack of legitimacy for this new government.
The backlash arose from numerous questionable government decisions: Ministerial salary raises at the time when the unemployment rate had peaked; poorly communicated COVID-19 intervention measures; and attempts to drastically increase police powers and discredit journalists. It included irregularities in the purchase of personal protective equipment, which is currently undergoing police investigation. Many accuse the government of autocratic aspirations.
More recently, the government changed environmental laws and introduced another COVID-19 intervention act. These measures exclude the citizens and limit the participation of NGOs and environmental organisations from decision-making in new infrastructure and building projects, a move many see as prioritizing capital over nature.
The resulting mass civic engagement and social unrest are unprecedented in my lifetime. Weekly demonstrations across Slovenia attract thousands of people! In the capital city of Ljubljana, the public has been gathering in front of the House of Parliament shouting “thieves” and “fascists”. They wave signs such as “our country is not your sandpit” signifying that the government should not be allowed to mold the country to suit their needs.
The government responded with barricading access to the square in front of the Parliament building, increasing police controls and identity checks, and criminalizing participation in demonstrations. As elsewhere around the world, such responses signal the need for reform and confirm that government institutions must listen to citizens' voices more seriously than in the past.
A system in which the government wishes to single-handedly control decision-making is not a system that is well-suited for any democratic country, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Competent democratic governance requires that everyone has a voice and that decisions are based on broad consensus. It requires that all sectors are accountable to the public and that processes are fair and transparent.
And how can this be achieved? Various organisations call for inclusive citizen participation. They call for empowering citizens and for participatory governing processes. Protesters demand reform of particular sectors, such as the police.
ANOTHER PATH FORWARD
SafeGrowth takes another path. By proposing a system of networked urban villages, the SafeGrowth model calls for democratic local governance within each of the neighbourhood villages.
It transfers the decision-making power of the citizens from the national or large regional scale to a local-neighbourhood scale, but it does so in such a way that local, democratic and fully trained organizations can plan for neighbourhood needs. Moreover, the SafeGrowth’s Livability Academy program develops local leaders who represent the voice of residents and lead changes that address social and racial inequity. Neighbourhood-level change thereby becomes the bridge between government organisations and the wider community.
In SafeGrowth neighbourhoods from New Zealand to New Orleans residents thus become an integral part of their own governing system and they link to other surrounding neighbourhoods to coordinate how they solve problems and plan for their own future.
WHAT'S TO BE DONE?
It is no longer sufficient for governments to only ask citizens for input when mandated or when it creates top-down plans for development. It is no longer sufficient that the government expects that its citizens must trust the government and public institutions without question or dissent – the government also needs to trust the public and civic organisations, and start transferring the decision-making power back to local communities.
And along the way, we must create a more sustainable governance system in which politicians start considering the long-term consequences of their decisions beyond the expiry date of the next election. If we fail to do this, democratic governance may quickly become irrelevant and lose legitimacy. We need to turn this around. The country should be its citizens’ sandpit.
by Mateja Mihinjac
When a neighborhood team at our recent SafeGrowth workshop decided to tackle the issue of food access, the topic sparked my interest. As they uncovered the links between food access and food deserts, the conversation quickly shifted toward injustice and social disadvantage and what could be done about it.
It isn’t that municipalities ignore food access. Decision makers have been attempting to address the issues of food deserts and food swamps by introducing new supermarkets into needy neighborhoods. However, simply installing a new supermarket in a deprived neighborhood will not solve inequality. Food access has historic roots in structural racism, segregation and concentration of poverty in pockets around cities, not surprisingly the same neighborhoods where crime flourishes. These are the sparks that ignited the food justice movement.
Activist and community leader Karen Washington talks about food apartheid in African American neighborhoods as a symbol of the inequality that has led to numerous social problems and limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.
The consequences manifest in reduced levels of both physiological and psychological health, so frequently prevalent among the socially disadvantaged. Many of these disadvantaged neighborhoods also suffer from disproportionately high levels of crime and weak social cohesion.
CRIME AND FEAR
There are well-established correlations between violent crime and socio-economic inequality. For example, research from New York City shows that neighborhoods in the city with the lowest median household income have the highest numbers of food deserts. Unsurprisingly, these neighborhoods persistently suffer from higher levels of crime than other more affluent neighborhoods.
To the residents on the ground the consequences are dire. As they navigate through high-risk streets – for example, when they get groceries – they are vulnerable to crime. The elderly, especially, are fearful of gang violence simply by walking or using public transportation. To worsen their fears, when they travel to outside neighborhoods they tend to experience discriminatory attitudes and harassment.
As a result, residents end up spending their meager earnings by having groceries delivered despite the additional expense. Too often they must rely on cheaper processed (and less healthy) food options near their neighborhood.
New shop owners are also less likely to invest in these food inaccessible neighborhoods because they don’t consider it economically viable. Not only must they factor the reduced buying power of residents, but they must balance their resources with safety risks and the effects of fear from crime. All too often, these factors do not pass the cost-benefit test of food corporations, thus leaving too many city residents out of the equity equation.
Next blog: Some solutions for a lasting change.
Given the unsustainabity of sprawl, the persistence of crime hotspots, and the unending call for a stonger sense of community, there is a thirst for on-the-ground examples of cohesive, safer and resilient neighborhoods. Cohousing is one.
I’ve been visiting cohousing projects around Denver over the past few months and working with a group establishing an art and culture oriented cohousing community. Here is what I’ve learned.
Cohousing is not for everyone. Some prefer towering condo apartments. Others prefer remote homes hidden in the bush. Those, of course, are legitimate choices.
However the overall trend is in the opposite direction. Over 80% of the developed world lives in urbanized cities. The UN says the majority of the world is now urban. More people migrate into cities than ever before. The truth is, cyber-creep notwithstanding, we are urban and we are social.
I’ve been following the cohousing movement for 20 years. I described cohousing here 5 years ago - Avoiding a wire-esque future and Fernwood Urban Village in Victoria, BC.
Most cohousing projects look like 25-35 unit condominiums with private residences and amenities similar to those anywhere. Yet cohousing communities are designed differently because they are designed by and for residents themselves in collaboration with architects. Cars are kept to perimeter parking and pedestrian walkways, gardens, and common greenspace areas are in the center.
Cohousing governance is painfully democratic, intricate, and based on extended friendship networks. Those networks emerge from things like carpooling, shared childcare, sharing tools and common facilities like workshops and community gardens. Networks emerge from regular training in conflict resolution, mediation, and governance methods - the latest version is sociocracy. In the cohousing group I work with we are offering training in emotional intelligence skills.
Cohousing architecture includes a central common house with a library, guest rooms, play areas for kids and a large dining/kitchen area for community meals a few times a week.
A few years ago the Cohousing Association of the United States funded a national survey of the cohousing phenomenon. How successful is cohousing and how does it differ?
Here is what it found:
In my experience, cohousing has lower crime and a greater desire for collaboration on difficult problems. They live more sustainably with shared gardening, recycling and ride sharing. And at the very core of social sustainability, they seem to call police less frequently to solve most problems that they instead solve themselves.
There are still issues to resolve in cohousing. For example internal conflict is lessened but it is not absent. But on whole cohousing is the most cohesive, safe and resilient neighborhood design I've seen yet. It’s a model worth considering in the 21st Century city.
GUEST BLOG - Mateja Mihinjac is a criminologist at Griffith University, Australia currently completing doctoral research into the implementation of CPTED. She has co-taught SafeGrowth in Australia and New Zealand. Mateja worked in the Constitutional Court in Slovenia and is an active member of the International CPTED Association.
Food is a great conversation starter and starting place for building community. At least a portion of everyone’s daily life revolves around food. The community of Todmorden, West Yorkshire in England took this a step further and created a vision of community building around the local food production cycle.
The Incredible Edible project’s modest beginnings reach back to 2008 when the volunteers of Todmorden first started planting fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, and activating unused land by planting communal gardens all over the town. The project has since become an all-community, sustainable local initiative, explained in this TED talk by Pam Warhurst.
Edible reflects many of the same principles in successful SafeGrowth projects:
The Incredible Edible project skilfully employs placemaking through the language of food. This revolution, as the residents of Todmorden like to call it, has now spurred worldwide attention with the Incredible Edible initiatives emerging on all continents. Edible shows the power of small actions when it comes to building communities.
With great respect for Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words about moving forward, I am reminded of crime prevention work in Newark, NJ.
Crime prevention can be slow and grinding. Six years ago I paid homage to participants in our SafeGrowth training with whom I am continually impressed. They are the ones who slog away at their daily chores and yet still remain committed to moving forward with changes they map out during the training.
Those local heroes are everywhere in these pages. In the past year alone they include Saskatoon, Milwaukee, Christchurch, Melbourne, St. Paul and this week New Jersey.
You may recall my posts last year about Together North Jersey, the organization that heads a multi-agency initiative to work with low income and high crime communities around Newark. Their goal: Teach skills in neighborhood revitalization, CPTED and SafeGrowth to help local groups help themselves. AlterNation was hired to head up that training and project work.
Now their final report is available. The report, Training community-based organizations in CPTED - Together North Jersey Micro Grant Program lays out the entire Newark process from top to bottom.
Project implementation is still underway and the work is unfinished. Yet team members persist at fundraising and implementation. Plus, in spite of vexatious hurdles like high crime rates they tell me forward momentum continues. This report describes how. It is one of the clearest road-maps to date on SafeGrowth in action.
The report also incorporates a new addition in the SafeGrowth story -Wansoo Im's innovative community mapping software that we tested during the class. During training walkabouts team members used their smartphones to upload real-time site evaluations on crime and fear. When we returned to the class the finished maps were waiting for us online.
Congratulations to all team members in Newark (and everywhere we have done this training). Thanks go to the organizers, funders, policy folks, community workers, police officers, researchers, and mostly the residents and local associations. Your commitment to a better future honors us and demonstrates what citizenship should look like in the 21st Century.
GUEST BLOG: Fleur Knight is a member of the International CPTED Association and is trained in SafeGrowth. She is a teacher at Murrays Bay School, Auckland, New Zealand where her role involves making learning as real as possible for students. Here she describes a project with teachers to integrate CPTED and Safe Growth into the teaching of 9-10 year olds for which she is gaining national attention.
The social sciences strand of the New Zealand school curriculum states that students are expected to explore how societies work so they themselves can participate and take action as critical, informed and responsible citizens.
While this was the stated goal of the policy, I experienced a deep frustration after teaching activity-based social science that resulted in no external change to neighbourhoods or internal values changes to students.
How can we expect them to participate and take action as members of future neighbourhoods if they are not taught, and do not experience, how they can achieve these lofty aims in real life? Obviously there is a need to involve our youth in positive relationships with neighbourhoods.
In June 2014, following SafeGrowth training in Christchurch, I took the learning of students to a new level that involved them not only applying CPTED but implementing SafeGrowth and community development directly with residents to improve a local bus station.
Over the past months I worked with a teacher and students and carried out a Safety Audit of Sunnynook Bus Station using safety maps. We identified issues with access control and signage. Those later became recommendations for improvement including more Braille for the sight impaired and artworks to humanize the station.
Students conducted surveys, CPTED reviews, and interviewed residents about the bus station. Interestingly the artworks idea had traction. Most people indicated they wanted some murals at the station to help make it more inviting and welcoming. A number of residents even indicated they would participate but they didn’t think they had painting skills.
To start the community-building process the students contacted Auckland Transport and a local community centre for help. They also solicited the help of local artists, including student artists at the school, to provide painting skills.
Using data collated from the community they developed artwork that represents changes in Sunnynook from the early 1900s to present day. They then organized a Painting In The Car Park day to activate the community, implement the mural painting and illustrate how SafeGrowth works in action.
The results were dramatic both for the community and the students! Over 30 people turned out to paint murals and transform the bus stop. Seeing the impact, the Auckland Council is now considering replicating this model in other bus stations in the city. Most importantly I learned that integrating real life SafeGrowth projects into teaching curricula is a much more effective way to teach youth how to be critical, informed and responsible citizens.
Last week New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu announced early results from their homicide reduction program. Unknown at the conference, this creates a fantastic new opportunity. It all starts with the following hypothesis:
Neighborhoods infused with SafeGrowth will help violence reduction strategies like Ceasefire to cut crime more effectively and longer than neighborhoods without.
New Orleans homicide strategy includes the Chicago-style Interrupters, blight reduction and other SafeGrowth-like programs. It also includes David Kennedy's anti-gang violence program called Ceasefire. It's this latter program that caught my eye.
For years I've been a supporter of David Kennedy's Ceasefire. And David is still on the job in places like New York. Ceasefire tackles neighborhoods wracked by violence by calling-in gang members and giving them a choice between arrest and targeted sanction or job training, counseling, housing, and social help.
The message to gang members: We care about you because you are part of our community, but the violence has to stop! As Mayor Landrieu said at the press conference, "the laws of engagement on the streets of New Orleans have changed."
He credits Ceasefire with a big reduction in homicides.
ALEADY IN HOLLYGROVE
Here's the thing; New Orleans' Hollygrove neighborhood already had a huge decline in homicides when residents and AARP instituted SafeGrowth and other programs a few years ago. Murders declined from over 24 to less than 6 with no Ceasefire whatsoever.
That's not to slam Ceasefire - it's a good program. True, there has been some criticism that Ceasefire doesn't work or just fizzles out. But now we have the perfect storm for a researcher, an ideal opportunity to test the hypotheses that SafeGrowth creates conditions for programs like Ceasefire to sustain lower homicide rates longer than in other neighborhoods!
I gave up my own evaluation research years ago. Practitioner work takes too much time. But I always encourage researchers to dig in. This meets all the conditions for a natural experiment...a perfect holiday gift for an enterprising criminologist. It could help communities everywhere.
Nowhere do lessons of urban safety, CPTED, and SafeGrowth apply more than to the half billion residents of Latin America. Amid one of the world's most dynamic and expanding regions, it has some of the most beautiful geography on the planet. It also contains three of the worlds most violent countries.
In September, International CPTED Association vice-president Macarena Rau-Vargas gave an impassioned presentation at the (now global) Ted Talk in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Students of Latin American culture know very well the long list of social reformers who have worked and written about positive change in that region over the decades. Macarena is the latest in that impressive progeny.
As her Ted Talk illustrates she is as imminently practical as she is unwavering, a fact she illustrates when she describes having a gun pointed at her head by a gang member.
Macarena's Ted Talk video is below (english captioning is available on the menu). I have worked alongside, and been impressed by, Macarena for years. I am also lucky to call her a friend. Watch the Ted Talk and you'll see why.
Judging by recent e-traffic, my last blog struck a chord! Especially the contention that community engagement in policing has been a dreary failure. I conclude that, except in problem-oriented policing or when mentored by non-profits (see below), it seems a lost cause.
Truth is, aside from trite historical footnotes (“the police are the public, the public are the police”) most police-community engagement today is little more than political optics. Of course, as in all polemics, that isn’t true everywhere.
I was impressed to discover the Dallas Police Community Engagement Unit. Then I read it is three policing teams who do evidence-based analysis, work with apartment owners to deal with crooks, and attend community meetings where they "gather information first-hand that can be relayed to other teams in the department."
MORE THAN REPORTING CRIME
There’s nothing wrong with asking the community for information on criminals. That’s good police work. But let’s not pretend it is community engagement.
Ultimately I don’t think any of this explains our engagement flop, at least not the version where residents take an active role planning and working towards their own public safety. Perhaps police are not the best agency to do that anyway.
Governments hardly do any better. National Crime Prevention Councils rely on national "night outs", neighborhood watch schemes, or education about existing crime prevention programs. In other words walk around at night, watch out for crooks and call the cops.
I know I’m simplifying and yet a critical thinker must ask, Who is really "engaged" when that engagement amounts to little more than walking around, calling the cops, or going to meetings?
CPTED history offers some hope. Consider Oscar Newman’s dictum in Creating Defensible Space; Always include grass roots participation in prevention planning!
We use a similar approach in SafeGrowth though our message is conveyed in a different way. For example, one lighthouse shining brightly on community-policing partnerships is the LISC - CSI SafeGrowth programs.
THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
When the message is engagement we need a messenger who is appropriately staffed, resourced and most of all, trained in engagement tactics. The last time I checked the Engagement Toolkit I counted over 60 tactics. That messenger must master them all.
Who is that messenger? Probably a non-profit like LISC or AARP, a philanthropic organization, a municipal planning department (as in Saskatoon), and an active community association. It will require municipal executives, particularly police chiefs and city managers, who know how to advocate for and implement such a model. They must be properly trained how to do that.
Every time I’ve seen successful engagement in places like San Diego, Milwaukee, Saskatoon, and Philadelphia I get the feeling that is the shape of the future. At least I hope it is.
An email showed up this week from a crime prevention colleague in a far-away city.
“Not sure if it's a sign of the times or just the fast pace, long work hours, and long bus commutes…but it’s a bit of an uphill struggle to get some communities to take ownership of their neighborhood issues.”
It’s a theme I’ve heard over and over - getting residents, shop-owners and locals out of their homes, away from TV to “do” crime prevention. Setting aside their boredom (or their fears) and working together in common cause.
That theme hovers raptor-like over work that depends on building community. Sometimes called capacity building, or in the latest sociological parlance collective efficacy, this is the idea ofcommunity engagement.
Engagement is the road kill of community crime prevention, in one moment obvious and in another impossible.
Academics study it, policy wonks insist on it and social workers claim it brings meaning to neighborhood life. Yet none of them tell us exactly how to do it, how to get people outside and “engaged”.
In criminology the grandest experiment in community engagement was the juvenile delinquency work in the famous Chicago Area Project back in the 1930s and 1940s (still going on). Even today strains of that work echo in studies about cutting youth violence with community engagement.
Police too did their bit during the community policing era with community engagement strategies, though they were usually limited to those monstrosities where cops sat up front in some hall to "engage" the community (sort of) in community meetings.
There were experiments with neighborhood substations, now long gone (closed in the name of funding cuts as expenditures turned instead to fancy computer programs, night-vision goggles and new military equipment). In most cities all that remains is the police/community meeting room (usually adjacent to the front foyer at HQ).
And still none of that tells us anything about the simplest question: How do we get neighborhood dwellers engaged and into the public realm – their street, parks, community halls – where their lives intersect in a real way?
FOOD AND FUN
Then I remembered this lovely, formally adorned, Muslim mother at a SafeGrowth training a few years ago. She came up to me and said quietly, “you know, in the Muslim community engagement in daily life starts with great meals and tasty food. Celebration starts in the stomach.” Actually, I thought, it does for everyone! Potlucks, barbeques, corn and hotdog roasts, lemonade stands!
Interesting, isn’t it! It is the fun and joyful things of community life like food, music, and play that draw people out. It's those times when they meet and share in each others lives in a gradual and ‘smell-the-roses’ kind of way. Less community organizer and more community jester.
I watched drug dogs sniff luggage while departing the Sydney, Australia airport. I watched the same thing again on arrival at Los Angeles. They scour each bag, thrilled in the hope of a score that will produce some tasty treat from their handler. It's the War on Drugs!
In his best-selling book Breaking Rank, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper calls it this way: By any standard, the United States has lost its war on drugs...[it] has been a colossal mistake.
All which is an interesting counterpoint for my recent visit to the Australian town of Nimbin nestled in an ancient volcanic caldera in the north hinterland of New South Wales. Social planning expert Wendy Sarkissian hosted my visit to Nimbin and gave me a tour of this fascinating village of 400 surrounded by lush forests. Nimbin has for years been a haven for alternative lifestyle seekers such as dope-smoking, aging hippies, eco-conscious activists, and anarchists living amongst traditional village residents, retired professionals, and shop owners.
Nimbin is the site of a famous Mardi Gras music festival and numerous Cannabis Reform rallies. Some call it pot-head haven. Regardless, Nimbin is proud of its international reputation as an icon for alternative culture. Today it's among the most popular tourist sites in Australia attracting over 140,000 visitors.
I did see lots of dope smoking. What crime does that produce? The police told me some druggies hassle some tourists by trying to sell them pot. True, there were some assaults, but I was told that was mostly drunks outside drinking holes during closing time. It was not druggies shooting druggies (no one could remember a single shooting in Nimbin - ever). I got the impression that, compared to other similar villages, crime in Nimbin seemed no different than other small villages with a late night bar on the main drag.
What else comes out of Nimbin?
1. A cornucopia of cooperative communities within a 20 minute drive of the main drag. By some counts a hundred such places host over 10,000 residents. I visited a few and discovered they range from planned permaculture housing and affordable housing, to rural intentional communities with art, culture and healing.
2. Nimbin residents are remarkably active politically and environmentally. In 1979, in one of the first ever protests against over-logging rainforests, Nimbin environmental activists saved the Big Scrub rainforests of Terania Creek. That action resulted in the world's first legislation to protect rainforests.
3: Nimbin residents have their own hospital, a community center and free pool, community gardens, eco-education centers, houses with all forms of alternative power, dozens of thriving tourist shops, restaurants, a museum filled with hippy culture, and (naturally) the annual naked bike ride (I missed it).
Not bad for pot-head haven.
For me, Nimbin was a fascinating time-trip to the 60s. It's like, I suppose, Graceland for Elvis lovers, except much more amusing. Nimbinites (I have no idea if they call themselves that) also have a great sense of humor. ("The problem with the rat race is, even if you win, you're still a rat")
Are there some nasty drugs of choice that justify a War on Drugs? Are there a few truly dysfunctional places that can only be saved by such a war?
But from what I saw, Nimbin isn't one of them.
I am continually struck dumb by the palpable idiocy of politics and government when dealing with neighborhood crime.
CPTED teaches us territorial control of public spaces by residents is how we begin to reduce crime. Local pride in urban features, like bus shelters, is how residents take their own streets back from drug dealers. Pride comes from local involvement. It doesn’t take CPTED-trained architects and urban designers to figure this out. It is fairly obvious.
But obvious knowledge is not enough to prevent crime and build communities.
Case in point: events this past week in the New Orleans neighborhood of Hollygrove.
A few weeks ago I spent time teaching SafeGrowth in New Orleans, a city still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I saw so many folks dedicated to making things better. They are a dynamic and impressive bunch. Dynamic for the creativity they bring to revitalize blighted streets. Impressive for their dogged persistence fighting the malaise that so often blocks forward movement.
Hollygrove is an area plagued by persistent crime. It is a poor place with deteriorating roads and abandoned houses, many slated for demolition. Yet there is hope and potential. In one place I saw an innovative non-profit garden center with locally grown, organic produce and training programs to teach residents how to grow their own food. In another place residents described how they are attempting to work together to turn a blighted space into a place called home.
Perhaps the most exciting story is a locally-conceived and locally-constructed bus shelter, built in partnership with a national non-profit that brings architecture students together with communities. Over 50 residents participated in the bus shelter project. In fact the shelter was paid through fund-raising by local residents themselves. Imagine – in a place where poverty permeates – residents found non-government funds to build a creative bus shelter on their own. What an excellent example of local territorial control of their own public space and pride in ownership!
Initially the regional transit authority approved the Hollygrove bus shelter. Then, at the last moment without public dialogue, they made a decisive policy decision. They reversed their position! Someone apparently believes it is better to install a universally static design for bus shelters throughout the city.
This sounds to me like another example of the no disruption crowd, those uncomfortable with change and who prefer things simpler, cheaper and easier.
Is a universal static design simpler? Since when was simplicity an answer to complex problems such as transportation and crime in a place so vexed? Anyway, the city already has an artification project in other parts of the city where local artists paint bus stops.
Now Hollygrove has done one better! They've created their very own unique (and immensely more interesting) design. Somehow, that message got garbled in the halls of politics.
Is a universal static design easier? Since when was laziness an excuse for not preventing neighborhood crime and not building livable communities? Besides, the design, construction and funding of the Hollygrove bus shelter was finished by the residents themselves.
Cheaper? Is neighborhood safety really all that cheap?
Decisive policy-making? Perhaps so...with all the resolve of which only the deluded are capable.