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The real challenge is for City Hall to stop giving away the treasury to the rich and paying lip service to the poor. The solution to the gang issue is to provide greater opportunity for people to join the middle class, and that requires better paying jobs.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! To be sure, Angelenos have heard politicians wax gang crackdown many times before. But Villaraigosa promises this time will be different because of his commitment to rally for state and federal assistance. The mayor certainly has offered the basis for a promising anti-gang strategy this time, as outlined in the 36-page document that proposes a “comprehensive, collaborative and communitywide approach.” Undeniably, it’s the right thing to do politically, economically and morally. In many ways, the prevalence of gangs in Los Angeles is a reflection of the city’s largest problems – poverty, economic disparity, illegal immigration, lack of affordable housing, failed public education and City Hall’s abysmal record of solving problems. To get a handle on the gang problem that’s festered for decades, we must address it in a comprehensive manner. In Villaraigosa’s description, L.A. is “becoming a city of marble and cardboard, a city of prodigious wealth and withering poverty.” Changing that isn’t as easy as dedicating a few more resources toward fighting gangs, but it’s a strong first step. IN his second State of the City address, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said his top priority for the coming year is gangs – or rather, their negative influence on the city and its people. After two failures in the past week over issues the mayor had little control over – the schools and the Olympics – it was good to see him taking on an issue not only within his purview, but one that affects everything in the city, from the quality of life to the economy to education. To do this, Villaraigosa earmarked $168 million in the $6.7 billion, 2007-08 city budget. Ninety percent of that money already is being spent on the gang problem without any kind of accountability, coordination or measure of success. That modest amount of money will pay for intervention and prevention programs, appointment of a “gang czar,” counseling, creation of more jobs for young people. Meanwhile, the mayor will ask City Controller Laura Chick to audit gang-prevention programs and dump the ones that aren’t working.