In local politics, we spend a lot of time identifying what’s wrong with our hometowns – and what’s wrong with the people who disagree with us.

And we seldom get around to celebrating what we do right.

I thought about our pessimistic politics while listening to presentations on anti-gang programs funded by Santa Rosa’s Measure O sales tax. Santa Rosans voted to pay an additional tax to support law enforcement and programs designed to help kids reject gangs. How many cities do that?

The presentations were part of a  community forum on the Anatomy of Gangs in Sonoma County. (You can read Staff Writer Julie Johnson’s report here.) The panel included a psychologist, a police officer, an educator, a program manager and a former gang member, joined in a two-hour conversation about what communities can do to steer kids away from criminal behavior. The program was sponsored by the Exchange Bank and moderated by bank CEO Bill Schrader.

Here was a program, btw, that reminds us of one difference between a hometown business and all the others. Safe to say, if we’re waiting for a Wall Street bank to sponsor forums on critical hometown issues, we may be waiting for a long time.