28 Dec 2012
NOTE FROM NORSE: Santa Cruz authorities–instead of focusing on the winter emergency for homeless people, the rising death rate, the shelter scarcity, and the increasing vigilante and police abuse of homeless people–are giving credence to “feces, needles, violence, and crime” mythology. These issues are used by groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighbors, and the Downtown Association to forward their political schemes of criminalizing poor people and driving the visible homeless out of town.
Clearly what we need is a successful lawsuit like the one Fresno activists successfully pressed back in 2007. Getting attorneys to take such a lawsuit depends on having lots of video and first-hand testimony about authorities destroying homeless gear. I’m making a public records act request to determine how much property was picked up and actually stored last year. If you have information, complaints, or want to help, please contact HUFF at 423-4833.
EDITORIAL: Judge allows homeless suit back into federal court
Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 | 10:15 PM
We are ending a joyful holiday season of mercy, charity and compassion this week with Fresno being held accountable for its treatment of the poorest among us: the homeless.
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill ruled Wednesday that the fundamental issues of a lawsuit filed by people who alleged the city violated their rights will go forward. The city had asked that the case be dismissed.
The judge found that there is reason to bring this case to trial. His decision raises several questions:
Did the city violate a 2008 federal-court settlement over previous cleanup sweeps?
Did the city put the health and safety of the homeless in danger when it destroyed some shelters last winter? Does the timing during harsh weather reveal ulterior motives?
Answers to those and many other points will be considered in court while the evidence is heard.
There is a big problem in this city. Officials paid out $2.3 million in taxpayer funds to address previous violations. If the new rules were not followed, we could pay again.
Progress has been made since 2008. The city’s progressive philosophy of providing housing for the homeless and stabilizing their lives is commendable, but it cannot be the city’s only course of action. The officials also must attempt to solve the difficult problem of where the homeless live before they find housing.
Homelessness is a daunting challenge for major cities across America and Fresno is no exception. Just look anywhere in town — north, south, east or west — and it is clear that despite many worthwhile public and private efforts we see people living on the streets.
Constant vigilance is required. Encampments spring up with 10 people and within weeks, there can be colonies of shanties with dozens of residents. Nevertheless, the city must make every attempt not to put people in harm’s way while clearing homeless camps. In winter, inclement weather affects the health and safety of those without roofs over their heads.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin needs to ensure that all staff members at city hall are aligned in making the health and safety of the homeless a priority.
This is not only a question of mercy, charity and compassion but of law.
NOTES FROM FRESNO ACTIVISTS:
I read it as a CYA attempt to distance themselves from the C of F policies they have reported upon so uncritically in the role of stengrapher. Literally.
I wish I could raise my expectations. I’ve seen their editorial and opinion pieces over the last 6 or 8 years. They are in danger of being blamed for whatever the City has led us into. A little plagiarism and they look so much better, today. Just remember the differences between a mountain king and a coral snake. I wish them the best in their recovery. and all of you a great new year!
The emphasis on putting the homeless in harm’s way seems new. Different from just destroying their belongings. Sounds like a big step.
You know I’m a critic of The Fresno Bee’s coverage of homeless issues and most of their editorials. That is why I was so pleased to read their editorial about the lawsuit in this morning’s paper. In one form or another, this is what I have been saying for the last several years. The text of the editorial is below. Also, the link to the online version is here:
Mike Rhodes Editor Community Alliance Newspaper