Unanswered Questions and City Council Silence

To Councilman Micah Posner:

You announced you’d gained Don Lane’s agreement to put the issue on the agenda (which I have yet to see confirmed by him publicly) and encouraged folks other than yourself to “seek a second”.   Thank you.

However, the “conversation” you promised in your July 3rd e-mail about the questions you’ve ignored did not happen.  I repeat these below for your convenience, while adding two more.

More homeless people have been dispersed from the incompetent and token Homeless (Lack of) Services Center. 

The most important and most used services have been institutionally abandoned in favor of special grant-seeking programs that serve only a few and do nothing to deal with the broader homeless issues of housing and civil rights. 

The Parks and Recreation Department (whom you effusively praise at Council) along with the SCPD have literally given out hundreds of tickets for sleeping and being in a closed area in the last few months alone.  With each ticket has come at least a 24-hour stay away order.–which you voted for in 2013, a vote you have not yet repudiated. 

City Council is not in session.  But the staff, and their armed enforcers, are regularly in session–every night and every day.  Accordingly we need those who at least have the placard of power in the public eye and a nametag at City Council to use their positions to advise the public of what is really happening.

In order to do that, the public needs access to documents that are currently being withheld.  Please make the following requests in writing and make all subsequent correspondence immediately available to the public

These include:  (a) the budget of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center (which receives over $100,000 in City money)
                            (b) request that staff draw up an amendment to MC 6.36.055 that states there will be no prosecution or ticketing of those sleeping outside unless a police officer determine with a phone call that shelter space is available that night.  This is a stopgap measure short of ending the Sleeping Ban.  It requires nothing other than a memo from you.
                            (c) request specific information from the City Attorney as to how many citations it dismissed under MC 6.36.055 and how many it forwarded to court for $157 prosecutions.   Please include in your request a listing of the names of those cited, either by the SCPD or the P&R.  This information is important in determining how “well” the current law is working.  My requests to get this specific information have been unavailing.
(d) ask that P & R staff create a data base–as the SCPD has partially done–to 
summarize their infraction ticket stats each month instead of requiring those seeking to review them to go through them citation by citation.
(e) review for yourself the thick sheaf of P & R citations for the last few months alone that is sitting several feet away from your office at the City Council staff desk to confirm that the attack on homeless people involving frivolous and expensive
(f) prior staff reports from 1995, 1999, and 2000 (as well as other years) documenting the results of the “search for homeless sleeping spots and city-owned property/buildings” or information directly from Mayors Beiers and Krohn regarding this data.
(g) request staff examine the feasibility of the specific spots recommended by Becky Johnson of HUFF (her number is repeated below)
(h) request the particulars of why City Hall was ruled a “forbidden zone” or “closed area” after 10 PM in the fall of 2010, including all documents that justified such an action as well as anything more recent that’s relevant.  Request that in the absence of a clear and present danger, she administratively reverse this decision as she has the power to do.
(i)  provide the promised follow-up documenting the status and justification for the unprecedented 24-hour Parking Ban around 115 Coral St.–the status of the appeal against this, what the status of this is, and why it is has not been forwarded to the Transportation and Public Works Commission.  Please request documents, not  second-hand verbal assurances or information.

I would add to these items which I have requested and you have ignored :
(j)  request of P & R staff and SCPD (a) a cost analysis of how much all this ticketing under MC 6.36 and 13.04 (as a beginning) has cost in staff time & how much money has been recovered in fines.  Deputy Chief Clark might be able to “help you out” here since he’s the one who claimed massive SCPD expenditures on the homeless in 2013 during the so-called Homelessness Study Session (actually to set up a biased and bigoted agenda for the Public Safety Task Force targeting homeless, who are now being jacketed not just as “nuisances” but as criminals.
and (k) specifics on what criteria–if any–are in place to guide rangers and cops as to when to issue their unilateral Stay-Away orders.  Presumably such guidelines come from their superiors or are made up by the officers and rangers themselves.

I include below our prior correspondence on these matters for your reference.

HUFF meets tomorrow to plan further actions.  Please let me know how many of these requests have been sent by you to the staff before then if you can.

Thanks, and feel free to phone me if you have any questions.  Now that you are “on vacation” perhaps you’ll find time to get to your computer to request the staff to do their jobs and provide much needed information.

Robert Norse