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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Vice-Mayor Lane Joins HSC Executive Director in Stonewalling on Homeless Shelter Questions
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Dec 22nd, 2010 10:55 PM
Vice-Mayor Don Lane is sort of the City Council point person on homeless matters. At a city council meeting in November he rebuffed me with a smug smile when I asked him the five questions which the City's principal shelter provider Homeless Services Center Director Monica Martinez refused to answer. (See "Homeless Services Center Colludes With Police and City Attorney" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/06/18665884.php) When Lane stonewalled, I made a Public Records Act request. The correspondence is reprinted below.
AN E-MAIL TO VICE-MAYOR DON LANE FORWARDING MY CRITICISMS OF A SENTINEL STORY PRAISING MARTINEZ

I e-mailed Don Lane a critical review of a puffpiece Sentinel story praising Martinez's new policies of collusion with homeless-hostile groups.
The Sentinel story can be found at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_16896094?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com

My comments, sent out in an e-mail to the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedon) e-mail list and to Lane and others as well as posting the comments on the Sentinel's comment page:

"The Homeless Services Center came from the Homeless Community Resource Center, which sprang from A Free Meal which evolved from Calamity's Cupboard way back in 1989. The objective of the Downtown Association and the Wormhoudt City Council was to get homeless protest against the sleeping ban, police violence, and attacks on food servers out of sight.

It's the same objective today only the ambitious Martinez management now panders to the local NIMBY bigots to encourage funding.

A secondary motive, given the repetitive sound of Martinez's speeches and her stonewalling on important questions about program accessibility, seems to be possible political advancement. I'm told by someone who's attended her recent appearances that she sounds like a City Council candidate repeating a pat speech whereever she goes. See "Homeless Services Center Colludes With Police and City Attorney" at the Santa Cruz Indymedia site for more details.

The Martinez regime seems to be introducing slave labor and a colonizing of the public spaces around the Homeless Services Center to make them "forbidden zones" for homeless members of the public. As other posters have noted, this impacts disabled people rather severely.

It also turns the whole HSC into a cosmetic enterprise to placate those (like some posters here) who want to see the homeless run out of Santa Cruz (classic definition of NIMBY---Not-In-My-Backyard).

The article makes no mention of the fact that there's no shelter for 90% of the homeless each night (1500-2000 homeless in
Santa Cruz; 180 beds in winter, 60 in the summer).

Nor the increasing number of people who are becoming jobless and homeless.

Instead of attacking the banksters, generals, and political hacks at the top, it's nice to create and go after scapegoats at the bottom. Attack the powerless. Make them shovel trash. Deny them food if they hang around. Close the center during the day and then blame those who linger on the sidewalks because it bothers the businesses.

Want legal and police cover? Pull out the Drug War card. No need for any constitutional restraints any more. We're at war. On Drugs. In Afghanistan.

On our own poor.

This is a contemptible surrender by Martinez. An attempt to dress up the token homeless allowed to remain “on good behavior” in a job-scarce economy with less and less housing. It's being done to please Take Back Santa Cruz style bigots who delight in destroying homeless survival gear when they find it in their "clean-up's" and define homeless survival camping as "crime".

Nice work, Monica. Great coverage, J.M. Brown. At least this tells us clearly once and for all where Vice-Mayor Don Lane stands. The great champion of the poor who helped making sleeping outside three times a misdemeanor and made it illegal to sit on a public bench for more than an hour."



LANE'S RESPONSE

From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 00:24:52 -0800
Subject: RE: Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center Joins "Trollbuster" Team

Robert-
Here is one comment I received in response to your email below:

"Another fine example of why Robert has been such an effective advocate over these many years.
If he could organize half as well as he can imitate 8 year-old children and Fox News commentators with his name-calling, he might have actually accomplished something for the people he purports to advocate for."


MY SECOND E-MAIL TO LANE--A PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST--SEEKING THE INFORMATION HE AND MARTINEZ ARE HOLDING BACK

From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 9:29 AM
To: Don Lane
Cc: Katherine Beiers; Steve Pleich; Monica Martinez; Sally (HSC) Williams; lioness [at] got.net; Martin Bernal; Beggerbacker Becky Johnson; J.M. Brown
Subject: Public Records Act Request Regarding Homeless Services Center Policies, as far as the City is Informed


Hi, Don.

I'm still waiting for some informative response to the five questions I asked the City's official shelter provider executive director Monica Martinez. I also asked you at City Council--and previously---for some answers regarding current policies at the city-funded Homeless Services Center [HSC]. As a former Board member and long-time Council member, I believe you do have access to this information. You declined to provide it to me, and further stated you would refuse to ask the HSC these relatively simple questions. Since you decline to help me informally, I am forced to make a formal request, which will take up staff time. If at some point, you decide to be more cooperative, please contact me by phone.

Please provide access to all records relating to the following questions:

1. The policy of the Homeless Services Center regarding its shelter policies. Can anyone who wants to sign up on the HSC waiting list for a shelter bed? Are there specific requirements or prohibitions? Is this
still the case now that the Armory is open?

2. Do you gave a person signing any receipt or other indication that they have signed up for the bed?

3. Is there any requirement that a person "check in" to stay on the sign-up list and if so how frequently?

4. Is there someone by phone at the HSC available each night to advise someone calling in whether the shelter is full? What is the number to call?

5. Is the HSC refusing to provide a letter acknowledging that it was full on a night was cited under MC 6.36 for sleeping or camping if the person cited wasn't on the HSC waiting list on the date of the citation?

Please provide any records including any correspondence with the Homeless Services Center; financial interactions, grants, contributions; , Such information should include the nightly number of homeless people housed by this facility including the Paul Lee Loft, the Winter Armory Shelter, the Page Smith Community House, the River St. Shelter, the Rebele Family Shelter and any other relevant shelter providers, information about their capacity, whether such facilities were full, not available, or under repair on any particular night,

Please make available any documents as described below involving correspondence between members of the city council and/or staff regarding relevant HSC policies, This would include all city departments having anything to do with homeless shelter, including but not limited to the SCPD, City Attorney's Office, City Manager's Office,

Under rights granted me by the California Public Records Act (CPRA), I am requesting to view all public notices, regulations, ordinances, laws, guidelines, and discussions by elected Santa Cruz officials and City staff about and descriptions of any such records. Any documents from the Homeless Services Center made available to the City Council, of course, also fall under this heading.

If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

In case you decide that any of the information is exempt, please explain how the interest in not disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.

If these documents are available in an electronic format such as Portable Document Format (PDF), MS Word Document (DOC), Rich Text Format (RTF) or plain electronic text (TXT), then I ask that they be provided to me in one of those forms, preferably as PDF.

I would like to view any relevant documents to determine which ones I will want to copy.

Thank you for your assistance.

If you have any questions, feel free too contact me at 831-423-4833.

Merry Xmas.

Robert Norse


LANE'S RESPONSE TO MY PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST

From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
CC: shaberman [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 21:37:33 -0800
Subject: RE: Public Records Act Request Regarding Homeless Services Center Policies, as far as the City is Informed

Hi Robert,

If you have a request from the City for CITY documents, I believe you should contact the City Clerk's office... though I suspect you are more knowledgeable than I am on this particular process.

Nice try on the HSC questions...but since HSC is not a city government entity, it is not under any obligation to respond to your Public Records Act request.

As you know, I am not a spokesperson for the Homeless Services Center organization and not able to provide you with the information you requested from HSC. It is up to Executive Director to respond to requests for information in the context of administering the operations of the organization. I serve on the HSC board as a volunteer and am selected to that position by the HSC board. There is no relationship between my city position and my service on the HSC Board.

Personally speaking, I support Monica refusing to be bullied by childish name-calling and intimidation.

I have to wonder if you ever ask yourself why you do so much name-calling and undertake so much bullying and belittling behavior. Perhaps you might consider ending this kind of behavior in order to improve your relationship with those you would like to influence.

Don


CITY MANAGER DELAYS PUBLIC RECORDS ACT RESPONSE UNTIL JANUARY

From: mbernal [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
CC: tgraves [at] cityofsantacruz.com; dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 10:00:57 -0800
Subject: RE: Public Records Act Request Regarding Homeless Services Center Policies, as far as the City is Informed

Robert,

FYI, the City is currently in a two week furlough. Your request will be processed when City Hall opens in January.

Martin
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Dec 22nd, 2010 10:57 PM
EVEN MORE (WHEW!) BACKGROUND

I, Housing Now! Linda Lemaster, and PeaceCamp2010 attorney Ed Frey have been looking for answers to these questions since August when we put the questions publicly at a meeting of the Homeless Services Center Board of Directors. (See "Correcting the Record at the Homeless Services Center Today" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/19/18656366.php . We were assured by Martinez and Board of Directors Chair Sally Williams that there would shortly be a meeting with answers forthcoming. The meeting never happened. The answers never came.

In September I had a long friendly phone conversation with Martinez in which she expressed sympathy and promised to meet with her staff to press for positive policies and provide clear answers within a week.

I requested the answers by e-mail,

From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 12:14 PM
To: Monica Martinez
Cc: Katherine Beiers; Don Lane; Linda Lemaster; lioness [at] got.net; Sally (HSC) Williams; Beggerbacker Becky Johnson; Steve Pleich; Chris the Curbhugger
Subject: Follow-Up

Monica:

Hi. Just looking for follow-up on the letter I sent you last week.

Now that City Council has passed the ordinance changes, the qualifications for and restrictions regarding the Waiting List are particularly relevant.

As is the question of whether you'll be restoring the prior policy of issuing "no shelter" letters on those nights when that condition applied when people come in with their citations, whether they're on the waiting list or not.H

I'm also interested, of course, in the progress of the availability of a person or recorded message each night specifying whether there are or are not vacant beds.

Finally, the original reason I contacted HSC recently is still unaddressed--the request for a letter specifying that with few exceptions there are no immediate openings on the average night at the HSC (with the possible exception of the 3 spaces per week occurrence) unless you are on a waiting list, for which the average time is anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.

You told me you'd be meeting with your staff to confer on these issues, though, as I understand it, you have the final say.

HUFF is meeting today on campus, so if you have answers to any of these questions, please let me know. If not, let me know when we're likely to get them.

Thanks again, Robert [And I included the questions again]


I GOT THIS NON-RESPONSE FROM MARTINEZ

From: mmartinez [at] scshelter.org
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
CC: kbeiers [at] cityofsantacruz.com; dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com; linda4homes4all [at] sbcglobal.net; lioness [at] got.net; sally_williamslaw [at] yahoo.com; becky_johnson222 [at] hotmail.com; spleich [at] gmail.com; maguschristophorus [at] gmail.com
Subject: RE: Follow-Up
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 14:42:15 -0700

Dear Robert,

Thanks for following up. Now that the amendment to the ordinance has passed, it will be up to the City to work with us to figure out how to best implement the changes. I can’t speak for River Street or any other local shelter provider, however HSC is happy to work with the City and its relevant parties (SCPD, City Attorney, City Manager’s office, etc.) if there is something that we can administratively do to support their implementation of the ordinance. But unless we hear otherwise from a City official, I don’t believe that it is HSC’s responsibility to take the lead on the implementation. It is our role to provide the highest quality services possible within our limited means, and to work with the City and other local jurisdictions/agencies to come up with solutions that better the community.

I’m sure that you will be kept in loop once a formal procedure has been implemented

As for your other questions, last week I was able to answer many of your questions during our phone conversation, and I think I was able to provide you with a pretty comprehensive overview of our programs, services, and challenges. That is the most that I can help you with at this time. As you can imagine, my management team and I have many pressing issues that we must maintain our focus on. Thank you for understanding and respecting my need to focus our time and energy on our services.

Sincerely, Monica


By late September, under pressure from the extended Peace Camp 2010 protests, City Council had passed modification of the Sleeping Ban which made straight information from Martinez and the HSC even more important (See" "Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/16/18658837.php)

At the Thanksgiving dinner at the Civic Auditorium a month later, Monica Martinez made numerous public announcements. I went up to her afterwards and asked her again. She told me "now was not the appropriate time and that she would "reach out" to me later.

I sent her the following e-mail:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: mmartinez [at] scshelter.org
CC: edwinfrey [at] hotmail.com; linda4homes4all [at] sbcglobal.net; kbeiers [at] cityofsantacruz.com; dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com; tmadrigal [at] cityofsantacruz.com; spleich [at] gmail.com; jammbrow [at] gmail.com; lioness [at] got.net; sally_williamslaw [at] yahoo.com
Subject: Unanswered Questions
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2010 16:13:59 -0800

Monica:
While I appreciated your speech at today's Thanksgiving meal, I'm still waiting for answers to the questions I posed you in several earlier e-mails and by phone.
To reiterate:
1. Can anyone who wants to sign up on your waiting list for a shelter bed? Is this still the case now that the Armory is open?
2. Do you gave a person any receipt or other indication that they have signed up for the bed?
3. Is there any requirement that a person "check in" and if so how frequently?
4. Is there someone available each night to advise someone calling in whether the shelter is full? What is the number to call?
5. Will you refuse to provide a letter acknowledging that your shelter was full on a night someone got a ticket if they weren't on your waiting list?
Please forward me the answers. My last inquiry was over 2 months ago.
I'd prefer to get straight answers from you rather than seek to get answers through Public Records Act requests. Or have the questions be part of the discovery process in a criminal case.
Thanks, Robert Norse


MONICA'S LAST RESPONSE

From: mmartinez [at] scshelter.org
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
CC: edwinfrey [at] hotmail.com; linda4homes4all [at] sbcglobal.net; kbeiers [at] cityofsantacruz.com; dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com; tmadrigal [at] cityofsantacruz.com; spleich [at] gmail.com; jammbrow [at] gmail.com; lioness [at] got.net; sally_williamslaw [at] yahoo.com
Subject: RE: Unanswered Questions
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 17:27:03 -0800

Dear Robert,

I'm glad that you could make it to Thursday’s Thanksgiving event. I certainly hope that you had an opportunity to enjoy the delicious meal that was provided.

As I stated in my last response to you, the Homeless Services Center dedicates its time and resources to providing quality services to our participants while helping them achieve a better life. Therefore, we don't have the capacity to adhere to your requests or threats. However, we recently posted information regarding our emergency shelter services on our website at http://www.scshelter.org. Hopefully you and others who are interested in our emergency shelter policies will find the information useful. Sincerely, Monica


None of the questions are answered at that website, of course.

Lane, like other City Council neo-liberals seems to have jumped on board the Trollbuster Train in order to cover his right flank from attacks by Coonerty, Robinson, and the two new Council members who are likely to make up a new majority. Some of this involves defending and glorifying the Homeless Services Center as a place that serves only the "good" homeless. It also involves, apparently passing anti-homeless legislation like Lane did in this year and the year before increasing the penalties for sleeping outside or in a vehicle.

This whole structure of cards rests on the illusion that homeless people are "choosing" to sleep outside rather than essentially having no other options because of the shelter emergency, housing crisis, and unemployment abyss. Part of the plan is to maintain the illusion that in some sense there are "shelter options" when, in fact, for the overwhelming majority of homeless people on any given night, there aren't.

This summer, Lemaster, Frey, and I simply asked the HSC to come clean about this so that PeaceCamp2010 protesters who were actually providing shelter and trying to change the law could more effectively appeal to public opinion. Martinez and Lane are apparently interested in keeping the illusions going that allow police to harass, cite, and arrest homeless people for sleeping, covering up with blankets, and camping.

Perhaps if the limited extent of the HSC's actual contribution to homeless shelter were revealed, its funding sources would be imperiled. Or perhaps the merchants might withdraw their support if HSC folks actually came out in clear opposition to the Sleeping Ban--the tool used by businesses to run off the poor. (even at night when the stores are closed).

In any case, it's telling that relatively simple questions are prompting such elaborate and persistent evasion.
by On the head.
Thursday Dec 23rd, 2010 6:40 AM
You are a bullying, name-calling, sensationalist. ("Slave labor"? "Colonization"!? *rotfl*).


And, your characteristic bombast, bullying, and name-calling has had two significant results:

-Reducing your credibility.

-Hampering your effectiveness.

You essentially have neither at this point in life. You're a characterization, like a t.v. character. You've effected scant if any change in your years of railing against the machine, despite your claims otherwise. (Yes, you've dragged a few lengthy court cases through the system, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been far more effectively spent. And you've deluded yourself that this is the good fight and the city made you do it...but nobody but you and a few hand-selected cronies buys that malarky.).

I know what the general public would vote, and I suspect the homeless population would vote the same way: Things would be better off without you muckracking them up.
by Shadow
Thursday Dec 23rd, 2010 11:59 AM
On Becky's website the headline says it all.

"The SENTINEL refuses to name ED Frey, founder of Peace Camp 2010, or Chris Doyon, or Robert Norse for their valiant in-your-face protest against the Sleeping Ban as a "Newsmaker." No. The SENTINEL names the "Camping Ban" as "the Newsmaker" of 2010. Clearly in an attempt to keep any of the proponents from getting too much publicity."

It's about the publicity for Ed, Chris, and Robert. Not about getting something done. Not about the EVENT that drew attention to the issue. Not about the homeless folks that are actually living with the issue every day.

It's about PUBLICITY for Ed, Chris, and Robert.

She says just because they didn't make the above troika the focus, they REFUSED to honor the REAL newsmakers.

Refused? Or where they simply being more accurate?

The homeless in Santa Cruz deserve better then this self promoting, publicity seeking group of "advocates"!!

We should thank Becky for revealing exactly what this is all about. Publicity for Ed, Chris, and Robert.

by This is so Fucking Funny!
Thursday Dec 23rd, 2010 2:07 PM
LMFAO, Robert! This is the most hilarious article and comment thread I've seen in a long time. Thanks for livening up my holiday season :-)

Hey, why not post this to Topix, so we can have a real party with it, away from the disapproving eyes of the Indybay Thought Police and, now, the Sentinel censors also?
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Dec 28th, 2010 5:13 PM
No clear info yet from Monica or Lane.

For those disheartened by the string of trolltalk noise on this thread and others, it's helpful to remember the words of KPFA activist Richard Phelps at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/17/18666946.php?show_comments=1#18667058, which also apply here:

"Anonymous personal attacks simply mean you can't defeat the other's position. Personal attacks to try to distract people from the truth. ...Any time you are willing to debate these issues in a public forum let me know, and bring all your dishonest allies. You won't and they haven't despite previous challenges since you are all afraid of the truth! And you know your BS can't stand the light of day when put next to the real history."
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jan 8th, 2011 9:45 PM
Lane has stalled on this issue for a month at least. HSC Director Martinez has stalled since August. At first Lane claimed he didn't have the information to answer the questions below, then insisted I was "bullying". Those reviewing my correspondence above can judge for themselves. Obviously Lane had access to the information because HUFF member Bernard Klitzner was able to get the following info in fairly short order (after two failed attempts by Berrnard).

From: Don Lane
Subject: questions
To: "BernardBella Klitzner"
Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 10:59 PM

Hi Bernard
I did some informal checking with the HSC staff to discern the answers to the 5 questions and my anwers are shown below.
Don
1. Yes people can sign up for a shelter bed. Is this still the case now that the Armory is open?
Yes

2. Does HSC give a person any receipt or other indication that they have signed up for the bed?
No

3. Is there any requirement that a person "check in" and if so how frequently?
Not exactly a "requirement" but the signed up person is asked to check in on Monday to see if he/she got a bed in the Loft shelter. People who want a spot at the Armory just show up each day.

4. Is there someone available each night to advise someone calling in whether the shelter is full? What is the number to call?
No

5. Will HSC refuse to provide a letter acknowledging that your shelter was full on a night someone got a ticket if they weren't on your waiting list?
Unknown. This is still hypothetical because this has not come up with any clients yet.

The questions were simple. The answers are simple.

The last answer is still evasive, since I was told by homeless activists trying to sign up for shelter in the late summer and by Martinez (when she was still talking to me) that the HSC would only present a letter to the court to document the fact that there were full on a night when a homeless person got a ticket if that person had previously signed up for their program.

Which is obstructive and foolish. Foolish since the homeless person can always get the court to subpoena a HSC rep into court to testify as to whether the shelter was full or not. Obstructive because it makes it more difficult for those who are sleeping outside to show the court at arraignment there simply was no space in the shelter that night. Additionally, it was past policy and just an admission of the simple truth on any night.

Why the stall, why the uncertainty ("Unknown...hypothetical") ? Either it's still their policy, or it isn't. Is HSC nervous about offending the city attorney and police who still want to use the Sleeping Ban to control the homeless population through fear?

Call Monica Martinez, Executive Director, at 420-6020 and ask her.