top
Santa Cruz IMC
Santa Cruz IMC
Newswire
Calendar
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Vice-Mayor Ryan Coonerty declares war on homeless people
by Becky Johnson (becky_johnson222 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Feb 13th, 2007 9:55 AM
In the February 13th issue of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a front-page article by Shanna McCord quotes Coonerty as saying "There is a sense of urgency now because people don't feel comfortable downtown. We have to respond to that." Coonerty, Counilmembers Lynn Robinson and Cynthia Mathews have teamed up to increase police funding, staffing, and enforcement of the new 15-minute law which criminalizes anyone but a city worker from remaining in a parking structure for longer than 15 minutes, subject to a $160 fine. Despite repeated complaints of homeless people "sleeping all over the place", there is no plan to increase any shelter or legalized sleeping options. Coonerty's plan, concocted from complaints from his customers at Bookshop Santa Cruz, is to increase the criminalization of homelessness.
Entirely missing from the Shana McCord article on page one is any attempt to ask homeless people how they feel about the increased enforcement directed at them for sleeping in public places---given that they have no other choice.

Coonerty, who SHOULD be responding to his constituents (HUFF, the Human Rights Organization, and the Cabrillo College Homeless Task Force have been lobbying Coonerty and Mayor Emily Reilly to relieve the oppression caused by the Sleeping Ban in a situation where insufficient shelter exists.

Coonerty apparently ONLY cares about his customers ----and states openly that he is open to what the MERCHANTS want, excluding everyone else.

If his customers are offended by the sight of homeless people, one wonders if Coonerty would favor rounding them up and shipping them to concentration camps in order to make his customers "feel more comfortable."

Note that Shanna McCord provides no stats on arrests downtown---apparently willing to accept hook, line, and sinker that the increased police enforcement is necessary to deal with an alleged increase in problems downtown.

More likely, the new budget money from Measure H (passed by the voters in Nov. 2006) of which 37% (the largest chunk by far) was designated for police services is being maneuvered to pay for the private security guard services the merchants should be paying for out of their own funds---as opposed to taxpayer funds.

Measure H was advertised as a funding mechanism to repair our disintegrating roads, when only 9% of the funding goes to this.

The Sentinel has been increasingly printing anti-homeless letters and articles where they fail to consult any homeless activists, service providers, or homeless people themselves for comment.

Homeless people are portrayed as "vandals, aggressive panhandlers, spitters, burglars, drug salesmen, cluttering the sidewalk with their meager possessions, frightening women, and using abusive language." Since no stats are given, one wonders if college students who are drunk, latino gangs from other cities, or any of the 3.2 million visitors the Boardwalk attracts annually contribute anything to the "problems downtown."

This kind of bigotry is unfitting for a mainstream newspaper. And it is foreboding in the case of city leaders who promote this kind of bigotry and the police-state methods they will need to employ to arrest or drive homeless people from the area.

The bottom line is that we have a homeless problem in Santa Cruz. The solution is to open a homeless campground and carpark to protect our greenbelt areas, and to provide legal options to homeless people who currently are left out in the cold.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

The McCord Sentinel article that Becky is writing about is titled "City leaders make plans to clean up downtown Santa Cruz" and can be found at http://midday.santacruzsentinel.net/content/view/591/1/



Faithful watchpoodle to the privileged, Sentinel scribbler McCord didn't contact any homeless service providers much less homeless activists or, God forbid, homeless people themselves in writing what reads like a press release from the SCPD, Downtown Association, and Downtown Neighbors.

The upsurge in recorded homeless deaths is exemplified by the death of Yvonne Agone, the woman in her 60's who had to sleep out on the sidewalk for three months where she got terminally ill. This death, a function of bureaucratic bungling or malfeasance at the Homeless Services Center--like most others--received no coverage from shilll-for-the- Shanna. Instead, we have a homeless sleeper pictured implicitly described as a "behavior problem".

The behavior problem we have, as always, is bigoted, arrogant, and paranoid from city politicians, police, business bosses, and right-wing residents. It's all in line with the presumption that homeless sleeping is appropriately labeled criminal and a proper target for police--something the federal courts have warned is unconstitutional.

City "leaders" like Coonerty, Reilly, and Robinson have ignored or dismissed repeated e-mails and phone calls from HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), Humanity for the Homeless, and the Human Rights Organization. Why does the City continue enforcing its abusive 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban, instead of setting up campgrounds and carparks as appropriate safe sleeping areas? Why instead do they propose more use of fear and force against the poorest in our community, denying them the right to sleep legally somewhere?

City attorney Barisone has refused to make public his secret advice to City Council on how to "get around" the L.A. Jones decision, which holds unconstitutional nighttime sleeping bans.

McCord gives no indication of the shrinking of public spaces such as Coonerty's unique Parking Garage Trespass Law, banning the homeless from seeking shelter from the rain on public property there. The absurd law also levies ridiculous fines on the general public who park their cars and bicycles if they "linger" for more than fifteen minutes as part of their plan to drive the homeless out of the only makeshift shelters they can find.

McCord ignores the accretion of financial and political power by the Parks and Recreation Department's enforcement division, now able to declare any spaces managed by them "closed" without the approval of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

McCord and her friends in the SCPD and on City Council provide no response to
the routine destruction of homeless property by Ranger John Wallace (now buffed up with 3 more rangers and 4 CSOs)--a practice banned in Fresno by federal court order. City Council praises Wallace--who singlehandedly harasses more homeless people for sleeping than the entire SCPD, sucks up $700,000 from the city, and invites even greater legal penalties.

Santa Cruz: the City where homeless survival gear and treasured personal property are regularly compacted as trash. Too nasty a subject for Shanna's delicate pen, it seems.

Nor does McCord give the relevant background to the complaints of homeless people sleeping in public--that the City's walk-in emergency shelter provides facility for only 160 of the City's 1500-2000 homeless.

Clueless, casual, and cruel--as usual.

Activists will be meeting tonight (February 13) in the Coffee Roasting Company downtown on Pacific Avenue at 6:30 PM, to make presentations to the community through City Council's Oral Communications period at 7 PM at City Council and plan subsequent protest actions.

Join us.

HUFF and HRO members will be supporting the demonstration at Rep. Sam Farr's Office demanding he vote against the huge military appropropriation coming up this year. We vigil against two wars--the War on the Poor and the War on Iraq.

Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM or http://www.freakradio.org is likely to be carrying the 14-hour Tenth Annual Homelessness Marathon starting Tuesday February 20th at 4 PM.

More info: contact HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) at 423-4833.
 
by Steven Argue
Tuesday Feb 13th, 2007 2:06 PM
I'm reposting the following mailing I got from Robert Norse on this which contains the outrageous Sentinel article that Backy Johnson refers to and Robert's response including a plan of immediate action. -Steven Argue

February 13, 2007

Downtown difficulties bring new sense of urgency for S.C. leaders

By Shanna McCord Sentinel staff writer SANTA CRUZ — City leaders,
stung with criticism that downtown is plagued by bad behavior and
crime, say they will step up efforts to curtail aggressive
panhandling, drug dealing and transients who spit on sidewalks and
intimidate Pacific Avenue visitors.

"There is a sense of urgency now because people don't feel omfortable
downtown," said Councilman Ryan Coonerty, whose family owns Bookshop
Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue. "We have to respond to that"

The city's ramped-up efforts will include increased police patrols,
cooperation with merchants and seeking help from state law
enforcement.

Downtown is no stranger to crime. The area has seen its share of
vandalism, burglaries and drug sales, though city officials have
taken measures during the past decade to revitalize the area and have
been successful in cracking down on illegal activity.

Still, police say, downtown in general sees more crime than other
parts of the city, and is known as a homeless hangout because of its
proximity to County Jail, the Metro bus station, the San Lorenzo
River levee, a needle-exchange program on Front Street and the
Homeless Services Center in the Harvey West neighborhood. Crime
statistics weren't available for arrests that have taken place
downtown during the past few months, but Police Chief Howard Skerry
said "illegal activity is consistently high there"

Downtown resident Mike Bethke, who oversees a construction project on
Pacific Avenue, said Monday, "I see a lot more aggressive behavior
and people are sleeping all over the place. My wife won't go out at
night"

Coonerty, responding to letters and complaints from residents who say
downtown problems have reached a new low, teamed with council
colleagues Lynn Robinson and Cynthia Mathews to tackle the issue.

Their plan includes:

Overtime pay for police to increase patrols.
Coordinating enforcement with state parole and probation officers.
Enforcing a new parking garage loitering law that forces people to
leave garages within 15 minutes.
Speeding up replacement of burned-out street lights.
Hiring a new police community-service officer designated for downtown.
Reaching out to downtown merchants and employees.
Increasing communication with the District Attorney's Office.

A staffing shortage in the Police Department, including the
retirement of a downtown community service officer in August, could
be contributing to a spike in crime and other obnoxious behavior,
Skerry said. Police say they are recruiting for a replacement.

Robinson, a landscape designer who works downtown at least four days
a week, said she has seen loitering and aggressive panhandling
become "a little out of balance" recently. The severity, she said,
depends on the time of day.

"We have to make downtown a place you feel safe and you know you're
safe," Robinson said. "I'm really interested in reaching out to the
merchants and talking with them about what they can do to help with
this issue"

Despite the problems, downtown remains a popular place for people to
shop, socialize and work. Vacancy for downtown office and retail
space currently stands at 4 percent.

"Ninety-five percent of the time downtown is a fantastic place,"
Coonerty said. "We have to work on that 5 percent to make people feel
comfortable"

Contact Shanna McCord at atsmccord@santacruz sentinel. com.

COMMENTARY FROM ROBERT NORSE

Faithful watchpoodle to the privileged, Writer McCord didn't contact
any homeless service providers much less homeless activists or, God
forbid, homeless people themselves in writing what reas like a press
release from the SCPD, Downtown Association, and Downtown Neighbors.

The upsurge in recorded homeless deaths is exemplified by the death
Yvonne Agone, the woman in her 60's who had to sleep out on the
sidewalk for three months where she got terminally ill, received no
coverage from the Sentinel.

City "leaders" like Coonerty, Reilly, and Robinson have ignored or
dismissed e-mails from activists.

City attorney Barisone has refused to make public his secret advice
to City Council on how to "get around" the L.A. Jones decision, which
holds unconstitutional nighttime sleeping bans.

McCord gives no indication of the shrinking of public spaces such as
Coonerty's unique Parking Garage Trespass Law, banning the homeless
from seeking shelter from the rain on public property there.

Nor the accretion of financial and political power by the Parks and
Recreation Department's enforcement division, now able to declare any
spaces managed by them "closed" without the approval of the Parks and
Recreation Commission.

McCord and her friends in the SCPD and on City Council provide no
response to the routine destruction of homeless property by Ranger
Wallace (now buffed up with 3 more rangers and 4 CSOs)--a practice
banned in Fresno by federal court order.

Nor does she give the relevant background to the complaints of
homeless people sleeping in public--that the City's walk-in emergency
shelter provides facility for only 160 of the City's 1500-2000
homeless.

Clueless, casual, and cruel--as usual.

Activists will be meeting tonight (February 13) in the Coffee
Roasting Company downtown on Pacific Avenue at 6:30 PM, to make
presentations to the community through City Council's Oral
Communications period at 7 PM at City Council.

Join us.
 
by Ilse
Tuesday Feb 13th, 2007 4:28 PM
There might be a higher number of people on Pacific for two factors: it rained a few times, plus I hear they've been expunging Pogonip park lately. Unlike most parks, it is hard to notice them in there, so not kicking them out of the park is probably the best solution unless assaults are occurring.
 
640_measurehfunding2006.jpg
At the Feb 13, 2007 City Council meeting at which I spoke at oral communications, I said that the "council is fat with money from Measure H ---which had been pitched as a measure to improve roads, but which only 9% was designated for Public Works, or road repair."

I said that 37% went directly towards police with Parks and Rec (read enforcement personel--rangers) and fire (also enforcement personel) made up the bulk of the recipients of the funding. In actuality, 20% goes to fire, 14% Parks and Rec, 12% community and Library services. Only administrative costs (8%) are a smaller bite of the pie than the 9% designated for roads. Rotkin effectively called me a liar for making these claims.

See the graphic from: "Facts about Measure H for Santa Cruz City Residents," an election 2006 mailer signed by Sandra Benoit, Finance Director, Dannette Shoemaker Parks & Rec Director, and Mark Dettle, Public Works Director SECTION: Where do your sales tax dollars go?

 
by William Scott
Wednesday Feb 14th, 2007 3:34 PM
"Coonerty apparently ONLY cares about his customers ----and states openly that he is open to what the MERCHANTS want, excluding everyone else. " My experience is that they also don't care about their customers. They in fact criminalize them. Here is an email I sent to Neil Coonerty, twice, last year. No response. Maybe it is time to boycott that bookstore.

From: William Scott

Date: January 6, 2006 8:33:03 AM PST

To: neal@bookshopsantacruz.com

Subject: Last night at Santa Cruz Bookshop was my last visit

Dear Neal Coonerty:

I am a frequent patron of Bookshop Santa Cruz. As a professor at the University of California, I buy a lot of books, and your bookstore is a frequent destination for me when I need a quick escape into town. I generally purchase about $50 worth of books on many of these outings. I haven't kept track, but I am sure I spend close to a thousand dollars a year at Bookshop Santa Cruz. If you want to check this, my readers club number is 1XX26. I forget to use it about half the time I make purchases, so it will give a very conservative estimate. Nonetheless, I think it will establish that I have been a loyal customer since my arrival in Santa Cruz in 1997.

Last night I purchased two books, totaling $67.01. Before the transaction began, the gentleman at the till, who appeared to be struggling slowly with the burdens of the job, interrupted our transaction without explanation, got on the PA, and said "Stop the fat bald guy before he goes out the door. He has the wrong receipt." I watched in silent awe as the previous customer came back and collected his receipt without comment. The gentleman at the till then proceeded with my transaction, which he announced totaled $67.01. (Computer books, which I frequently buy, are expensive.) I paid with a credit card, and he handed me the form to sign, at which point I noticed it said $97.01. I pointed out the "mistake," and after much hemming and hawing, he agreed to "refund" me $30.00 instead of voiding the transaction. The cash register receipt had the correct total. My credit card was overcharged by $30.00. In other words, had I not caught this "mistake," I would have been out $30.00 with no proof.

Your sales clerk, who I also believe was the manager (despite his extreme incompetence), got me back. He "forgot" to deactivate the books, so as I walked out the back door, the alarm went off. He and another clerk ran out after me. I said I had just completed the transaction, I had no bag or concealed packages, and I had all the receipts. Furthermore, they had just tried to relieve me of $30, not the other way around. I hesitated about coming back into the store for further humiliation, at which point one of them called the Santa Cruz police on me. I pointed out the irony rather vocally that they had tried to overcharge me $30, and then they resorted to calling the police on me even though I had done nothing wrong except perhaps to not be as compliant as they clearly thought I ought to be. In response, one of the clerks screamed at me (we were back inside your store at this point) that I had been permanently banned from the bookstore. But since they called the police on me, I could neither stay nor leave.

Two squad cars with flashing lights and sirens blazing arrived within seconds. I guess they called 911 in response to the awesome threat that I posed. By this time I had decided I had better wait to get this cleared up with the police. I showed the police my identity card (which is apparently now a Santa Cruz requirement) and the books and the various receipts, and they apologized, wished me a good evening, and let me go home. All this was taking place now in the bookstore in full view of your other customers, who were finding this delightful evening entertainment, I am sure. One of the clerks then told me he would now retract his banning orders, and I was welcome to come back. By this time I was no longer enjoying his comic performance, and left. Probably for the last time.

Within the last year or so I've been quite amazed by the poor quality of service in the bookstore, but I've been content to ignore it and make my purchases and quickly leave. My wife has given up going to Santa Cruz bookshop with our kids, who, although well-behaved, inspire the constant wrath of the person who maintains the children's department. My wife asked her why she should continue to come to Santa Cruz bookshop instead of the children's section at Borders. Her only reply was that Bookshop Santa Cruz had a bathroom. (Borders lets mothers and children use theirs). My wife hasn't been back since, but I thought it important to continue to support our local independent bookshop.

I no longer feel this obligation quite as strongly.

Yours sincerely,

William Scott

 
by Robert Norse
Thursday Feb 15th, 2007 2:28 PM
Interviews from the last two days on the massive police crackdown downtown. Contribute your own account and eyewitness perspective. Call in 6-8 PM Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM (http://www.freakradio.org) at 831-427-3772 or 831-469-3119.

What Can Be Done?

Tent City? Copwatch? Protest? Flight? You tell us!

Are the merchants behind this?

What meetings took place that generated this "surge" of enforcement?

Where are the crime stats that justify this level of abuse--hf it can ever be justified?



The show will be archived at http://www.huffsantacruz.org.
 
It seems likely that with an upsurge in ticketing for campers (60/mo where in 1999 it was 3 or 4 a month), coupled with the new parking restrictions all over town, and the new, no loitering rules out at 115 Coral St. which USED to be the only place homeless folks could go and sit or stay without being hassled, the powers that be have corralled the homeless in a smaller and smaller area. Now they are claiming an "upsurge" in problems downtown!!

Now they have the community whipped up expecting a lot of enforcement, so openly at the bequest of the merchants, and so nakedly aimed at "transients" and homeless people (mentioned 3 times in Shana McCords article on Tuesday) Despite their denials.

Did you see Ryan Coonerty fall all over himself, puffed up about the the expensive homeless services Santa Cruz pays for? He even repeated that old chestnut that Rotkin used to blather----that "Santa Cruz spends more dollars per capita on homeless people than any other city our size in the nation." Its not true of course.

Celia Scott debunked that way back in 1998 (Can't blame Ryan though---he was still in high school) when she researched it. She reported on the record at City Council that San Francisco spends $54 per capita on homeless services, Santa Monica $16, and Santa Cruz $4.

Scott had also reported that many cities spend nothing at all. And that the $4 that the City spends is about average for a city our size. Certainly nothing to crow about.

But then did you see Ken Cole get up and speak?

He is the Ex. Director of the Homeless Services Center, and does not consider himself a homeless advocate. So it was highly unusual for him to get up and speak. I believe he was speaking in response to Ed Porters little game, in which he asked the assistant City Attorney if tickets issued when the armory is full were still being dismissed. Never mind that ticketing still hassles, moves-along, and compels homeless people to still come to court only to have their case routinely dismissed--never mind that that provision only applies in the winter when the armory is open. As if homeless people are supposed to stay awake all night from March 15th until Nov 15th but suddenly develop the need to sleep at night when the weather gets cold and stormy.

But then I am not the main service provider contracted by the City of Santa Cruz for homeless services. Ken Cole is.

Cole said this:

"Thank you for your very solid support of homelessness, housing, and anti-poverty all that our City values and stands for. I am not here to talk generally about homelessness in our community. Unfortunately its a very divicive issue in this City--it shouldn't be. I just want to weigh in on the situation. I have a lot of very strong feeling from the heart on this issue. I just want to clarify the issue. Sometimes its unpleasant to have to look at the reality. But I really feel compelled to make one clarification. The connection between the armory capacity and enforcement of camping ticketing. its simply not a good connection. If you looked at it sociologically, psychologically, by any measure, there is no connection between whether the army is full tonight and whether you should enforce the camping tickets. People...(I dislike the word "Homeless") ....People in our community are forced into bizarre choices, and they are forced at the beginning of the winter season. They have to decide, am I going to camp out in miserable conditions, dangerous conditions, and potential illegal conditions, or must I compete to get into the armory? They make a choice. It isn't a light switch situation in which they can choose one minute to camp or to get into a shelter. At 50 or 60 people the National Guard Armory which we run is safe, it's a good place to sleep. It's not a snake pit situation. Its full at 50 or 60. You and I would not want to sleep there. There are simply not enough toilets. We wouldn't get a good night's sleep.

I just want to say to the people who are sleeping out tonight "Thank-you." because
if all those who needed shelter tonight showed up demanding a mat at the armory, or demanding a place at a local church, we'd have a riot."
 
by Robert Norse
Monday Feb 19th, 2007 6:10 AM
It's ironic and telling that Coonerty's "sense of urgency" extends only to middle-class shoppers hurrying past unsightly homeless folks or merchants eager to cleanse the downtown of the possibility of viewing poverty directly.

Those who need a legal place to sleep but have none are the ones with the real "sense of urgency". But, they do not count in Coonerty's book.

They have been under persistent institutional assault for the last three decades--with no acknowledgment of their basic constitutional rights.

For the last year, Coonerty has justified these 8th Amendment violations (cruel and unusual punishments) but refused to clarify his position. City attorney Barisone met behind closed doors with City Council to explain why he thinks City law can be defended in the federal courts after the key Jones decision in Los Angeles stopped authorities there and in San Diego from enforcing their nighttime Sleeping Bans.

Coonerty and Reilly have refused to release the Barisone reasoning, bring it up for discussion at City Council, or make changes in the law as the City of Richmond has done, requiring there be a shelter bed available before a camping citation is issued.

They have also initiated this latest crackdown policy, which includes unconstitutional sleeping tickets against those who have the implicit consent of the owners to sleep lightly and be gone in the morning.

1. HUFF estimates 1500-2000 homeless people in the Santa Cruz CITY area alone. Thousands more in the County (The Federal Department of Health and Human Services estimated 8-10,000 in 1988).

2. The north County's Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program provides space for 40-60 people in the winter. About half that in the summer, spring, and fall. The Armory in the winter provides--if stuffed--about 100 spaces. But see Cole's comments above.

3. Cole's Homeless Service Center has long recognized there is essentially NO space for walk-in homeless people in the non-winter months, particularly single adult males, since disabled, elderly, family, and female groups fill it up every night.

4. The Armory in winter in addition to Cole's cautions requires picture ID, doesn't allow couples to couple, bans medical marijuana users, has hours that make it problematic for working homeless, is described by critics in its manner as a "concentration camp", does not allow pets, has no facilities for parking vehicles or walk-in's, and more.

5. So the overwhelming majority out of economic necessity sleep outside--downtown, by the river, on the westside, in the Pogonip, etc. Police and Ranger Wallace (who issues more camping tickets than the entire SCPD put together) nonetheless issue about 50-60 citations a month and roust many more.

6. Though HUFF has attempted to put warning and complaint-only enforcement provisions in the no sleeping/no blankets/no camping law, Rotkin and Mathews have consistently and successfully opposed this move, advocating to give the police "more tools".

5. "Camping" tickets under the City's Municipal Code are usually of three kinds: (1) for sleeping on any public property, in any vehicle, or on much private property (even with the consent of the owner) from 11 PM to 8:30 AM, (2) for covering up with blankets during this period, (3) for setting up a campsite with camping paraphenalia (such as a tent, cooking equipment, etc.) with the intention of remaining overnight.

6. The bail fine for the first two infractions at the court window is currently $90--nearly double what it was a eight years ago. (This is due to increased court add-on's, but City Council has taken no move to decrease its part of the fine in response.)

7. City law mandates that the first two infractions cannot be given more than 8 hours of community service. In the past judges have routinely ignored this provision (presumably through ignorance rather than willful malice)--but when informed, Referee Baskett of Dept. 10 has said she will respect it. There hasn't been an independent check of Baskett's courtroom recently (volunteers?).

8. There is a cost ranging from $25 to $75 for even registering with the Community Service organization Community Options, the only place most judges will allow you to do Community Service.

9. Those who fail to appear in court or fail to pay their tickets now get $300 tacked on to their fine very soon after the failure.

10. This new "civil assessment" policy was supposed to be an alternative to costly warrant arrests on these homeless harassment citations, but it's unclear whether during the current crackdown, police are arresting folks on warrants for infraction crimes (like sleeping at night, sitting on the sidewalk near a building, bike riding the wrong way on Pacific, sitting on edge of a planter) in violation of presiding Superior Court Heather Morse's November order changing the warrant policy to civil assessment.

PLEASE CONTACT HUFF AT 423-4833 or WRITE UP YOUR CASE on this website, if you've been cited or hassled, so we can keep a record of these abuses. Give us as much info as you can including officer's name, time, place, dialogue that went down, how many cops involved, witnesses and reactions of passersby, whether others joined you (say, sat down in solidarity), etc.
 
Aside from the fact that the so-called "homeless situation" in Santa Cruz is a never ending phenomenon, the real question is: when oh when is everybody in Santa Cruz going to face the plain fact that individual responsibility is the ONLY way to change personal circumstances? As a former volunteer with SC FNB, and having cooked with Catholic Worker for many years all over the US, the same truth reveals itself over and over and over...HOMELESSNESS IS AN INDIVIDUAL PROBLEM! And by the way, the article would be more impressive if it were authored by somebody other than the Robert Norse/Becky Johnson team. Why don't the Santa Cruz homeless author the definitive articles? Thanks for listening, Craig Stehr in Berkeley (currently fundraising for Green Scare legal defense work).
 
by William Scott
Tuesday Feb 20th, 2007 7:09 PM

I grew up in Chicago. I first heard of Santa Cruz in a Mike Royko newspaper column written on Nov. 26, 1984. It was entitled "Life Turns Mean for Street People." Here are some excerpts from Royko's column:

And now we're seeing a new and weird twist to the struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Like anything new and weird, it is happening in California. In Santa Cruz, groups of well-off, middle-class young people have taken to attacking the less fortunate. They call it "trollbusting." They even wear T-shirts showing some down-and-out person. The targets of these youths are homeless street people--beggars, bag ladies, bag men, derelicts, the kind of people who are part of that growing population that lives in cardboard shelters, under bridges, in doorways or in a sanitation department salt box. The existence of these people in their city offends the offspring of those who live in ranch homes. So they've been threatening them, kicking them around and occasionally whacking them with baseball bats. One young man, a twenty-year old security guard, explained to a reporter why his friends are going in for bashing the poor and homeless. "My friends resent the way the 'trolls' go begging around while they have to work and pay taxes. If these young goofs were sincere about defending their allegedly hard-earned money, they would be on the prowl for a four-star general or a defense contractor. Or one of the President's merry budgeteers.
 
by H
Wednesday Feb 21st, 2007 9:09 PM
I read this Sentinel article critiqued here and my biggest criticism of the article is that it failed to delineate the difference between homeless people and drug abusers. It identified them as if they were one and the same! Not only is that faulty logic, it's total CRAP!

Yes, there certainly has been a problem with crankheads (meth or crack abusers) on the lower half of Pacific Avenue, not unlike other communities in the US. I don't think this is news to anyone. As far as I can tell this is where most of the aggressive behavior is coming from. There are occasional drunks who cause problems, but I generally don't see that and I'm around downtown frequently.

The equivocation of homeless people with drug abusers is nothing less than a form of classism (or rankism) --- much like racism, but classism doesn't sound as bad. Shame on Shana McCord and anyone else who buys into such stereotypes.
 
by Rico
Thursday Feb 22nd, 2007 5:29 PM

I am consistently surprised and troubled when I hear stories of people's interactions with the police. People are largely unaware of their rights and so are less assertive than they should be about protecting themselves. I hear tales of people regularly volunteering their identification for cops to check, letting cops search their bags, etc.

Here is a know your rights flier that I hope will be widely circulated. It was developed with the help of two well known radical lawyers.

Know Your Rights & Resist the Police State

The Know Your Rights information here came directly out of a Free Skool Santa Cruz workshop on the subject. The class used to be called Surviving Police Encounters, but is now more aptly named Resisting the Police State.

We created a Know Your Rights handbill and poster that we hope you'll find useful.

We encourage all of our friends to hang the poster next to the toilet in their co-op houses where we know it will get read.

Here are the PDF versions of the handbill and poster. Please print and distribute widely:


littlefileicon.gif Know Your Rights Handbill (PDF)
littlefileicon.gifKnow Your Rights Poster (PDF)
 
Amazing, but not too surprising. The city management can't find the money to provide homeless shelters and assistance programs, but can come up with $4 million for Camp Dresser McKee, the city contractor who is building the trial desalination plant at Long Marine Lab. The Sentinel and the local weeklies don't think that's a very interesting story, for whatever reason - yet Camp Dresser Mckee was also a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan - seems like there'd be some local interest in that, don't you think?

I think what you have here is a corrupt and incompetent city management and city council, a daily newspaper that is owned by an Alabama consortium (after being sold by Dow Jones, i.e. the Wall Street Journal), and a small clique of business owners bent on turning a profit by whatever means available. It's a microcosm of the larger-scale corruption that's so prevalent in the US government (where did all those Iraqi contract billions go, after all? What is that $4 million in Santa Cruz funds actually being spent on?)

Why won't the local media cover these stories? I mean, here you have a great story: the Santa Cruz City Council votes a resolution against the war in Iraq while AT THE SAME TIME hiring one of the international construction firms that benefited from the war in Iraq to build some 'trial desalination project' to the tune of $4 million - and neither the Metro, the Good Times, or the Sentinel bothers to cover the story. The project was approved by a few people in the Water Dept and signed off on by the City Manager, Dick Wilson, and the City Council. It's a massive ripoff, guaranteed to raise rates, and pushed by the University in order to secure water for their planned expansion (thus the Long Marine Lab location). Shanna McCord at the Sentinel called CDM a "Walnut Creek-based company" - they have over a hundred offices across the world, Walnut Creek is just one!

McCord/Sentinel quote: "The testing facility would be designed and operated by staff from the Walnut Creek-based engineering firm of Camp, Dresser and McKee. No city staff would be involved, Almond said."

Along similar lines, none of the local papers covered the background to the story of the homeless man who was beaten to death at the corner of Highway 1 and Swift St a short while ago; however if you talked to the homeless who lived near there (I did) you would discover that many people knew of the person responsible, and that he had a history of violence, and the police had done nothing about it. Since the attitude of the city council has been to criminalize all of the homeless (via their directives to the police), violent criminals can now prey on other homeless people with impunity - this has been going on for some time now.

http://humanityforhomeless.blogspot.com/2006/08/homeless-man-murdered-in-santa-cruz.html
 
by Jim Schultz
Saturday Mar 17th, 2007 11:59 PM
I'm glad to see the city council doing something useful by dealing with the incredibly bad behavior downtown. When you have more meth users than ordinary people, you know your city streets need enforcement action...and that has been the case around here. Sympathy is surely a virtue when directed appropriately. Unfortunately, when misdirected under short-sighted idealism you end up with the Robert Norse - Becky Johson kinds of absurd, pseudo-compassionate tirades that do nothing (but get in the way of truly balanced action.)
 
by Becky Johnson
Friday Apr 6th, 2007 2:43 PM
Jim, how compassionate do have to be to allow homeless people to sleep at night like ordianary people or to keep warm with a blanket?

Our laws forbid this. (see: MC 6.36.010 section a and b)

Homeless people are only 1 to 3% of our population. How hard is it to find some kind of legal place for them, be it indoors or in a legal campground.

Jim, you would rather have our police repeatedly arrest a homeless person for the non-violent act of sleeping than spend a little money to open up a campground and carpark for them.
Note that your support for the sleeping ban and blanket ban do NOTHING to end the presence of homeless people in our town. In fact, these laws exacerbate homelessness.

If you smear me again in the future, please give a quote from me that you disagree with. Your blanket condemnations absent a single specific are just thrown insults and add nothing to anyone's understanding.
 
by HELIO
Thursday Dec 13th, 2007 4:45 PM
you should be giving that money to the homeless!
 

We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!

Donate

donate now

$ 112.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.

Publish

Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network