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Indybay Feature
View other events for the week of 1/29/2013
New Attack on Homeless Slated in City Council's "Public Safety" Committee Meeting
Date Tuesday January 29
Time 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Location Details
809 Center St.
City Council Chambers
Event Type Other
Organizer/AuthorRobert Norse
Emailrnorse3 [at]
Address309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The right-wing "Public Safety" Committee meeting, normally a tepid "figleaf-for-the-SCPD" affair that meets in a smaller room back of the Council chambers, will be out again in full frock in the larger City Council chambers where the usual Tuesday Council meetings are held.

A long and toxic staff report recommends, among other things:

***Authorize new (and costly) police expansion.

***"Oversee" needle exchange (making its use more problematic)

***More First Alarm and SCPD patrols to destroy homeless survival camps

*** Funding in the short-term for more SCPD arrests, citations, and property seizure along the railroad tracks and in the Pogonip of homeless survival campers

***Triple-fine zones for littering, smoking, and other "illegal activity" in parks, beaches and other areas. (Normally this is reserved for New Year's, Halloween, and 4th of July crowds--now it may be applied to areas where homeless folks hide or gather).

The agenda and full staff report can be found on the City's website at .

Homeless-hostile groups like Take Back Santa Cruz are expected to attend in force as well as nervous city officials eager to "manage" the recent outrage over trash, needles, and inadequate city bathrooms (one of the legitimate concerns being pressed).

Other groups sending out mixed messages about the homeless like The Clean Team (see their facebook page for the latest) will also be there.

Last month's meeting took over 3 hours and was held in packed chambers. I'm hoping to have the whole thing taped.

The conservative chair of the committee David Terrazas has refused to make sure the meetings are taped and publicly accessible afterwards. City Council meetings are now not only audioed, but videoed and stream on line.

The membership of the committee includes Cynthia "no food for the homeless at the Red Church" Mathews and Pamela "co-founder of Take Back Santa Cruz" Comstock.

Come and speak up or get shut up.

Probabilities are the crackdown will continue anyway, however, I encourage people to stand up and speak out.

You can also contact the clowns running the circus--Mathews, Terrazas, and Comstock to express your concerns at 420-5020 or on line with contact info at .

HUFF will meet tomorrow at 10 AM Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific Ave. to discuss a response.

Report abusive SCPD , P&R, First Alarm, and other goonsquad behavior on this website or to HUFF at 423-4833.
Added to the calendar on Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 5:38 AM
§Delayed Update
by Robert Norse Wednesday Jan 30th, 2013 9:13 AM
I spent half my time outside the meeting interviewing folks--interviews to be played Thursday 6-8 PM (some of them anyway).

So I missed the final vote, but it seems from the (often questionable) coverage of the Sentinel that not only did the Public Safety Committee rubberstamp the staff's homeless-hostile and "more cops, less sanity" hysteria-happy agenda, but the City Attorney on secret vote from the Council

I assume the vote was unanimous, though I won't be sure until I speak with others who were in the room when it was taken (or when I play the tape on Thursday evening and/or Sunday morning).

Quite slimey was the secrecy of the Committee and other members of the Council (like Micah Posner) who didn't mention the key fact that the Council directed Posner in closed session to shut down a residential needle exchange site. I assume no one in the crowd was aware of it--though it happened yesterday according to the following Sentinel article.

This kind of "creeping criminalization", which sounds like it's out of the playbook of Deputy-Chief Steve Clark, and may be a form of abusive "reefer madness"-style Drug Warrioring which is a real step backwards.

I regret that indybay chose to remove a comment critical of me, whose author was straightforward enough to give his name. I encourage those who are not just trolling, but seriously in dispute, to leave comments on the HUFF website under the comment sections at .

I also appreciate the support from those who like my reporting.

It's true I mix opinion and fact in my commentaries--but I don't hide that fact and don't apologize for it either. Someday when I grow more skillful (probably never), I may be able to use the "facts speak for themselves" approach.. Trouble is that I feel so strongly about my conclusions, that I always have to stick them in, if not lead with them. Still I think these articles are helpful.

The Sentinel story is at
§Further Update
by Robert Norse Thursday Jan 31st, 2013 1:18 PM
A noxious Sentinel editorial today endorses an ignorant and prejudiced position on needle exchange at . The noxious and futile moralizing of the editorial and subsequent comments recalls the propaganda of the Anti-Saloon League in its drive to create Alcohol Prohibition in the early years of the 20th Century. That it has taken on an anti-homeless color also makes it particularly off-base and fascistic.

Pretty sad, of course, and recalls the right-wing solutions to abortion and unwanted pregnancy: "abstinence". Why not call out the cops to go after moms and doctors? Oh, wait, isn't that now the law in some states?

Deputy-Chief Clark's "more cops and crackdowns" and "ramp up the war on drugs" approach is a proven failure. His "cut off the needles and they'll go away" nonsense feeds and feeds off a widespread form of magical thinking in the community that blames "excessive Santa Cruz tolerance." Looking at the Drug War racket that funds cops, courts, jails, and prisons (and, of course attorneys) it's been clear for years that Prohibition is the real problem. One doesn't even have to be "compassionate" to understand the common sense that a black market will always find profiteers and customers. And create new criminals, even as the old ones, are stuffed into overcrowded pens. Pretty crazy stuff.

I've asked Steve Pleich--a long-time needle exchange volunteer to write an informed response and also to speak about the issue on tonight's Free Radio Santa Cruz show between 6 and 8 PM (streams at , broadcasts at 101.3 FM, archives at

Today front-page story on the shutting down of the Lower Ocean Needle Exchange "corrects" the Sentinel story the day before that I refer to in the previous update. That Sentinel story claimed it was a unanimous secret vote at the Closed Session of City Council to authorize the City Attorney to threaten and initiate "cease and desist" actions against the landlord allowing needle exchange in his parking lot. Today's Sentinel comes out with a different tale:

"Barisone said he had not heard about the exchange before this week but said a majority of council members -- not a unanimous number as initially reported by the Sentinel -- approved beginning code enforcement activity after Lower Ocean neighbors raised concerns about the needle exchange."

The full Sentinel story (though what the truth is, I don't know) can be found at .

To find real solutions, you've first got to abandon the hype and hysteria and look closely at the effectiveness (or not) of medical approaches in other countries like Injection Rooms, Inhalation Rooms, for hard-drug users.

Unless they choose to hold a special session, there'll be no City Council meeting until the second Tuesday in February (the 12th).
Sane folks better get ready to deal with a tide of Drug War Insanity.
§Small Correction
by Robert Norse Thursday Jan 31st, 2013 2:25 PM
The paragraph in the original story reads: "Quite slimey was the secrecy of the Committee and other members of the Council (like Micah Posner) who didn't mention the key fact that the Council directed POSNER in closed session to shut down a residential needle exchange site...."

It should read "directed BARISONE in closed session to shut down what apparently is the only residential needle exchange site, at least the only one in the Lower Ocean neighborhood." [Capitals added for emphasis]

Sorry for any confusion.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by H
Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 1:02 PM
"Destroy homeless survival camps"?

"Property seizure...of homeless survival campers"?

This is what Conshock, Tear At Us and Sinthia Badnews wrote into their agenda? Criminy. What horrible people.

Thanks for reprinting their exact words. Nice to know our most powerful politicos are anti-survival of homeless people in peaceful camps. Real nice.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 1:52 PM
The words are those of the staff report, not those of the City Councilmembers--though the previous comment may indeed describe their real position.

In case it isn't clear, while City Council meetings are videoed and streamed, City Council Public Safety Committee meetings (in spite of my repeated request to Committee Chair Terrazas) have not been in the past. Unless he's decided to change his past procedure, the only record of the meeting will be the one private folks make with their recording equipment. I will try to create a record, but my equipment is primitive and my stamina limited.

I'm not aware this meeting is being broadcast or streamed either.

Ironically, there was a bigger turnout for the last Public Safety Committee meeting (as a result of angry community members accurately feeling city bureaucrats were unresponsive to safety and clean-up concerns) than at any City Council meeting this year and most last year. A similar large turnout is likely tonight.
by H
Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 2:23 PM
Oh. So their intent was descibed by the staff with the exact words "destroy homeless survival camps"? Those words were used by the staff, and not the committee? Bastards.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 2:43 PM
"...ramp up illegal campsite removal efforts" are some of the actual words (p.3). Reports from homeless people document the behavior of the SCPD, First Alarm, Parks and Rec, and the Labor Ready crews over the last nine months in this regard.

When every homeless campsite in the city is an illegal campsite by definition, then destruction, clearing, removal, whatever words you want, involves the destruction of homeless survival gear--with no alternatives provided.

Hopefully that clarifies matters.

If you're not actually trolling to divert attention from the proposed funding of more "cops against campers", you might want to call in at 6 PM on Thursday to Free Radio Santa Cruz at 423-4833, where I'll be discussing the meeting and the issues ignored.
by S. Rubio
Wednesday Jan 30th, 2013 6:55 AM
"H" isn't too bright. Robert was obviously using dramatic language and hyperbole (which he does often, and rather well) to describe the agenda. That was obvious to me reading his well written article. I didn't think the agenda actually used that language. It doesn't matter. The article was making a point. Keep up the good work, Robert.
by Leigh Meyers
Wednesday Jan 30th, 2013 12:27 PM
"Triple-fine zones for littering, smoking, and other "illegal activity" in parks, beaches and other areas. (Normally this is reserved for New Year's, Halloween, and 4th of July crowds--now it may be applied to areas where homeless folks hide or gather). "

Of course these tickets will be written to people who cannot and often simply will not pay the fines leaving the tickets going straight to collections for a percentage and no criminal penalties for the victim except a ruined credit rating leaving them more liable to stay homeless for the rest of their lives compounded by the unavailability of a valid drivers license further crippling their finding a job.

Now they'll be getting three times the money for writing those citations?

I smell "intent to fraud" on the part of the city of Santa Cruz and think the State DOJ really REALLY needs to look at, not so much the infraction laws themselves, but the ticket writing habits of the SCPD.

I've ALREADY asked the local ACLU to look into the SCPD's enforcement of nuisance laws against the homeless in Santa Cruz to an apparently 'interested but unable' board meeting, and NOW they're gonna bilk the taxpayers for THREE TIMES the amount of a normal fine?
by John E. Colby
Thursday Jan 31st, 2013 5:06 PM
As the Sentinel whips up hysteria, residents grow angrier, and the City Council jumps for cover, the homeless are going to be increasingly targeted for eviction from the city. As the SCPD presses on with more repressive measures against the homeless in the name of public safety, more civil rights will be violated while the end of this process looks much scarier.

Santa Cruz is looking down a Final Solution for the homeless. There will be more calls for cleansing Santa Cruz, for taking it back from the perceived thieves of our public safety. Of course all these measures will create more crime, so they will be self fulling prophesies. At some point the situation will take on a mob mentality. The end does not look pretty. Santa Cruz will have the blood of more innocents on its hands.
by RazerRay
Thursday Jan 31st, 2013 7:57 PM
I've heard say there's gonna be a "Heroin Police" patrolling the levee?

If they come to the Wednesday afternoon drum circle they won't find any of that... Their biggest risk will be 'getting absorbed'... "Being assimilated", as has been described perfectly by Thomas Pynchon in Gravity's Rainbow during a confrontation with the giant Adenoid:

"a hideous green pseudopod crawls toward the cordon of troops and suddenly sshhlop! wipes out an entire observation post with a deluge of some disgusting orange mucus in which the unfortunate men are digested—not screaming but actually laughing, enjoying themselves. . . ."

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