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Drug War Dummies to Mob Cowardly City Council; Nervous Opponents Present Petition

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
Location Details:
Santa Cruz City Hall
City Council Chambers
809 Center St Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Following up from the "Crush the Homeless Camps" sweep-and-destroy operations of last summer and fall and the Public Bigotry Committee's December and January hearing, City Council will move to put the cherries on top of the Drug War Delight tomorrow at 3 PM at City Hall. Come on down and to tell 'em "No Thanks!"

Santa Cruz City Council meets tomorrow (3 PM City Council Chambers 3 PM, agenda item #15) and is likely to rubberstamp recommendations made by its right-wing "Public Safety Committee" which met three weeks ago and in its turn rubberstamped the recommendations of a conservative staff report. See "New Attack on Homeless Slated in City Counci's 'Public Safety' Committee Meeting" at

The recommendations can be found on-line at as well as the original staff report at .

If these aren't accessible there, go to and look under agenda item #15.

Most of these recommendations are a defensive response to an onslaught by right-wing pro-Drug Prohibition War, anti-homeless activist groups like Take Back Santa Cruz. Homeless people and their "illegal" (i.e. survival) camps are being blamed for needles, break-in's, endangering children, and all kinds of other bogus accusations completely unsupported by objective stats. Cuts are being proposed in the paltry homeless services being provided. Expansion of an anti-homeless SCPD is proposed. And an absurd and misguided contraction of Needle Exchange is being used as the prime scapegoat.

I include the attached petition, which, while inadequate in not including opposition to the counter-productive 1-for-1 exchange, does push back slightly against the paranoid mind set which is active locally. I'm also including a guest editorial in the Sunday Sentinel that presents what sounds like a good case for opposing the 1-for-1 (no needles given out unless dirty needles returned) proposal.

There's likely to be quite a crowd of misguided Drug War heavies down at City Council tomorrow, but it would be productive to show up anyway. The city's failure to provide public restrooms, adequate disposal facilities, refund and expand needle exchange, & establish safe and legal campgrounds is, of course, largely being ignored by city bureaucrats and politicians (though even some right-wing critics are calling for some of these services).

The Santa Cruz Sentinel has been ramping up the hysteria with various front-page "needle" stories with its main editorial on Sunday leading the charge. Read it and heave: .

Real solutions like Injection and Inhalation Centers ( ... ) aren't being proposed, though Santa Cruz pioneered (along with San Francisco) medical marijuana tolerance and distribution back in the early 90's. Time to take the lead again.

Homeless people are perhaps the most vulnerable population for the diseases likely to result from this latest Cold War-style attack on harm reduction measures.

Some of the crowd pushing for "clean up" (such as T.J. Magallanes of the Clean Team) really want to respect homeless camps, set up campsites, and take a medical rather than military approach to drug abuse. Come and speak out, if you dare.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 2:45PM
by Robert Norse
This petition is also available on line at .
by Robert Norse

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Trip Weir
Some of the more egregious proposed ordinance changes seem not to be included, like the triple fines and the 24-hour cooling off without due process. Does that mean the committee decided against them or they're coming later?
by Or just blind to truth?
Your post claims that "Homeless people and their "illegal" (i.e. survival) camps are being blamed for needles, " and that the accusations are "bogus".

Yet your report comes on the same day as an apparently very credible report ran in the paper showing 150 dirty needles being picked out of the refuse that passes for a "survival" camp...along with a full dumptruck's load of garbage. And this cleanup comes not at the hands of the city or TBSC who you villify, but rather was done by a volunteer group of apparently well-intended citizens whom you give props to in your post.

I see nothing bogus or subjective in that fact. A single homeless camp had 150 needles and a truck load of pollution, and it's in the middle of one of our community parks.

I look forward to your reply and explanation of how that's not due to homeless drug addicted campers. (But if you could, please limit your reply to my inquiry about how this is a bogus report and not directly linked to homeless campers using drugs. Your point of "If the city gave them campgrounds and bathrooms and camping gear then this wouldn't be happening" isn't the issue. Your claim that this problem isn't happening due to campers is the issue.)
by More Factual Analysis
The Sentinel article says the needles were found around the "outskirts" of the camp....this is not the same as the needles being "picked out of the refuse that passes for a "survival" camp" as you have phrased it.

The needles may be associated with the camp, but I challenge your assertion that those who lived in the camp produced them.

Friends of those who were in the camp may have produced the needles, but the Sentinel article says nothing about the needles being found inside of the camp itself.

I think there is strong evidence that the camp Norse referred to does not have drug addicts as its primary inhabitants.
by Or just blind to truth
"Outskirts" refers to a fringe or outer area. When you have a camp in the woods and it's "outskirts" contain 150 needles, I have no problem with the authenticity of saying the needles are part of the camp. Check a few of these camps for yourself as I have and you'll find its standard practice: People sleep and live in the middle, and throw their trash, feces, and now needles to the "outskirts".

As for your assertion that it may have been friends of the campers rather than the campers? Laughable. And irrelevant. If there was no illegal camp there, there would be no friends visiting and no 150 needles on the "outskirts".

Thanks for illustrating the fact and reinforcing my sense that there is some serious denial going on in regards to acknowledging the truth of the problem.
by Not Guilty
I expected and anticipated your response, and you are an example of the type of person I do NOT want visiting these locations. You are untrained and politically motivated.

You don't have any special knowledge just because you have picked up some trash.

You have no scientific basis for saying the needles are part of that camp, the place where people live.

The important and most alarming part of your response to my comment was your willingness to assign guilt by association, and it is these types of patterns of associations that Norse protests.

The people in that camp cannot be tied to the behavior that is located on the outskirts of their living area anymore than you can. You are not a drug user just because there are needles on the outskirts of your town.

You have no idea who lives in these locations.

I ask that people like you NOT pick up what you feel is the trash in these locations because you are not qualified to do so and your have a political agenda that does not include protecting the vulnerable people who may live in locations like the example we are discussing (Pogonip).

by Not Gulity
I would even go as far to say that I do not think it should be legal or permitted in any way for untrained individuals to mess with these survival camps, such as the anonymous commenter from above claims to have done.

These garbage gathering people may have possibly damaged or thrown away houseless people's personal property in their quest for garbage, political satisfaction, and a lust for power.

I suggest that the Santa Cruz City Council set up some professional guidelines and requirements for just who can seize property like the way it has been done by these private vigilante groups.
The link... Put it up or stfu.
by Robert Norse
I had to leave the meeting because I wasn't feeling well, but I did stay until the end of the Public Comment period on Item #15, The Public Bigotry Committee report. I'm hoping to review the video of the rest of the meeting on the City's website when it gets posted.

From what I heard and saw, in spite of a few good questions from Lane and Posner, there was no challenging of the abusive behind-closed-doors decision to shut down 1/2 of needle exchange (the half on Barson St.). There were no stats justifying the shutdown presented (though the property owner gave one anecdotal incident where he said he found some clean needles near a point of break-in). No stats for the number of people actually injured by needles. No comparative stats of harm created by restricting needle exchange in terms of the spread of disease.

Just more cops, more drug war, and more stalling by City Council--in terms of any public discussion. It also seems that the Council majority without a vote is acting unilaterally through Terrazas in its planned selection of a Task Force--to be chosen by the Mayor and then operate without public hearings. Terrazas gave a long-winded evasive response to Lane and Posner's questions, but he finally got the clear answer--it'll meet in secret, probably selected by the Mayor.

Another issue that was left hanging was whether the Task Force would assume that needle exchange would not be in the downtown or residential area before it started. At this writing the Sentinel (useless sensationalist smearsheet that it's been on this issue) hasn't come out with a story.

The S.C. Weekly reporter, however, was so pissed at the steady pattern of prejudice and fearmongering that he got up and made a statement supporting accessible needle exchange himself.

"More conservative" liberals like Mike Rotkin and Steve Pleich declined to endorse needle distribution or "1 plus" needles exchange where more needles were given out than returned, one of the big demands of Analicia Cube, her rep Pamela Comstock on City Council, and Take Back Santa Cruz.

No one made any serious proposals for a shift in the Drug War mentality, though there was lots of meaningless talk about compassion, and drug treatment--but the money, of course, would go for more cops to jail more users to fill up more jails to be released again with no housing to pick up their drug activity, etc.

A number of people denounced the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center as a demonic drug den that had to be shut down. There were angry claims that "most needles and debris" were found within 1/4 mile (or a mile--pick your source) of the HLOSC. I think it was the last speaker, a woman claiming to be a social worker demanded that homeless services be available only to those who registered and were local. I guess tatooing folks on the wrist with ID numbers would be optional.

Not sure what a Strategy for Sanity looks like, but I'll be pondering it.

And as for whether some drug abusers and needle droppers are homeless--sure. But to let that be the excuse to criminalize homeless survival camps generally is the kind of is a form of badly misguided hatecrime.

The recommendations naturally had nothing specific about putting in bathrooms, requiring pharmacies to have safe needle disposal facilities, or (shudder) establishing safe campgrounds. There was some talk (and that's what it'll remain--talk) about how without real housing options, there's no real drug treatment programs.

And in spite of all the Lane-Martinez buzz about 180/180, this program will impact only a small number of folks.

Looks like homeless people will have to look to themselves and other allies for protection. If Ammiano's homeless Bill of Rights isn't too badly weakened (which I fear it may be), that may be a new avenue.

HUFF meets tomorrow 10 AM Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific. Free
by Trip Weir
"It also seems that the Council majority without a vote is acting unilaterally through Terrazas in its planned selection of a Task Force--to be chosen by the Mayor and then operate without public hearings. Terrazas gave a long-winded evasive response to Lane and Posner's questions, but he finally got the clear answer--it'll meet in secret, probably selected by the Mayor."

Meeting in secret is the usual way with a so-called task force of limited duration including a minority of the city council, but wasn't that objection discussed and they agreed to make the task force meetings open and public? I was watching and listening on tv with one eye and one ear while doing other things.
by Robert Norse
Trip Weir may be right. The Sentinel doesn't clarify and the video isn't posted yet. When I left the meeting, Terrazas had clarified that the meetings were to be private, but perhaps that changed in the final vote on the Mathews resolution.

The Sentinel's police-puffing, sensationalist, and slanted coverage of the event is at . The coverage outrageously shoehorns the recent Monday Westside robbery/shooting into the Martinez's sweet-sounding but deceptive talk about drug use. If he were serious about his bogus "treatment solution", his talk about "their medicine", etc., he'd be calling for the money to go to addiction prevention, but no--he wants more cops. The police department has also played a complicit role in the shutdown of needle exchange at Barson by not speaking out on the issue.

Similarly, Posner and Lane did not publicly oppose it and have not called for immediate restoration of the long-used site This is a clear public health crisis waiting to happen when dumping bad needles is now likely increasing big-time. These are the gutless liberals elected and reelected in November.

SC Patch has its equally police-palsy coverage at (with no clarification on the specifics on the Council's action).

What is made clear is that Robinson and Comstock are gunning for Needle Exchange even on the outskirts of the City. They made pointed attacks on the Emeline St. increased distribution "not being authorized" by the County. (It's being done 3 times a week now rather than once.) This misguided attack savages an inadequate but obviously necessary attempt by the County to make up for the behind-closed-doors shut-down of Needle Exchange at Barson St. That closure was the only real action that City Council has taken--all behind closed doors, without public comment, and in line with the Take Back Santa Cruz agenda. The rest is blather, attempts to manage the situation through meaningless resolutions delayed into the future.

That absurd and politically-motivated move will probably at least double the number of discarded used needles. Beefing up the police force (instead of redirecting their priorities) is another bonehead psuedo-public safety move. It is, of course, again in line with TBSC's "bigotry first" approach, holding homeless camps, homeless services, and "drug tolerance" responsible for crime and drug use. This J. Edgar Hoover approach is the 21st Century equivalent of Reefer Madness and deadly dangerous as well as being wildly irresponsible.

Some ideas for action: Going back to civil disobedient needle distribution (which originally established it as a legal option). Marches to the offices of Robinson and Comstock protesting their "kill those addicted and infect the community" Final Solution. Mobile public pickets in front of businesses or at tourist locations advising tourists that not only are they visiting a homeless-hating town, but they're also more likely to find needles in their soup.

One of the interesting things to notice about Deputy Vice-Chief Clark's comments in recent Sentinel articles are his attempts to reassure people that Santa Cruz is a "safe" community, indicating the nervousness of the DTA and SCPD regarding the recent right-wing hysteria around the needle issue. They'd like to use it to buff up their force, increase police power--but not really address the real (and often valid) issues that the Needlemaniacs are raising--trash, bad police priorities (with crime in the neighborhoods), & inadequate needle disposal.

The toxic link here is of course with homeless people--who are being blamed (with no stats supporting the claim).
by Or just blind to truth
"Not Guilty": I need a "scientific basis" to say the needles are part of the camp?! Scientific basis; what the hell does that mean? How about plain old evidence, as in needles in the camp? Split hairs all you like about the definition of "outskirts", I won't bother. If there's a camp and a pile of trash in or next to the camp, then the needles are part of the camp. The video clearly shows needles in the mess of the camp.

You're correct: I shouldn't be held accountable if there are needles found on the outskirts of my town. But how about if there's 150 of them found 4 ft. from where my bed is? That's the type of "outskirt" were talking about here. Your attempts at obfuscation and denial notwithstanding.

Your comment that I or other members of the public shouldn't be allowed to enter illegal camps built on public property merely serve to illustrate to me how out of touch you are with the opinion and will of the vast majority of Santa Cruz residents. What you're saying is "A drug addict chose to trespass on public lands, leave hundreds of pounds of trash and needles in his/her nobody else shall be permitted to go there." Dude, you have lost your mind...and you've lost this disagreement. (And I don't mean the one you and I are having here as two individuals. I mean the bigger issue of "the majority has spoken and the camps are going to be cleaned out" argument".)

Here's video of needles in the camp trash. Not outskirts on the edge of town. Outskirts a few feet from the junkies camp. Robert himself has implied that he considers this particular cleanup group to be credible, and they stated they left "survival gear" intact. Homeless? We can work with that. Homeless and a junkie and trashing our community?. They're out of here. (

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