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Indybay Feature
Doo Wah Diddy Wah Diddy
by kelly borkert
Monday Jan 6th, 2020 8:59 AM
Solutions for housing crisis in Fresno California discussed with mayoral candidate.
There he was, just walking down the street.
Poking my nose out the front window to check the weather, I could see someone coming.
Realizing there were no strange vehicles parked ahead awaiting an absent driver, it
looked a lot like a door to door caller. So I moved towards the living room
to see what would happen when this mysterious traveler came to our front door,
slightly ajar due to outdoor activities in the front yard on a busy morning.
It was interesting to see the door slightly pushed open before a couple of knocks.
Clearly a risky situation in most circumstances. I prepared to lecture the unbidden visitor on the relative safety of that decision.
It immediately became apparent that this fellow knew full well the risks and the possibilities that door implied.
Letting me know I probably recognized him from TV and other media, I countered he was more familiar from The Habit than anywhere else, but yes I knew who he was and what he was doing walking the streets. A rather encouraging sign that he was not
taking the race for Mayor of Fresno for granted, and an opportunity to discuss issues of importance with city voters.
Did I have any special concerns of my own to share?
Yes, actually.
A very serious concern regarding the problem of homelessness in Fresno, and the failure of our system to provide a safe and decent environment for everyone in it.
He responded with an estimate of 3,000 homeless people in Fresno.
Clearly a different and larger number that just about every claim I had heard previously?
"Fake numbers."
No duh.
Explaining his plan to provide centralized intake services for the mentally ill and other afflicted people living on the streets of Fresno he made a point of what a bad situation it is downtown currently. He also mentioned a plan for "Tiny Home" solutions.
"Oh great, $30,000 a pop!"
What an investment cleaning up this town appears to be.
For a mere NINETY MILLION DOLLARS we can solve the problem.
I let him know that I was appalled by the cost of the TUFF SHED dog houses purchased years ago and installed downtown for overnight residents.
I also let him know what I knew about our local homeless demographic.
Such a large portion of which are not just elderly, but infirm in serious ways from the life that homelessness is.
While "mental illness" is as common a rallying cry as "drug addiction!" in our current conventional explanation of how people end up on the street, the truth of the matter is this- endless violence and the threat posed by City of Fresno camping ordinances and "clean ups" is NOT A SITUATION THAT PERMITS RECUPERATION.
It is a massive tragedy where people are continually subjected to brain injuries from the constant risks (100% risk) on the street.
It is a situation where women are raped repeatedly and offered considerably less recourse and support than the average person.
Mayoral candidate brought up the case of a woman who suffered these consequences that received media coverage of a sort.
He couldn't tell me what became of her, so I let him know she was still on the streets where they left her.
What I didn't tell him was I had video footage of a witness to their response that gave testimony to the despicable behavior of a responding officer who let them know they were unwelcome anywhere in his area stretching from 99 to Blackstone.
An effective solution to the problem, no doubt.
Of course, that sort of empathy in the aftermath of a rape speaks volumes right there.
I made the best case possible for self governed safe, clean campsites where the homeless could actually have a home, as opposed to a cot overnight in some crowd of desperate folks with various peccadilloes that threaten the safety and security of all nearby. Certainly a lousy place to forge recovery anyway.
I was easily able to remind the former Chief of Police of the H street encampment where something like $30,000 a month was expended on round the clock security guards (instructed to do absolutely nothing) while Big Sue had the whole place in order.
Not so easily I reminded him how she died outside the gate of the Poverello.

Who Killed Big Sue? | Community Alliance
The Community Alliance is an independent voice for workers and progressive groups in the Central San Joaquin Valley. The goal of this monthly newspaper is to build a powerful progressive movement that will support social, environmental and economic justice; immigrant rights; and a living wage for all working people.

I was also able to clearly recall and relate the story of the Ventura and F street encampment which was assisted by the Morse family members who brought in trash containers, helped clean up the lot into what was literally safe to eat off of.
I reminded him of the initial court visit where the City of Fresno backed out in fear of a situation they themselves created
in front of a judge whose FIRST QUESTION was "Why was the city not providing toilets and trash pickup?"
Because they initiated the complaint they were able to drop it without discovering the judge's foreshadowed ruling.
The subsequent shameful actions they took are nearly too upsetting to recount, but in the end this candidate rolled a cyclone fence around a property that was being responsibly utilized in the midst of utter shanty town chaos in that area.

Clean Sweep : Indybay
Thursday, January 28th, 2010 marked a dark day of particular significance in the struggle for human rights in Fresno California. After a series of attempts to remove homeless residents from a barren lot at the corner of Ventura and F St. in downtown Fresno, officials from the City of Fresno faced ...

I communicated my resentment at a posse being formed to chase and harass these victims of unbelievable persecution.
I indicated that the likeliest outcome will be shaped by Trump and Newsom sorting out their individual approaches, and furthermore, I drew a line in the sand for him to understand that criminalizing the poorest of the poor for living on the street would be huge mistake.
He assured me they would act on their own volition and not be tied to edicts similar to the immigration conflagration.
As much as there is to discuss about the recent history in Fresno involving solutions of force and indifference, I listened to what he had to say. Essentially he wants to centralize services or intake opportunities and provide some form of relief afterwards.
Which sounds as familiar as every other "more of the same with a new name" proclamation that has occasionally been aired.
By and large it appeared he wanted to address the "Mental health" issues of homeless individuals.


We have already seen what can happen when current situations are ignored and allowed to fester.
We have already seen the damage that is inflicted by criminal activities supported by recycling centers.
We have already seen the injuries and deaths that occur when people are left to their own devices in the midst of street
predators and unchaperoned lunatics.
There is nothing left to study and no amount of money will satisfy the machinery that has fed from this crisis while allegedly placing 8 people a month in housing of questionable permanence. All this as the numbers continually increase.
How many people have told me about the expired housing vouchers they could not use?
How many elderly people are in crisis because we will not take a sane approach to their safety?
We have seen how well a self regulated (with real support from concerned citizens) can work.
If effectiveness was a priority of any sort, no further discussion would be required.
As it is, I feel relieved of the need to communicate these facts to this candidate again.
All things he should already know and understand, even in his own way.
Right along with everyone else who continues to advocate doing the same thing over and over again.
I personally do not believe they are definitively crazy and expecting a different result.
I think they or someone(s) with the actual say, likes things just fine the way they are.
Fresno is a profitable place for people who know how to squeeze money and where to pass it around.
We have to change things for the better, for all of us.
I say this realizing, or simply believing that any better options will be offered from above by any candidate
with backing from the conventional sources that pick our candidates, issues and solutions for us.
Let's figure that out and move forward responsibly for a positive change across the board.
it is up to us.
We have already seen what goes on in this town, in this city.
Lord, how they love in Diddy Wah Diddy.
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