Defend those without homes! campaign page [link]
Santa Cruz is attacking houseless people [link]
"New Attack on Homeless Slated in City Council's "Public Safety" Committee Meeting":
Tuesday January 29
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
City Council Chambers [809 Center St. Santa Cruz, CA]
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.
TOXIC AGENDA -
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 [http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?recordid=4709&page=440].
FLOODING THE CHAMBERS -
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.
NO RECORD MADE FOR SUBSEQUENT PUBLIC VIEWING -
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.
ACTION RECOMMENDED -
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 http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=436 .
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. [http://www.huffsantacruz.org]
2013-01-30 update from Robert Norse:
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 [http://www.huffsantacruz.org].
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 [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22478511/santa-cruz-shuts-down-longtime-needle-exchange-site]
2013-01-31 "Further Update" by Robert Norse:
REPULSIVE SENTINEL EDITORIAL
A noxious Sentinel editorial today endorses an ignorant and prejudiced position on needle exchange at [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/ci_22484641/editorial-step-forward-needle-exchanges]. 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?
COMMANDER STEVE CLARK ON STEROIDS
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.
A RESPONSE FROM PLEICH?
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 [http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/], broadcasts at 101.3 FM, archives at [http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130131.mp3]).
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 [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22485020/city-attorney-santa-cruz-property-owner-called-end].
MEANWHILE BACK IN THE REAL WORLD...
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 -
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.
2013-01-29 "Heartless Bastards" comment by H.:
"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.
2013-01-29 "Clarifying" comment by Robert Norse:
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.
"...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.