Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Santa Cruz attacking houseless people: Public Hysteria Citizens Task Farce Meets Again!

Defend those without homes! campaign page [link]
Santa Cruz is attacking houseless people [link]

2013-07-24 "Santa Cruz Public Hysteria Citizens Task Farce Meets Again!" 
This is the group that calls itself "the Public Safety Citizens Task Force", personally selected by Mayor Bryant, and headed by the Public Relations officer of the Seaside Company Kris Reyes and a former civilrights-hostile police officer Jim Howes. The group's make-up as described in the minutes of their first meeting ( is
a. Jeff Cole, Fire Captain, City of Mountain View
b. Carolyn Coleman, Executive Director, Santa Cruz CommunityCounseling Center
c. Renee Golder, Teacher, Santa Cruz City Schools
d. Jim Howes, Asst. Director Regional Occupational Program, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, (retired Santa Cruz Police Officer)
e. Rod Libbey, Executive Director , Janus of Santa Cruz
f. Danielle Long, Social Work er, Santa Cruz County
g. Kristin Long, Family Attorney (retired Asst. District Attorney)
h. Kris Reyes, Director of General Services & External Relations, Santa Cruz Seaside Company
i. Reyna Ruiz, Commission member, Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women
j. Steve Schlicht, Marketing Director, Ezonthei
k. Dennis Smith, Commission member, Santa Cruz Port District Commission, (retired Santa CruzCounty Sheriff’s Lieutenant)
l. Kim Stoner, Real Estate Appraiser and Consultant
m. Bernie Tershy, Professor, Univers ity of California, Santa Cruz
n. Deborah Tracy-Proulx, School Board Trustee, Santa Cruz City Schools
o. Patty Zoccoli, Business Co-Owner, Zoccoli’s Deli
Nary a left activist, homeless person, or low-income resident to be seen (please correct me if I'm wrong).
Nothing about the real health and safety problem if not crisis left by the City Council's behind-closed-doors surrender to Take Back Santa Cruz in January closing the only Needle Exchange in the City proper. And this next session is about "the Drug problem".
The real purpose of the group, or so I fear, is to give fiber and filler to the NIMBY "disappear the homeless" mentality that has become ever-more explicit in a Council that has long been anti-homeless in its laws, policies, and appointments--even in the best of times.
The staff materials are included as an attachment, and can be found on-line at . A tip of the hat to City Clerk/Administrator Bren Lehr and Staff Worker Scott Collins for putting them up on the Task Farce webpage ( However, until I called them several days ago, there was neither notice, minutes, nor report for the next meeting, nor minutes for most of the other meetings. I'm still waiting for them to post the audio.
It's not that I necessarily recommend that people take seriously the content of these meetings (other than protesting the anti-homeless mission and make-up and exposing the "Public Safety" mythology behind the group's formation), but one should always know what new abuses are being planned.
We need, of course, a group concerned with Public Justice Citizens Task Force, which concerns itself with restoring rights to the entire community stolen in the ongoing political repression--particularly for the poor and homeless, but impacting the entire community (curfews, closed spaces, massive police and security thug presence, opaque Council actions without meaningful public debate, etc.).

2013-07-11 "Santa Cruz Public Hysteria Citizens Task Farce Meets Again!" 
NOTES BY NORSE: Looks like the Public Hysteria Citizens Task Farce (Mayor Bryant's hand-plucked gang of preprogrammed worthies which calls itself the Public Safety Citizen's Task Force) is running into a few obvious cold hard facts in spite of itself. (See article below)
As they say about even a busted clock being right twice a day, even the Task Farce and police fluffpoodle Shanna McCord has to stumble over the obvious now and then as the Take-Back-Santa-Cruz inspired group marches dutifully towards its prefabricated "run the homeless out of town" conclusions. Naturally the Lane/Posner "liberals" have no organized principled response--as they've bought into the mythology of a "public safety" "menace" that doesn't exist (any more than it did 10-20 years ago).
I made the following comments (in somewhat modified from) in the Topix section that follows the article and encourage others to do the same. The comments begin at []: Now it becomes clear--as it always was--that the absurd, abusive, and counterproductive shut down of the Barson St. Needle Exchange was a primary Bigotry Blunder--as was obvious from Day One. Returning to old Drug War rhetoric is a nice election eve trick (inveigh against prostitutes, bums, immigrants, ...Chinese and Jews too, while you're at it). But it's futile ignorance and prejudice. The politically-motivated agenda went over in the atmosphere of Fear cultivated by Take Back Santa Cruz and its opportunistic allies in the Downtown Association, SCPD, and Santa Cruz Neighbors. The ridiculous claim that Santa Cruz is “overrun with needles” by bringing 1000 needles to City Council, and then shutting down the City's only Needle Exchange center that has taken in 250,000 needles last year defies the straight face test. Obviously there'll be an escalating health crisis according to trustworthy authorities who claim expansive needle exchange as the Best Practice, whatever scaremonger rhetoric the venomous Drug Warriors spew. Requiring more documentation and regulation—whether at Needle Exchange or the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center will produce more environmental abuse, theft, and general disrespect for the law as well as heightening polarization, resentment, and ultimately violence. Even poor people will only take so much before they strike back in self-defense. Attacking poor people's right to use public spaces and their survival sleeping behavior and labeling these “crimes” is major dumb Attacking addicts as criminals is equally stupid. But it appeals to the fear and phony “do something!” impulse and plays into the hands of those seeking political power. Not to mention the financial costs of trying to jail people caught in the vise of the ongoing Depression. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
2013-07-10 "Santa Cruz police at a loss on how to get a handle on drug and alcohol problems" 
by Shanna McCord from "Santa Cruz Sentinel"[]:
SANTA CRUZ -- A top Santa Cruz police official painted a dire picture of the problems drug and alcohol addiction cause the city, which are exacerbated by a court system that all but ignores the issues, he said. Deputy Police Chief Rick Martinez delivered his report on the impacts of addiction as part of a panel discussion Wednesday to the Santa Cruz Public Safety Citizen Task Force. The 15-member task force, created earlier this year by the City Council in response to increased crime and complaints from residents, is charged with finding solutions to some of Santa Cruz's crimes and behavioral problems. The panel included a 21-year-old heroin addict; Lynn Harrison, drug and alcohol program manager for the county Health Services Agency; and Rod Libbey of the treatment program Janus. Libbey is also a task force member. Martinez said Santa Cruz is saturated with more alcohol permits per capita than any other city in the state, resulting in a chronic problem especially concentrated downtown with panhandling, public urination and public intoxication. He said such behavior greatly impacts the quality of life for Santa Cruz residents and business owners, but there is not much police can do beyond making repeated arrests to stop the crimes because offenders face little repercussion after the arrest. Unless a violent crime is committed, the court only considers municipal code violations a civil issue and turns the ticket over to collections, Martinez said. "It was a financial decision by the courts to make more money and lighten their work load," Martinez said. "It's disheartening to see the justice department turn its back on our city to make their lives a little easier." Only after an offender has failed to appear in court three times in six months can police get an arrest warrant, he said. Some low-level offenders in Santa Cruz have 60 to 80 violations under their belt, he said. Of 3,600 citations issued to local homeless people in 2012, only 96 were taken care of, Martinez said. "It's a huge frustration point for us," said. One of the speakers said he grew up on the Westside and started smoking pot at age 9, moving into heavy drugs by 18. He said he now has an $80-a-day heroin habit, and stealing from stores or burglarizing cars are common ways he feeds the addiction. He told the group there isn't much that can help a heroin addict outside of being locked down in a rehabilitation facility. Most heroin users don't choose to help themselves kick the powerful habit, he said. He suggested task force members look into easier and cheaper methadone access, free food for people living on the streets and a new needle exchange program close to downtown. "There are no clean needles anywhere," he said. "Needle exchange has to come back or AIDS and hep C will be everywhere." Task force members asked questions of the panel and took notes as they begin the next phase of their mission in creating a report with recommended solutions to the city council in November. Chairman Kris Reyes said the group's work only becomes more difficult in the next few months. "We're going to be having conversations that are uncomfortable and challenging," Reyes said. "We want to deliver a report that is thoughtful and realistic in addressing the totality of the issues we're facing."

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