Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pat McInturff: High on Crack, or Has Greg's Back?

Recent press on the City of Seattle’s halt to campsite clearances — like this story in the PI, followed by this editorial, and this story in the Seattle Times — says Seattle Human Services Director Patricia McInturff, did not correctly represent the City’s position. In an email to members of the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness Interagency Council and others she clarified what their position actually is, sort of.
“Until an new encampment abatement protocol, that incorporates existing city law, is finalized the City of Seattle will continue to address encampment complaints and removal in the same way that we have for the last several years. The existing protocol provides notification to persons in the encampment, addresses valid public safety and public health concerns, and enforces appropriate laws. Abatement procedures will vary depending on the urgency of the problem and the campsite location. We will continue to evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.

In consultation with the law department we are reviewing all current laws related to encampments. Once that process is concluded [Dept of Neighborhoods Director] Stella Chao and I will invite a group of stakeholders to meet with us and provide input on an updated protocol.

Sorry for the confusion --- the City is committed to a humane and consistent approach.”
Thanks for that Patricia. In other words, the clearances have not been halted. As welcome as this newly found “commitment to a humane and consistent approach” might be, her email is interesting in that it skirts the issue of the City’s documented shift to an illegal and immoral policy last May.

So did the monthly campsite clearances policy then not incorporate city law? Given that city legal is just getting to reviewing this issue now — since it’s blown up in their faces — the answer to that would probably be “no.”

The pretense of consistency is also a bit hard to swallow. Real Change’s FOIA request for City policy on encampment clearances surfaced only a 1996 document that in no way resembles actual practice.

So what she seems to be saying here, really, is “while our lawyers are assessing just how vulnerable our pathetic bureaucratic asses are to litigation over our illegal campsite clearance policy, we have reverted to the previous policy which exists on paper but in actual practice is largely meaningless. We’ll get back to you when we get our shit together.”

Why didn’t she just say that?

In the PI story, Al Poole said the city’s “concern” was motivated by the death of the homeless man who was struck and killed by brush clearing machinery as he slept. Really? The policy started in May. Isaac Palmer was killed in June. Was he the first casualty of an aggressive yet half-assed policy on campsite clearances? You have to wonder.

So this week’s poll is this: Is Seattle Human Services Director Patricia McInturff high on crack, or is she just covering the Mayor's back? As always, you may vote at the top right of the blog.

The results are in, and while the were close, a slim majority said that Patricia McInturff has the Mayor's back, although almost as many said she was high on crack. One astute reader bemoaned that the poll didn't offer the opportunity for both options. I apologize for the mistake.


Bill said...

This is truth time re: commitments to end homelessness. Step one for hizzoner is hiding the homeless,.. It may be true for him that step two follows Rich Lang's "Real Change" article, which concluded, kill them. These leaders are just plain immoral, from the cover-the-mayor's-back crowd down to the parks' workers clearing encampments. "I am just following orders." History teaches them nothing apparently, except perhaps that it will be OK to put these people on trial for crimes against humanity for saying, "we simply followed orders."

Doug said...

She most certainly has the Mayor's back.

As a recovering crack addict, I can assure you that she would not have been invited into our little group. We were a far more humane crowd.

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