Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Nickels Full Court Press Continues

Well, Wednesday is the rally and overnight encampment at City Hall, and the Mayor's office is pushing their own media offensive to go along with it. We have the Raging Grannies opening the thing and the Seattle Labor Chorus closing. I've been to rallies where that would be half the crowd, but it doesn't feel like this is going to be like that. We had 25 people last night at Real Change's civil disobedience training.

The whole CD thing turns out to be a card we don't need to play right now. We've gone respectable, and the whole thing is permitted. Even the overnight encampment. Rally speakers include Council President Nick Licata, City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness Director Alison Eisinger, Real Change Organizing Project participant Revel Smith, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness co-Chair David Bloom, and Real Change vendor Deb White.

So we turned last night's meeting into a peace keeper's training. We're ready if the folks that the Mayor's office sends out show up to machete our tents and steal our IDs.

Wednesday morning, the City has invited the media to a lower Queen Anne greenbelt on a city guided tour of "the health and safety hazards at these sites."

Since they've been "cleaning" them so regularly, I wouldn't think there'd be much of a problem. I look forward to seeing the photos.

Couldn't be much worse than the goose shit at Green Lake.

Oddly, Real Change didn't get the press release. We apparently aren't on the Human Services Department PR list. That's what they told us anyway.

The first protest I went to when I arrived in Seattle in the Spring of 1994 was about greenbelt clearances near the Kingdome. This isn't new stuff. These things would occur from time to time when neighborhood complaints started to mount. There would be a few of them a year, at most.

What's changed is that now the Mayor's office mobilizes the media and the neighborhoods. It's their proactive approach. Meanwhile, they continue to hold the line against new shelter options, and to tell lies about there being room for more people.

One of the things that happens in the media is that issues turn into cartoons. It's the besieged neighborhoods — over-run by Asian heroin cartels living in concrete bunkers, discarded syringes, and a rising tide of human waste — against the clueless bleeding hearts who are fighting for the right to shit in the woods.

For the record, people shouldn't have to sleep in the woods in the winter unless they have the appropriate REI gear. And shelters shouldn't be an overcrowded poor excuse for a mental health system for the poor. And poor people should be able to afford housing AND food. And the minimum wage should be a livable wage. And there should be universal health care in America. And anyone who wants to get into drug treatment should be able to without jumping through twenty hoops designed to weed out all but the most determined.

And the Mayor shouldn't be able to say he's ending homelessness when he's only hiding the evidence.

But that's not the world we live in, is it? So, maybe we'll see you Wednesday. Click here for info.

84 comments:

Treefriend said...

Good post!

I have been keeping my eye on Mayor Nickels for years now.
I recently started a blog
( http://realtreefriend.blogspot.com/) but don't have too much there yet.

stayed home said...

Good try at putting positive spin on this. Some less biased observations about the protest:

a) you were outflanked by a savvy city PR campaign. The city knew that photos of the encampments would be more interesting to the press than photos of just another protest at City Hall. Also, they timed their photo ops to hit the nightly news cycle, while tents in the darkness had little interest for the cameras and missed the right timing for evening news (except KING, apparently).
b) you were also outflanked by the city staff, which quickly decided not CD would happen on this issue. They're smart enough to know that people being sent to jail is too much good news for the opposite side.
c) the weather gods were on the city's side, which meant the fair weather homeless advocates like me stayed home, warm and dry.
d) you missed the obvious connection to Christmas and "no room in the inn" in your messaging, which probably would have been your best hope for making better headlines. However, you and RC are pretty iffy on religion (see poll on Jesus above) so this would have been too philosophically compromising for you.
e) probably little fundraising/PR bonus for RC out of this, since its leadership was pretty invisible to the outside world. SKCCH was visible and was quoted, so it was good exposure for them.

On the brighter side:
a) anything that combats the city's approach will be helpful in the long run
b) perhaps other local groups can build on this momentum
c) it sounds like the Council will keep the mayor's office accountable for a policy that ultimately is more humane.

In general, you get a solid "B" for this event. It'll help the cause and didn't hurt in any perceivable way. Thanks for the good effort.

Stephany said...

I read numbers upside down and damn if I thought i missed this, because it was the 16th, not the 19th!
--
my story i wrote about last november, and helping a man get to harborview...in another comment section here...his man was Joseph. I called the Times and told a reporter it was a perfect "no room at the Inn story"...due to his name being Joseph, and all, and due to a "sweep" under the Ballard bridge... didn't work.No story.

Good job, any effort to change things gets an "A".

Doug McK. said...

In response to stayed home,

a. That "savvy city PR campaign" you are talking about is changing its tune, due to pressure coming from several fronts.

Talk from the Mayors office now includes words like "outreach" and "property storage". This is new. The reason they were talking at all was because of their knowledge of this rally coming later in the day.

Who outflanked who?

b. Let me be clear here. It was our side who decided to approach the city to get this event permitted and to try to avoid the whole CD thing. We decided CD would not happen, not the other way around. You see, we are smart enough to know that pictures of arrests from our rally would dilute our message and would not be received well by an audience that we are trying to attract to RCOP. So no, we were not outflanked here, either.

c. I am sorry that you as an advocate are unable or unwilling to do your advocacy unless you are in a comfy warm and dry environment. We just felt that booking rooms at the Westin would not really bring home the point. You say the weather gods were against us. I would like to point out that this was put together by a start-up group from an idea that was sprung only 18 days before the event went off, and we were able to put together a great set of speakers, attracted around 100 people for the rally, and 45 people who spent the night. This on a cold, wet night a week away from Christmas. I would say that this is indicative of the strength of this issue and the outrage people feel.

Don't worry though, we told the Deputy Mayor that we will be out here every three months until everyone has a decent place to stay, which means that dedicated advocates like yourself will have a chance to join us in the summer when the elements are more to your taste.

d. We did not "miss" the obvious connection. I am a Christian. I resent the exploitation of Christmas and its meaning that goes on, I would have resented the exploitation here too. This was a damned if you do, damned if you don't element of it. Either way, you would have been able to spout off about it. We took the higher road of the two, by consensus choice, not by oversight.

e. Um, just so you know, this was not set up to be a fund raiser for a paper. That is going on, however, if you feel so inclined to give. Just check out the Real Change web site, I think you can figure out which button to click from there.

Thank you for giving us feedback that SKCCH was visible as a result of this action. It tells me that our stated goal got met. To be the voice of outrage which works as leverage for SKCCH and others that are going to be working inside of the building we were at to effect the changes we are asking for.

Finally, thanks for the "solid B" grade for this event. It means so much coming from a repeat posting critic of this blog who will not identify him or herself.

"Uta" Urban said...

HOOYAH!!

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