Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time to Stop Being So Damn Nice

The Mayor’s new draft policy on homeless clearances has been released, and there’s only one way to say this. It’s an atrocity, pure and simple.

From the moment the Mayor’s office was called on their secret campsite clearance policy last October, their response has been characterized by contempt for process, continued secrecy, and commitment to aggressive clearances. Meanwhile, they fed a mostly willing media scare stories about homeless criminality to stigmatize and smear this City’s most vulnerable.

Existing laws are sufficient to identify and prosecute criminal behavior that truly poses a public threat. This policy isn’t about that. This is about eliminating visible poverty through a systematic campaign of harassment and criminalization.

The Mayor’s policy extends the parks exclusion ordinance — which was designed as a tool to ensure that public parks remain family friendly — to all public property throughout the city, no matter how urban or remote. Groundwork is laid to deputize any city department or their delegated authority with the power to issue progressively onerous citations based on no more than suspicion of illegal activity, which is defined to include sleeping.

Homeless advocates were promised inclusion in the drafting of a “consistent and compassionate” City policy toward homeless campers. Instead, we were stonewalled and offered two weeks “comment period” on a draft policy that is anything but.

There is no legislative process or any other real opportunity for the public deliberation that this sweeping change in public policy deserves.

A public hearing has been scheduled for January 28th, at 6:00 pm at Seattle Center’s Rainier Room. I just checked the PI story that announced this hearing, and see that they're listing the time as 7:30. And yet the HSD website has the original time.

So which is it? 6, or 7:30? Who the hell knows! We're going with 6:00.

Meanwhile, if you read the article you'll see that hack journalist John Iwasaki was so busy uncritically sucking up the city line that he neglects to mention the key component of the proposed policy change: the extension of the parks exclusion ordinances authority to ticket and arrest those who sleep outside at night to every scrap of public land in the city.

He probably didn't even read the thing. I mean, 20 pages. Who has the time? Better to just ask Patricia what to write.

And listen to the fearless "homeless advocates" whom the City has embraced as our representatives:
"What's being proposed is a big step in the right direction. I'm glad to see that the city is responding out of a sense of humanity toward people who are in encampments," said the Rev. Sandy Brown, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. ... The proposal covers a number of key components that concerned advocates, said Bill Block, director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County.
Long-time homeless organizer Paul Boden said once that when it's more important for you to be at the table than to stand your ground and say what needs to be said, it's time to leave the table.

But maybe these guys were selectively quoted as being more supportive than they are. Hacks will do that to you.

At this point I wouldn't talk to the PI's John Iwasaki if he were the last journalist at the last daily in Seattle. Not that he's ever called me.

While it is critical to pack the hearing, nobody should be under the illusion that this alone is going to stop this Mayor. We need to aggressively and creatively fight back. Call 441-3247 x202 or email organizer@realchangenews.org for more information.

1 comment:

Bill said...

well, I used to pay for therapy, for years, and I kept doing it after the best therapy I got framed my issue as "no more mr. nice guy." It took awhile to sink in. Once it did, I was amazed how much better I felt. Maybe it was not paying to be told what coulda/shoulda been obvious. But it wasn't. Yeah, we have people at the table who are invited because their response will be what it is. While we think it could be better, it all fits the mold of keeping the process nice. Many want nice because it makes it all easier for us,... us being those not suffering every night. Was in Olympia today, and I gotta sadly (big surprise!!) report that folks in office, let's take the youngest rep from the 43rd,... these folks are every bit as clueless as what the City presents. In lieu of helping the poor and keeping low-income housing, this rep says, "I want to promote home ownership." I was ready to paint his friggin' office red and authorize his removal from the blue party. Point sadly is though, too many of the blues are as unmovable as the reds. Bought, sold, paid for, whatever they are, they are nice, nice, and nice, if you are not poor, just drop your campaign contribution into the basket please. I thought criminal thoughts all the way home. It's let's avoid Dino Rossi at all costs but the proof in the puddin' is for what a majority is accomplishing we could have people from whom we truly expect nothing in office and we could feel less pause in dragging their feet to the fire publicly. I agree,... about not being nice. It doesn't require being mean, by the way. It just takes being transparent, honest, and frank. Like tomorrow (Friday)there will be a vote on condo legislation. Blues wanna bury the provisions they don't like so what's voted on is nice. Word had it all provisions will be in the floor bill and the nice folks will have to publicly vote "no." That's what it's gonna take. Make the nice elected folks cast public "no" votes against the poor and take away the cozy sanctity of caucus where the thorns can be stripped and keep dem developer donors delighted. I don't like the quotes that make this city policy appear nice and like we are making progress. We are losing ground, fast.