Thursday, March 6, 2008

Seattle's Homeless Sweeps. Cui Bono?

Our Day of Action on homeless sweeps is next week and here's what we know. We know that cops were asked to create a list of hotspots last spring. We know that top mayoral staff refined the list to include other spots more within condo sight lines. We know that by last May they shifted from a complaint-based trigger for clearances to a targeted and pro-active schedule of sweeps. We know that this resulted in a gloves off approach that completely ignored existing protocols on campsite clearances. We know that this was intentionally kept from advocates and, apparently, even the City Council and CEHKC. We know that they launched an aggressive media offensive when they were finally called on the evidence, and we know that they've kept advocates at an extreme distance as they work toward their final "policy." We know that the sweeps never stopped, despite a continued absence of established protocol and a request by City Council to suspend activity.

But what we don't know is why? Nothing in the documents we've obtained clearly explains why the City went there in the first place.

So I bring you this, perhaps the most important poll ever on Apesma's Lament. More important than Patricia McInturff: High on Crack or Has the Mayor's Back? More important than our landmark WWJD poll. We're talking seriously important.

Why do you think the City of Seattle, the Department of Transportation, and various others have suddenly taken such an active interest in homeless campers? This has been going on and largely tolerated for more than a decade. Why now? Why so committed and why so secretive?

There are several possibilities:

The neighborhoods demanded it. The pressure was on and the Mayor could no longer forestall the inevitable. If Greg didn't act soon, he could lose the next election.

It was just the right thing to do. No one should have to live the way these people do. The entire city Human Services staff knew that campsite conditions had reached a crisis point, and presented an aggressive yet ultimately compassionate action plan to the Mayor.

They had to curb the Asian Heroin Cartel. Don't laugh. There's actually some idiot out there who thinks this is the reason.

Homeless people make downtown living kind of icky. There's a boom, and part of the sales pitch is safety. Visible poverty makes development dollars nervous.

So, please. I need you on this one. The truth is complex, so you may vote any combination of choices. Please vote at top right of this blog, and don't forget to click on "submit," you fucking moron. OK. Happy voting. Come on March 13th.

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