By Doug Porter
Comic Con and the All-Star Game have come and gone, but San Diego’s homeless remain, criminalized and demonized. A report from the ACLU calls out blatant discrimination in charter schools throughout California. And rightwing-inspired laws restricting voting in states around the country are proving to be nothing more than a shield for racism.
Today we look at some of the downsides of life in the USA these days. The deification of the market economy and the quest to drown government in a bathtub are at the root of all these stories, something the Make American Great Again crowd seems unable to grasp.
Homeless and Helpless
A perfectly reasonable story in today’s Union-Tribune, focuses on the now-weekly displacement of homeless people in downtown and the East Village.
The story says the downtown homeless population is now at about 1,000 and the number of tents and other temporary structures up 70 percent this year. Three tons of trash are removed from the public right of way each week by city workers.
Homeless advocate Michael McConnell watches the sweeps almost every Monday and finds them pointless.
“It’s an incredible waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “Look at the resources we’re spending.”
McConnell said he understands that the city must do what it can to keep the area clean and safe, but he is troubled by the times he has seen people warned or ticketed by officers, moves that he said is akin to criminalizing homelessness.
“And the entire process, once complete, does nothing but move somebody to another neighborhood,” he said. “So we spend an incredible amount of money, and all we’ve done is relocate the problem such as to Hillcrest, where they now have to hire security.”
Not discussed are some of the many causes of homelessness, including the lack of long-term mental health care programs, the destruction of low-cost hotels via downtown development, the market economy leaving people behind or the paucity of non-luxury housing.
What’s unreasonable about the UT story are the reader comments, displaying the full range of ignorance about homeless people. These vile folks seem to think homelessness is a lifestyle choice, ‘bums’ around the country are flocking to San Diego, and the resulting unpleasantries of encampments are aimed at themselves personally.
Some of the merchants in Hillcrest see it that way, and they’ve been loud and proud about hiring City Wide Protection Services to roust unwelcome visitors to their community.
Not everybody sees hiring additional security as a viable solution. Some residents believe an increase in homeless people on the street is related to the downtown sweeps and the Hillcrest Business Association is just pushing the problem off on adjoining neighborhoods.
They started a Facebook page to communicate their point of view, are handing out flyers at the popular Sunday Farmers Market and are calling on people to urge the HBA to look at more positive solutions.
— Tay (@Teighlorre) July 31, 2016
August 17th: Building Community Awareness
More than twenty media outlets (including SDFP) are participating in a educational effort under the banner of San Diego Homeless Awareness Day on Wednesday, August 17th.
From Ron Donoho at San Diego CityBeat, who has taken the lead in organizing this effort:
On June 29, more than 70 San Francisco media outlets formed a loose coalition to collectively aim coverage at the subject of homelessness. The goal was to raise awareness of a persistent problem in the Bay Area that appears to only be getting worse. The same could certainly be said of San Diego’s homeless crisis, which has generated grisly headlines in July. Several local media organizations have already pledged to form a similar coalition, and all outlets are invited to participate.
San Diego Homeless Awareness Day will be Wednesday, August 17, 2016. Organizing media partners include San Diego CityBeat, KPBS and Voice of San Diego. Any and all local media–TV, radio, print, online–are welcome to join in. Participation will be simple: Just run a story that day that focuses on some angle of homelessness. It should be done for your own audience, in your own style.
Participants as of this writing include: San Diego CityBeat, Voice of San Diego, KPBS, San Diego Free Press, OB Rag, Media Arts Center San Diego, iHeartMedia, NewsRadio 600 KOGO, San Diego Magazine, Homelessness News San Diego, Independent Voter Network, SanDiegoVille.com, 94.9 FM, KFMB-AM 760, NBC 7, 91X FM, The Star-News, West Coaster, East County Californian, The Alpine Sun & CW6
August 7th: Memorial Service for Angelo DeNardo
The Metropolitan Community Church of San Diego will be holding a memorial service for Angelo DeNardo and other victims of a recent string of fatal attacks on homeless men on Sunday, August 7th at 12:45pm. The service will be at 2633 Denver Street in Clairemont.
From the Rev. Caedmon Grace, Minister of Congregational Life, The Metropolitan Community Church San Diego:
The first victim of a recent string of fatal attacks on homeless men in San Diego is Angelo De Nardo, who attended MCC San Diego for many years. Another named victim is Shawn Longley and there are multiple whose names are either unknown or unreleased by officials.
As a community, we will come together to pay our respects and honor the lives of these fallen Beloved of God and members of the community.
We welcome family, friends and loved ones of Angelo, Shawn Longley and the victims who are known on the streets but remain unnamed at large.
Into God’s hands we commend these spirits.
Two Bits of Positive Homeless News
**Yesterday The Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs departments and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness announced that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010.
**The Living Water Church of Nazarene is forming a Homeless-friendly choir welcoming adults at 2pm, children at 3pm every Monday. (403 13th St, entrance on J St)
1 in 5 California Charter Schools Discriminate
A report released Monday by the ACLU of Southern California says 253 of 1,200 California charter schools reviewed in the study employ discriminatory practices.
These practices included expulsion of students who fail to maintain strong grades and discouraging immigrant students by requiring information about the immigration status of the students or their parents.
From The Times of San Diego:
“We hope this report brings to light practices that prevent charter schools from fulfilling their obligations to all students who seek access to a quality education,” said Victor Leung, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. “The report should make it clear to all charter school authorizers and operators that they must play on a level playing field and cannot cherry-pick the students they enroll.”
According to the report, state laws authorizing the operation of charter schools required them to “admit all pupils who wish to attend,” regardless of academic performance, immigration status or other factors.
“The idea behind charters was never to create private academies with public funds,” according to John Affeldt, an attorney for Public Advocates. “Charter schools, like regular public schools, need to be open to all students. Admission requirements and processes that limit access or discourage certain kinds of students have no place in the public school system.”
Schools in San Diego cited in the report included:
Bayshore Preparatory Charter, Community Montessori, Dehesa Charter, Diego Hills Charter, Diego Springs Academy, Diego Valley Charter,Gompers Preparatory Academy, Greater San Diego Academy Charter, Harriet Tubman Village Charter, Health Sciences High, High Tech Elementary, High Tech Elementary Chula Vista, High Tech Elementary Explorer, High Tech Elementary North County, High Tech High Chula Vista, High Tech High International, High Tech High Media Arts, High Tech High North County, High Tech Middle, High Tech Middle Chula Vista, High Tech Middle Media Arts, High Tech Middle North County, Holly Drive Leadership Academy, Integrity Charter School, Juan Bautista de Anza Charter, Leonardo da Vinci Health Sciences Charter, Literacy First Charter, Mueller Charter, Nestor Language Academy Charter, Old Town Academy K-8, River Valley Charter, The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High.
Restrictive Voting Laws Falling Like Trees
In recent years Republican led state governments have imposed a dizzying array of restrictive laws on the simple process of casting a ballot.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s School of Law, 22 states have new restrictions in effect since the 2010 midterm election. Regardless of the stated intent of these laws, the net effect has always been the same: denial of voting rights for people of color, the elderly and the poor.
Fortunately, the courts are now beginning to weigh in on these new laws.
From the Nation:
In the past 10 days, courts have issued six major decisions against GOP-backed voting restrictions in five different states.
On Friday, an array of new voting restrictions were struck down in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas. This followed rulings the previous week softening voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin and striking down Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting. When you include a court decision in Ohio from May reinstating a week of early voting and same-day registration, anti-voting laws in six states have been blocked so far in 2016.
Perhaps the most ergregious violation of voting rights was called out by the court hearing a case in North Carolina.
From The Atlantic:
“As close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times,” was how Fourth Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz described North Carolina’s disputed new voter law, which the court struck down last week on the grounds of discriminatory intent. A ruling in the Fifth Circuit just days before reached asimilar conclusion for an analogous law in Texas, acknowledging that the architects of its new voting law were “aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities” and still did nothing about them. Just hours after the North Carolina decision, Wisconsin District Court Judge James Peterson joined in with a comparable dismantling of his state’s new voter laws, writing,“Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”
These three decisions, written in strong and unambiguous language about discrimination and race, reflect a stunning turn in the battle for the ballot after 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder hamstrung the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the Supreme Court argued in that case that America had moved beyond its past of open racism and discrimination, the laws in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas, and the judicial decisions about them, are reminders that voting in the United States has always been and still is about the omnipresent issue that has always shaped policy: race.
On This Day: 1929 – The classic song “Ain’t Misbehavin'” was recorded by Fats Waller. 1939 – The Hatch Act is passed, limiting political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government. 1983 – U.S. House of Representatives approved a law that designated the third Monday of January would be a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The law was signed by President Reagon on November 2.
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