Only First Amendment Happy Talkers Need Apply

Free SpeechAs I have always done before, in preparation for one of my worldwide expedition adventure, I clean out and go through many of my accumulated personal documents in the event of some unforeseen disaster.

I always leave instruction with #1 son to disallow the rummaging through of personal effects leaving some things, “For his eyes only”. I have two sons and since he’s #1, that task naturally falls on his shoulders.

While I examined that which would be shredded, and I highly recommend shredding rather that upsetting the EPA by blowing smoke up the chimney. What caught my eye was an oral communication document (1st Amendment Free Speech Application)

Communication Guidelines for Commissioners and Community members during Human Relations Commission Meeting.

“While we understand that you may be attending to express your opinions about an agenda item or an issue of concern to you, we ask that you refrain from clapping, shouting, booing, hissing, or other such BEHAVIOR that disturbs, disrupts, or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.

While we honor free speech we ask that you not use abusive language (i.e.; no profanities, obscenities, or threats.)”

I thought to myself before placing it in the shredder, that’s a bunch of “Bull Shit”…got to save that one.

The problems right off the bat is that the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission is trying to control Free Speech plain and simple. I mean what the fuck! And if you can’t see that, then something is gravely wrong with your thinking process in that we all live in a free democratic society that protects our First Amendment rights.  Let’s see if you or anyone else can deal with this decision….SOB’s

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 308 147 (1939)

“[I]t is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always perfect good taste on all public institutions.” …..even the expression of “legislative preferences beliefs” [oral communications] cannot transform minor matters of public inconvenience or annoyance into substantive evils of sufficient weight to warrant the curtailment of liberty of expression.”…..

Who can argue with that? Well the Mayor and and everybody else in between. BTW,  Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff is an attorney educated and sworn to protect our constitution and yet he chastises the audience and speakers all the time to refrain from clapping I mean, all the time!  What give’s with that?

And we have yet another attorney, Molly Stump tasked with defending city employees, its mayor and city council from unwanted litigation has remained silent and has refuses to debate the rationale and logic behind its long held position of not allowing citizens to criticize our government officials unfettered and without bias, including clapping.

That’s “Bull Shit”. In our opinion Molly, Greg and the other two attorneys are making a mockery out of our constitution.

Our constitution forms the bedrock of all state and city municipality ordinances. Let’s get real.  The constitution trumps any city of Palo Alto ordinances, in regards to Free Speech and if disputed, should be made the subject of debate and remedy. Another guarantee afforded to all citizens, foreign and domestic when discriminated against.

We simply do not understand why city council, its mayor and its staff of attorneys are fearful of any debate.

The First Amendment was designed for the purpose of debate. Accordingly, in the following opinion, former Supreme Court Justice Brandies identifies fearful individuals unwilling to debate as “cowards.”

Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357 374-777 (1927)

“Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the process of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion”.

Time and time again, members of the community who have come before city council to redress their grievances have been met with intimidation and stiff opposition and often rebuked when criticizing their elected politicians or the police.

My observations have been that if these same individuals were to come before city council with praises and clapping and singing, they are always embraced without distinction.

Those who come before city council with critical comments and speech are always made to feel that it’s only First Amendment happy talkers or speech that need apply.

Never in the history of the city of Palo Alto has the First Amendment been placed on the agenda. Maybe the time has come for all “cowards” to come forward and put to bed the city council’s reasons, within the confines of our Constitution, why we as citizens cannot criticize our public officials including clapping without being made to feel that our speech is on ice or bullied.

History and documented on-going patterns of First Amendment abuses by the city council of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Police Department.

It’s time to put a stop to this rubbish!

How America Is Solving Its Homeless Problem

The relentless assault on American Labor has resulted in record numbers of homeless people.  Assault on AmericaAccording to the Economic Policy Institute if the minimum wage had kept pace with the productivity growth over the last 35 years as it did for the twenty years prior to 1968 the minimum wage would be $18.67 per hour and the median wage would be $28.42 per hour instead of the $16.30 per hour workers currently receive. (1)

That extra $11.42 and $12.12 per hour of productivity went somewhere, where?

CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay over the last 30 years despite workers doubling productivity over that same time period. (2)

Income for the top 20 percent of American workers has increased since the 1970s while income for the bottom 80 percent declined. In the 1970s the top 1 percent received 8% of total income while today they receive 18%. During the same period income for the bottom 20% had decreased 30%.

In the 1970s the top 0.1 % of Americans received 2 percent of total income. Today they get 8%.

In 1980 the average CEO made 50 time more money than the average worker while today the average CEO makes almost 300 time more than the average worker. (3)

49.7 million Americans live in poverty. (4)

From one end of the nations to the other, American cities are dealing with an inadequate supply of housing for the working class by sending those who fall off the bottom rung to jail or shelters.  Many shelters are shelters in name only and are more reflective of a nighttime jail.

Which one is the shelter and which one is the jail?

Shelter ThreeJail Two
Tampa Florida enacted a law a few weeks ago that makes it illegal to sleep or store personal belongings in public. (5)

Columbia South Carolina has criminalized the presence of homeless people in downtown while Palo Alto, California recently outlawed the use of vehicles by homeless individuals. (6) (7)

Being forced into shelters of substandard living conditions has a lot more in common with the segregation laws of the 1950s south and the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. (8)

The general tune that you hear from homeless service providers, policy makers and the justice system is that people are homeless because they have substance abuse problems and or mental health issues.  This belief allows policy makers to blame homeless people for their circumstances while simultaneously avoiding the true cause of homelessness, a lack of housing.

26.2 percent, 79 million, of Americans suffer from mental illness and 6 percent, 18 million, of Americans suffer from serious mental illness. (9)  The 26.2% mental illness rate for all Americans was the same for those who were homeless across the nation on a given night in January 2010.  (10)

More than 22 million Americans age 12 and older – nearly 9% of the U.S. population – use illegal drugs, according to the government’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (11) (12)

44%, 137 million, of Americans drink alcohol at least once a week. (13)  15% of the people living in the United States, 47 million Americans, are considered “problem drinkers,” according to the National Institutes of Health. (14)

34.7% of all sheltered adults who were homeless had chronic substance use issues which are higher than the 24% of the general population yet it is theorized that many people who do not suffer from substance abuse problems actually develop one as a result of and response to being homeless.  Thus the increase in substance abuse in the homeless population is directly related to the difficulties and despair of being homeless. (15)

There are only 1,600,000 people who endured a night of homelessness in 2009/2010.  On a single day in January 2012, 633,782 people were experiencing homelessness.  Only 110,000 people suffer from chronic homelessness.  (16)

If the primary reason why people become homeless was the result of mental illness and or substance abuse then there would be a minimum of 30 million people suffering homelessness in America yet there is at most 1,600,000 who endured one night of homelessness over the course of a year with the current daily average being 633,782.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration most Americans who are illicit drug users, 9.4 million in 2004, or heavy alcohol users, 10.6 million in 2004, also hold full-time jobs. (17)  This statistic obliterates the argument that people are homeless due to their own self-destructive decisions from mental health issues or of abusing mind altering substances.

125,000 families that are currently housed are at risk of becoming homeless not because of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse but because of nation wide cuts to the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. (18)

“Because rents are so high, many of these families may, quite literally, find themselves out on the street as a result of these arbitrary budget cuts,” Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, Washington State (19)

So in places like Columbia South Carolina, Tampa, Florida and Palo Alto, California people could literally go from an apartment to the street and then to jail because the government has removed them from the Section 8 rental assistance program.

If it weren’t for mom and dad allowing their grown children to live at home there could easily be 1.5 million more young adults who do not have a mental illness or substance abuse problem living on the streets subject to arrest for simply being homeless. (20)

If people are not homeless because of mental illnesses and substance abuse then why are they homeless?   Why do the homeless service providers, policy makers and law enforcement promote these erroneous reasons to the public as the cause of homelessness?

Answers, people are homeless because there is a shortage of housing created on purpose to maximize property values and the homeless service providers, policy makers and law enforcement industries all have a monetary incentive to create more homeless people not less.  By promoting these fallacies the special interest groups can mold public opinion away from the solution that would eliminate the vast majority of homelessness.

“In early 1984 on Good Morning America, Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement saying that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.” (21)

Anywhere from 30% to 44% of homeless people have a job, thus being unemployed isn’t the cause of homelessness necessarily. (22)

In the 1980s the proportion of the eligible poor who received federal housing subsidies declined. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units. (23)

The cost of an emergency shelter bed funded by HUD’s Emergency Shelter Grants program is approximately $8,067 more than the average annual cost of a federal housing subsidy (Section 8 Housing Certificate). A recent HUD study found that the cost of providing emergency shelter to families is generally as much or more than the cost of placing them in transitional or permanent housing. (24)

The un-housed spend more time in jail or prison than the housed, which is tremendously costly to counties and states.  Often, time served is a result of laws specifically targeting the homeless population, including regulations against loitering, sleeping in cars, and begging.  Additionally since the homeless do not have private residences to drink alcohol upon as most people do they are disproportionally arrested for drinking in public compared to the general population.

Dr. Pamela Fischer, of Johns Hopkins University, studied the 1983 arrest records in Baltimore and found that homeless people are actually less likely to commit crimes against persons or property than housed people but more likely to commit non-violent and non-destructive crimes like loitering, sleeping in cars and parks, drinking in public, begging etc…(25)

A University of Texas study revealed that it costs $14,480 per year to house a homeless person in jail and $20,000 per year in prison. (26)

Next door to Palo Alto is San Mateo County that is attempting to obtain public funds to build a new jail that will house 576 to 832 people at a minimum cost of $165 million to build yet is likely to double to $330 million as a result of issuing bonds to finance the project. (27)

We need to house all those homeless people somewhere

China’s population is 1.344 billion and incarcerates 1,548,498 citizens, 118 people for every 100,000 citizens.  The United State’s population is 313million and incarcerates 2,193,798 citizens, 737 people for every 100,000 citizens. (28)

The extensive homeless population is the collateral damage of a faulty housing market and corrupted economic regulations.  These deleterious institutions are the mines that produce the human fuel for the prison industry as well.  In 2008 approximately one in every 31 adults (7.3 million) in the United States was behind bars, or on probation and parole.  (29)

prisonOver $74 Billion dollars a year is spent on the prison system. (30)   It costs approximately $47,102 per year to incarcerate one person in a California prison. (31)   It costs U.S. tax payers $9 billion a year to feed, house and clothe the people who are in jail waiting for trial who cannot afford bail. (32)

Why all this information on the prison system?  Because the faulty economic system that produces the majority of inmates is same faulty economic system that has produced the increased homeless population.  The judicial, jail and prison system is a $100 billion dollar industry and those that benefit financially form it: bail bondsman; deputy sheriffs;  prison guards; construction companies; doctors; lawyers; etc… do not want to upset the apple cart by resetting the economy to ensure that most Americans can earn a good living.

It is this same conflict of interest that prevents people who earn a living from the homeless service provider industry from criticizing the policy makers regarding the faulty housing market and corrupted economic system.

Homeless service providers receive much of their funding from the government and wealthy interest groups, interest groups that are the ones actually directing policy makers in government to enact certain laws and policies that benefit them financially.

If a homeless service provider were to publicly criticize the policy makers for failing to produce enough housing the policy makers and private interests will withhold funding from that homeless service provider and give it to another service provider who is willing to go along with the program.

Additionally, if enough housing were created the majority of the homeless population would disappear on its own rendering the homeless service providers as an obsolete and unnecessary industry.  Hence, the reasons why the homeless service providers continue to promote the fallacy of mental health/drug use as the primary causes to homelessness is to perpetuate their gravy train job security.

“We’re pretty good about not talking about income inequality,” Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor. (33)

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”  Warren Buffett

The federal government’s multi-agency approach to help the homeless is often confused, according to a recently released report that catalogues the hundreds of different ways the government squanders taxes through waste, overlap, fragmentation and bureaucracy.

The Government Accountability Office report found that in 2009, federal agencies spent about $2.9 billion on more than 20 programs that targeted homelessness. If that money were to be targeted toward the building of homes, at say, $200,000 per home, it could theoretically produce 145,000 houses. (34) 

The two above industries, law enforcement/incarceration and service providers are small potatoes compared to the one which is directly responsible for the plethora of homeless and that is the real estate industry as a whole.  Property owners whether they be large corporations or the young couple who owns a single home have an inherent conflict of interest to producing a large supply of housing in close proximity to their low paying jobs when those low pay jobs exist in close proximity to expensive real estate.

The corporations and apartment owners are seeking to maximize lease amounts while the young couple wants to see the value of their house rise at an absurd rate to create a quick and substantial profit demonstrating that both have an inherent conflict of interest to producing a large supply of housing.

It is a case of supply and demand economics.  The housing market keeps the supply of housing low which creates a high demand and thereby enables the property owners to charge renters more money increasing profits.  In the case of home owners what historically was a lifetime investment is now a mechanism by which to sell for a profit within a few years and anything that would derail such a goal is to be squashed.

Federal Minimum Wage:   Pay before taxes  (40hrs per week)

1965            1.25        $200 per month

1970            1.60        $256 per month

1975            2.10        $336 per month

1980            3.10        $496 per month

1990            3.80        $608 per month

2000            5.15        $824 per month

2010/11       7.25     $1,160 Per month

One bedroom Apartment in Palo Alto

1965:       $87.50          to       $130.00

1970:       $115.00        to       $165.00

1975:       $125.00        to       $150.00

1980:       $385.00        to       $400.00

1990:       $600.00        to       $775.00

2000:       $1,200.00     to    $1,600.00

2011:       $1,100.00     to    $1,650.00

Percentage of a Single Person’s Minimum Wage Income

Used On Housing Cost

In 1965            43.5%   to  65.0%       of income to Housing Cost

In 1970            44.9%   to  64.4%       of income to Housing Cost

In 1975            37%      to  44.6%      of income to Housing Cost

In 1980            77.6%   to  80.%         of income to Housing Cost

In 1990            98.8%   to  127.4%     of income to Housing Cost

In 2000          145.6%   to  194.0%     of income to Housing Cost

In 2010/11       94.8%   to  142.2%     of income to Housing Cost

The Extortion of the Poor

A studio in Palo Alto typically goes for $1,400 a month in 2013.  Retail and grocery jobs generally pay $12.00 per hour if you’re lucky which equates to $2,100 a month before taxes.  After deducting federal and state taxes that amounts to roughly $1,900 a month which leaves $500 for food, health care and other expenses.

A person, John, is giving 74% of his/her income to a property owner just to have a box to sleep in.  Thirty hours of this person’s work week produces John zero lasting capital.

What does John do in response to being forced to hand over the fruit of his labor to someone else solely because the other person owns all of the land and refuses to build more housing, John moves into his van to keep the $1,400 for himself.  So what does the property owners and local business community do in response to John moving into his van to keep his hard earned money for himself, the property owners and business leaders lobby the local policy makers to make it illegal to sleep/live in a vehicle and thereby force John to move back into a wooden box and to hand over the majority of the fruit of his labor to the property owner, a person who has more money than he knows what to do with.

In any other circle we would call the above act extortion.

Duke Grad Student Lives in Van to Save Money:

In order to maintain their erroneously inflated property value and high rents property owners rely on the government to make up the difference between the underpaid worker or disabled person and the cost of rent through the Section 8 voucher program.

Due to a 1% vacancy rate the average one-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara County goes for $1,700 a month.  The current cap on the Section 8 voucher for Santa Clara County is $1,315 for a one bedroom which is considered the fair market rate but not necessarily what the market will bear.  This means that if a person finds an apartment for $1,315 the government will pay the landlord $854.75 while the tenant on the program will pay $460.25.  (35)

If there was a enough housing in Santa Clara County to create a 10% to 15% vacancy rate the cost of an average apartment could conceivably drop to $800 a month with the low end being around $500 a month.  This would enable the vast majority of people who rely on the Section 8 program to leave the program saving the government, tax payers, millions of dollars locally and billions of dollars nationally.

So the question is, why do we as a society refuse to demand larger supply of housing a surplus of housing?

Noted economist and columnist Robert Reich has called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour.

Increasing the minimum wage to $20.00 per hour will not solve the problem of affordable housing if the housing supply is not correspondingly increased as well.  If the minimum wage were increased 275% to $20.00 per hour the property owners would in turn increase their rents 275% negating any gain by the workers.  The gains in productivity would be shifted from the corporations through the workers and to the property owners resulting in zero benefit to the American worker.

Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Bill Clinton and even Richard Nixon and George W. Bush acknowledged that private housing markets fail the poor by not providing housing for people with low incomes.

A caveat should be made regarding Homeless Service Providers.  The criticism directed toward Homeless Service Providers is strictly to those organizations whose budgets are bloated with staff salaries producing minimal impact at reducing the root causes of homelessness.  There are many local and national organizations that truly help the homeless lessening the difficulties and hardships incurred by the homeless without seeking self enrichment off of the existence of homelessness and without compromising the fundamental values of fairness in the economy and housing markets for self preservation.

What’s the Solution?

What do all of the pundits like to say, “we’ll you’re good at criticizing but you don’t provide any solutions.”  Well to satiate all of the pundits, here is at least one feasible solution.

There is one significant solution to homelessness and the exploitation of the American worker and that is to shrink the difference between income and the cost of housing.  The only way to shrink the gap between pay and housing cost is to increase the supply of affordable housing.  Attempting to solve the homeless problem without decreasing the housing costs of the 49 million Americans living in poverty will be a fruitless effort.

Palo Alto is a magnified microcosm problem of what is going on around the country from San Francisco to Tampa, Florida.

The people who worked in the retail shops and grocery stores in Palo Alto in 1975 used to be able to afford a studio or one bedroom apartment in Palo Alto without requiring any government subsidization.  If these people were enabled to secure housing in the town they work in by providing a surplus of affordable housing then the working poor would no longer need government housing assistance freeing that assistance up for the homeless who do not have jobs and or are disabled.

There are a number of people in Palo Alto who claim that if a person cannot afford to live in Palo Alto they need to move elsewhere even is said person works in Palo Alto.  The problem with that argument is that the cost of housing in the twenty miles adjacent to Palo Alto is not much different than Palo Alto.  When you factor in the cost of commuting upon those who can least afford to commute to work what little might be saved by living 30 to 40 miles away from Palo Alto would actually result in a greater cost than living in Palo Alto without commuting.

“What the Market will bear.” The problem with that assertion is that the Market is not bearing requiring the government to step in and provide food stamps and housing vouchers to people who are working full-time.

The policy makers, homeless service providers and law enforcement have to blame the homeless for being homeless because if they didn’t then they would be forced to address the true cause of homelessness and that is the exploitation of American through the use of a housing shortage.

The policy makers created the problem of homelessness through implementing bad policy in order to maximize profits for special interests.  Now that there is a homeless problem instead of implementing the solution, creating more housing, the policy makers would rather criminalize the homeless so that more special interests, the justice system and homeless service providers can make a gravy train living.

If people could go to work and reap the majority of the fruit of their labor without having to hand it over to property owners would these people have more reasons or fewer reasons to commit crimes?  If the homeless drunk was not drunk in public but on private property he wouldn’t be cited for being drunk in public.

By increasing a surplus of decent and affordable housing even if it requires the government to step in with money the government will save money in the end due to the reduction in jail and prison costs plus there is the immeasurable benefit of reducing the number of victims of crime.

With a significant reduction of crime, hundreds of thousands of attorneys, prosecutors/defense attorney will no longer be needed.  These attorneys use their connections to with the policy makers to ensure that their industry stays afloat through economic oppression and exploitation.

The current mindset in America is that if you work in a grocery store you don’t deserve to bear the fruit of your labor.  It is this mindset that needs to be flipped on its head.

The average American male has the ability to go into the woods, chop down some trees and create a very nice log cabin in three to sixTUMBLE WEED HOMES months of work.  Once his cabin is complete he no longer has to work on it and is now free to pursue all the other necessities of life and personal objectives.  This is how it should be for this is how it was.

In 1965 it took 4.5 years’ salary of a custodian to purchase a 2 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.

In 1975 it took 8.5 years’ salary of a delivery driver to purchase a 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.

In 2011 it takes it takes 40 to 54 years’ salary of a delivery driver to purchase a 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.   (40)

If Abraham Lincoln were forced to work 30 to 40 hours a week on his cabin year after year then he would not have had the time to become an attorney.  If Lincoln did not become an attorney he would have never become President.  If he had not become President then he would have never issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Lincoln was liberated from the slavery of housing so that he could liberate an entire race.

Some where along the way the property owners convinced the policy makers that people should have to work 30 hours a week on their housing indefinitely.  They have accomplished this by manipulating the housing economy into making housing much more expensive then it needs to be or should be.  By artificially making housing more expensive than what most people are capable to pay off in a few years the property owners have shackled the low wage earners to working on their housing for the entirety of their lives unnecessarily.

This is theft.  This is extortion.  This is slavery.

Broken ShacklesIt is time that the policy makers liberate the 100 million Americans who are enslaved to property owners.  In the 1800s they picked cotton, today they pour coffee and stock your produce.

Every person should be able to afford a decent place to live in the town and or city that they work.

The State of California already actually does this through the Housing Accountability Act Government Code Section 65580-65589.8. (41)

However there is no teeth to the law which enables city’s like Palo Alto to avoid providing housing for every person who works in its city forcing the low income workers to live as many as twenty miles away.

Section 8 housing just enables the property owners to maintain their unnecessary exorbitant rent.

I’m sure there are other formulas that would be more appropriate and work better however here is one as an example for food for thought.

Housing Mandate

Every city and or town shall provide a 5% surplus of housing based upon the number of jobs each city/town produces that pay the federal minimum wage up to 30% of each city’s/town’s median income separated into four average income levels as follows:

ONE:  Each city/ town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing for the total number of jobs within said city/town paying the federal minimum wage at full-time at a cost not to exceed 25% of the federal minimum wage paid out for full-time work, which is 166 hours a month;

TWO:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 5% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 5% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

THREE:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 5.1% to the bottom 10% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 5.1% to 10% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

FOUR:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 10.1% to the bottom 15% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 10.1% to 15% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

FIVE:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 15.1% to the bottom 20% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 15.1% to 20% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

SIX:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 20.1% to the bottom 25% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 20% to 20.1% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

SEVEN:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 25.1% to the bottom 30% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 25.1% to 30% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month.

For Example:

A)    If the average income of the bottom 5% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $1,700.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $425.00 per month.

B)    If the average income of the 5.1% to 10.0% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $2,400.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $600.00 per month.

C)    If the average income of the 25.1% to 30.0% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $3,600.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $900.00 per month.

Should any city/town fail to produce the above housing supply for its residents said city will be subject financial penalties which shall include but not be limited to federal conservatorship enabling eminent domain action to take place in order to secure the minimum housing requirements.

The excess in housing will drive down the cost of all other housing and open up housing for those homeless people who are on fixed incomes and or disability.

Mark Johnston, the acting assistant housing secretary for community planning and development, estimated that homelessness could be eliminated for a cost $20 billion annually. The housing department’s budget for addressing homelessness is currently about $1.9 billion. (37)

$20 billion is slightly less money than Americans spend on Christmas decorations, according to an analysis from ThinkProgress. (38)

National Security:

Cost of the War in Afghanistan: $654 billion

Cost of the War in Iraq: $814 billion

Money spent on Department of Defense for 2013 and counting: $488 billion

Money Spent on Homeland Security Since 9/11: $712 billion (39)

If we were to redefine Homelessness as a National Security Risk then $20 billion would look like a bargain.

 

SOURCES:

(1) (2) (3) (3B) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (16B) (16C) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (22B) (22C) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (38B) (39)

(40)   Palo Alto Housing Costs:

In 1965 a 2 bedroom house cost $23,000.00

In 1965 a 4 bedroom house cost $36,000.00

In 1965 a Machinist earned  $8,500.00  a year

In 1965 a Custodian earned $5,100.00 a year

A Machinist’s yearly salary was  37% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.

A Machinist’s yearly salary was  23.6% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.

A Custodian’s yearly salary was  22% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.

A Custodian’s yearly salary was  14% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.

In 1975 a 3 bedroom house cost $61,000.00

In 1975 a Delivery Driver earned $7,200.00

A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary was 11.8% of the cost of a medium quality house.

In 2011 a 3 bedroom house costs $1,200,000.00

In 2011 a Delivery Driver earned $22,000.00 to $30,000.00 a year

A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary is 1.8% to 2.5% of the cost of a low-end quality house.

A person’s yearly income of the cost of an average house in Palo Alto went from 22% to 11.8% to 2.5% of in the last 45 years.

References:   The “Palo Alto Times,”  the “Palo Alto Times-Tribune,” the “Palo Alto Weekly,” and “Craigslist”

 

(41)  California Government Code:  65589.5. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) The lack of housing, including emergency shelters, is a critical problem that threatens the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in California.

(2) California housing has become the most expensive in the nation. The excessive cost of the state’s housing supply is partially caused by activities and policies of many local governments that limit the approval of housing, increase the cost of land for housing, and require that high fees and exactions be paid by producers of housing.

(3) Among the consequences of those actions are discrimination against low-income and minority households, lack of housing to support employment growth, imbalance in jobs and housing, reduced mobility, urban sprawl, excessive commuting, and air quality deterioration.

(4) Many local governments do not give adequate attention to the economic, environmental, and social costs of decisions that result in disapproval of housing projects, reduction in density of housing projects, and excessive standards for housing projects.

65580.  The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

(a) The availability of housing is of vital statewide importance, and the early attainment of decent housing and a suitable living environment for every Californian, including farmworkers, is a priority of the highest order.

(b) The early attainment of this goal requires the cooperative participation of government and the private sector in an effort to expand housing opportunities and accommodate the housing needs of Californians of all economic levels.

(c) The provision of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households requires the cooperation of all levels of government.

(d) Local and state governments have a responsibility to use the powers vested in them to facilitate the improvement and development of housing to make adequate provision for the housing needs of all economic segments of the community.

COMPLETE CODE HERE:  42

Palo Alto Free Press Mystery Photo

Mystery PhotoUnlike our competitor the Daily Post were putting our money where our mouth is by offering a $50.00 Starbucks gift card to the first person to identify where this mystery photo was taken and for what purpose?  Hint a national holiday…….

Casting democracy to the wind on the homeless in Palo Alto

democracydeadDemocracy was cast to the wind this evening leaving its citizens voices dead on arrival.  The Policy and Service Committee clearly became a Politburo rather then a democratically elected body in its decision to not listen to the citizens it serves.  The last time I looked the citizens of Palo Alto were clearly in charge.  Not anymore!

Despite an overwhelming community disapproval displayed during oral communications, the council took upon itself and decided to move forward with the proposed ban making it a misdemeanor for those found inhabiting or living in their vehicle a six month jail sentence if found guilty as noted by former Santa Clara County Public Defender Aram James.

Just the first round

Attorney Aram James
Attorney Aram James

For many in attendance it was what appeared to be a crushing defeat for homeless rights.  Not so this is just the first round says Aram James a long time Palo Alto resident and attorney. He relates;

“Folks don’t hold your heads down! Tonight was just the 1st round, the opening arguments.  The politicians just played their best hand in full public view like discovery in a criminal trial we (the public) now know their best arguments–very weak at best.

Nearly thirty members of the public spoke all but two oppose this ugly draconian ordinance. Now’s the time to redouble our efforts–the full jury has not yet spoken!! Now we organize remember our weapons, jury nullification, and the defense of necessity, discriminatory enforcement and defenses to this ordinance only limited by our imagination!!!

No jury of 12 citizens will ever convict for violation of this immoral proposed ordinance!! The community united will never be defeated by self-serving politicians. It’s time to fight back elect members of the un-housed community–including vehicle dweller–to our city council”.

One thing is for sure the homeless advocates were out in force from PhD’s, lawyers, physiologists to the homeless vehicle dwellers just as predicted in the Daily Post. They really put on a “show”.

Mr. Price in his editorial seamed to vilify the homeless but if it were his newspaper racks on the line I’m sure he would be whistling a different tune. After all it’s the First Amendment he’s so proud about first and not the horrible state of homelessness on a national level.

Hopefully in round two community voices will rise to the occasion once again when full council is set to bless the ordinance so as to defeat this draconian ordinance and attack on the homeless once and for all.

Suggested legal defense strategies:

Tobe v. City of Santa Ana (1995)

In re Eichorn (1998) 69 Cal. App. 4th 382 [81 Cal. Rptr. 2d 535]

Implementation of the necessity defense in case of criminalization of homelessness

Necessary Defense from ending the threat of nuclear war

Why a fundamental understanding of jury nullification is so critical to taking back our criminal justice system

Gideon v. Wainwright – 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

Past historic Palo Alto Police soft interactions with Vehicle Dweller

Palo Alto settles Taser suit for $35K

It’s All About The Shizit

An Open Letter to Ms. Liz Kniss

Liz KnissMs. Kniss:

On Saturday (9/14/12) you really hit the s**t at the League of Women Voters’ candidates’ debate. (But you are no Mrs. Robinson. I saw The Graduate 29 times and you are no Mrs. Robinson.)

But you sure did hit the shizit. You found the fecal, Friend. It’s all out there now. Talk about putting your business in the street! It’s on now! Yes, it is out, Scout.

Seriously, you performed a great service. You identified what may well be the essence of support for the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance (VHO) for at least some part of the commuity. You seem to speak for—to use your phrase—“The Personal Business Faction.”

One of the proper functions of a leader is to highlight and communicate the essence of an issue–what really matters—for members of the public.

As I understand you, you are saying that for those opposed to allowing people to be free to live in/out of vehicles the main, motivating concern is where/how/when vehicle campers toilet themselves.

Is there some reason to think that houseless people forget their toilet training? Or that we are not able to figure out where bathrooms are? Don’t people using parks or just doing their jobs or chores or out running errands have the same challenge?

It can be messy, but it’s much better to get it out rather than hold it in. If it’s about the s**t, I say let it ALL hang out! I praise you for calling it what it is. So it’s about people’s personal business. I think you hit the mother lode.

It’s not about po’ folk having the nerve to live out of vehicles–when everyone knows the NORMAL thing to do would be living out of over priced housing like most everyone else in sunny Palo Alto—it’s this big unknown, nagging question, “Where do these people s**t?”

(I keep wondering if the people who seem to want to take away our vehicles have thought through where they want us to go after we lose those vehicles. Their lawns? Downtown sidewalks? The low-cost and below-market-rate housing that the Association of Bay Area Governments is “shoving down our throats”? Oh, that’s right, such housing is heavily resisted and avoided whenever possible.)

And a very white-bread, middle-class concern this is—the defecation location question. And don’t white-bread, middle-class concerns have a right to be represented and heard?

Where/how/when do houseless people s**t? Let me first say to all people so concerned—and I speak on behalf of a wide swath of hoboes, houseless, and transients when I say it–“Thank you, for making our fecal matters the focus of your concern. Who knew you even cared?”

Let me assure you all that we all take care of our toileting issues much the way you all do, with just a little less convenience.  Maybe. For all I know, my bathroom issues may be less burdensome than yours.

You’d have to ask others who sleep in cars and on the ground to get a fuller picture, but it seems to me you just figure out somewhere you can use a toilet before you go to bed and go use it before you go to bed.

Thanks to the generosity of private Palo Alto residents, there are a number of bathrooms available 24/7 in the City, even though the City itself has a policy against allowing bathrooms in parks to be available at night. Sometimes the City builds parks purposely without bathrooms. Sometimes it just closes them at night. That’s another but related matter.

I’ve been houseless here in Palo Alto for three years this past July.  I slept in the tilt-back front seat of my car in the alley behind Happy Donuts for the first year.  I just went in Happy Donuts and used the bathroom there whenever I needed to.  There is also a bathroom Jim Davis is kind enough to leave open 24/7 in his Valero station on the corner of Los Robles and El Camino Real, just down the street from Happy Donuts.

And there’s another always-open bathroom in the Safeway on Middlefield that’s open all night.  That’s not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.  There ARE bathrooms available.  There should be MORE bathrooms available–for us, for parents and grandparents who have to take their kids home from parks because there’s no bathroom there, for shoppers, bicyclists, walkers, seniors–just folks who might need one.

After my year in the front seat of my car in the alley behind Happy Donuts, I developed swollen lower legs. I slept out on the ground in a couple of secluded spots.

Then I went into the shelter in the Armory in Sunnyvale the following winter.  That is a fine program. I was reluctant at first. But after one night, I never left. Being able to sleep safe on a mattress on a flat floor was much better for my legs—much better than when they weren’t supported in my front seat.

After the Armory closed at the end of March, I slept outside again, but it was still kind of chilly. I’d get up in the middle of the night and go to the Coin Wash next to Happy Donuts and sleep on the folding table in the back. Almost no one washed clothes there after two a.m.

Eventually I applied and got into the Hotel de Zink where you rotate from one church to another for three months.  It’s also a fine shelter program.  Both the Armory and the Hotel de Zink had bathrooms, warmth, safety, and you could stretch out flat. Plus you got a meal every night and breakfast in the morning. In the Hotel de Zink you got lunch-making materials also.

Now I’m back sleeping in my car. I lost a bunch of weight and learned from a very tall unsheltered friend who asked if she could sleep on the front seat of my car one night that I could curl up on the back seat. At least my legs are on the same level with my heart, which the doctor says is mad important for heart health. I park near Happy Donuts and have the use of their bathroom again.

Others spend the night parked in their cars nearby. Happy Donuts is one of the great houseless resources on the Peninsula. It has drawn unhoused folks from San Jose to San Francisco who need a place to spend the night.  When you’re tired of riding the “Hotel 22″ (Number 22 VTA bus), you stumble in to Happy Donuts and spend the rest of the night with your head down on the table in front of you or hanging back over your chair or nodding. Or you stay up and watch movies or play games or do school work or read or research or have interesting conversations or write or work on projects for work or for your own startup or email or browse the web for whatever you’re interested in.

The Coin Wash next door is open 24/7 like Happy Donuts and you can watch TV there, do a laundry, read, or just sit. Sleeping there can get you awakened by some interesting people at all times of the night and early morning. After being chased out a half dozen times, I began to think I wasn’t welcome and just didn’t come back anymore.

But I digress from the focus on feces.

I looked into the issues bothering the Greenmeadow Neighborhood Association (GNA) about the people camping in cars and on the ground at Cubberley.  The GNA folks also said they were quite concerned about “defecating and urination” by the people there.

One night when I was sleeping there (on a rectangular table on the plaza behind the library), I found the Foothill College men’s room was open instead of locked as usual. It was a weekend night and there was a sign on the inside of the door saying that the bathroom was open on weekend nights.

Some checking with other car campers there revealed that the bathrooms WERE actually open on SOME weekend nights.  They were SUPPOSED to be open on ALL weekend nights (why not weekday nights also?), but when the weekend custodian was the one who didn’t like houseless folks, the bathrooms were NOT open.  On the weekends when the custodian who WAS a houseless “car camper” at Cubberley was working, he left the bathrooms unlocked.

But even though the bathrooms are usually locked, there’s still always a port-a-potty at the edge of parking lot where it meets the playing fields.

So, here was my proposal to the GNA, through their very friendly, very reasonable president Zachi Baharav:  Let’s work together on getting those bathrooms open EVERY night and then your concerns are answered AND those who live there can live a little more easily—more like YOU’D like to be able to if you found that your best option was to live in your vehicle parked in some semi-friendly location.

That was at least semi-reasonable, right? Would you believe Zachi was not able to find anyone who had toilet concerns who was also willing to meet, to discuss, or even correspond on the subject? I was quite amazed.

So, that’s why my hat is off to you, Ms. Kniss.  You popped the cork, opened the floodgates, called it what it is. I do thank you for making something that wasn’t so clear a lot clearer—just how basic this concern is.  And that it must be dealt with—it can’t be ignored just because it’s icky. You have shown the way.

My statement is:  we unsheltered take care of our s**t.  We (in general) use toilets whenever available and clean up after ourselves when they are not.  We take precautions and figure out where we can go when we need to go.

There really is not as great a problem here as you might think from hearing the concerns expressed.  I’ve smelled a lot worse streets in most other places I’ve lived. Also, there are certain sights and sounds that one experiences in any and every urban location–and in most places it’s getting more like that all the time. However, in Palo Alto the houseless population—at least at Cubberley– is not increasing.

For those caught in the jaws of the economic trap often referred to as the “greatest transfer of wealth from poor and working people to the wealthy in the history of this country,” there are certain dislocations in more than just regular housing. Convenient toilet access is not the only problem.

Decisions were made, countries were invaded, dead and dying are still multiplying.  Private enrichment at public expense has run riot and still rages on barely abated.  Wars–very, very expensive wars–were waged and not paid for.  Tax cuts were lavished on the populace and not paid for. Liar loans by investment banks (well, almost) were approved.

Wouldn’t it be awfully strange if those who’ve borne the brunt of the transfer of wealth didn’t show a sign or two of despair, poverty, and deprivation? Losing jobs, homes, vehicles (from lots of causes, not just anti-vehicle habitation ordinances)–all these lead to many dislocations—some physical, some psychological. Houseless people—poor people– have many pressures, worries, fears, and things to think about—where to use a toilet is only one of those concerns.

What are we going to do, Palo Alto?  Continue with the policy of “No Potties For the Poor” (So They Can Be Further Marginalized For Public Defecation?) like the mean custodian at Cubberley?  Or are you going to be like the good custodian at Cubberley and try to solve a “problem,” instead of exacerbate it?

Don’t be an exacerbater.  Open up the bathrooms. Cleanliness for all!

I ask you, Ms. Kniss, to take up this challenge. You’ve identified the issue, clarified the issue–now bring porcelain to the poor!  Help clean up this problem.  You were the first to call it by name.  Lead the crusade. Let a thousand toilets  flush!

Chuck Jagoda, Houseless Advocate

PA racial profiling goes unchecked – Citizens’ encouraged too report police wrongdoing

Very little progress it seems has taken place since 2008 with the resignation of former Palo Alto police chief Lynne Johnson concerning her controversial orders to stop all African Americans wearing a “Doo-rag” during a series of robberies having taken place in Palo Alto involving an African American.

We believe an alleged racial profiling vehicle stop occurred in Palo Alto on University Ave and requested to review the actual Mobile Audio Video recording (MAV) which recorded the stop to confirm our uncertainties under a California Public Records Act as a third party complaint. That request was denied in complete defiance of the law.

CPRA – Section 6255. “The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”

Listen closely to Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns commitment to the community on open government and transparency concerning the ability to review the actual vehicle stop recording (MAV) to eliminate even the slightest perception of unconstitutional motivated racial profiling by the Palo Alto Police Department.

As citizens, what should we do if we encounter or witness police engaged in wrongful racial profiling? It’s all about “citizen participation”. “It’s incumbent upon you, it is imperative; it is your responsibility to let the authorities know”. “Take responsibility”! Say’s Harold Boyd who is a former member of the Police Chief’s Community Advisory Group. And we have…….

Up-date: At a recent city council meeting I approached city attorney Molly Stomp to advise her that the California Public Records Act mandates a legal explanation. “Do you mean you received no response”?

Yes, we received a response but it was a one line code section [“MAV is exempt from the CPRA under Government Code 6254(k)-Penal Code Section 1054.5.”] of the CPRA without any legal “justification”.

“Send it to me again but I’m not going to spend a lot of time providing a “legal summary”. We got nothing to begin with!!

All this from a seemly innocuous benign front license plate traffic stop. We believe there’s more to this story and further believe the city of Palo Alto and its Police Department, is attempting to mislead the public’s trust by not revealing the MAV recording which would demonstrate that no such selective racial profiling had taken place.

Lucrative city advertizing contract coming up for bid

BidUp for bid is Palo Alto Weekly’s lucrative 3 year advertisement contract, valued at $450,000.00, and who currently monopolizes the city’s’ legal advertisements set to expire on June 30th.

This lucrative contract actually expired on December 31th 2012, but was extended through what has been described as a number of reprieves also known as a, “service order” modifications and ultimately, “a six month extension was granted as allowed under City procedures” to the Weekly through June 30th 2013, as explained in an email communication received from David Ramberg Assistant Director of Administrative Services for the City of Palo Alto and through our initial California Public Records Act requests. (CPRA)

Reeks of a subsidy

In an editorial written by Dave Price of the Daily Post “bad idea newspapers” bitterly referred  to this contract as “Corporate Welfare” in which he describes that the city of Palo Alto was fundamentally “subsiding some news organization” namely the Weekly. We tend to agree.

The Post goes on to describe “Honest competition” leading some to suggest the the Weekly some how engaged in illegal activities to win this contract.

Price goes on and on to complain; the “Council decided to pay the Weekly as much as $450,000 over the next three years for legal notices and other advertising. We could understand if the city were to spend a few thousand dollars with the Weekly, but a six-digit figure reeks of a subsidy”.

Government subsidy Lifeline

Financial life preserverMany have called the Weekly’s contract a lifeline and infusion of fresh cash to support bludgeoning payroll and other operating expenses.

The Weekly was rumored to be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

So in light of what appeared to be a government sponsored bailout of nearly a half million dollars, fueled further concerns and speculations of questionable back door wheeling and dealing. A half a million dollars is a lot of money. In fact, shortly after being awarded this lucrative contract the Weekly moved into their new facilities.

On the matter of “Honest competition” as far as it concerns the Daily Post? “we don’t want a handout or subsidy.”

But we sure in the hell beleive the Daily Post would love to get a piece of this money pie. And we further believe their planning on doing so. It would only make for good business to break up the current monopoly, and ad fair competition into the legal lucrative advertising market place.

Weekly receiving questionable preferential treatment over other Newspapers

The Palo Alto Weekly has been selected because it is the only local newspaper which is adjudicated to run legal advertisements in Palo Alto.

Neither of the other two local newspapers, the Palo Alto Daily News and The Daily Post, are adjudicated to run Legal Advertisements in Palo Alto.

The Palo Alto Weekly has a large circulation in and around Palo Alto. It is delivered to all Palo Alto households, with a distribution covering the mid-Peninsula area San Francisco. In addition the Palo Alto Weekly is a free weekly publication whose target audience is the local community.”

When we presented our California Public Records Request to the city of Palo Alto for all related documents including contract information, the contract and its discovered language was not initially provided. It was only after contacting Mr. Ramberg that he directed us to a newly found city procurement link.

Honest competition and the city’s legal position or loophole

News RacksPerhaps we will never learn the true motives behind the city’s choice for the Weekly.  Only because both the Palo Alto Daily News and The Daily Post have a rather large targeted audience and a wide city distribution of ugly unsightly newspaper racks which litter our city streets.

What it boiled down to was that neither newspaper was adjudicated, in other words, sanctioned by an earlier petition from the Weekly and argued in a court of law pronouncing the Weekly through decree that they were a “newspaper of general circulation” under Government Code Section 6000-6008.

We don’t know if the Weekly provide with there proposal, a copy of there mandated petition  and decree to the city of Palo Alto or if the city even asked for one. But, we would like to see it because once again, this document was not provide originally and it should have been a part of this legal binding contract.

On the balance sheet we have no idea how this past lucrative contract contributed to the Weekly’s bottom line on profitability, but apparently it’s not enough. We recall front page announcements for solicitation, ‘Support Local Journalism’ and the launching of a ‘community membership campaign’.

As to the total number of legal announcements and city advertizements publish by the Weekly remains to be seen on the previous 3 years and we will continually up-date this story as new information is forthcoming.

Newspaper publishing may be on the verge of extinction

However, with the advent of the internet, print newspaper ads just may become a thing of the past. The demands for print ads are in crisis. “The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute” calls newspaper advertising business in a Free Fall and at their lowest since 1950.

We would be surprised if the Daily Post or the Daily News failed in acquiring this coveted legal document proclaiming them a “newspaper of general circulation” and in hand, if and when they submit their bids.

Were precluded from taking any part in the upcoming bidding wars do to a legal “blanket order” recorded directive issued from City of Palo Alto Attorney Molly Stump barring us from participating in any fair competition.

What’s new pussycat? Woah, Woah

How naked cop, got job back

An attorney who represents Jeffrey Vasquez, the police officer who was found naked with a hooker wearing a catsuit in a Sunnyvale motel room, has broken the silence in the puzzling saga by posting an opinion piece online in which he details how the former detective got his job back and $188,000 in back pay.

Sean Howell, who represented Vasquez, accused the Menlo Park Police Department of breaking the law during its investigation into the matter.

In the commentary, Howell alleges numerous violations on the part of former police chief Bryan Roberts now retired Cmdr. Lacey Burt, such as secretly recording conversations and revealing confidential information about Vasquez.

Because Menlo Park still uses binding arbitration for employee disputes, Vazquez’s case was heard by an arbitrator who ruled that the veteran cope could not only keep his job, but that he was entitled to $188,000 in back pay.

With binding arbitration, an employee facing the disciplinary a matter can opt to have an independent arbitrator decide the outcome, all the while keeping the matter hidden from the public. The results are final and cannot be appealed by either party.

How said the arbitrator ruled that Menlo Park and investigators failed to prove the allegations against Vasquez by a “clear and convincing ” standard, which is a much lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is required for a criminal conviction.

He said the arbitrator ruled that the actions of Roberts and Burt were criminal.

“After a hearing in we which we exposed numerous due process violations committed by former Police Chief Bryan Roberts, a commander, and the lead internal affairs investigator, Arbitrator James Margolin issued findings that the department violated Vasquez’s right to due process…,” Howell wrote the opinion piece, which is posted on the Peace Officers Research Association of California’s website.

Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Aker said the department could not comment on employee matters, but City Attorney  Bill McClure said Howell’s characterization of the department’s actions as criminal was not accurate.

“The city has always complied with court interpretations and rulings on how to conduct internal affairs investigations,” McClure told the Post. McClure said that he was confident that if a judge were to review the investigation, no wrongdoing would be found.

Charges dropped

Vasquez was arrested in February 2011 after he was found naked on his knees in the bathroom of a Sunnyvale motel room with a prostitute. He was on duty at the time. Vasquez was arrested by Sunnyvale police along with 32-year old Natalia Ramirez, a known prostitute with prior drug convictions.

Criminal charges against Vasquez were dropped after the arresting officer was unable to testify due to an illness in the family. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen later said his office “made a mistake “by not attempting to refile charges against him.

The investigation and subsequent hearing against Vasquez took more than a year with a final ruling released on Aug. 30, 2012.

Most of the details of the case, including the arbitrator’s name and findings, have been kept secret until Howell broke the silence. Howell never mentions in his commentary that Vasquez was arrested with a prostitute.

Sunnyvale pushed on police report

Howell said Cmdr. Bert, who is now retired, was found to have broken federal law when an interview was recorded without permission and when investigators revealed confidential details of the case to a witness.

“During the course of the investigation, the investigator disclosed Detective Vasquez’s confidential information to at least one witness in an attempt to prompt the witness to provide specific information the investigators sought,” Howell wrote. He said such an action can be a misdemeanor.

At arbitration, a Sunnyvale police officer testified he was not planning on completing a crime report until he was ordered to do so by his supervisor nearly two weeks later.

Howell said then Menlo Park Police Chief Bryan Roberts asked the Sunnyvale Police Department to write the report, which Howell said violated state law.

“Chief Roberts” actions to request another Police Department generate a crime report to use as evidence against Vasquez… is in violation of… due process,” Howell wrote.

Vasquez was given his job back in either September or October of last year. The city has refused to give an exact date of his reinstatement.

The Daily Post Today
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Sen. Jerry Hill to speak at strip club

Déjà Vu Showgirls
Déjà Vu Showgirls

State Sen. Jerry Hill, who represents the mid-Peninsula, will hold a press conference at a strip club near Sacramento this morning, asking the Legislation for more transparency when it comes to business is receiving tax breaks.

Wants more openness about tax breaks, like the one this club got

Hill, D-San Mateo, and state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, will be at Déjà Vu Showgirls in Rancho Cordova, a fully nude strip club that has received thousands of dollars in tax credits from state government.

According to Hills office, strip clubs would claim up to $37,000 in tax credit for each worker hired, even when they don’t create new jobs.

That’s more than the servers, waitresses and sales clerks earn in one neat year at the club, according to a press release from Hill.

“With a large, showgirl stable housing over 80+ curvaceous stage performers, this capital city locale lights-up the night with parties that are never forgotten,” The club’s website says. “And with a club capacity of over 150 reveling patrons, the party train keeps moving.”

The club got it’s tax credit from the California Enterprise Zone program and Hill  introduced Senate Bill 434 to let taxpayers know where their money is going.

The legislation would establish a database to let the public know which companies get the tax breaks and how many jobs they’ve created.

The program was set up in 1984 to create jobs to low-income communities. Gold club Centerfold in Rancho Cordova is another club that’s used the program for tax credit.

A manager at Déjà Vu told post yesterday they will not be participating in today’s press conference.

The clubs owner told Hill’s office that he did not see the tax credit but was approached by tax consultants who got a piece of pie.

Greg Munks. Photo courtesy of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office
Greg Munks. Photo courtesy of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

As a side-note to this story, it is allegedly rumored that San Mateo County Sheriff Gregory Monks will be providing Hill with escort service and protection.

The Daily Post Today
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The Asphalt Jungle, Cubberley Community Center, The city under the city!

asphalt_jungleWe can’t imagine any of the actors having starred in this once famous movie becoming homeless and impoverished. I believe it would be safe to say that those associated with the movie industry are gainfully employed with movie gross receipts reported at an all time high.

The picture is quite different for a disturbing number of California unemployed, that number now topples over 1 Million.

Although claims are being made were on the road to recovery, with a drop in unemployment on a national level, and a solid boon recently reported in financial circles, has causes many to give way to a much needed sigh of relief.

However, left in the wake of what has been described as the worst depression in modern times, many, many continue to find themselves without a traditional place to reside. Having lost their jobs, homes and their savings accounts has forced countless numbers of unemployed families and others to look beyond an already heavily taxed social service system for subsidized housing assistance.

Faced with savings accounts depleted and no other emergency back-up recovery system in place and a dismal economic forecast despite favorable predictions, its now becoming a matter of the “survival of the fittest”. Survival, quite often means finding oneself and or whole families living on the streets across America, living in cars in what some have defined as living in an Asphalt Jungle.

A tent with a view
A tent with a view

A subculture known as vehicle dwellers. “The city under the city”. The exact number of vehicle dwellers nationally is unknown. However, here in Palo Alto, the number hovers around 100 as previously reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Living on the the streets of Palo Alto has been a thorny issue for years prompting one local newspaper to address the problem head-on in its editorial by Jay Thorwaldson; “It’s long past time to ban ‘vehicle dwelling'” and of recent, the editorial written by Dave Price of the Daily Post; Cubberley Shelter.

In our opinion, both editorials gave rise, not to the plight of the disenfranchised or unemployed but to a seemly conscious biased attitude of, “not in our neighborhood” driving home the point further by stating; “Palo Alto has a right, and responsibility, to protect the quality of life in its neighborhoods” All to reminiscent of the media’s bigotry displayed during the 20’s directed towards African-Americans and other minorities.

Disturbing is Palo Alto’s city council’s actions being planned against the homeless vehicle dwellers and in many ways no different today. Including the powerful words of Henry Dodson, the president of the Colored Citizens Club of Palo Alto saying;

“Shame on a race that…holds in its hands the wealth of the continent and yet, not only refuses to lift his less fortunate fellow man…but seeks through humiliating, illegal ordinances and discrimination to sink him to the lowest depths of ignorance and vice”.

The fact is, people need a safe place to live, to reside, even if it’s temporarily in their cars or otherwise.

Life in The Asphalt Jungle

Located on Middlefield Road, The Palo Alto Cubberley Community Center has become that safe haven or oasis for approximately 18 vehicle and shopping cart dwellers that occupy the rear parking lots and hallways on any given night according to Alfredo Padeilla from Monterrey Mexico who has lived on the Cubberley campus for the past 18 months hoping to locate long lost relatives.

Alfredo Padeilla
Alfredo Padeilla

I asked Alfredo what life has become for him while living in this small city within a city. For the most part, living on campus is “uneventful” he stated, he’s happy and he feels his basic needs of food, shelter and clothing are cared for.

But, more importantly he feels safe. And in the 18 months living on campus he hasn’t witnessed any crime or violence. He did mention the Armories, which are used for temporary housing will be closing at the end of March. So he expects to see an increase in campus population. BTW Mr. Padeilla holds a BS degree in Anthropology.

I interviewed Adam Howard, supervisor for the City of Palo Alto who currently manages the Cubberley Community Center to describe his observations and concerns of life for homeless on campus and what he feels to be the real pressing issues. “Mental health”; he stated, “We just don’t have the proper services available to care for them”.

Aside from the occasional complaint of people sleeping in the front doorways or human waste found occasionally on the hallways, life on campus is like any other small city. Its status quo. When asked if he was aware of reported drug or alcohol related problems on campus, he was aware of police being called out, but not aware of the exact numbers.

Reported crime on campus

According to an email received from Lt. Zach Perron, media spokesperson for the Palo Alto police department, outlines some interesting statics on the number of police calls for service on the Cubberely campus.

He states;  “In 2012, the police department responded to 173 calls for service at Cubberley Community Center.  In 2011, that number was 200.

In 2010, that number was 210. Those numbers include any call for service at 4000 Middlefield Road (i.e., suspicious people, medical calls, missing people, theft reports, auto burglaries, etc.), either in one of the buildings or in one of the parking lots, to which a police officer or animal control officer responded.”

Our officers will respond to calls of suspected criminal activity at Cubberley (like we will do anywhere in town, of course) and only take appropriate enforcement action if a municipal code or state law is being violated.  Every call is evaluated on a case-by-case basis with the information available to the officers on scene.”

For the moment vehicle dwellers will remain

Vehicle Habitation
Vehicle Habitation

The city of Palo Alto for the moment is the only city that does not prohibit vehicle dwellers from sleeping in their cars. In fact, Palo Alto vehicle dwellers received a reprieve to a planned proposal which would outright ban vehicle dwellers from inhabiting our streets.  City council voted against the proposal by the Policy and Services Committee in a vote 3 to 1 back in November of last year.

However, the uncertainty and future of this ban still remains unclear.  Lt. Perron further adds; “Since any proposed vehicle habitation ordinance is still under consideration from City Council based in part on input from City staff, there is currently no municipal code in effect that prohibits anyone from sleeping in their vehicle overnight anywhere in Palo Alto.”

So for the moment, it’s a wait and see, based on community input, and the police we may add, which will determine the continued fate of; “The Asphalt Jungle-Cubberley Community Center-The city under the city!”