$250,000 To buy new shopping cart homes and other services for the homeless

Shopping cart home.jpgOn Monday, Palo Alto city Council will decide whether to spend $250,000 to house 20 of the cities estimated 157 homeless. But how will caseworkers pick [and chose] which 20 get new homes?

It won’t be based on good [up standing] behavior. In fact it’s just the opposite.

A report by [homeless “de facto” expert and] City Manager Jim Keene to council says those who will get priority in the selection process are those who had had the most run-ins with the law and are at risk of being repeat offenders.

In addition to the $250,000 from the city Santa Clara County will provide $100,000 from a state grant under the [pension] prison [reform] realignment bill, which sends state prisoners to county jails to relieve [themselves plus] overcrowding.

And state money is earmarked for helping those who have been arrested, have a high chance of being arrested again, who “significantly impact county, state, or local resources,” and who are “homeless or at risk of being or becoming homeless.”

‘Chronically homeless’

According to a report, the “chronically [acute] homeless” individuals can use the assistance to get themselves into a [new cart] home and, with the help of a [mental basket without wheels] caseworker, will apply for government programs, get help for substance abuse and receive medical care.

“These will be prioritized for individuals who face significant barriers to achieving economic self sufficiency,” the report states.

The program was recommended by a city task force [be with you] comprised of [toothless] homeless advocates [without a bite who will gum you to death], which formed in August shortly after the [technically advanced city] council voted to ban car camping and camping at Cubberley Community Center [along with taking away their ability to shower themselves.]

The task force considered other options such as creating a “homeless outreach [‘and put the touch on someone’ team,” which has already been successfully implemented in the San Mateo County cities of San Mateo, [our] East Palo Alto [brothers from the hood] and Redwood City, and bears some resemblance to the proposed Palo Alto program.

Helping biggest troublemakers

Mila Zelkah, strategic relations fellow for InVision Shelter Network, which manages the apartments at Palo Alto’s Opportunity Center, told the post in August that the outreach team program focuses on helping the people who cause of the most problems and are the source of repeat calls to police.

During its first year, the program helped 40% of the people on the police [hit] list of troublemakers to either get a job, find housing, enroll in a substance abuse program or a mental health program.

In it’s second year and the years after that, the program successfully helped about 25% of it’s homeless clients Zelkha said, adding that San Mateo County recently set aside more money to bring the program to Pacifica and South San Francisco.

When council members on the Policy and Services Committee voted to recommend dedicating $250,000 to help the homeless, they asked the homelessness task force to decide how the money could be best spent.

But the [helpless] task force was only given about a month to organize and come up with the plan that’s going to the full [circle marry-go-round] council on Monday.

Zilkha said that the force [be with you] had planned ask for more [spatial] time at a Sept. 26 meeting with City Manager James Keene, but wasn’t able to after he [dodged and] canceled the meeting.

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An Open Letter to Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa – Who’s First Amendment is this anyway?


Open Letter to Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa

Dear Mayor Espinosa:

Re: Monday’s (July 18, 2011) city council meeting and related First Amendment issues.

I very much appreciated the manner in which you conducted Monday’s city council meeting and the care and attention you gave to all of the speakers—who came before the council to speak on the issue of the proposed ban on people living in their vehicles.

I do, however–wish to make a few brief comments re the way you handled the oral communication of one of the speakers, specifically Mark Petersen-Perez:

(1)  I appreciated the fact that you did not attempt to stop Mr. Petersen-Perez during his three minute talk/presentation to the city council, the live audience and the TV audience.

I believe that both the First Amendment and case law developed in this nuanced area of  symbolic free speech/expression–clearly protects symbolic speech –such as turning one’s back on a government body while speaking –or, in fact simply turning one’s back on a governmental  body and remaining absolutely silent during the speakers entire allotted 3 minutes.

(2)   Certainly you are aware of other protected forms of symbolic free speech/expression-i.e., flag burning and or giving the middle finger to authority/government officials like a police officer, public defender, mayor, etc.

(3)   As I have often been heard to say –the First Amendment was not designed to protect popular speech–such speech needs no protection –but, rather– it was designed to protect exactly the type of arguably unpopular, rude or offensive speech –turning your back on authority figures—that Mr. Petersen-Perez engaged in at Monday night’s council meeting.

(4)  Turning one’s back to the council is no more or less offensive (no more or less protected by the First Amendment) than speaking directly to the council and expressing one’s anger and defiance in spoken word form. Both forms of expression are entitled to equal respect and standing under our First Amendment (whether we/you like it or not).

(5)  Immediately after Mr. Petersen-Perez spoke you made some comments to the live audience, other council members and the TV audience (and correct me here if I am wrong re your words—since I do not recall the exact words— but rather the sentiment expressed) that suggested that Mr. Petersen-Perez had acted inappropriately in not communicating directly with the council when he spoke.

(6)   If I am correct – Mr. Petersen-Perez did in fact talk directly to you, albeit–symbolically and arguably defiantly –when he turned his back on the council and spoke directly to the live audience.

Your suggestion that Mr. Petersen-Perez acted inappropriately has a direct and potential impact of chilling not only Mr. Petersen-Perez’s chosen form of First Amendment speech/expression in the future –but that of others who may choose to come before the council and exercise their protected right of free speech in a less than conventional manner.

(7)  It would also appear that you did not act in an even handed fashion in your apparent attempt to disciple Mr. Petersen-Perez indirectly by your comments. From my observation– at least 3 members of the city council turned their backs on Mr. Petersen-Perez and the live audience –and then walked off the bench—during his presentation.

Yet at no time did you comment re their symbolic speech/expression. What’s good for the goose is good for the geese—Mr. Mayor—wouldn’t you agree! If not, you leave the distinct impression that you have two sets of rules–one for us—members of public– and another for your cronies on the bench.

****I believe you should make some type of clarifying comment re the above described situation to prevent chilling the speech of future members of the public who come to speak before the council.

****As an aside—although I think it is in bad form– I think the case law is clear that government officials have a First Amendment right not to listen to those who are speaking to them. As offensive as I might find it –when our elected officials walk out on a speaker- I believe such conduct is fully protected by the First Amendment.

I do, however, have a choice in the matter—not to vote for these three nut cases in the future, organize a campaign to recall them—or just let them make asses out of themselves any time they get ready.



****Ps, Ms. Stump [Chief attorney for the city of Palo Alto] please consider jumping into this conversation with your legal views on the issues I have attempted to raise. Thanks.

Up-date:  Back by popular demand – Originally published on July 2oth, 2011.

See: Palo Alto City Mayor Engages in a “Clear and present danger” http://bit.ly/hNPa16