The meeting at the Wharfinger today regarding the homeless issue had the building packed to capacity. About 50 people had to stand outside until people exited and came in one by one as people left, in accordance with the fire chief’s instructions. Eureka Police Department and private security dealt with some polite people who had RSVPed and arrested a small group of disruptive protestors led by the queen of protest du jour Verbena aka Kim Starr.
Contrary to the perception in the media, the email had been sent to mostly businesses, city and county asking them to forward it to anyone interested. No one was being barred or banned and the drama outside the building and the drums and annoying kazoo prevented most people from hearing the speakers. There were also select quotes from the email taken out of context to incite.
The email is printed in its entirety below. Read it and make up your own mind.
This group of professional “homeless” did not do any favors to those really down on their luck. And they were disrespectful. This childish behavior was continued by three unidentified women speakers who ignored the rules of identifying themselves and all they did was berate Mr. Arkley and disrupt other speakers. None of these speakers inside were homeless. Gotta love it when people who do nothing concrete to help others down on their luck yell and scream at others trying to achieve something that may work and even better the situation.
Mr. Arkley spoke at the meeting and in his remarks mentioned that “we are not going fix the root causes of homelessness”, and cited drug issues, reuniting people with families as examples. “The goal tonight is to create a process to find solutions.”
Unlike other places, we are unique, he said, we are a county seat. A lot of money is dispersed from here. “Don’t blame the non-profits or the Betty Chinn Center…we want to put a microscope on the Health and Human Services and City budget. Half the people employed by the county are employed by DHHS.” He said Board of Supervisors and City Council people are good people working a thankless job. “They are not the enemy.”
Present at the meeting was a diverse crowd, business people, youth, elderly, people I recognized from various organizations. Supervisors Bass, Bohn and Fennell were in attendance, County CAO Phillip smith-Hanes, former city manager David Tyson, Sheriff Mike Downey and Police Chief Murl Harpham. The city council and manager are out of town for a conference.
Meeting Regarding the Homeless Issue
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
RSVP Yes or No to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our County and City are being taken over by the homeless. It seems as though many of the policies being pursued by our County and City governments, and certain not-for-profits, actually encourage the homeless to come here and stay here. Free food, showers, clean clothes, assistance above state averages, free housing, lax jail policies are just some of the attractive programs and policies. Clearly, too much right has become wrong. We have become a Mecca for the homeless and we all pay the price. Garbage or dump fees from trash and discarded clothing left on streets, sidewalks, alleys and private property have become “our” responsibility. Health and environmental issues arise from the same public areas and private property being freely used for urination and defecation, not to mention the aesthetics, or lack of, from this behavior. The general public is not comfortable walking in certain well known locations around our cities and county because the homeless with their antics have taken over what should belong to, and be enjoyed by, all of us.
I feel as though we are like the frog in the boiling water. It has gotten to the point where everybody knows that the homeless are a huge problem, but nobody is doing anything. All of our businesses are being negatively impacted. It is difficult to attract people to Eureka. Who wants to be panhandled on the way to an interview for a job? What business owner wants to invest in real estate that is negatively impacted by trash and loitering?
I think that it is time for us to get together and see if we can build a consensus on how to deal with this issue. Specifically, I would like to know what policies and programs can be cut that will reduce the number of homeless. I often hear that if we don’t provide certain services to the homeless, monies will be withheld by state and federal governments. While some, especially government and certain not-for-profits, may consider this dire, we need to make sure that elected officials understand that while government may lose monies, our private businesses and households may well be better off without the crime, environmental damage and monetary costs that these additional monies attract. It will also be interesting to see if the negative impacts of the homeless programs on local business and quality of life for the community are monetarily weighed.
Folks, let’s take our area back and encourage our elected officials to take steps that consider the overall negative impacts on all of us created by enrolling in programs designed to “help” the homeless. I have no doubt that when weighed against the loss of governmental revenue, the benefits to all of us by rejecting the monies would dwarf the downside.
I would like to see if any of you would like to join a group that deals with the most pressing issue that our area faces.