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Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

Story to be published in the June issue of Street Spirit newspaper--available shortly in the main branch of the public library. Mayor Kennedy Reneges on a Promise to Allow Public Discussion of the Bringing America Home Act
Mayor Kennedy Double Crosses Homeless Again in Santa Cruz

by Becky Johnson

May 24, 2004



Santa Cruz, Ca. - How liberal are the liberals? Well it depends on how close to home they are. Mayor Scott Kennedy of Santa Cruz bills himself as a liberal. He is the co-founder of and Mideast coordinator for the Resource Center for Nonviolence. And as a member of the Fellowship for Reconciliation, he advocates for the rights of Palestinians living halfway around the world.

Kennedy is a strong opponent of the war in Iraq, and as a Councilmember voted to waive parade fees for gay pride parades, support Free Radio Santa Cruz, and to call for a new trial for Mumia Abu Jamal.

But Kennedy also has both a recent and a distant history of ignoring and even endorsing daily abuses against homeless people while muzzling homeless activists.

In 1994 Kennedy publicly supported the anti-homeless Downtown Ordinances which ratified selective police enforcement practices against "undesirables" by making a whole range of innocent behaviors criminal. Asking for money or food after dark, setting up a political table next to a building or playing music next to a wall were all made criminal offenses.

In a subsequent police riot where one woman miscarried and another man had his ribs broken, Kennedy justified the police violence. In the years since Kennedy has allied with developers, merchants, and the powerful Seaside Company. He supported a youth curfew, critically weakened and then killed the Citizens Police Review Board, and backed banning the parking of vehicles from midnight to 6 AM without "a permit."

In 2003, Kennedy supported a harsh stiffening of the Downtown Ordinances which criminalized sitting directly on 95% of city sidewalks, banned street performing with a donation can on 80% of the sidewalks, and added the uniquely repressive and unconstitutional "Move Along Every Hour law" [see Street Spirit April 2004 "Victory for Free Speech in Santa Cruz"].

HARASSMENT OF ACTIVISTS

In January 2004, Kennedy interrupted repeatedly and personally arrested Robert Norse (one of the writers of this article). Angered at a peaceful silent protest at City Council in response to his exclusion of Sleeping Ban reform from the agenda, Kennedy repeatedly threatened with ejection a score of critics silently holding signs.

In April, Kennedy pushed many closer to homelessness by moving to end rent control at Clear View Court, the only remaining rent-controlled trailer park in Santa Cruz. At the same time he backed spending $15 million of public funds to subsidize a multi-million dollar hotel development across the street from the trailer park.

Most recently, the depth of Kennedy's convictions in his own backyard were exposed as being extraordinarily shallow when Human Rights Organization co-founder, Bob Patton spoke at the city council meeting on April 13th. Patton presented the Bringing America Home Act to the council and community at the brief period the Brown Act allows for public comment.

BRINGING AMERICA HOME ACT

Bringing America Home Act (H.R. 2897) currently being discussed in Washington D. C. is meant to address homelessness at the national level. It was introduced in the 108th Congress by Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN) and John Conyers (D-MI) in July of 2003.

The bill is designed to end homelessness in the United States and includes housing, health, income and civil rights components. It is backed by the National Coalition on Homelessness in Washington, D.C as well as the US Conference of Mayors, NAACP, National Organization for Women, the United Farm Workers, and the SEIU.

Seconds after Patton made his presentation to City Council, Kennedy called him back to the speaker's microphone. The Mayor told the startled activist, the packed chamber, and the hundreds watching on cable television that the Bringing America Home Act would be an agenda item at the next regular meeting on April 27, 2004.

In response, Patton's Human Rights Organization and HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) scheduled a press conference and invited speakers to further the public discussion.

Patton then secured Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness and chair person for The Bringing Home America Campaign, to speak to the Council on the 27th and lead the press conference preceding it.

Other activists arranged for food to be provided and put out press releases. Invited to the event were local service providers and homeless people recently thrown onto the streets by the closing of the winter Armory shelter.

In Santa Cruz during 8 months of the year there is sleeping space for less than 40 people out of an estimated homeless population of 1500-2000.

"I felt pretty positive that the Mayor would stand by his word, " Patton said, "since he had said it in such a public way and with such a definite tone of voice...� Some activists weren’t so sure and urged Patton to have a special meeting with the Mayor to hammer out the details.

PATTON MEETS WITH MAYOR SCOTT KENNEDY

On Thursday April 22 Bob Patton met with Mayor Kennedy, in his office to nail down details. In an e-mail describing the outcome of that meeting, Patton noted, "The main reason for this meeting with Scott was to ask for an additional two minutes of time for an outside speaker to address the issue when it came up."

Normal public comment time is only three minutes, and guest speaker Erlenbusch was traveling over 500 miles to speak on a complex topic.

The first thing Patton learned was that, in spite of Kennedy's earlier public commitment, the Bringing Home America Act discussion would not be on the agenda. Patton pressed Kennedy for an explanation. The Mayor explained that he could possibly add it to the agenda since the Mayor sets the agenda, but he would have to add equal time for dissenters or make public note of dissension within the council members.

Patton readily agreed, but then described what happened next.

"When he sensed I was ready to accept that, he then backpedaled again. He claimed that other council members he shared information with and took council from had strong reservations as to addressing this issue. As our meeting progressed he further hardened his stance to say that he would not go against the will of those on the council who oppose having the bill addressed."

What was wrong with a bill that would bring additional federal resources to local authorities to address pressing homeless issues in Santa Cruz? Kennedy prides himself on his "compassionate concern" for homeless people. Could it be the controversial "civil rights" section of the bill that denies funding for cities with anti-homeless laws on the books?

SANTA CRUZ SLEEPING BAN

Patton acknowledged that local laws--like the Sleeping Ban and Kennedy's Downtown Ordinances--which primarily affect homeless people will have to be reviewed, revised or even repealed. The Sleeping Ban makes it illegal to sleep at night between 11PM and 8:30AM anywhere out of doors or in a vehicle.

With only 40 spaces in its emergency shelter and 1500 to 2000 homeless people in the city limits on any given night, a law against sleep is especially inhumane. The Downtown Ordinances were largely prompted by merchant gentrification demands and police department pressure to ratify their on-going campaign of harassing, ID-ing, and ticketing “the unsavory�.

According to Kennedy, Patton reported, City Council members did not want to put anything on the agenda that would "bring opportunity to those who would confront and embarrass them around the city's camping and sleeping bans."

Concluded Patton, "the carrot was dangled, but the prize was unavailable." Less than five days before the scheduled Council meeting, Kennedy broke his word. He didn’t even directly inform Patton, who only learned of the change because he scheduled a meeting with Kennedy.

STILL A CRIME TO BE HOMELESS IN SANTA CRUZ

Bob Erlenbusch said he was disappointed but not surprised. Local activists recalled how quickly politician enthusiasm for human rights protection evaporates as the target population gets closer to ground zero.

A decade-old request to the local America Civil Liberties Union for a simple statement of opposition to the anti-homeless Sleeping Ban still sits in an ACLU sub-committee.

Kennedy and his Santa Cruz City Council have declared Santa Cruz "a sister city" in solidarity with impoverished communities in Nicaragua, Russia, and Japan. They have declared their opposition to "Patriot Act" violations by the federal government. But they see no contradiction in keeping their own poor silent, powerless, and hidden.

How liberal are the Kennedy liberals of Santa Cruz? Liberal enough when posturing to the national media on Iraq, dispensing medical marijuana at City Hall, or investigating Bush for impeachable offenses.

Rigidly and solidly reactionary when dealing with survival needs and the human rights of the “houseless�, those who the skyhigh rents and grim Republicratic economy have driven to live on the streets, in the bushes, and in vehicles.


Robert Norse contributed to this article.
 
 


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Comments

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

While I support *some of * the activities Becky Johnson is promoting in this particular communication, I am reserved because Becky Johnson has continuously joined in to condemn Palestinian people at every turn possible while promoting Israeli violence, neccessitating the turning of a blind eye to the horrors that society is perpetrating. I urge Becky Johnson to re-examine her villification of Palestinian people, and promote a more balanced discussion in the future.
 

See Also...

 

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

The 20 Jewish communities in Gaza have faced over 4,000 mortar shells and Kassam rocket attacks, as well as 10,000 shooting incidents, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists over the past 3.5 years

And you say I support people who promote violence?

I believe my views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are consistant with my views on homelessness in the City of Santa Cruz. I do not desire for the Palestinian people to experience homelessness or poverty. I don't think anyone should be homeless. But I do not blame Israel for their current condition. You shouldn't either.

The people who promote violence in the mideast are largely the people who cannot stand for one tiny Jewish country to exist. The people who promote violence have stated for 56 years that their goal was the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jews. They have not dropped this goal. I am against violence unless used in self-defense or the defense of others.

You claim to be in favor of non-violence and yet you constantly champion the cause of a people who promote the death of their own children. This is sick. And you are gullible enough to believe their lies and have the platform from which to spew them. The Jewish teachings place a high value on life by contrast. Shall I e-mail you a million examples?
 

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

Ms. Johnson,

It seems that you are a victim of your own environment, look back in history and please tell me when any apartheid state has ever succeeded? Israel is by definition an Apartheid state that will go down just like all its other predecessors. It is very disappointing to see how a people that were persecuted by the vicious nazi ideology of "white supremacy" is now turning and using it on Palestine but now its "Jewish supremacy."

You state 20 Jewish communities that are ALL outside the boundaries of ANY recognized borders. Neither you nor I know what is truly going on in Palestine, but I can tell you the Palestinians will always continue the resistance against oppression. Israel has proven to be in a state of desperation in trying to ethnically cleanse the region by any genocidal capabilities such as the apartheid wall and the murdering of resistance fighters.

You claim these people "promote the death of their own children" I tell you, what are these kids fighting with? rocks? You are going to say they are suicide bombers, but I ask you, if they had the means to fight with F-16s and apache helicopters, do you really think that these kids would be fighting against oppression with such resilience. Look at this country and look back in records of different wars such as the civil war, and war of 1812, were there not "children" fighting those wars? The fight that is going on is one of freedom these Palestinians want to be freed from the oppression that Israel has done for 56 years.


The Jewish teachings, if you look closely at the Torah, promotes the cleansing of that region by any means necessary, even by killing and that is completely justified because you consider yourselves the chosen people, and that this area (Palestine) is given to you.

It is sad to see that the Jews are doing this to Muslims even though if you look at Jewish history, their most prosperous time was after they were persecuted from Europe and they came under Islamic Rule where they were allowed to practice their religion freely, as did the Christians. The only solution for Palestine is a one state solution, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims can live and worship the one God that connects all these religions, from Moses, to Jesus to Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon all of them).
 

Mohamed advocates the destruction of Israel

Reply to Mohamed: You are either dangerously misinformed or you are part of the propaganda machine. Israel is NOT an apartheid state. Behind the green line, Israel is a pluralistic society that is 20% Arab/Muslim. In addition, Israel has Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Moraccan Jews, Argentinian Jews, Christians, and the Bahai faith has its world headquarters in Haifa.

Contrast this with Jordan which does not allow a single Jew to live in the entire country!

You say the Jews in Gaza don't belong there. First, Jews have lived in Gaza for about 900 years. Jews also lived in ancient Gaza during bibilical times. After the 1967 war, UN resolution 242 gave Israel military and administrative control over Gaza, making the occupation legal under international law. The Oslo accords handed over large portions of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. But the 20 some Jewish communities in Gaza were not handed over.

Hence NO APARTHEID and NO ILLEGAL OCCUPATION.

Then you go on to accuse Israel of practicing Jewish supremacy and genocide. What planet are you living on? Dementia? ALL people living in Israel have the right to practise whatever religion they wish openly and without reprisal. (try that in most of the Arab countries!!) As to genocide, Israel must be doing a pretty piss-poor job of it. Since the population of Gaza and the West Bank has INCREASED 3-fold since 1967. The death toll in the conflict has killed about 1000 Israelis and about 3000 Palestinians. This is NOT genocide by anyone's definition. But you are slavering with your desire to compare the Israelis to the Nazis. This is simply demonstating your own prejudice and your inability to examine facts rationally.

Hitler gassed 6 million Jews.
Hitler used military force in an attempt to subjugate all of his neighboring countries.
Israel has done none of these things.

Israel has only imposed checkpoints, security barriers, id checks, in an attempt to catch or kill the people who have attacked Israeli civilians and are planning new attacks. Any country on earth would do this.

Arafat has actually encouraged children to throw rocks at Israeli tanks. He sees the PR potential in any injured or killed child. That protest march in Rafah recently where 8 people were killed (possibly by IDF rocket fire) had children at the front of a breakaway march going into a war zone defying curfew. IT IS THE ORGANIZERS OF THE PROTEST WHO PURPOSELY AND CYNICALLY PUT CHILDREN IN HARM'S WAY TO PROMOTE THEIR OWN CAUSE.

They are not fighting against "oppression" but against the existance of a Jewish State--no matter how tiny--- anywhere in the mideast.

And don't give me your BS about the Palestinians fighting for freedom from Israel. They have turned down an independent state four or five times, the most recent time under Bush's roadmap to peace. They don't want an independent state of Palestine. They want to annihilate the Jewish State of Israel. Perhaps you do to.

As to your idea of one state ---Palestine--where all religions can worship freely (putting aside that in modern Israel all religions can worship freely already) can you give me a single example of an Arab/Muslim country where this is currently happening? No??? Well why would you advocate the destruction of the only Jewish democracy in the world to set up a state that has almost zero chances of being this free society that you have outlined?
 

Getting Back to Santa Cruz and Our Phony Mayor

The June Street Spirit containing this story should be hitting the streets soon. Copies can be obtained at the Homeless Services Center at 115 Coral St. or by calling the controversial Becky Johnson, whose phone number is listed.

Important as the debate in the comments section is, it has nothing to do with the original posting. Unless and until someone challenges Becky's article (which has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict) with specific facts, I'd like to see the sneers, slights, innuendos, and general badmouthing set aside.

General character assasination--suggesting that because Becky's views on Israel suck, that therefore the rest of her work does--is horseshit, and Vinny should know that. He's letting his passions get the best of him.

I worked with Becky on this article and can testify to the accuracy of what was written. It seems both irrelevant and divisive to suggest that her views on Israel have in any way impacted the truth and usefulness of her story.

Much as I disagree with Becky on her views on the I-P issue (often violently so), I respect the fact that she's willing to stand up and speak candidly, expressing highly unpopular views. Openly saying what she does on this website is akin to taking a dump in church.

It's actually a service because it forces those of us who regard her views as abhorrent Israeli government propaganda to back up our reaction with facts, figures, and specifics.

But again, this particular story ("Mayor Kennedy Double Crosses the Homeless...Again") is about something else entirely. Hence the comment section under it is not a good place to have this debate. Hence I am also posting this comment on a new string ("Becky Johnson--Valuing Critics Whose Criticism We Despise") and encourage those who want to continue the topic to take it there.
 

To Robert

Just so you know, my comment to Becky's article was wsn't all that original. In fact, Becky herself came up with most of the adjectives and sentence structure. All I did was take her EARLIER comment she left on a post about BIOTECH, and apply it to her own views on Israel/Palestine. Here it is in case you missed it.
Vinny

Becky's ORIGINAL comment to Bradley:

Re: Starhawk on Reclaiming the Commons - sf.june8
by Becky Johnson
becky_johnson (nospam) sbcglobal.net (unverified) 25 May 2004
While I support the activities Starhawk is promoting in this particular communication, I am reserved because Starhawk has continuously joined in to condemn Israel at every turn possible while promoting the Palestinian cause neccessitating the turning of a blind eye to the horrors that society is perpetrating. I urge Starhawk to re-examine her villification of Israel, and promote a more balanced discussion in the future.
 

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

If "the homeless" vagrants and transients don't like the conditions here, PLEASE, pick up your next welfare check and get the fuck out of town.
 

A suggestion for "Scott"

If the undesirable bramble-brained bigots who dismiss poor locals as "transients" and "vagrants' wish to live in a gated community, please do so. I understand there are openings in southern California, Singapore, or mainland China.

In the meantime encouraging a local police state and denying basic human rights to those without houses is a rather nasty pasttime to air in public. It's best practiced behind closed doors (say in closed City Council conclaves or in San Lorenzo Valley Klan meetings).
 

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

Mr Norse, that is bullshit, PC crap. Most of the "homeless" hanging out on the streets of this town drifted here for no good reason, and they have no good reason to stay. They remain because this county gives them cash, and there is a "street culture" that encourages them to loiter pointlessly. As I said, if things are so BAD here, then LEAVE. You seriously underestimate how much the mainstream residents of SC are sick of this mess. Homelessness is a choice. Take a bath. Wash your hair. Go to Goodwill and get some clean clothes. Get a job. Get a life. I'm fucking tired of paying for the sloth and idleness of others.
 

A suggestion for "Scott"

Get a fucking clue you moron. Where's your facts? Any research? No, just another ignorant fuck who who revels in "his" know-nothingness. Here's a couple facts for you, fuckin' bigoted cretin...

From:
Dead end street: Sometimes there is no escape from homelessness
www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/December/14/local/stories/01local.htm

Dollars are stretched thin and the county’s homeless population is growing — having doubled in just 10 years, according to local service providers.

There is a dearth of emergency shelter spaces and long waiting lists for overnight shelter countywide. And some homeless, burdened with serious drug or mental illness, are beyond reach of the county’s limited services.

Ken Cole, director of the nonprofit Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz, said the perception that Santa Cruz "has this great system of services" is wrong.

"Our experience is services are fragile and inadequate," he said.
--
The city of Santa Cruz — home to the county’s greatest concentration of homeless services — has an estimated $1.2 million budgeted for homeless services this fiscal year, a figure that has declined during the past two years, according to city officials.

----
From:
"Housing and Homelessness in Santa Cruz County 2003", released in June of 2003
www.cabinc.org/Research/housing-and-homelessness-2003-report.htm

1.) Of all the people who are going to become homeless in Santa Cruz County over the course of the coming year, most are currently housed. Prevention services are very important.

2.) Homeless people don’t come from somewhere else; they are mostly from Santa Cruz County and they are our neighbors, our sons and daughters, our friends.

3.) Homeless people overwhelmingly want to live in a home; they are not homeless because they want to be.

---

More than half of homeless people were between the ages of 30 and 50 and more than half have children. Surprisingly 28.4% said that they grew up in Santa Cruz County and the report contradicted a common misconception, the “magnet theory�, that homeless people came from somewhere else. In fact, more than two thirds reported that their last permanent housing was in Santa Cruz County. Only one in 10 cited their last permanent housing in another U.S. State. 81% have lived here for more than a year and of those more than half said they had lived in Santa Cruz County for more than ten years and 23% have lived here for more than twenty years.

---
 

Re: Mayor Kennedy Doublecrosses the Homeless...Again

Excellent response by anti-bigotry!! Those who condemn homeless people for their homelessness are indulging in "blame the victim". Most homeless people are living within 5 miles of the last place they had housing. The average length of homelessness in Santa Cruz is four months. Many people are down on their luck, have lost a job, have suffered an illness, or are escaping domestic violence. We should be willing to help these people. Our government shouldn't be involved with adding to their woes by ticketing or arresting them sleeping, covering up with blankets, sitting on a sidewalk, or asking for spare change. Scott should be concerned about the enormous waste of money we spend criminalizing homelessness at public expense.

Also Scott, no one is eligible for welfare unless they have a minor dependent. So the homeless vet you see on the streets is NOT picking up a welfare check.

A homeless person might be eligible for General assistance, but not if they have been convicted of a felony and the money is considered a loan which they are to pay back.
 

Also see: "BECKY'S BRAIN!!: An Amazing 'Interview' With Becky Johnson of Santa Cruz"

-

"BECKY'S BRAIN!!: An Amazing 'Interview' With Becky Johnson of Santa Cruz", by JA

www.indybay.org/news/2005/02/1719944_comment.php

SHE'S A REAL CHARACTER DOWN THERE IN SANTA CRUZ!!


For more, later, see (Becky Johnson):

Examiner ad demonizes Palestinian children, shows young girl with gun
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/14842/index.php


Albert Einstein Condemned Israeli Nazis
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/15529/index.php


Elise Cohen of The Fellowship Of Reconciliation talks about upcoming delegations to Israel
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/14711/index.php


... YYYEP...!! SHE'S A *WACKO*!!

-
 

Joseph, Do you have a comment on homelessness in Santa Cruz?

Joseph! Joseph! Joseph! While I appreciate your tireless homage to my writings, I am worried that you are stuck in a rut. Perhaps even lapsing into an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

The above links which you recommended (and I DO appreciate you urging readers to read my comments on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict) have NOTHING to do with the article posted, or the discussion that preceded your posting.

While it may be important to you, for readers to know that in addition to being an expert on homelessness in Santa Cruz County, I also have strong, somewhat divergent, opinions on the situtation in the mideast. I don't think Indyreaders really appreciate your cut n paste repetitive postings which, in this case, are completely off topic.
 

Any Specific Criticisms on Local Issues Or Are We Just Into Character Assassination?

Much as I might agree with JA's views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I don't think it's productive or fair to denounce Becky as a "weirdo" re: her local homeless work.

Does JA has some specific criticism of what she has said in this Street Spirit article?

Does JA favor Mayor Kennedy's April Doublecross of the homeless by canceling the promised Council discussion on the Bringing Home America Act? I doubt it.

Does JA propose to step in to do the work BJ does in exposing liberal hypocrisy locally on this issue?

It's helpful to read corrections and criticisms on specific issues.

But broadbased personal attacks don't go to those issues, and certainly have nothing to do with the substance of this thread.
 

Becky Needs To Stick to the Topic Too

Again--personal attacks, or responding to personal attacks, lends nothing to the real discussion.

Any updates on the Bringing Home America Act, City Council's latest (in)action on homeless suffering, and/or stuff on the new CAB census report released recently would be welcome.
 

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