Contemplating our homeless problem
It’s been a busy week, work has been brisk but fulfilling and much of my free time has been spent researching the Book of Revelations to see if there’s any mention of a prophecy involving someone in a pantsuit bringing on Armageddon.
So far nothing concrete but I’ve noted there aren’t good clothing descriptions for three of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, so I’m putting down any direct biblical warnings about this election cycle and the End of Days as – unconfirmed.
As important as that work is, I had no choice but to leave it after reading this newspaper on Monday concerning the City of Grand Junction’s struggle with the homeless problem.
Once again we have dove headfirst into the fever swamp of City Council workshops and chillingly, know what was said.
Here’s the headline for the story-“City mulls putting homeless ‘champion’ on payroll” – a term used during discussion of creating a part-time homeless coordinator position.
Reading the story will be a lot more entertaining if you hum the theme music from the Mighty Mouse cartoon series (Here I come, to save the day…) but wait, it gets better.
(Another headline same day, “Homeless Man Accused of Igniting Field)
The city has, according to the story, established a “Vagrancy Committee” which is described as – “city officials who are dedicated to finding solutions to curb homelessness in the city.”
Now vagrancy is generally recognized by the all-knowing Wikipedia, as the condition of – “a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging”
If you change that last part from begging to bossing, you pretty much have the job description of an un-elected city manager.
I’m not certain what the champion of the homeless will be doing but I’m speculating it involves attending more meetings with people like those who created the position in the first meeting to set future meetings and request money.
Another idea was to create a “Travelers Aid Fund” for people who apparently find themselves stranded in Grand Junction.
There are folks like that, in fact one of the deputies I used to work with had the idea that officers should chip in to create a “secret fund” that we could use to help legitimately stranded travelers. It came up one night when we were putting some money together to help a family on their way to Salt Lake when their water pump went out by the Acorn station.
Good idea but unless you’re The Clinton Foundation there is no such thing as secret money, so the more you allocate, the more hands show up who want some.
Besides, working downtown and in the evening I have an opportunity to listen to and sometimes chat with some of these kings of the road and most of them specifically came here, because the weather is good, marijuana is legal, we have a lot of generous resources, free camping (and shopping carts), police mostly leave them alone and did I mention, marijuana is legal.
The best idea was one which had been done here for some time, which is giving notice to trespassers and illegal campers on public lands that on a date certain, all unauthorized private property will be removed.
This idea, which enjoyed pretty good success in the past, has been put on hold because an organization purporting to represent the homeless population in the City and County of Denver has filed a complaint in federal court against the city’s policy of routinely removing them from place to place.
I took the opportunity to read the 36 page complaint and it is a collection of enthusiastically enlarged definitions of existing constitutional rights and the implication of other more shadowy ones.
It’s also distinguished by the fact that most sweeps in Denver take place every few days and sometimes without much warning, which often leads to loss of personal items.
In the case of Grand Junction adequate warning would be given to allow trespassers the opportunity to make decisions about their property.
What I can say, is if we await some resolution of that random filing we could be waiting for some time and if was somehow successful-I predict police might have to have a search warrant to turn over a blanket they find lying in a public park.