Opinionator

Op-Ed: After Measure S, it’s time to act on homelessness

By Jesse Arreguín

Jesse Arreguín is a Berkeley Councilman representing District 4.

Although Berkeley voters rejected Measure S, a controversial proposal that would have criminalized sitting on commercial sidewalks, we shouldn’t mistake it as an endorsement of inaction. The simple fact still remains: we need to address homelessness.

I didn’t support Measure S, but I’m not calling it a day as many do post-election. Next Tuesday, City Council will have the opportunity to continue the critical conversation around homelessness with the Compassionate Sidewalks Plan — a blueprint for creating consensus-based solutions to homelessness.

This time around, the plan is for you to be a part of the solution — to offer your ideas and work with City Council. Under the Compassionate Sidewalks Plan, we would commit ourselves to an open, community-driven process where we will consider all perspectives, study the issues in depth, and work with one another to come up with a comprehensive plan over a series of workshops.

We cannot repeat what happened with Measure S and have nothing to show for months of contentious debate and tens of thousands of dollars spent. Our solutions cannot come from behind closed doors with select stakeholders in a process where “public input” is simply a statutory requirement. And we cannot afford to continue pitting ourselves against one another, forgetting the fact that we share common goals. Homelessness is too important to be left to a game of winners and losers — it’s time to sidestep cynical politics and get something done.

We are smart and innovative, and our creativity and compassion is unrivaled. There is no limit to what we can accomplish together; that’s why I have faith in the proposed process — that if the community comes together and share solutions in the open, and do our due diligence with research, we can come up with a series of solutions that will not only work, but will reflect our values.

The Compassionate Sidewalks Plan is not policy-prescriptive and it needs your ideas and participation. Councilmember ideas are welcomed, too, and should be part of this process like any other idea. The solutions may not solely be enforcement and it may not be just more services. It may be an intelligent mix of both and refining what exists, along with new ideas, but that is why we need to come together and be open to a good faith “give and take.”

I ask you to join business owners, service providers, experts, homeless individuals, and others, to make this happen. And I call on my fellow Councilmembers who share the faith that I have in our community to overcome and outsmart any issue to support the Compassionate Sidewalks Plan. The time to act is now, but we must act together.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles of 500 to 800 words. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related and local authors are preferred. Please email submissions to us. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , ,
  • James

    One thing Jesse: what if people want to sit on those sidewalks? This
    is also about civil liberties and not allowing the city fathers and
    mothers sell us out to some corporation from Kentucky by way of
    Tennessee, with union-busting capabilities, and ties to the Department
    of Homeland Security. That is the 1,000 pound elephant in this very
    large room.

    Sure, there is a services problem. The services, as
    they are set up right now, do not come close to addressing the issue.
    This is never going to be “fixed,” but it can be managed. However, the
    city also has to have the will to spend money on the solution, and not
    the “getting rid of” part. All that money, combined with the animal
    shelter, could have produced fruit. We could have had homeless folks
    work in the animal shelter, cleaning kennels and doing outreach work for
    stuff like spay and neutering of animals. It could have been used as a
    platform for their rehabilitation.

    The scapegoating is
    abhorrent. Because, by the same logic, if these businesses are losing
    cash flow because, they say, people do not wish to shop where homeless
    reside… then I guess when the economy was doing well and those
    businesses back in the day made a profit, it would seem they owe those
    previous street kids who sat in front of their establishments a stipend
    of sorts?

    The same people who want all of this to go away are
    going to have to pony up. Gordon should donate a building somewhere
    away from the downtown area… maybe down near Gilman, I dunno. I’m
    sure it can be written off, and Gordon Realities will appear as Saints
    in the process, and get credit for the “renewal of the downtown area.” I
    just threw up in my mouth. There has to be cooperation. And not phony
    cooperation, either. Like when, shortly following the election
    results, hearing that the city wanted ideas on how to fix this
    problem… but then used that very same olive branch as a rod and
    started whipping those very people you claim to want to help?

    I’m
    out here… all day… every day. I am not going anywhere. I have
    been given much latitude in this town because of my big mouth… but my
    friends have not been afforded any such quarter. So, for this very
    reason… because the reason I have been left alone is more of
    calculation and cowardliness by those doing all this crap. People are
    talking out both ends of their asses. Actually, and the irony of this
    is not lost on me, but I can get more of an honesty out here as opposed
    to the “real world.” At least out here, we know where our asses sit.
    In your world, you can back bite and do all sorts of little sneaky
    stuff. But if you do that crap out here… you’re going to have to be
    seeing a oral surgeon. In other words: we have a code.

    -James Richard Armstrong II-FMb

  • bgal4

    One of many successful programs nationally:

    Homeless Community Court
    http://www.smgov.net/Portals/Homelessness/content3Column.aspx?id=25145

    Santa Monica’s Homeless Community Court is a problem-solving court program that addresses the legal issues of homeless individuals with the purpose of connecting them to services and permanent housing. By addressing root problems that lead to criminal behavior participantsare less likely to repeat offenses that land them back in front of a judge.

    Participants faced with charges related to non-violent misdemeanors are given the option to enroll in the program. Once enrolled, they are required to meet regularly with a case manager from a local service provider that connects them to supportive services like job training, rehabilitation or mental health care, and permanent housing. Upon successful completion of the program, charges are dismissed by the court.

    The Court is a collaborative effort among the City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles Superior Court, the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office and homeless service providers. The L.A. County Department of Mental Health (DMH) leads mental health administration by providing a dedicated staff psychiatrist to work with the community-based providers assigned to each participant, and to evaluate the participant and coordinate their mental health care via connection to mainstream DMH services.

    The success of this program is based on the shared belief that helping a participant access and maintain appropriate mental health treatment, sobriety, and housing is good for both the community and the defendant.

  • The Sharkey

    Will there be an online component to these workshops? A place where Berkeley homeowners and taxpayers can voice their opinions and concerns without having to waste hours and hours in “consensus-based” meetings that go nowhere?

    As a wage slave who has to commute outside of Berkeley for work, I don’t relish the idea of spending my precious few hours of free time listening to the usual enablers prattle on and then getting booed for having a dissenting opinion and trying to look at the problem rationally.

  • The Sharkey

    Our City Council, and the City Councils in other cities that are dealing with these problems, should be petitioning Sacramento with lists of grievances.

    It’s time to get the State mental health system working again. It’s not fair to ask small cities like Berkeley to shoulder the burden for the whole State.

  • bgal4

    Agree, and yet, we have needed a community court for decades.

  • Guest

    Without commenting on the content of the proposal one way or the other, it strikes me that this piece is an almost perfect mad-lib for a politician’s op-ed piece, as follows:

    Although __________ voters rejected Measure ___, a _______ proposal that would have _________________, we shouldn’t mistake it as an endorsement of inaction. The simple fact still remains: we need to address ______________.

    I didn’t support Measure ___, but I’m not calling it a day as many do post-election. Next Tuesday, City Council will have the opportunity to continue the critical conversation around _____________ with the _______________________ Plan — a blueprint for creating consensus-based solutions to _________________.

    This time around, the plan is for you to be a part of the solution — to offer your ideas and work with City Council. Under the _______________________ Plan, we would commit ourselves to an open, community-driven process where we will consider all perspectives, study the issues in depth, and work with one another to come up with a comprehensive plan over a series of workshops.

    We cannot repeat what happened with Measure ___ and have nothing to show for months of contentious debate and tens of thousands of dollars spent. Our solutions cannot come from behind closed doors with select stakeholders in a process where “public input” is simply a statutory requirement. And we cannot afford to continue pitting ourselves against one another, forgetting the fact that we share common goals. _____________ is too important to be left to a game of winners and losers — it’s time to sidestep cynical politics and get something done.

    We are smart and innovative, and our creativity and compassion is unrivaled. There is no limit to what we can accomplish together; that’s why I have faith in the proposed process — that if the community comes together and share solutions in the open, and do our due diligence with research, we can come up with a series of solutions that will not only work, but will reflect our values.

    The _______________________ Plan is not policy-prescriptive and it needs your ideas and participation. Councilmember ideas are welcomed, too, and should be part of this process like any other idea. The solutions may not solely be enforcement and it may not be just more services. It may be an intelligent mix of both and refining what exists, along with new ideas, but that is why we need to come together and be open to a good faith “give and take.”

    I ask you to join business owners, ____________, experts, ___________ individuals, and others, to make this happen. And I call on my fellow Councilmembers who share the faith that I have in our community to overcome and outsmart any issue to support the _______________________ Plan. The time to act is now, but we must act together.

  • http://twitter.com/tereneta Tim Ereneta

    You lost me with the 1000 pound elephant in the room. Which corporation are the city’s fathers and mothers selling us out to?

  • The Sharkey

    Gordon should donate a building somewhere away from the downtown area… maybe down near Gilman…

    Why should the Gilman neighborhood be ruined because you and your friends want to piss and moan about not getting handouts and demand things you haven’t earned rather than buckling down and getting a job like the productive members of the Berkeley community? You have time to write foul-mouthed screeds for “The Smirking Chimp” but not to do something you might get paid for?

    I feel a measure of responsibility to care for the mentally ill and addicted homeless who can’t care for themselves, but I don’t think we owe people like you anything.

  • The Sharkey

    …for the past couple weeks, I have been on a “bender.” A bender is a drinking binge. I have been slamming vodka, after work (I am professional; I do not drink while working.). I do not have to pay, as my friend pays, nightly. So, if you are thinking, “Why does a ‘homeless guy’ drink when he panhandles money from folks?,” I do not pay for it.

    Some nights I am cool… when I drink, slowly, and do not slam it. However, there are nights, like a few nights a go, when I get a little gassed, and then walk off the boulevard, screaming at people to not vote on measure S, and telling them I will find them and beat them up if they do… you know, stupid sh*t like that.

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Being-Drunk-In-Public-Is-by-James-Armstrong-II-121008-658.html

  • jamesissmart

    James is referring to the company that directly employs the downtown Berkeley “ambassadors” (Block by Block). That company operates nationally and has similar contracts in other cities. It is a subsidiary of a holding company (SMS Holdings) with a broad range of holdings in private security of various kinds. The conglomerate is closely held (not publicly traded, hence more of a “black box”) and wears its vaguely dominionist credentials on its sleeve by declaring itself a christian faith-based company. I’m not sure what homeland security ties he is referring to but my guess would be something about the flow of grant dollars.

  • Guest

    Hey Jesse: Read James’ rant, and understand why so many of us won’t bother to take part in your Plan. If you really want to do something responsible, you should reply to James promptly and fully.

  • The Sharkey

    Also read his articles for OpEdNews.com where he talks about how he spends his evenings after panhandling — drunk off his ass on cheap vodka threatening pedestrians and arguing with the Police.

  • bgal4

    James would be a perfect defendant for community court.

  • The Sharkey

    Agreed. Getting him into a program would do a billion times more good than locking him up.

  • AnthonySanchez

    That honestly did not occur to us since many details of the process are to be worked out with our City Manager and Mayor, but I am glad you brought it up. Do you have a preference? Some of the Councilmembers subscribe to an online forum they send out to residents so they can electronically weigh in on issues and their responses are forwarded to Council. I’ll be sure to relay the need of some sort of online participation component if the item passes and the details are worked out.

    Thanks again!

  • The Sharkey

    No preference on sites, other than that I know a lot of Berkeley residents hate Facebook so that wouldn’t be a good choice.

    Thanks for reading the comments here. We disagree a lot on specifics, but I appreciate that Jesse is continuing to discuss the issue even though the election cycle has passed and other local politicos are ignoring it again.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Peak/Kitchen Democracy is the format I’m thinking of. I’ll be sure to look into it.

    And give credit where it is due: we met with the Mayor today and he’s been thinking about the issues, too, and has expressed interest with Council moving forward on this. It’s encouraging when opposite sides come together to genuinely get something done.

  • Bishop George Berkeley

    Brilliant! You perfectly captured the emptiness and vacuity of it all…

  • PragmaticProgressive

    It’s great that Mayor Bates is a good partner in getting the people’s business done. I wish Jesse and Kriss had not expressed their disagreement with measure S by disrupting council proceedings last summer. Compromise has to flow both ways.

  • Bishop George Berkeley

    Alameda County already has a Homeless Court:

    “The Homeless & Caring Court Program is an actual Court session held every two months at St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County and at Berkeley Food and Housing. The Homeless and Caring Court is a collaboration of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda and EveryOne Home. This type of Court is more accessible and less intimidating to homeless clients. Homeless and Caring Court allows homeless clients who are motivated and actively working to end their homelessness to pursue dismissal of outstanding non-violent infractions and misdemeanor legal offenses without jail time or fines.”
    That being said, it is underutilized and undersupported. Remember that the District Attorney holds the ultimate power in deciding how non-violent misdemeanors are processed, and if they don’t want cases in Homeless Court, that’s that.

  • 4Eenie

    Thank you, The Sharkey. This is the kind of behavior that keeps people from the downtown area. This is the kind of person that offends others at the library, and when being agressive with a group of like-minded people at all hours downtown.
    I would like to hear what Tizzielish (sp?) has to say about this type of homeless person who has eluded her but has been a primary cause of many of us avoiding downtown.

  • bgal4

    Interesting, I have asked about the community court model to Berkeley officials and others who should be informed and no one mentioned this program. How does it compare to the SF community court. SF program is seeing positive results in the Tenderloin after a few short years dispite the naysayers resistant.

  • ahrashb

    The Peak Democracy site is great. Definitely a good way to at least be able to gather the opinions and insights of those who cannot or will not sit through the face-to-face meetings.

  • BHS verteran

    Berkeley’s service resistant strain of homelessness has been bred for decades under the most favorable conditions. It is immune to conventional treatments.

    Our pathetically low expectations of public behavior have been developed over generations. The twisted logic that says “giving money to people on the street will help get them off the street” is being pressed into Berkeley kids by their parents outside every grocery store. Our studied non-reaction to loud drunken profanity identifies one conclusively as as a local.

    Before real progress can be made for those who truly are homeless and deserving of our care, we must reset our expectations for public civility. We do this by using the tools we already have. Most ugly offensive street antics are illegal. We need foot patrol beat cops to zealously enforce the law.

    Once we’ve re-calibrated ourselves and the commons, Jesse’s proposal will sound much more enticing.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I don’t want to assume why you’ve grouped Jesse with Kriss in disrupting the proceedings that evening. Jesse had every interest in Council proceeding so they could consider his alternative proposal at that time.

    You may not accept my word on that so I noted a timeline for the City Council video for July 10, 2012 (http://berkeley.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=900) that you can use for convenient reference:

    4 hr 42 mins Council begins to discuss Measure S after public comment

    4hr 43 Singing by crowd begins. Kriss can be seen getting up and joining the crowd.

    4hr 44 Mayor calls to extend meeting. Motion passes

    4hr 45 Mayor tries to proceed with meeting. Max Anderson begins to sing

    4hr 46 You can clearly see Jesse still seated. Not singing or clapping.

    4hr 47 Jesse finally begins clapping at his seat. However, at that time,
    Council was already recessing and council was not proceeding.

    4hr 48 confirms that all the Councilmembers were in the back discussing
    next steps. Jesse was still seated and clapping (not singing).

    4hr 51 Max can be seen getting up to join the crowd. Jesse has now joined along
    the wall clapping his hands (note, no dancing or singing). This was
    while Council was in apparent recess in the back.

    4hr 54 Mayor returns and calls the meeting. All members return to their
    seats, including Jesse (promptly). Max and Kriss can be seen returning
    later than minute.

    4hr 55 Kriss singing over other members.

    4hr 55 Mayor calls the question. Kriss interrupts, calling the question out
    of order. Darryl Moore begins to yell back at Kriss forcefully at 39
    secs

    4hr 56 Kriss calls, again, the motion out of order. Darryl Moore yells SHUT UP.

    4hr 57 Council Votes, adjourns

    After you’ve watched the video to confirm my timeline and actions, the most you can factually say is that Jesse clapped in solidarity with the homeless advocates while Council was recessed.

    One cannot interrupt that which does not proceed. This was a fact that Berkeleyside accepted when writing a summary of 2012.

    You don’t have to be a fan of Jesse, but it’s not helpful to say things that you want to believe, but are in fact not true.

  • BerkeleyFarm

    I appreciate that you are considering alternative inputs. “Community Meetings” aren’t convenient for a lot of people and they’re likely to get hijacked by the usual suspects. I was libeled and slandered at the last one I went to so I am a bit gun shy ;). There are a lot of ways to solicit input. Embrace the power of “And”. Get out of the city process bubble and hear a variety of people.

    I am heavily involved with a free-meal program that operates downtown. From my perspective as someone who is close to the front lines, I’ll give you three bullet points in what I think is the order of complexity.

    1) “Day Center” with storage, some plumbing, and SERVICES. Health, Mental Health, Social. Don’t wait for the “New Men’s Shelter”. Rent a storefront or find an empty but useable building, and get it done. Move it when you finally get the new building. DO IT NOW.

    2) “Community Court” as noted elsewhere.

    3) Either build the new men’s shelter over on Berkeley Way (dammit) or find some other building that would be suitable and rehab it for that purpose.

    When #3 starts happening the grown-ups in various leadership positions should really work on positive framing and building coalition in the community. Not the demonization that so often occurs when the issue of THE HOMELESS is brought up. If people could see Jesse working with, say, Bates and Maio without the now-usual shenanigans it would go a long way towards building a real community consensus.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Thanks for breaking this down. I obviously don’t agree with what you term “the most you could say.” As his former aide, Jesse has strong ties to Kriss. Seeing that Kriss was disrupting the proceedings and thereby also preventing Jesse’s own proposal from being heard, he ought to have used his relationship with Kriss to pull him back from the cliff, not egg him on by clapping and smiling. This was a test of leadership and of principles and Jesse failed it. In the days that followed, he could have righted some of the wrong by publicly rebuking Kriss for making a mockery of the council meeting, but he did not. It was a low point for democracy in this city and Jesse allowed that to happen instead of working to prevent it. He was no innocent bystander.

  • Tizzielish

    I am proud that Jesse Arreguin represents me on the Berkeley City Council. I don’t know him, not really. I met him once and he seemed just as interested in what I had to say about life in our voting district as the more important people at the gathering. The ‘more important’ people were monied donors to a nonprofit and board members of the nonprofit, while I was a lowly beneficiary of this nonprofit’s largesse. Jesse sure seemed, to me, to pay as much attention to my opinions as the rich donors. A small thing and yet not a small thing.

    I welcome Mr. Arreguin’s call that all stakeholder groups in Berkeley come together to create a Compassionate Sidewalks Plan yet he does not issue an invitation to join even an email list. When will this group meet? Who will be included? Will it be the same old crowd of insiders or will it truly represent all the stakeholders in Berkeley affected by homelessness? What’s his plan? Is there a date for the first organizational meeting? He uses some lovely rhetoric in his invitation to make a difference yet he offers no specific, explicit step for me to take.

    His staff person, Anthrony Sanchez, has mentioned this plan on Facebook. I wrote to Anthony and asked if I could be on this committee and Sanchez backed off saying nothing was definite. And in Mr. Arrequin’s opinion, I see no specifics either.

    Mr. Arrequin, find space for a public meeting, set a date with some advance notice so folks who care can get the word out and get the word. Choose a planning team of invested citizens to design your event. Key to a good event that aspires to reflect the will of all stakeholders is to create a microcosm in the planning team to plan the event. Have a homeless person on your planning team, at least one. Have a business owner or two or three. Have Jane Ordinary Citizen, and John Q. A student or two. A good planning team has to rep all stakeholder groups and then be trusted to set a them for dialogue and engagement, craft a good invitation that truly is an invitation to dialogue and warmly invite participants to participant.

    Give specifics. A lovely, fuzzy cal for compassion is not enough. If Mr. Arrequin is not an expert in good process and event design, put out a call for that. I recommend Institute of the Commons, a Bay Area based nonprofit that has been working for years in governmental agency, industry groups such as water groups and manufacturer’s looking to reduce their waste and with neighborhoods seeking to become more community-like as they choose to co-create a shared, positive future vision. If not IOTC, find someone else. The expertise is out there to plan a powerful event, Mr. Arrequin. And it would be relatively easy to get funding for it, cause IOTC, just like everyone else, needs to earn their livelihood.

  • Tizzielish

    A well designed event with good process does not have to be consensus-based, a waste of anyone’s time and go no where. A mentor pointed out to me almost 30 years ago that business is almost always the first to adopt new learnings in the field of process design such as new ways to conduct strategic planning. All kinds of wonderful, innovative group processes have been developed and refined in the past thirty or forty years, loosely under the title of organizational development. Now the are many people with great expertise and skill in helping organizations and communities to create these alternative kinds of processes for public discourse. I have not seen Berkeley use anything but fairly stale, ineffectual, been-around-forever methods of engaging the public. What I see is much as you say, The Sharkey — hours of time wasted that ‘go nowhere’. Berkeley should step into the 21st Century and have better public participation processes. The Bay Area is full of folks dedicating their lives to this work but our public servants keep using tactics that are, quite frankly, like dinosaurs.

    Better process is possible. Mr. Arrequin could build his political future by emloying a great process which, and no offense is intended, he does not seem to have the expertise to implement. And Tom Bates certainly does not have such expertise. Tom Bates seems to think public policy should be driven by real estate developers who are driven by profit masked as community development.

    IT is high time Berkeley engaged in real community development. No more token community panels to design downtown plans that promptly get ignored by our public servants. Convene a real dialogue, expertly designed and facilitated, and Arrequin’s call for a Compasionate Sidewalks Plan could come together in one weekend. As one example, Berkeley could conduct a Future Search, using FS experts to guide the city in the process.

    Let’s be a 21st Century city.

    You know who eagerly and rapidly embraces new process for engaging all stakeholders? Tech companies on the cutting edge. Berkeley should be on the cutting edge. Instead we have a mayor who began his political career four or five decades ago and continues to use political approaches viable when his career began.

    Do things differently. EVeryone seems to consider Berkeley’s homeless problem intractable. What have we to lose? Let’s try something new. I am not affiliated with Institute of the Commons but they specialize in public dialogue. And I am sure many others do too.

  • Tizzielish

    On what basis did you base your statement that Mayor Bates is a good partner in getting the people’s business done? Bates seems least inclined to care about the people’s will, or the will of the commons, of any politician in Berkeley.

  • Tizzielish

    I liked reading all your ideas but I esp. like a day center with storage. I assume by plumbing you mean toilets and showers and, since we’re dreaming, laundry facilities. I support Health, Mental Health and Social Services but the basis of storage, toilets, showers and washing machines would go a LONG way to ameliorating some barriers the homeless face. Showing up smelling cause you have no where to wash makes it real had to integrate back into society.

  • Tizzielish

    Since you ask me a question, I will answer it. Public drunks like James are few and far between. I live downtown, don’t own a car and walk everywhere. I am pretty sure I have at least visual familiarity with all the regular homeless that hang out downtown, altho I wouldn’t know James because I don’t interact with drunks.

    Public drunkenness should not be tolerated. Homelessness is not a free ticket to behave however one wishes just because one lacks the privacy of a home. Lock the guy up. Have judges throw the book at him. If he won’t enter treatment, put him in jail over and over, wasting a lot of public money but keeping him off the streets.

    OR we could do what Minneapolis did about fifteen years ago. Minneapolis has a very large Native American population. As many may know, Native Americans are particularly vulnerable to the illness, and yes it is an illness, of alcoholism. Public drunk Native Americans were a huge problem in the neighborhoods of dense Native American residents. The city built an SRO that did not require treatment for alcoholism for admission. They gave Native American drunks a room, storage, toilet, shelter. They also provided onsight social services to encourage anyone who wanted help to change their lives to get that help. But giving chronic alcoholics, who are a public health issue and merit our compassion and the recognition that it is an illness, a decent nonjudgmental and safe home greatly reduced the problem of public drunkenness.

    We could do something like that for chronic inebriate homeless people. From what I read about Berkeley, few want to meaningfully problem solve. I see many folks who love to villify the homeless and few willing to actually provide meaningful help.

    What did Jesus Christ say, something about that which you do to the least of my brothers, you also do unto me? When we withhold help from those who need it, we are part of the problem.

  • Tizzielish

    Gosh, The Sharkey, your edit touches me. How lovely that you feel some compassion and indicate the possibility that maybe James should be given help, if not to solve his problem, then to solve the problems he introduces into our commons.

  • EBGuy

    The simple fact still remains: we need to address extreme, anti-social behavior that drives people from downtown Berkeley. Here’s a link to an article about San Francisco’s Community Justice Court.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I am a person, and I think Bates cares about my will and the commons. The overwhelming majority of Berkeley voters apparently agree that Bates cares about “the people’s will,” which is why they reelected him by such a large margin.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    On Anthony’s statement: “we met with the Mayor today and he’s been thinking about the issues, too, and has expressed interest with Council moving forward on this. It’s encouraging when opposite sides come together to genuinely get something done. ”

    Bates is trying to work these people to get stuff done. He’s not scorching the earth the way Kriss did, while Jesse clapped along.

    Put another way, Bates has behaved like a professional when his proposal was up for discussion AND when the opposition’s proposal was up for discussion. That courtesy has not been reciprocated.

  • James

    Love it.

  • James

    Mayor Bates is a former land developer with land developer ties and would rather spend a million dollars on a tank for… whatever, than try and manage something his business buddies are trying to get rid of… how did that expensive measure go again? Keep pouring bad money after good… after bad… never seeing the full picture, ever.

  • James

    You don’t know “why” people voted the way they did… that’s number one. Number two, and I’m tired of hearing about the “street behavior” out here, because I am out here, and I see and hear it… and it’s nothing. Nothing more than any other place I have ever been. In fact, the homeless are more likely to be victims, and have. I have documented three separate cases where the homeless were victims of violence by those with jobs and houses. All this phony Fear is the problem. Before the election, we were told that people were “frightened out on Shattuck,” when I see the opposite. I see people interacting with street artists, and liking it. Not fearing it. So, most of this nonsense is just that, nonsense. And most of the people parroting it never poke their heads out of their houses or television sets.

  • James

    More systematic control over the civil rights of Americans. It’s bollocks. What if I want to be out there, with the dregs? I’m a writer, sir. Charles Bukowski would find your lack of originality frightfully boring. Most of those “laws” the homeless are supposedly breaking (and they aren’t even ‘laws,’ but ‘ordinances,’ because of the absurd pettiness of it all) are not doing anything to curb the “problem.” All that does is criminalize behavior of poor people who don’t have the walls to hide their vices, like you do.

  • James

    haha… show me where I wrote such things, you idiot.

    And I don’t drink Vodka, either. If you’re going to slander me, do it to me in person. I am out there… so what are you waiting for? Oh, and I do not panhandle, either, sir. I do not threaten pedestrians, but I have had them threaten me. And yes, I have yelled at police, because they deserved yelling at. The First Amendment affords me this right, just like the right to exist in public space. And if you wanna see drunks, check out the crowds who leave Jupiter on their six-dollar pints… groups of them, all gassed… talking tons of smack. And let’s not forget about Tslassa, is it called? Yeah, but those are a much better class of drunk, eh? And then there’s those snobs at the Hotel Shattuck… hey, I can’t afford the hookers who come out of that place!

  • James

    I love how those controlled wish others the same… horrors.

  • James

    Wow… someone needs to explain to you what parody is. haha! Thanks for the promotion, though! The dolts really do come out the woodwork whenever this subject gets brought up.

  • James

    Oh, and how did Measure S turn out, again?

  • James

    No it does not. What keeps people from the downtown area is not having any money to spend on frivolous crap because the economy is in the toilet because the politicians you hired to do your bidding is doing their bidding and by result the land owners of the downtown area have jacked up rents to unbelievable heights which end up putting more pressures on the store owners who then blame the homeless because they can’t blame the real bully, their landlords. You people are so dreadfully misinformed, it’s no *wonder* this will never get the attention it truly needs.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    to quote from James own essay at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Being-Drunk-In-Public-Is-by-James-Armstrong-II-121008-658.html

    for the past couple weeks, I have been on a “bender.” A bender is a drinking binge. I have
    been slamming vodka, after work …

    .., there are nights, like a few nights a go, when I get a little
    gassed, and then walk off the boulevard, screaming at people to not vote
    on measure S, and telling them I will find them and beat them up if
    they do… you know, stupid sh*t like that.

    James, threatening to beat up other people is a crime and should be a crime. You care a lot about your own rights, but you don’t care at all about anyone else’s rights.

    The way to address the problem is 1) charge you with a crime and 2) have a community court that offers to get in a program to sober up as an alternative to going to jail.

    By being an aggressive drunk, you are hurting yourself and you are hurting the city of Berkeley.

  • James

    What about the drunk college kids who run up and down Shattuck every weekend?

  • James

    Fine. Then don’t bitch when you see us sitting there, smiling at you.

  • The Sharkey

    Bates never bought a tank, James.

  • The Sharkey

    You are out there, and when you get drunk off your ass and yell at people on Telly and Shattuck you are a participant in the problematic street behavior. If you’re not seeing it, I suggest finding a mirror.