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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: News

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

hi my name is Sarah Menefee and i'm the homeless pages editor for the national independent monthly newspaper The People's Tribine []. I would like to seek permission to use the photograph by Nick Miller showing the bulldozer crushing the encampment. I'm not sure how else to contact the photographer besides this. If somebody could send me better contact information that would be wonderful, to talk about permission and terms.

Posted by Sarah Menefee on 06/05/2017 at 1:04 PM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

As I said before, HARM reduction is simply a variant on the mantra from the loan officers of the financial crash, IBG-UBG (I be gone, you be gone), AKA kick it down the road for someone else to deal with.

Real adult.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/03/2017 at 12:24 PM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

"Grownups have to make life happen even when wishes don't come true."

Precisely! That's what makes harm reduction the adult approach!

Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 06/03/2017 at 11:46 AM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

Mr Halberstadt, we then share similar backgrounds.

As a born and bred East Bay native, I've seen what NIMBY brings, "get it out of my face" does and HARM reduction's only result is all too often to stop short of real solutions, leaving the wound to continue to fester.

I prefer real solutions. References to fantasy accounts are at best "feel good" substitutes. Why not say instead to pray the problems away? Bah!

Those band-aids all can make breathing room possible, but that room HAS to be used, not become "out of sight, out of mind, it's not a problem". This last has been the history and there is no reason not to believe, the fact going forward.

And this is where you and I fundamentally differ... What is vs what I think it should be.

As I said before Unicorns, Elves, Fairies and money trees are wonderful... For children.

Grownups have to make life happen even when wishes don't come true.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/03/2017 at 9:25 AM

Re: “Oakland Privacy Committee Urges Police Cut Ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Is the Chief of Police, Anne Kirkpatrick, a direct report to Tim Birch, an "analyst"? I find information on him elsewhere that calls him "Police Services Manager". Accurate? If so, why was he answering questions about agreements signed by the former C.O.P. and making apologies vs the Chief? Why was he even present?

The reason I checked is because I saw other articles on EBX regarding Mr Birch as an IT specialist dealing with communications technology. In that role, he has NO role in police policy so it struck me odd he was responding to policy questions for this commission.

I was under the impression the C.O.P. reported to at a minimum to the city manager, if not the mayor.

Was this "theater" so the commission could say it held a hearing... Withoutthe public realizing it meaningless? Or is this commission so clueless they had no idea he had nothing to do with these policies, if which case the question rises, should these individuals even be at the table? Which Tammany Hall rats appointed them?

And why do I have to ask these questions vs the "award winning" EBX reporters who don't seem to fact check ANYTHING!

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/03/2017 at 8:13 AM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

Mr. Ferrell, I have my own experience (with homelessness and substance use); I've left both behind, and I still have a life (one not mired in "recovery") -- no thanks to the practitioners (and often cult-like programs) you celebrate, however well-intentioned they may be. (For an alternate perspective, please read [or view] "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" or "A Scanner Darkly.")

In any event, as I've already noted, any purported solution (regarding mental illness and substance use) is sure to be controversial -- if the implicit issues can ever be settled, and if truly effective and universally accepted 'treatment' even exists.

That's all beside the point, however.

We face an immediate crisis -- specifically involving the street encampments that have recently been mushrooming in our neighborhoods, and the catastrophic depletion and displacement of low-income (and specifically SRO) housing. This is new -- and it's the situation we immediately need to address.

As you yourself acknowledge, at best "some have to work at recovery for years to achieve basic stability." What are we supposed to do in the meantime -- even assuming such an approach is destined ever to have widespread success? Given the urgency of the current situation, let's address the encampments as such, and ameliorate the shortage (and loss) of low-income housing as fully and quickly as is competently possible.

Ironically, we agree on much regarding the political situation that's exacerbated the current problem, and that's kept us from addressing the crisis we face. Unfortunately, the perspective you promote is yet another part of the problem -- contributing to the current self-seeking and paralysis -- rather than a solution.

In that context, everything I've written and proposed here falls clearly and straightforwardly under the rubric of harm reduction -- of addressing the crisis at hand. That's where we need to start.

We may need to focus on the hardest cases later -- if, indeed, they're truly amenable to "professional" interventions, or prove to have any viable solution at all.

Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 06/02/2017 at 11:22 PM

Re: “Oakland Privacy Committee Urges Police Cut Ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

It's a good thing our Federal Government isn't this inept. Oh. Wait.

Posted by JP Massar on 06/02/2017 at 7:52 PM

Re: “Video: Oakland's Homeless Residents Are Targets of Arson Attacks

charlie pine thinks this article is about his suspicion and undocumented claim that 'homeless residents engage in arson attacks, too'

in fact, charlie, this article is about the known fact (not your speculation) that homeless residents HAVE BEEN TARGETED BY ARSON

if you have proof that someone has started a fire, maybe you should provide that . otherwise, keep your speculation to yourself

Posted by demotro polis on 06/02/2017 at 3:45 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

robert hope is clearly clueless about poverty . of course houseless people are houseless because they don't have money for rent, and because oakland allows greedy landlords to push people out so they can increase rents for outsiders to replace local residents . pay attention : many people are houseless as a direct result of illegal foreclosures or what should be illegal rent spikes

meanwhile, someone step up to represent this man . he should be able to afford to buy a house with a fraction of the cash he should collect from this incident . if we, the people, can't control our city government and workers, we, the people will have our taxes used for payouts in lawsuits and 'settlements' for situations like this along with rapist and otherwise abusive and murderous police

Posted by demotro polis on 06/02/2017 at 3:28 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

Nanci, I pay for my garbage to be removed so there's an expectation that it will be done.

Are these people paying to have their garbage removed? Shake your head no. You, I, and the rest of the city are paying for their garbage to be removed.

Posted by Robert Hope on 06/02/2017 at 2:16 PM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

Obviously Mr Halberstadt, you have no clue about what is needed for substance dependency problems. I'd respectfully like to suggest that you leave your do-gooding in that realm to those with experience. Else what happens become at best ineffective or as I mentioned previously (and you eluded to) a scam sucking desperately needed help away, often facilitated by self serving politicians operating their own version of Tammany Hall.

While the paid recovery industry sometimes suggests 12-step self-help (free meetings), many use those free meetings, and other forms of free resource all by themselves without ever touching the paid side of that world. Yes, some have to work at recovery for years to achieve basic stability... It's the nature of the beast.

I don't think anyone would even begin to suggest the problems of substance use and abuse aren't complex and highly individual and as such not really amenable to a simplistic solutions.

The cries about "coercive intervention!" were first heard in California long ago under Reagan (then governor) resulting in people being tossed into unfunded, non-existent community facilities... In effect, homeless into the streets. The genesis of the visible homeless crisis.

What we see now in the existing camps, isn't organized community and it's fairly obvious never will be. Nor will a semi-permanent campgrounds be.

The problems of "affordable housing" are almost equally difficult. It takes money to buy land and materials and pay laborers to build housing at any level of value. Oakland, as a community, has not enough... As a community, does almost nothing to encourage that money be invested here... When existing businesses here can almost guarantee they WILL be the target of expensive reconstruction and repairs when crypto-anarchists take to the streets smashing and defacing them... When new construction is destroyed by arson, not once but twice in less than a year. When community "activists"
obstruct new construction, not because no set aside for affordable housing isn't made, but because what is set aside isn't "premium".

Which brings us right back to a community that tolerates these behaviors, that re-elects pocket dictators over and over, that "doesn't snitch" and want's instant solutions for long festering problems, throwing out anyone who doesn't kowtow their demands.

While it may feel good to immediately provide for physical needs, without a long term recovery plans, all that happens it to open a deep hole in which to endlessly pour resources making it more difficult to provide any the of services needed.

When we say "Fire the bureaucrats and social workers" we eliminate the on-the-firing-line people needed to do the hard work. Change doesn't "just happen" people paying their bills, working and living their lives do that hard work.

If people can't do those things, the work doesn't happen and change never happens. For people to do those things, they need to be paid.

We can demand unicorns, elves, fairies and money trees, but those aren't real. Quasi-libertarian suggestions are just another form bullying too.

Now, instead of bitching about how little we allocate for these problems, can someone show me where what money we have comes from and, maybe, suggest new sources?

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/02/2017 at 8:51 AM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

What sort of "treatment" are you talking about, Mr. Ferrell? Institutionalization? The endless merry-go-round of 12-step meetings touted by the "recovery" industry? As I already wrote, "Problems that involve drug use or mental illness are complex, and any solutions are sure to be controversial -- if the implicit issues can ever be settled, and if truly effective and universally accepted 'treatment' even exists."

Meanwhile, we face two immediate crises: the metastasizing spread of tent encampments throughout Oakland (especially in the flats), and the depletion of low-income housing. While these issues reflect urgent physical needs, we're misdirecting attention and diverting scarce resources to dubious (and potentially coercive) interventions in "homeless lives."

We need to approach these two crises with respect for those affected, rather than viewing them as helpless victims in need of dubious (and expensive) "services," or as pawns in a political game. A dedicated campground isn't a ghetto; it's a campground: a place for someone who's acquired a tent to pitch camp until he or she either commits to a nomadic existence (in whatever locale seems most suitable and hospitable), or sets his/her sights on another way of life. At least it's an alternative to "criminalization."

As for "teaching them to fish"? These days, those who'd "teach them to fish" would typically charge a licensing fee for the gear, and demand a royalty on every fish they caught (which would, in turn, fund the training and salaries of new "teachers"). Instead, how's about giving them a rod and reel; ingenuity (and talking to others on the pier [i.e., seeking out wisdom and making connections]) should take care of the rest.

This ain't rocket science! Fire the bureaucrats and social workers, and provide for real, physical needs.

We need to develop housing for THOUSANDS of people (and set aside a place where they can camp out in the meantime, especially those who've burned all their bridges to friends who might otherwise help). Instead, we inflict encampments on neighborhoods of the housed while we build a "navigation center" designed to "connect them with services" -- but that can actually house only 150!

150? That would be a joke, if it weren't such a scandal. That's where we end up when, instead of focusing on immediate, practical problems -- the actual crisis that we face -- we become mired in trying to reshape other people's lives.

Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 06/01/2017 at 11:57 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

Thank you for writing this, Nick. It's clear to me that the City of Oakland is not doing it's due diligence to take care of its citizens, and in this case was egregious in their misconduct. It's clear that a tent with a person and their belongings inside isn't garbage.

What I have seen is that most encampment residents work hard to out all the garbage in one place, and that the city has not been collecting garbage from the camps. Imagine if the city didn't pick up your household waste for's an unimaginable nightmare that the city has seen before during strikes.

Get it together, Oakland. Treat residents kindly and fairly and utilize the city services to help rather than harm.

Posted by Nanci Armstrong-Temple on 06/01/2017 at 10:47 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

Well, Valerie, I guess this IS trash collection. How is it that the trash became so intermixed into the personal effects of the inhabitants that it became easy to mistake one from another? I know if someone came by and dumped garbage on MY living area, I'd either shift my living area so that it's clear illegally dumped stuff isn't mine or move the illegally dumped stuff doesn't mingle with what's mine. Naaaa... Let's just blame some hypothetical person. It's SO much easier.

Have you ever watched a fully loaded cart being used to haul stuff down the street? A truly amazing tribute to human endeavor. Humans have been using muscle power and minimal "machines" to move fairly large loads for thousands of years.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/01/2017 at 10:03 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

Where are the inhabitants supposed to put the trash from the encampment if there is no regular trash collection? And it's not clear that some of it isn't illegal dumping by people taking advantage of the unsupervised nature of the areas where the encampments are. If you look at the stuff, lots of the bulky items are things the people in the encampments could not have carried there.

Posted by Valerie Winemiller on 06/01/2017 at 9:04 PM

Re: “Oakland Officials Question Police Partnerships with Federal Immigration Agents and FBI

Libby and the Oakland City Council need to take immediate action to keep ICE out of Oakland. They would not allow a federal agency to come terrorize Mountclarions, so they should leave the backdoor open for these bullies to come in and harass and arrest immigrants and POC. LIbby and and Annie say, they are all about justice and fairness, time to put your policies where you say your values are.

Posted by Ann Nomura on 06/01/2017 at 7:40 PM

Re: “City of Oakland ‘Bulldozer’ Hit A Homeless Man While He Was Sleeping In A Tent

Lets see... 160 cubic yards (to use the smallest figure quoted). What can that mean? It could mean a debris field about 3 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 18 feet long. That's a hell of a lot of trash accumulated in one location! I doubt it was really that compact, but we can set that aside for now.

What are the implications of this? Hmmm... Home for vermin? (rats, mice, roaches and any other disease ridden creepy crawlies we can think of in an urban environment). Sound like anything you want anyone living around? Not me.

How about just simple paper and other burnable junk... Had some fires that wiped out a tent city recently, didn't we? People hurt? Wonder how that happened, huh?

As to the use of industrial equipment to clear it... How many back breaking human (expensive) man hours would it take to clean it otherwise? Yeah, the equipment operators need to be a LOT more careful but it's disingenuous to paint this as anything but what needs to be done.

Since all the "stuff" didn't accumulate itself, it's equally clear the inhabitants aren't doing much to clear it themselves.

I don't have a good solution, but more care needs to be taken on the part of all parties.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/01/2017 at 5:47 PM

Re: “Berkeley To Consider Banning Plastic Straws

Hey Carl, crawl back in your Trump Hole

Posted by Vincent Blafard on 06/01/2017 at 10:39 AM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

Hey Mitchell Halberstadt... "...a neighborhood of their own". Isn't that called a ghetto by classic definition?

And Mr Cervantes, I came up and out those streets and populations. That's why I mentioned trying it for yourself. I did.

We're dealing with people suffering from mental and emotional difficulties... Yeah, I like difficulties better than problems. Many have been there for decades. Yes, some lost jobs and were evicted and/or were priced out. A lot more are there because of their "difficulties", and yet again, there is NO MONEY in Oakland for services for them, Anything that would bring in money is decried as gentrification.

Evictions are really the least of the problem, but it IS smugly satisfying to point that finger. Zero tolerance isn't an answer either. That just means criminalizing not being able to maintain.

Treatment is paramount... Not the half-baked type of thing that recently burned down on San Pablo Avenue. Had that been correctly run and supervised, the cause of the fire would not have been needed (candles). The fire control system would have been insisted upon by the "operator" from the property owner; mandated by city inspection of a treatment facility.

No, that was a scam shepherded by city council members to fleece needy people of what little they had while providing little more than a dangerous roof and an opportunity for "Tammany Hall" council members to make political points and reward neighborhood cronies.

Once treatment happens, then training/education needs to happen. Teach them to fish...

Until then, all that is being done is to "distribute fish"... Until the fish run out.

It takes money to do those things. Money that Oakland has been wasting for decades while slowing bleeding to death and self serving crypto-anarchists/activists trash the streets, driving businesses out.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/01/2017 at 7:53 AM

Re: “Oakland Expends Considerable Money and Person-Power Displacing Homeless Residents, According to City Records

I disagree with Alice Marshall on one point: she says, "What would not be allowed is to live permanently in a temporary camp." The point of setting up a dedicated campground is to accommodate a nomadic population (of tent dwellers) at a location off our streets -- not necessarily to channel everyone into indoor housing. The issues to be addressed involve land use in existing neighborhoods, and developing sufficient low-income housing to meet local demand -- with minimum intervention into people's lives.

Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 06/01/2017 at 6:23 AM

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