Skip to main content

As was San Francisco, AS IS SACRAMENTO

Below, former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, quoted from his recent book Basic Brown in a San Francisco Chronicle piece, titled "Gamed by the System" [emphases, mine]:

Once I became mayor, it soon became painfully clear to me that three-fourths of the folk living out there on the streets were out there without any possibility of ever getting off the streets. Not because there was no opportunity. Not because there was no shelter or housing available. Not because there were not enough mental health programs. Not because there were no drug abuse programs. We were providing those and, of course, we could do more. The will to provide services and shelter was there.

I discovered factors - some bureaucratic, some political - working in a kind of evil synthesis with each other that really prevented the long-term homeless from entering the system. For one, the rules and regulations of the welfare system wouldn't let us require people to go into the treatment protocols or processes that could lead to their maybe breaking out of the cycle of poverty, hopelessness, homelessness. To me this was tantamount to condemning people to a prison of the streets.

Backing this up was a collection of so-called activists with heavy political clout who absolutely believed (and still believe) that homeless people should have a right to live on the street. They believed that homeless people had an absolute right to do everything they were doing, no matter how harmful to themselves or to the rest of the citizenry.

Opposing them was an army of businesspeople, small and large, who didn't want the homeless anywhere near them. Shop owners in the neighborhoods were furious, frustrated and fiery. Hotel owners and managers, of course, didn't want the homeless within sight of the tourists who come to San Francisco. These people wanted draconian action, they wanted law enforcement.

You had all sorts of deep division within the polity and no side capable of budging. It was a nightmare. Here was a more dire example of the situation I encountered on lesser problems: selfishness and self-righteousness preventing people from coming to serious dialogue. They wouldn't budge and you couldn't wedge them.

In the legislature and in general political conflicts, I usually had been able to nudge sides out of their selfishness by showing them how outrageous they were actually being. In this situation, especially with the so-called homeless advocates, they were feasting on their outrage. Their moral indignation was their very food. And self-righteousness is not on the menu at the bargaining table. The selfishness was astonishing to me.


Popular posts from this blog

The devastating effects of schizophrenia in one man's life

A powerful story of the deteriorating life and death of once-respectable Sacramento citizen, Mike Lehmkuhl,  is told by  reporter Cynthia Hubert in Sunday’s [7/31/16] Bee.
Lehmkuhl is described as a very likable guy with a sometimes-goofy personality that went along with a formidable intelligence. He was a “standout wrestler” in high school and an “accomplished gymnast at Sacramento State” where he graduated and then got into the building trade before going on to run a contracting business and have a home proximate to Country Club Plaza.
Friends describe him as being “happy” and “sanguine” at that time in his life, when he was about age 50.
But, by 2011, when Lehmkuhl was 53, he was hearing voices in his head and his life began to fall apart. He tumbled into a homeless life, combatting demons in his head that spoke to him. The Hubert piece provides a comprehensive picture of a good man beset by a devastating condition: schizophrenia. Lehmkuhl had good friends and loyal family members…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "C├ęcile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the SelfWhat is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…