Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Loaves & Fishes attempts to rig county hearing testimony

Somehow Loaves & Fishes always finds a way to take the low road.

With a stack of sheets at the Info Kiosk in Friendship Park this morning, users of Loaves & Fishes services were given the opportunity to take a flyer that encouraged their attendance and testimony at a Sacramento County hearing, tomorrow, regarding a proposed elimination of funding for emergency shelters in the fiscal year beginning July 1. Since the kiosk is where shower reservations are made and lunch tickets are distributed, it is a place where most visitors to the park are likely to need to go to.

So far, so good. Certainly it is appropriate and laudable for L&F or anyone to want county Supervisors to be keenly aware of the hardships visited on homeless people by the proposed budget cuts.

But with the overly specific instructions that guests – which is what L&F calls users of its services – were given on what to say as testimony, the effort on the part of L&F violates a key tenet of freedom and democracy: the ideal that hearing testimony is valid, freely-given and truly representative of what some of the public thinks.

Below, closely replicated, is the text of the sheet:

Hearing on Sacramento County
Cuts to Homeless Programs
Thursday, May 14th at 9 AM
Sacramento County Board of Supervisors
750 H Street

Closure of Aid in Kind Shelters
Closure of Winter Overflow Shelter

Sacramento County needs to make draconian budget cuts. The Supervisors will be hearing about proposed cuts to homeless programs. 350 of the 800 shelter beds in Sacramento will be closed -- a 41% cut in shelter beds in one fell swoop.

We need your help with media coverage. We also need staff members and guests to testify at the hearing. Suggested approach for guests in their own words can be

1. I was able to stay at the overflow shelter, and because of that, X happened. X being something good -- I saved money to move into an apartment; I heard about transitional housing, etc.

Or 2. I couldn't get into a shelter and Y happened, Y being something bad -- I had to stay in my car with my two kids, I slept outside and was scared.

It is the opinion of this writer for this blog that the bare, noble truth of the circumstance of homelessness is plenty good enough to win favor with the public and advance the cause of greater aid and support for suffering people.

Much of what Loaves & Fishes does "in the name of advocacy," ain't advocacy – it takes pristine information and skews it, twists it, massages it, and mauls it until it is unrecognizable. L&F does much the same kind of stuff for the homeless and to the city and county of Sacramento that the Republican party has done to the country for the past eight years. In the long-run, what Loaves & Fishes does is terrible for the welfare of homeless people in our metropolis. Enough! Enough! No mas, no mas.
UPDATE 5/13 5:30pm: Per a Sacramento Press story Tuesday, the county hopes to "free up" funds to pay for shelter-beds as a result of stimulus money covering costs of other ongoing services the county provides for the homeless. Thus, there is great hope that at least some of what beds are lost on July 1 will be restored.

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