Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bee's golden boy, John Kraintz, not so golden

There was a very long and very glowing article on John Kraintz in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, "Homeless man has key role in Sacramento debate," that requires a response from SacHo.

It is a core tenet of this blog that the truth about homelessness and homeless people get "out there" to the public. Unhappily, despite the enormous amount of coverage of homelessness in the popular local media, the public continually gets distortion. Cynthia Hubert is the reporter the local homeless-help industry thinks is the most friendly toward them, and, yep, her articles, with just an exception or two, have a distinct skewed quality.

Make no mistake, John Kraintz deserves a lot of credit for his interest in and work for the homeless. He is a bright, amiable, thoughtful fellow. As a longtime chronic, intends-to-remain-homeless person he fits in with 10% of the community. Certainly, as a part of the enabled homeless population, weighing in in support of Loaves & Fishes' enabling policies, and having opinions that are enough in accord with the radical-leftist put-an-end-to-capitalism leadership at most core homeless-services nonprofits, his is a necessary voice.

But where, when opinions are sought by the Bee and other local media, are the voices of homeless people, like the majority, who don't want to be ensconced in homeless hell?

You cannot blame John for getting (and enjoying) the attention he has gotten. He is useful to the homeless-help industry as a poster boy to motivate donations. He is useful to the media that needs a prop homeless person to make their articles seem to have gone outside the homeless-help industry agitprop. By using him exclusively, as the homeless-help industry and media do, it becomes grotesquely distorting.

Most people in Homeless World Sacramento are seeking — or, at least, welcoming — of regular work opportunities. The vast majority aren't wanting to overhaul America in the image of the Soviet Union. A voice from the majority of homeless isn't heard in the Bee or on the mayor's ad hoc homelessness committees.

Another element that demonstrates the wildly out-of-whack quality of Cynthia Hubert's article is the rat-a-tat-tat of insistence that John is incredibly successful as a homeless advocate. Indeed, the truth is that the Safe Ground Campaign has run into the ground.  It failed.  It's over.  Here are the hallmarks:
Tent City was not "turned around" to becoming a successful start for a legalized homeless encampment. Indeed, at its end, it was suddenly described as "notorious" [by Cythia Hubert!] and was shut down with Libby Fernandez standing behind the Mayor at the time its forced closure was announced.

The C Street encampment was a fiasco from the get-go, proving that the public must never allow thirty people to crowd into a half acre to live in tents, flagrantly violate zoning laws, and make the lives of neighbors miserable.

The Edenic vision of a Tuff Shed utopia was DOA because the public and the resistant city council people and county supervisors were never courted, nor could they easily be now what with all that has preceded.
And finally, to John's great abiding discredit, he was corrupted, helping to engineer a wholesale "jumping of the list" that resulted in relatively undeserving homeless people [John and his safe ground pals] getting 4 1/2 full months of shelter, at a motel no less, at the expense of the most vulnerable to the cold and rain who will need to compete for short stays at whatever shelter for the winter comes along.  [Except for John & friends, a total of about 22 people, and 32 men at the former-detox center, we're still awaiting word of what winter shelter there'll be.]

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