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In an act of Collective Punishment, Loaves & Fishes closes its park in the morning on New Year’s Day

Calvin [a "green hat" in Unfriendly Park] makes the argument for continued incompetent management. Hobbes represents me — only, in real life, I don't have that good a coat.
In an act of Collective Punishment, Loaves & Fishes closes its park in the morning on New Year’s Day

In one respect — and only one — that I can think of, Loaves & Fishes is NOT hypocritical: The management hates the way America is run and wants to turn it into a backward communist country. Consistent with that, Loaves & Fishes’ management runs its facility like a backward communist country. The People’s Republic of Loaves & Fishes.
A seemingly minor thing happened on New Year’s Day. A couple of people smoked a joint in Loaves & Fishes’ Friendship Park and one of the park directors, or both of them, determined, at about 10am, that, in retribution, they would punish all the homeless there by closing the park for the day.

This is something the managers of the park do all the time: At whim, they throw a monkey wrench into everybody’s day for transgressions by a few, that are minor, and would be handled by any civilized management team for any organization anywhere else by dealing with the transgressors quietly and directly.

But Loaves & Fishes ain’t civilized; it’s the Rocky Horror Show. It’s the Sacramento Chainsaw Massacre, in 3D! It’s Beavis and Butt-head. It’s the Three Stooges with Fake Shemp.

So. They close the park.

On a holiday, when homeless people had been told the park would be open, and when getting something done is difficult because many don’t have a shelter they can stay at in the daytime, and stores and other places generally aren’t open, the directors of Unfriendly Park1 close the place, on a whiff and a whim.

It is exactly this kind of mean-spirited thing — running the homeless around in circles of do-nothingness — that is, perhaps, the prime cause of the foreshortened lifespans of homeless people.

If we could look at the low birth rates and suicide rates and depression and other misery visited upon the people in North Korea by their overlords, I submit that it would scan with what Loaves & Fishes' leaders visit upon the homeless in Sacramento.

To say “the homeless deserve better” than what they get at Loaves & Fishes would be a whopper of an understatement. To say “the people of Sacramento are getting ripped off by how the money they donate to Loaves & Fishes gets spent” would be another understatement.

And the beat goes on.

Punishing a bunch of people for the actions of a few is unjust. It’s called “Collective Punishment” and is something that the United Nation is particularly strident at deploring. It’s a style of punishing made famous by Nazis, that was used by them and is used by other groups that are morally and ethically unrestrained.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has this to say regarding Collective Punishment:
… parties to a conflict often … resort to "intimidatory measures to terrorize the population" in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices "strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice."
In August, 2008, after being rendered homeless for only a short time, I encountered Loaves & Fishes opposition “to all principles based on humanity and justice” and was moved to distribute a flyer to then constantly-being-threatened denizens of Unfriendly Park. You can find a copy of it here. It says in part this:
Solely because of the big-hearted generosity of Sacramento-area individuals and businesses, Loaves & Fishes exists – as a facility to promote the well-being of people who have fallen on Hard Times. These individuals and businesses provide Loaves & Fishes with over $5,000,000 each year to improve the lives of displaced people like you and me.

By closing the park for thirty minutes, in an act of impetuosity, L&F imperils the ability of people to get to work or meet court dates or make it to other appointments or to otherwise achieve something or get full measure from their day.
At that time, I presumed people in the homeless-services business had to have a heart, somewhere, that could be appealed to. I have since learned that many Sacramento homeless-services organizations have devolved into “rackets” that are out for their own enlargement and perpetual existence — solely that. Snooker donors; rake in the dough; put up a front that you are a supremely compassionate organization.

It is funny — in a highly unhumorous way — that Loaves & Fishes hides behind the skirt of being a fist-pumping Christian do-gooder when what they are really doing AND THEY KNOW THEY ARE REALLY DOING IT is this:

They enable [bordering on ENCOURAGE] alcoholism and substance abuse. Indeed they are “Sacramento Central,” at their Delany Center, at encouraging the submission of blinky SSI claims by homeless people to get money to stay diffleblunked and wafflesnouted. Loaves & Fishes times its Park closings to best happen near the end of months, to contrast with the schedule of SSI payments, which is diabolical. It means that addicts are aided, by Loaves & Fishes policies, at economizing on living expenses to best direct their funds toward Party Hardy!

Please note: Addicts suffer mightily. I want them to find their way out of their addictions and to a meaningful, happy life. But I more that question whether the Loaves & Fishes Board of Directors want such a thing. They act in opposition to any Clean and Sober effort.

Year after year of homeless people's lives get washed away in a sea of meaninglessness … and in Sacramento Loaves & Fishes is likely to be a part of the reason.
Loaves & Fishes fully ignores most mentally ill people who use many services at the Loaves & Fishes’ Mall of Services. The very evidently mentally ill that Sacramento citizens can see out of the streets are getting no help whatsoever or very little help and are the most miserable and neglected. It is known that the pair of Genesis program social workers literally never go into Friendship Park or make outreach efforts to help the most in need. VOA’s robust outreach program was de-funded in 2008 by the county, and homeless-services charities in our county [including L&F, of course] have not stepped up. At Friendship Park, and at Loaves & Fishes otherwise, homeless people who buy into L&F management's radical politics get the jobs, not qualified people who can diagnose 5150 candidates or otherwise compassionately understand and aid people who are mentally ill or in crisis.

Job seekers and other scappy, driven homeless people — of which there are many — get clobbered by the Loaves & Fishes shifting, unreliable operating policies that makes use of their services difficult because it's undependable. It is heartbreaking and it is very much in evidence that Loaves & Fishes management doesn't see the need to change its ways.  And so it goes year after year after year.
1 This is another, more-appropriate name for "Friendship Park," a course.


Nagarjuna said…
How do the park directors know that anyone smoked marijuana in the park? if they don't know for sure, how dare they throw everybody out of the park! And if they do know, why didn't they just throw the offending persons out of the park and ban them instead of punishing everybody? Again, how dare them!

After reading your detailed complaints against these villainous jerks, I think it's time to mount a massive protest against Sister Libby and her organization. At the very least, it's time that she and they lose their saintly image and are seen for who and what they truly are.
Tom Armstrong said…
Atta-boy, Nagarjuna! Indeed!

I don't know the circumstances relating to the marijuana thing. [I write that the park was closed on a "whiff and a whim" in the blogpost.] But there is NO REASON that they cannot punish offenders directly.

If two guys start to get into a physical fight, for whatever reason, they directly bar the guys who got into it fight from being in the park for a period of time.

The decisions by the co-directors are inconsistant and incompetent.

And yes, the FAKE saints at Loaves & Fishes need to be seen as they are: cruel wretches at a corrupt organization. It would be nice if the Sacramento Bee and Sacramento News & Review stopped printing L&F's 'news releases' and started practicing some journalism to INFORM citizens and undo the MISINFORMATION they have been putting out there.
Nagarjuna said…
Do you have any ideas for how people such as myself can bring pressure to bear upon organizations like Loaves&Fishes to clean up their act, or upon the Sacramento journalistic community to give these organizations the REAL coverage they so richly deserve?

It seems like a very difficult task, because L&F and "Sister" Libby have such a whitewashed image. Furthermore, when people such as yourself voice legitimate complaints and grievances, the "Sister" and her associates can always marginalize and demonize you, and, most people will readily accept what these "saints" have to say about you. They'll think, without bothering to consider your carefully documented allegations much less conduct their own investigations, that you're just some homeless crank spouting malicious and malevolent nonsense.

But is there some way that those of us in the community who are concerned about these abuses of homeless people and questionable uses of the donations these organizations receive can help to improve matters by, at the very least, exposing and opposing this malfeasance and/or incompetence?
Tom Armstrong said…

I don't have answers to the questions that you pose.

Indeed, Sister Libby and Loaves & Fishes benefit from an unrealistic positive stereotype. And I don't know that ANY organization, other than the Sacramento Bee has bullhorn enough to turn things around.

Bee Homelessness reporter Cynthia Hubert has been writing pap for a long time and has been identified at SHOC meetings as "a friend" to Loaves and its political allies. I should, perhaps, document her lapses such that maybe the Bee would get her off the Homeless Beat.
Nagarjuna said…
Well, I, for one, am going to look into this further and try to think of ways to help. And I'll certainly continue to read your excellent blog and look for any suggestions that occur to you along the way. And I'll be linking from my Facebook page to your exposes on organizations such as Loaves & Fishes. And I do have a fair and growing number of Facebook friends from the Sacramento region.

All of us who are concerned need to do what we can.
I, Kelley said…
Hello! My name is Kelley and I'm working to combat the homeless crisis in Chicago through my "pink bag project." I've added your blog to my list of pages to follow and hope you'll consider following mine as well -

My best to you for a healthy and safe 2011!
Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks, Kelley. I've added your interesting, fascinating blog to the blogroll of sacHO.

-- Tom

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