Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trees, Loaves, Fishes and Nincompoopery

Let me begin this by making a forthright statement: The best thing that could happen right now, to benefit the homeless people in Sacramento County in advance of the life-endangering difficulties of winter, is for the world-class stumbling, bumbling incompetence at Loaves & Fishes to END. And for it to end, there absolutely must be multiple personnel changes. Fire and then hire, y’all.

The latest instance of grand mal stupidity at Loaves & Fishes relates to tree removal. I am told that a week ago Garren, a co-director of Friendship Park, drove a rented cherry picker onto the park grounds, and, with a chainsaw, or other saw of some sort, commenced, by himself, to begin a project of eliminating three big dead or nearly-dead trees from the property.

Make no mistake. Removing big dead trees from Friendship Park is not just a good idea, it is necessary to assure the safety of homeless denizens of the park. Unfriendly Friendship Park is surely the most densely populated park in the county – very much especially so on rainy, windy days when homeless folk use the park as a place to huddle and escape, as best they can, a bad winter day’s miseries.  And bad weather and a new winter are acoming.

In January of 2010, an enormous fully-dead tree fell in the park and could easily have killed a half-dozen homeless people. Libby Fernandez’s Smithers, Joan Burke, was quoted in the Bee then, thus:
By the grace of god , the limb fell off first, piercing the roof of one of the gazebos," said Burke. "It was pouring rain, and people had to come out of the cover. There was quite a bit of grumbling, but not 10 minutes later, the whole tree went over, crushing several benches. So we are very thankful there was nobody there, because they truly would have been killed.
Right. A completely dead tree that had no roots, and can have weighed five tons, fell over. Someone could have leaned against it and it might have fallen. But, because the leadership at Loaves & Fishes is spectacularly incompetent the danger of the tree went unaddress (and likely unnoticed) before it fell. After the tree incident, there were no employee repercusions. Libby [CEO] and Joan and Garren and Jim [the other co-director] went skipping along singing “la-de-da-de-da” and nobody cared that from blithering full-stink nincompoopery we barely escaped multiple homeless citizens’ deaths.

Meantime, the comatose Loaves & Fishes Board of Directors were being wheeled around on their gurneys enjoying their every-afternoon extra-heavy morphine drip. No word – ever – from them. They are like a phalanx of Maynard G. Krebses, squealing in panic that they might be asked to WORK by learning what was going on at their nonprofit (but, empire building!) organization.

One would think that after the January 2010 near-slayings-via-incompetence the problem of trees would, at least, have grabbed the attention of L & J & G & J [who are still, today, in the same positions they were in in January, 2010], but not so.

So, getting back to last week: Garren drives a cherry-picker [a motorized crane or lift of some sort] into the park and commences to begin to cut off branches. This is not one of his duties and this is not a task someone should blithely choose to do on whim. This is something that an organizaton where the brains of a flea is present hires out a tree-removal service to get the task done. What makes it all the worse is that it is now known that Garren has tried to remove tree limbs at home [where the trees were certainly not the height and girth of FP trees] and has hurt himself.

So Garren gets himself hoisted up on the lift and manages, after some head-scratching uncertainties, to forget how gravity works. Near the beginning of his task he is underneath a limb he is sawing off, it falls and hits him and he falls and then he with his bloody head is taken to the hospital.

It is likely fortunate that Garren screwed up right away since his plan included cutting away at trees hanging over 12th Street and power lines. Apparently, the not-geniuses in Loaves & Fishes management didn’t think that, just maybe, you have to contact the city before you suppose an amateur woodsman can mess with tree limbs tangled up with 440-volt electrical power lines.

To the BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF LOAVES & FISHES: We need an adult, here. Is one of you an adult? Somebody with a lick of sense needs to review what is going on – and has long been going on – with the management of the Loaves & Fishes charity.

Yes, Libby Fernandez stomps around and does her Napoleon impersonation, but that does not mean that she knows squat about running anything other than her mouth. A handful of homeless people could have been killed a year-and-a-half ago. Cowboy Bill was killed last year. Garren could have been badly hurt last week.

Homeless people are real people – not freakin’ puppets for you heartless baboons to play with. You need to impose repercussions for endangering lives. You need to stop waltzing around in your holier-than-thou robes and do your freakin’ job.

It is nice to hear, as I heard yesterday afternoon, that the Board intervened to have replaced the manager of the lunchroom about whom there were a great many complaints. Indeed, from what I was told, Libby remained resistant, but acquiesced to the Board’s insistence that a new chowhall manager be hired.

I am, however, disgusted to learn that Wash House Mark lost his perch as manager of the Wash House because the Head of Loaves & Fishes believed she needed a new token [i.e., African American] person in a skilled positon at the charity, ostensively to rebuff any effort at suing the charity for racial prejudice. [The pink-slipped chow-hall manager was a black woman.]

I have not spoken with Wash House Mark in a year and a half. But, during the period when I was using the Wash House -- from April, 2008, to July, 2010 -- I witnessed him in action as the manager and knew him to be skilled, fair, compassionate and just. He knew how to do the precisely appropriate thing, which ain’t easy, since some homeless guys are a little nuts. And he was mirthful and didn’t play favorites. He was the very model of a sterling employee. If he got the nomination from any party for president, I would campaign for him and vote for him and buy a car just so I would have a place to adhere a Vote for Mark in 2012 bumper sticker. And yet, Libby has taken away his duties where he was a Wash House Abraham Lincoln in order to use deceptive means to dodge a lawsuit.

For shame, you bunch of feckless weasels.

By the way, no disparagement meant for the new head guy in the Wash House. I understand the new guy proved himself to be quite able in his prior duties operating the day-storage shed. It is no fault of his that he was offered and, rightly, took a promotion.

But, boy-oh-boy, what a typical shoot-yourself-in-the-foot occurrence for bungling Loaves & Fishes not to appreciate the one thing they had got most right in all the world. They had Mark where he was steller, but now he is doing something of lesser importance where his genius cannot shine so brightly.

Waste, waste, waste, waste, waste.  Loaves & Fishes:  such a disgrace.

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