Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Days of Rabble Rousing in 2010

Six years ago, I wrote some pieces for Sacramento Press that have now disappeared because when Sac Press 2.0, with its "fun things to do in Sacramento" theme, bought out Sac Press 1.0 -- which I wrote for and was newsy -- the 1.0 stuff was erased. As it happens, on a web search, I found something, on a friend's blog, that I wrote on May Day in 2010 for Sac Press 1.0. Now, sure, it's a bit of nostalgia for me -- not new news -- about a long Friendship Park closure that happened when I was 10% younger than I am today.

BUT, I do think it is instructive and a reminder and worth visiting for readers of sacHO.

My words come from David H. Luckenbill's American River Parkway Blog in a post titled "A Homeless Perspective."

Allow me to set things up, a bit.

I remember the early morning of the day I would write the post. Loaves & Fishes Director Libby Fernandez was in the middle of the cul-de-sac on North C Street, standing next to Tony Gonzales (a fellow whom she would give a free bungalow near Mustard Seed School without ever checking his identification). It would turn out that there was a Sacramento warrant out for Gonzales' arrest for a seven-year-old case that involved a molested child. Typical spectacularly incompetent Libby: She risks the well-being of children at L&F's Mustard Seed school while she putters around, oblivious to her duties.

Anyway. Below is my post to Sacramento Press on May 1, 2010. It is, for me, a reminder of the insane ever-ongoing incompetency of Libby Fernandez. 

This is part one of a ten-part daily series.
It's May Day, when people weave ribbons around a May Pole and there used to be parades with tanks past Red Square.
This year, it's the first day of a sudden, nine-straight-day, barely-announced cessation of some essential services at the nonprofit Loaves & Fishes, which advertises itself as offering "survival services" for the homeless.
Homeless people are used to surprise closes: In my two years of homelessness, there have been Friendship Park closures when empty hard-liquor bottles were found in the men's room trash or when people dash too fast into Friendship Park when it opens or when the L&F staff suddenly goes on retreat.
There have been closures for holidays, of course. And there have been closures when tree branches or whole trees have fallen in the park. And there have been closures for the park to be winterized and for the heaters to be put in (and six-months later taken out) and for the plastic around the gazebos to be removed.
This closure is of the latter kind, to remove the installations of winter. And to do other rather-ordinary work to perk up the grounds and facilities which suffer from unattended-to wear and disrepair.
The question that I and other homeless people have is Why doesn't Loaves & Fishes act like other organizations and do upkeep on an ongoing basis?
No profit-seeking business could survive if it operated with the laxity that L&F allows for itself. But Loaves & Fishes doesn't have to answer to anybody. Its donors give generously based on heart-rending pleas for cash and because the Bee, other Sacramento media and the mayor are smitten by the general concept of helping the poor, and don't take an interest in the hardscrabble reality of people trying to make do in a world where 'warehousing the rabble' is the operant philosophy.”
One thing I must give myself credit for, having to do with this blog, is putting the hard-heartedness of Fernandez on display such that the sleepy L&F Board of Directors puts an end to some of Fernandez's mean-spirited, cold-hearted, diabolical practices.

Closing Friendship Park to all homeless people just because a vodka bottle is found in the park's bathroom trash doesn't happen anymore because of a campaign with flyers distributed in Friendship Park and messages sent to the Board about Fernandez's "collective punishment" policy that she adapted from Adolph Hitler.

Some uninitiated readers of the post may wonder "Why don't homeless people, themselves, pitch in to keep the Park and other venues at Loaves & Fishes clean and in tip-top shape?"

Actually, homeless people are happy to pitch in. I worked in the Wash House as a volunteer for a number of months and had a great time of it. And, when there is a special need for things to be moved, the muscle of homeless men is used, in exchange for a McDonald's $5 gift card. But there is a reason that Loaves & Fishes' use of free or cheap homeless-people labor is limited: Libby's donations-appeal efforts are based on the idea that homeless people are pathetic, worthless scum and Libby is a modernday Mother Teresa saving their wretched lives.

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