Parsing the Obvious

Carol Denney
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 01:08:00 PM

"Our wonderful Mayor Arreguin has announced ending homeless as his first priority. At our first regular Council meeting we made enormous progress.

We doubled the number of winter storm shelter beds.
We extended shelter hours to twelve hours per night.
We increased daytime Warming Centers.
We started work to create our first Navigation Center.
We rescinded the anti-homeless two foot law adopted last year.
We reinstated funding cut in June to the Berkeley Drop In Center
We reinstated funding cut in June to Youth Spirit Artworks.
All of these are being implemented immediately.

We also appointed a four person committee to come up with additional solutions.
They will explore possible encampment locations and policies.
Also will look at property recovery practices and policy.

One encampment keeps refusing to accept any services, even though their whole group could be inside all day and all night. They pick campsites that break multiple laws and create health and safety problems, but insist they have a "right" to camp even though they are causing numerous problems.
Some of them keep verbally attacking Mayor Arreguin and our wonderful City Manager who are both working very hard and coming up with faster solutions than I have ever seen any government do.
I have fought fiercely to defend homeless people from repressive politicians and laws.
I have been arrested protesting anti-homeless laws from Frank Jordan and Gavin Newsom. I fought against measures N and O in Berkeley, and against Measure S.

I am still trying to work with this group despite their outrageous insulting and false statements, Please do not accept their false portrayal of the situation in Berkeley..
We have accomplished much and are working on so much more."

Kriss Worthington
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 7

The continuing raids on the group known as First They Came for the Homeless, a years-long protest of the unfair treatment of the poorest of the poor, would have stopped at the last City Council meeting ...but for one vote. And the most peculiar behavior that night wasn't from any of the people with mental challenges attending that December 13th meeting - it was from Kriss Worthington, District 7 representative, who introduced a hand-written proposal at the last minute which did not mention the raids, did not second a motion from District 2 representative Cheryl Davila regarding the raids, and most obviously had nothing to say about the raids. 

So it doesn't come as a surprise to some that Worthington issued the above statement attempting to distinguish First They Came for the Homeless as other than the deserving poor, the same tactic former Mayor Tom Bates was fond of using. It seems that the more precisely one points at the inadequacy of the current system, and the more you organize with others to amplify your voice and improve your safety, the more you are ushered into the "protester" group where even a chalked message by one person can be used to violate the rights of an entire group. 

Our community is blessed, generous, and baffled at having to watch the blankets and survival gear they donate to First They Came for the Homeless and others more discreetly living on the streets consistently thrown into city trash trucks in quasi-military pre-dawn attacks on people we all ought to know are just trying to illustrate a problem - they are not the problem. Thirty years under Mayors Bates and Hancock of replacing low-income housing with lucrative luxury units has obvious consequences which need powerful, visible illustration, especially in winter. 

Councilmember Worthington needs reminded that Berkeley is tired of the criminalization of poverty and the selective targeting of its most vocal opponents. It's expensive, it's impractical, it's of course immoral in one of the cities with the biggest income gaps in the nation, but it's also making a very capable, sensible city council representative look like a fool