So, let me in on the plan, guys…and by “guys” I am referring in a non gender-specific sense to the core leadership of the DFL. I am obviously not as savvy or shrewd as the leadership of the party…too hot-headed and too hasty to “get it”…I tend to get a bit miffed over small insignificant things, like the War in Iraq, inaction on immigration reform, trying to figure out how 11-12 DFL Council Members and a DFL Mayor can preside over a city where the following has taken place within the recent past;
1). The Affordable Housing Market downtown went “bye-bye” and was replaced by high buck condos, as the swarmy, unsightly poor scampered off to the North Side or Franklin Avenue…to be arrested by the MPD if out on the street too late with nothing to do, especially if they are darker than yours truly…over there, you know, the bad parts of town where the predatory landlords can screw you really good in the name of business climate and a version of Adam Smith derived out of DC comics…and the likes of Council Member Goodman et al would insist that this was, somehow, in the spirit of the good old DFL…I missed the part in the history of party that said big business took precedence over the disabled, the elderly and the working poor.
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2). In a City where we have amongst the worst racial disparities in criminal justice in the United States, where our Federal Mediation Agreement is being called into non- compliance and it may be possible to have the DOJ take over our local police. In a city where one cop shot another cop (and he may have been mistaken to not be a cop as, after all, he was brown colored and every good cop on the force knows that the chances of him being an officer are real slim) and the payout was more than all of us will make in a lifetime. In a city where we couldn’t pass a damned CRA Ordinance that would let the public decide on police misconduct and the “progressive” members of our City Council, yet again through some inverted logic that escaped many of us, thought that was a bad idea, never mind that another 10 million or so has been paid out for misconduct cases…as a good chunk of our Council probably thinks, “they must have done something wrong to get thrown such a beatin’.
In a city where some of our local citizenry are so dense that they actually believed, on the release of the FBI’s report earlier this year said we were one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the US….more dangerous than East St. Louis, than LA, than Chicago, than Dallas. And, of course, our courageous and thoughtful Mayor and his coterie of genuflecting boobs stepped forth and promised to add cops…And the President of our City Council, incredibly, in commentary on the Repeal of the Lurking Ordinance (and I still cannot believe that the GOP…oops, I mean DFL. members of our Council cannot find their way through enough of our Constitution to see the problems with this Ordinance…. oh, and our Council Presidents’ comment in the City Pages to the effect that she would hate to take away a useful law enforcement tool by forcing officers to be clear on the reasons for an arrest…what the Hell did she just say? Hey Barb, why don’t we water-board those little thugs…that would teach ’em, eh? Never mind that, somehow, this remark slides by most…after all, what the Hell good are the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments to our Constitution anyway….I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Adams, Jefferson and the rest possessed a keener understanding of the need for checks and balances than our beloved Mayor and our Council President, who sound more like J. Edgar Hoover and Rush Limbaugh.
3). Then we got ending homelessness. Oh, what a neat thing this is, folks! It is so neat and cool that the stalwart defenders of the un-housed have been celebrating, non-stop, the ending of homelessness in Minnesota…And some of us remember quite well waiting outside of our Mayor’s Office for three years, never getting a personal audience, though his aide deigned to come talk to us. Maybe a couple dozen of us fought tooth and nail with not much support from the provider networks until we had almost won…then they came to offer us the benefit of their strategic abilities with “framing” and 5 point plans…after all, what did buffoons like Mark, Margaret, Buddy, Dayvyd, Joan Pearson and I know…Hell, none of us was smart enough to run for office, right…or were we smart enough not to do so…And after 3 + years of being ignored, we became, briefly, heroes. Then, our wonderful mentors showed us their gratitude for our “courage” and in my case, my “relentless passion”.
And here is what has happened: First People Incorporated pissed away the half million we had worked to obtain for Street Outreach….and that took a long time and a lot of blood, sweat and tears…from those of us who could not think “strategically” and were simply too short-sighted to get the whole picture…”Guy, you don’t want to jeopardize everything, do you?” So, like a dolt, I trusted them again…despite the fact that one of the contingencies in our assistance was that Buddy and Dayvyd would at least be given interviews….which they never were…I also tried, and got no response…as Cathy and Gail and the Homeless Commission and everyone else extolled my smarts and efforts, publicly but think that, because I criticize parts of what is being done, I don’t get it somehow…well, Gail and Cathy, I get it just fine…If you believed I didn’t it was certainly very silly of you to let me write sections of the plan now, wasn’t it?
Then the City Outreach Funding comes out…Cathy ten Broeke asks me to get information from Philly (our model for Minneapolis), which I do, happily. Then I am asked to make recommendations on organizations that should do the outreach…which I do…and I take her to meet them. She promises before me and the six members of Al-Furqan to keep them in the loop…the following week, I take her to MUID (Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors) and we address 24 leaders of the Native Communities…curiously, Cathy has never heard of them…they are 2 1\2 miles down the Street from St. Stephens, where she worked for many years…She also promises to work with them….
So the RFPs go out and come back…none of us hear diddly squat until the funding is out and the new Director is hired…and that person just happens to be one of Cathy’s best friends and a former board member of St. Stephens…there was also supposed to be a community oversight group as part of this allocation…as far as I know, one has yet to be assigned. Oh, and that new Director just happens to be the one person who opposed our group on the County Board for years…wow.
So, I go incredulous, then ..ballistic….there I go again…I am so thoughtless!!! I should have first been thinking about Cathy’s future political career and the holistic view of the plan, which seemingly morphs to suit the whims of SPAA…I resign from the Commission, publicly and challenge this appointment, publicly, Of course, the gang was embarrassed…there goes that damned Gambill not thinking again!!! Selfish me…all I was thinking about was the 5 + years a bunch of us, many of us homeless or formerly homeless, without asking for so much as a dime…and the fact that, as Cathy and Gail themselves offered on more than one occasion, I sort of knew what I was talking about on this one…but Al-Furqan and MUID got dissed anyway…and me, what did I get? Well, Cathy, Gail, and Mikkel Beckmen all called my boss and complained…and I got fired…
Congratulations, Cathy and Gail! Now you can add me to the list of those who helped you “End Homelessness” and who, beyond a shadow of a doubt, personally helped to keep in homelessness or, in my case, drove me to it again…Good job, gals!!
And for the past few weeks I have been challenging the criminal justice\re-entry portions of the plan. as well as. Outreach and cultural competency…I don’t bother with vets because, like all politicians I know, the platitudes will spew forth, unaccompanied by any tangible action…and it would be a real good idea for them not to lecture me on that particular issue…the HHH Plan cannot and will not meet the needs of the ex-offender population alone, aside from other sub-populations (the mentally ill, the undocumented)/
And now the party line is this: Mean old Guy Gambill made sweet little Cathy ten Broeke sad and now all rally around the wabbly Queen Bee…whose commitment to homelessness should be beyond reproach…well, it’s not. But therein lies the the nut of so many of our problems: you don’t have to have solid answers or an understanding of research. You don’t have to have experienced the specific social problem, in a personal sense…heck, you don’t even have to really be accountable…all you gotta do is be nice…smile, be civil…you don’t have to think much at all.
But now they take “the high road”…”Guy is just too difficult” Really, I’ve been asking for very simple answers to fundamental flaws in the plan that are not being addressed as they arise….I am asking that you answer to the concerns about the Outreach program and the funding awards process…I’m asking what the heck they think they are doing now with those funds…laptops and blackberries on Franklin for Outreach to the Homeless??? I don’t think you guys are taking the high road at all…I think you’re afraid to stand in front of me and address these concerns… Matter of fact, i know you’re afraid…not of me personally, but of the fact that everything I say here is true.
By what right do I call into question what you are doing? After all, I’m no one, right? Well, this particular no one helped you a great deal and you screwed me and the people who trusted me…all of them the very people you say you serve. One of us has worked on this stuff for the past 5 years, never asking for anything other than you do what you say you will do…nothing more, nothing less….
So, I am done at the CCJ…but that is ok, too…I was growing weary of the overpaid administration (who also just canned 3 others because they spent 100 grand on Malcolm Gladwell and flew him here in a private jet…but can’t give us our raises on time or afford to fight for one of our employees who had worked for us for 6 years but ran amok of DOC. 5 years and millions of dollars on the Racial Disparities Initiative: 17 studies…13 on the justice system proper, 4 on collateral consequences…and we held a big forum and promised lots of stuff…and nothing…but our VP took 4 international 2 week trips so at least someone got something out of it. I got a heart attack, two national awards and many local ones and 72 grand out of the 190 grand grant…who knows who got the rest…but I got something they will never have…the respect and friendship of the people I went there to serve in the first place…for a minute there, too, I really thought the CCJ was serious about fighting racism…but, like the homeless work, a bunch of folks who wouldn’t invite me to their house for dinner are more than willing to collect 1 to 2 hundred thousand a year to do exactly what they’ve done for 20 years…nothing of substance at all.
So,. back to my original question, Mr. Mayor, honored council. members and commissioners, esteemed prelates of the many systems you prevail over…this is just part of the grand strategy right? Our Mayor really cares about civil rights and regular folks and all the stuff he does and all of the data that refutes his assertions that he is doing something is but a clever ploy to lure our enemies into a sense of security before we pounce…and when no member of the City Council would help CM Zerby with his predatory lending ordinance and so many other good things…you just were too caring and too shrewd to let Paul in on it, right?
And when every one out there who is black, brown or red says that the gaps are growing yearly between us…that is just an illusion to lure our opponents into some wonderful trap that only you can understand. And when us formerly homeless guys get mad after working for years to help you because we trusted what you said and believed in you…and when you don’t hire us and you talk behind raised hands and brush us off…that is a part of the plan you are keeping secret from us, right…it’s really for our own good that you are not currently revealing to help us…you just want to help us, right? I’m so sorry that I got mad…really, I am…who am I, after all, to question the right of Executive Directors and Politicians to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum while accomplishing not much of anything at all.
But who are we to disagree with these things, eh? These guys call what they do “strategy”. On occasion, that might be true…the tap water initiative or the kindness to wild kitties initiative would be good places for that…you know, stuff where the stakes aren’t the lives and possessions of thousands of citizens….that sort of thing…there are other words…courage and conviction, for example…those are nice words, right? Courage IS NOT stepping up to the cameras after the battle is over and throwing your arms around the weary troops, assuring them you had them covered all the time. Conviction: that means being willing to do things for free because you believe in them…to lose your job, your possessions, to stand up for your beliefs….all the things you can’t find with a team of Harvard Researchers within the hallowed halls of our City Government. For the Love of God, have at least a little courage once in awhile, have a little conviction,… when you start making “strategic moves”, your cornerstone for action, you abandon everything that means much of anything at all….
Incidentally, the US Constitution, dear members, provides for things like Due Process, the right not to be illegally searched without probable cause, the right to counsel, the right to equity in the Delivery of Justice…at no point in our founding documents does it say, “unless RT or Barb–or GW– think we can ignore these precepts”. And Council Member Goodman, the “FL” stands for “Farmer-Labor”….and I am very sure that there is no glaring clause that reads, “screw the little guy and let the rich businessmen have all they want…what are we, Tammany Hall?
Lastly, my two words for the day are these: Defiance and Courage. I defy your assertions that what you are doing is helping this community….I implore you to have the courage to do ONE THING, just ONE THING to alleviate the steadily deteriorating lives of most of the people I know in this City….
Rome had Nero, who fiddled as the city burned…you can choose to quit smoking the Constitution and quit trying to refute criticisms from folks by simply extolling your own virtues and citing the accomplishments of the past…start doing something that means something for the Love of Mike! If Bush invades Iran, do a damned Resolution right away…too late to do anything about the foreclosure and housing market collapse…you guys slept right through that one…you could take our Police Department in hand and quit trying to tell us all is hunkey-dorey…everyone from the DOJ to the Sentencing project knows your fibbing…
Ah, if only I would just kiss butt and not tell the truth…I could be living on Lake Calhoun or in condo-heaven with Sam and Lisa…but I just can’t bring myself to the point where I can con myself into believing that strategic plans are the true substitute for equity and justice.
So, there I go again…that damned Gambill…he just doesn’t get it!!! The truth is, today I think I may be the only one who gets it…under the rule of you and your ilk every damned credible think tank out there says we are poised on the brink of disaster…everything is unraveling…but, hey, give yourselves credit…we’re saving lots of cash closing schools and libraries, we can arrest panhandlers and lurkers (never mind the constitution, Barb said it was cool). We have a partial Greenway and a bunch of well-paid homeless advocates who are smiling and shiny and new…all is well in Metropolis and we have all the time in the world…
People say, “Guy, are you nuts! They are going to screw you royally”. If I have to sit and watch this crap in silence one more day I will implode…My question back to all of you is why do you continue to be silent and put up with this farce?
Guy Gambill In Northeast (not peeing in my pants)