So last night Konnie (the real Konnie) proposed a resolution that the City Council “hereby goes on record in support of the City Manager’s efforts as Chief Conservator of the Peace with the Occupy Worcester movement and his efforts to respect the Movement’s constitutional first amendment rights of freedom of speech.”
Now, I like to conserve the peace as much as the next gal, and I’m no fan of OW, but supporting someone for busting out the police wagon as soon as the clock strikes 10:01pm is a bit much.
Lukes said that the first she’d heard of police harassment allegations was last night. In fact, she’d only heard that the police were overly protective of the OW protesters, which shows her primary news source is the T&G comment section.
Celebrities — they’re just like us!
Surely between the distracting twinkling of little fingers most councilors could see the irony of having seven (7!) police officers present at the council chambers for a discussion about allegations of overkill on the part of the WPD.
Councilor Lukes said that she’d been asked her opinion about Occupy Worcester, and she said she was uncomfortable taking a position because it’s something the Council as a body should take a position on.
So much for not having a position on Occupy Worcester!
The Triage Center will move to a temporary home at the Anna Maria Rest Home on 1398 Main St. “They system is working,” says CM O’Brien. His report says the Triage Center has placed 450 chronically homeless individuals and 600 episodically homeless individuals in “rapid re-housing.”
75 are still at the Triage Center on Queen Street, which O’Brien says was never meant to serve that many people.
Proving Councilor Lukes’ point that “we’ve sort of turned the tables around where the City Manager is leading and the City Council isn’t doing much of anything”, not one City Councilor questioned why we thought 25 beds would be sufficient for the needs of Worcester’s homeless population.
At the same City Council meeting, there was a brief mention of the Worcester Interfaith Hospitality Network‘s purchase of a house on June Street for homeless families.
(You T&G comment aficionados may recall that a prominent gadfly asked why this group wasn’t going to pay property tax or PILOT.)
There is a larger story — and a need for a larger discussion — about whose responsibility it is to take care of the homeless.
We as a city have been moving away from direct governmental responsibility and accountability for the homeless and towards outsourcing to various non-profits. (That outsourcing can be official — as in the case of CHL/SMOC — or passive — like Abby’s House or Worcester Interfaith Hospitality.)
While those non-profits likely have greater expertise, I’m worried that the outsourcing means that we think the problem of homelessness is solved, and that awareness of homelessness — chronic, episodic, and special cases like teenagers — might be diminished.
Or — to put it another way — we can spend thousands of dollars to arrest people who look like they’re homeless, but the only public discussion we have about real, live homelessness amounts to “at least it’s not the PIP Shelter.”
[In the interest of full disclosure, the proposed SMOC Triage Center is right down the hill from me. I’ll reserve judgment because I won’t be living next door, and because I reserve my furore for more important things, like street design elements.]
As reported by the T&G, SMOC will hold a community meeting at Anna Maria Rest Home at 6 p.m. Nov. 21. (I will not be there because I’ll be at Election Commission — which is pretty much trading one form of drama for another. I welcome someone else’s notes from the meeting, though.)