Did Bloomberg do Occupy Wall Street a favor?

“Members of Occupy Wall Street are furious. Protests are being planned at various sites throughout the day. But the truth is, Bloomberg might have just done Occupy Wall Street a favor,” according to Washington Post.

“Next week, temperatures are projected to dip down to the high 30s. Next month, they’re projected to dip into the mid-20s. The month after that, as anyone who has experienced a New York winter know, they’re going to fall even lower.

“The occupation of Zuccotti Park was always going to have a tough time enduring for much longer. As the initial excitement wore off and the cold crept in, only the diehards — and those with no place else to go — were likely to remain.

“The numbers in Zuccotti Park would thin, and so too would the media coverage. And in the event someone died of hypothermia, or there was some other disaster, that coverage could turn. What once looked like a powerful protest could come to be seen as a dangerous frivolity.

“In aggressively clearing them from the park, Bloomberg spared them that fate. Zuccotti Park wasn’t emptied by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters.

“It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a billionaire mayor from Wall Street and a request by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.”

The rest of the article is here.

Police sweep protest from Zuccotti Park

“Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Tuesday defended his decision to clear the park in Lower Manhattan that was the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, saying ‘health and safety conditions became intolerable’ in the park where the protesters had camped out for nearly two months,” The New York Times is reporting this morning.

“Mr. Bloomberg said the city had planned to reopen the park on Tuesday morning after the protesters’ tents and tarps had been removed and the stone steps had been cleaned. He said the police had already let about 50 protesters back in when officials received word of a temporary restraining order sought by lawyers for the protesters. He said the police had closed the park again until lawyers for the city could appear at a court hearing later in the morning.

“’New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself,’ the mayor said. ‘What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.’ He said the protesters had taken over the park, ‘making it unavailable to anyone else.’

“The mayor’s comments at a City Hall news conference came about seven hours after hundreds of police officers moved in to clear the park after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be ‘cleared and restored’ but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest.

“The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of ‘Whose park? Our park!”’

“One protester at Foley Square, Nate Barchus, 23, said the eviction was likely to galvanize supporters, particularly because a series of gatherings had already been planned for Thursday, the protest’s two-month anniversary. ‘This,’ he said, referring to the early-morning sweep, ‘reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying.'”

The rest of the article is here.

Let’s tackle homelessness together

We watched the town hall meeting on homelessness in Nevada City last night on NCTV (a station where we are “regulars”). The room was packed. It showed what a complex problem we face — and it is likely to get worse, as some speakers noted.

But the panel, which included homeless advocates, “electeds” and public health officials (Reinette Senum, Jeff Brown, Joanna Robinson and others), showed that good work is being done in our area.

I’m glad we’re getting ahead of possible problems before winter — unlike last year when a homeless person died in the cold (unacceptable, whatever the circumstances, in a small community such as ours).

We’re going to be more prepared, and our community seems more “aligned” on homelessness too. County supervisors and Council members from Grass Valley and Nevada City were all present last night. Thanks to Robert Bergman for his communications and organization efforts.

We’re all a step closer to homelessness than we think. Years ago in retirement, my father — a button-down oil exploration geologist and executive — volunteered for the U.S. Census in Western Sonoma County and helped count the homeless — no easy task.

He met people under bridges or in encampments who said they never expected to wind up homeless — but they lost their job, or their spouse, or they got sick without insurance and so on. It was a good lesson for me while growing up. I’ve always respected that concept — almost anyone can wind up homeless.

Resident Tom Durkin, who volunteers at Hospitality House, set up his laptop so all of the guests there could watch the town hall meeting.

The town hall meeting came amid a shakeup on the Hospitality House board. “A group of people called Friends of Hospitality House had lost confidence in the Hospitality House board because of their lack of fundraising and poor management decisions,” according to a statement in the afternoon.

The previous board resigned and a new one was named: “Joanna Robinson will be the new president, Doug Lautzenhiser will be the new vice president, and Christine Gentilhomme will be the new secretary. All are co-founders of the organization who helped to create the mission and core values that Hospitality House stands for. Other new board members include Ben Emery, Tammie Hamilton, Julia Jordon, Cindy Maple, and Susanna Wilson. The new board will actively recruit additional new members.
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This is a good group of people; many of them comment here regularly about local issues.

It’s less constructive to pass judgment on the “changing of the guards” on the Hospitality House board, because there’s so much work to do going forward. It is a reminder, however, that being a board member on a nonprofit (we have so many of them) is hard work and stressful.

Each year, we try to make a generous donation to a nonprofit here — sort of rotating around. In the past, it’s been The Center for the Arts, then the Friendship Club. This time, we’ll be donating money to Hospitality House to help with their permanent home.

The other day, we received an invitation for a tour of the permanent Hospitality House building this weekend, and it’s on top of my desk in the “to do” pile. Our family is looking forward to it.

Thanks to all our residents who care about our homeless.