Resolution in Opposition to Rodney Tom’s candidacy for State Senate

Note: the 5th, 41st, 45th and 48th LD Democrats have passed versions of this resolution.

Resolution in Opposition to Rodney Tom’s candidacy for State Senate

WHEREAS in 2012 then State Senator Rodney Tom began caucusing with the Republicans and formed, with Republicans, the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus — despite having been elected as a Democrat;

WHEREAS Tom’s action did great damage to Democratic priorities, as evidenced by the fact that in February of 2013 he was censured by the state Democratic Party for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior”;

WHEREAS Tom was harshly denounced by the 5th, 43d and the 48d LD Democratic organizations, as well as by the Pierce County Democrats;

WHEREAS Tom is running this year as a self-proclaimed Democrat for the 48th LD State Senate position, despite having failed to even seek endorsement of the Democrats and despite his earlier betrayals;

WHEREAS Various Democratic organizations, including the 48th LD Democrats, have endorsed Democratic Senator Patty Kuderer for re-election;

WHEREAS The Democrats have a one seat majority in the state Senate;

WHEREAS A victory by Tom would put at risk the recent legislative successes by the Democrats in Olympia and would empower Republicans;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the 41st LD Democrats declare our vehement opposition to the candidacy of Rodney Tom and our deep regret that he is calling himself a Democrat.

(Resolution by Donald. A. Smith, June 13, 2018)

Documentation:

https://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2013/02/04/gross-disloyalty-democrats-censure-tom-sheldon/
https://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/01/16/democrats-further-repudiate-sen-rodney-tom-d-traitor
https://web.archive.org/web/20130126031314/http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/01/15/2436252/pierce-county-democrats-back-senators.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Tom

Rodney Tom is a Democrat in Name Only: he was censured by the Democratic Party for caucusing with the Republicans but is running again as a Democrat


Note: this is the version of the resolution passed by the 48th LD Democrats:

 

Resolution: Rodney Tom is not a Democrat

WHEREAS in 2012 then State Senator Rodney Tom began caucusing with the Republicans despite being a declared Democrat;

WHEREAS Tom’s action did great damage to Democratic priorities, to the extent he was censured by the state Democratic Party in February 2013 for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior” and denounced by the 5th, 43rd, and the 48th LD Democratic organizations, as well as by the Pierce County Democrats;

WHEREAS despite this past behavior, Tom is running this year as a self-proclaimed Democrat for the 48th LD State Senate position;

WHEREAS Tom has made no contact with, nor is he a member of the 48th Legislative District or County Democratic Party;

WHEREAS Tom has declared his refusal to caucus with Democrats should he win the Senate seat, thus imperiling the one seat Democratic majority in the state Senate;

WHEREAS a victory by Tom would put at risk recent bipartisan legislative successes in Olympia and would likely create another four years of gridlock;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the 48th LD Democrats, declare our vehement opposition to Rodney Tom again calling himself a Democrat.

Adopted by the 48th Legislative District Democrats this 20th day of June, 2018.

Tim Steyer, impeachment, and saving America

I went to a Town Hall meeting in Seattle last night to hear hedge fund billionaire and progressive activist Tom Steyer call for support in his project to impeach Donald Trump.

Steyer briefly sketched the case for impeachment. Almost the entire meeting was taken up by his responding to questions from the audience, which packed an old, deteriorating warehouse in the Sodo district of South Seattle.

There was plenty of free food. Outside the hall, there was a Trump supporter holding a “Trump 2020” sign.

Steyer admitted that unless the Democrats take back the House in November, the chances of impeachment are very slim.  But even most Democrats seem uninterested in pursuing impeachment against Trump — the only Washington State U.S. House member to support Al Green’s impeachment resolution was Pramila Jayapal. Many Democrats think impeachment efforts are likely to backfire, as they apparently did for Republicans when they tried to impeach Bill Clinton.   Likewise, Patty Murray and Jay Inslee asked members of the Washington State legislature to stop their efforts to impeach George W. Bush.

Steyer said that impeachment will happen only if the American people rise up and demand an end to the dangerous presidency of Donald Trump.

Steyer Impeachment Town Hall, Seattle, June 12, 2018

But 42% of Americans apparently support Trump, whose approval rating has been increasing.  The Republicans tax plan pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy, largely into the pockets of rich people and corporations who will fund propaganda to convince the public to support the GOP and Trump. If Trump manages to make peace with North Korea, no matter at what price, GOP prospects will be brighter.

It is difficult to be optimistic about the near or medium term future of America.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing health care, the environment, voting rights, fair elections, campaign finance, immigration, and other issues.  Several people asked Steyer whether he plans to run for President in 2020. He refused to say Yes or No and said, instead, that we need to concentrate on the midterm elections.

Steyer is smart and (but) mild-mannered.

After the speech I got to speak to Steyer and to shake his hand. I asked him if he can enlist the support of any other billionaires willing to help save America and the world.  He smiled warmly, said that he’s trying and that he can sure use the help.  He continued chatting with other people.

We were all asked to show our IDs on entry. There were photographers taking everyone’s photo.  My friend and I presumed this was for security purposes.

My friend lives in Medina, where Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and other super-wealthy people reside. My friend has billionaire neighbors.

Perhaps activists should hold signs near Medina calling on — begging — rich people there to help save the world.

As Ralph Nader said in his book, Only the Super-Rich can Save Us!  After all, they can’t take it with them.

Meanwhile, it may be wise to concentrate on local races.

Bellevue City Council hearing on the proposed homeless shelter

[Edited and extended on June 15, 2018]

On Monday, June 11, I went to the Bellevue City Council hearing about the proposed Eastgate homeless shelter. About seventy people had signed up to speak (three minutes each).

The first pair of speakers were Betsy Hummer and Stephanie Walter from the East Bellevue Community Council. They reported the EBCC was opposed to safe injection sites, wanted light industrial areas  as potential shelter zones, and wanted a 1,000 foot buffer zone around any low-barrier shelter, so that no schools or churches could nearby — a similar rule applies for marijuana retail shops. These changes would make it difficult or impossible to locate the low-barrier men’s shelter in Eastgate.

During the next two hours, several dozen people from religious organizations spoke in favor of opening the shelter in Eastgate: Christian clergy, rabbis and representatives of the Bellevue Muslim community. They all made a strong moral case that it’s our obligation to help the poor and the down-and-out. It’s our obligation not to give into fear. It’s our obligation not to treat poverty as a crime.

Many of these faith communities had hosted homeless people in their churches, synagogues and mosques.

The supporters of the shelter spoke, in particular, against the proposal to require a 1000 foot buffer zone around shelters. Supporters of the shelter said that such a barrier would make it almost impossible to locate a shelter in Bellevue.  Supporters also spoke against proposals to limit shelter clients to those who have no outstanding warrants. Many warrants are expired, incorrect, or minor. Besides, having such people sleeping in parks, wooded areas, or on the streets doesn’t make us safer.

Many Bellevue residents are strongly opposed to locating the shelter in Eastgate — the location is near a Park and Ride and a community health center, and not far from Bellevue College and some condos —  out of fear that it will bring crime and lower property values. The shelter will be low-barrier — meaning homeless men will be admitted regardless of criminal records or drug use — and opponents of the Eastgate location fear increased crime.

Yet a Guardian study finds that crime does not increase around homeless villages in Seattle or Portland. If any thing, it decreases slightly.

Some opponents of the shelter had put up signs “Shelter Yes, Eastgate No” around Bellevue. Such signs suggest that opposition is based on NIMBYism. They prefer that the shelter be located in light industrial areas or the Spring district.

On nextdoor.com there is a lot of heated discussion about the shelter; almost everyone who participates is opposed to the shelter. Opponents were critical of the organized dominance of the hearing by the faith community.  Some opponents appealed to the separation of church and state.

Opponents of the shelter also allege that there was favoritism towards Congregations for the Homeless and that plans for the shelter were done behind closed doors and with insufficient notification of neighbors.

Stephanie Walter of the Lake Hills community in Bellevue gave permission to share her letter in opposition to the Eastgate shelter:

Dear Members of the Faith Community,

I am one of your members…or at least I think I am. I have faith – that is the criteria, correct? I do have to say that I was surprised, scratch that, I was stunned last Monday night at the Bellevue City Council meeting. There was a concerted effort by people stating they were speaking as part of the faith community to delay the voices of their neighbors at the public hearing for Land Use Code for Homeless Shelters. A public hearing is intended to include voices from all sides of an issue. This group of individuals came early and lined up to sign up one after the other to speak as a block, in succession and without deviation. They all had much the same things to say as if it had come from a set of talking points. There were things said that were inconsistent with facts as I know them from my Planning Commission experience. They spoke for almost two hours saying the same things – over and over and over again. Bellevue residents who had studied the Land Use Codes of other Cities as well as researching the best practices of shelter providers waited patiently for their opportunity to speak. At about 8:10 pm, they finally began speaking. Facts, figures, data, compassion, and an eagerness to work well with others were all part of their message. They were regular yet extraordinary citizens of Bellevue who spent their own time and sometimes treasure to help the City create the best shelter situation possible. For all the parties impacted – homeless and housed alike. The hearing went until well after 10 pm. Many people had to leave due to the late hour.

In our Country we benefit from representational government. No matter how just the cause, every side of an issue deserves to be heard. Manipulation of this process creates long term harm.

Here are a couple of examples of inaccuracies:

  • A 1,000 foot buffer would prevent siting of a shelter. Marijuana stores have a 1,000 foot buffer and they have been sited.
  • Child care can coexist next to a homeless shelter. Not in the case of low barrier shelters where no IDs and backgrounds are checked.
  • Rotating shelters’ success is evidence that the permanent shelter will be successful. The permanent shelter will not house individuals in the same condition as the rotating shelter. Men will progress from the permanent shelter to the rotating shelter if they make progress gaining life skills.
  • Bellevue neighbors who want strong Land Use Codes to govern shelters do not want a shelter. This is simply not true. They want a shelter that will be safe both inside and out.

There is much work to be done. There are people who have exhibited their willingness to work together with their neighbors and the Council on a reasonable and rational shelter or shelters. Drowning out their voices is fracturing neighborhoods and I fear it is also fracturing the communities of faith.


Likewise, Tuli Davenport gave permission to share her letter to the Bellevue City Council:

My letter to council is long but it includes a recap of claims made and couple of requests.

Dear Mayor, Deputy Mayor, councilmembers, city manager,

The turn out for the Shelter LUCA public hearing was impressive. Clearly, the recent outreach efforts by the city and CFH faith network around King County was successful.

CM Robertson thank you for staying the entire length and listening to all the public comments even though you were not well. CM Stokes, if I ever make it to my 90s, I hope that I am blessed with your stamina. Thanks to all of you and to staff for all the work and effort that has gone into creating a thoughtful shelter LUCA that will play a small but an important role in addressing the homeless crisis created by years of Seattle’s failed policies.

I would like to recap and rebut a few inconsistencies presented by the special interest non-profit faith communities (who spoke continuously for the first 2 hours!) and also highlight one valid point that they made.

Claim 1: Criminal background-checks is criminalization of homeless

For many years now, CFH Year Round shelter at the rotating churches have performed criminal background checks. The faith community churches have had this rule to protect their property and members. However, it is strange that they are asking shelters near neighborhoods to follow a different set of rules where warrant and background checks are not allowed.

Kan Qui, one of the Bellevue residents who testified, drew laughter from the audience when he said: “Jesus doesn’t ask you to sacrifice other people’s neighborhoods”. Faith community members should first practice what they preach and remove criminal background checks from their year-round shelter before asking others to do it. However, that is very unlikely to happen. A background check is NOT criminalization of homeless.


Claim 2: Warrant checks means denial of entry and denial of funding

A few members from the faith communities claimed that performing warrant checks will mean denial of entry at the shelter and denial of funding. This is misinformation and they are confusing it with their own rules at the year-round shelter where any individuals without ID or past sex offenses are denied entry into their shelter. They don’t welcome the world even if they preach it.

At a low barrier shelter, individuals facing homelessness can enter without an ID. If they fail criminal background check (that shows criminal/sex offense history) they still get to stay at the low barrier shelter. These checks help alert the surrounding neighborhoods in case there are any high-level sex offenders at the shelter. These checks do NOT mean denial of entry.


Claim 3: CMs Church affiliation and race implications of warrant checks

Many faith community leaders appealed to your emotions saying that Bellevue welcomes the world and stated several scriptures. One faith community leader, vaguely alluded to conversations with CM Zahn and CM Lee at their Aldersgate church, suggesting race related implications due to warrant checks.

There are many good reasons for supporting separation of church and state and I trust that all CMs will ignore such manipulative tactics and do the right thing for people who elected you.


Claim 4: Code of Conduct must not be required in shelter LUCA

This was a surprising request from several faith community leaders. I believe that most if not all religious books have a code of conduct for its followers. In fact, current CFH year-round shelter and low barrier shelter have a code of conduct. They are advocating for lower safety measures for the communities than they have for their churches. Fortunately, David Bowling and Steve Roberts did not echo their sentiment. Please keep the Code of Conduct requirements in the shelter LUCA.


Claim 5: All shelters are safe and buffers are not needed

Many faith community leaders, cited the men’s shelter right next to the preschool and how safe the members felt about leaving their children there. They argued that buffers are not needed because the homeless men are human. They again obscured the fact that the rotating church shelter is not a “low barrier shelter” and that they require IDs, and no past sex offenses and requirements to work with case managers.

Some of the community members emoted that we should open our hearts and welcome everyone in the shelter and that it is sad to see the winter/emergency shelter close and see the men return to the streets. The year-round church shelter had the opportunity to take in the men from low barrier shelter for years and they have never changed their intake policy because NOT all men at the low barrier shelters are “safe”. In this case, their actions speak louder than their testimony.

DM Robinson, CM Zahn, CM Lee and CM Nieuwenhuis, you were all asked by One Bellevue “Would you Avoid Emergency Homeless Shelters near residential and school areas?” You all answered Yes. (http://onebellevue.us/scorecard). Sensible buffers must be a requirement.


Claim 6: Sophia Way next to a school has had no concerns and buffers are not needed

One lady testified that Sophia Way shelter was next to a preschool and there were no safety concerns there. I agree with her and this ties in with my previous email about setting buffer requirements based on intake criteria. A low barrier men’s shelter must have at least 1000′ buffer zone, however, women, family shelters could have smaller or possibly no buffers.

CM Robertson brought this exact point up at the end of the public hearing. Mayor Chelminiak, it might have been late, but you seem to cut her comment off after asking the council to state if anything was missing in terms of direction to the staff. I strongly urge you to consider the buffer requirements based on the shelters intake criteria (ID, gender, age, warrants, etc.).


Claim 7: Bravern residents had no impact from Lincoln Center low barrier shelter

One person testified that residents at Bravern apartments – the new luxury secured building on the other side of the highway I-405 – had no idea there was a low barrier shelter across the highway and had no negative impact. This may be true, but it is not comparable. The proposed Eastgate location has older unsecured townhomes and condos that are 250ft away unlike the Bravern. There are letters sent to council from Wilburton community and other neighborhoods and auto row businesses about crimes in the area. Please disregard misinformation of zero impact or crime increase from low barrier shelters.


Claim 8: Faith communities deserve 1-2 seats on the Neighborhood committee

Ms. Studders says that faith communities deserve 1-2 seats on the neighborhood committee because they are experts in the field. The goal of the committee is to execute the Good Neighborhood Agreement and it should be a conversation between the operator (who are the real experts) and the surrounding neighborhood residents and businesses. Faith community leaders that are not within the radius and possibly from Kirkland, Issaquah or Seattle have no business in that conversation. I would also like to remind you that in the LUCA survey results, people ranked “faith community involvement” the lowest. Please listen to the local residents and not special interest non-profit groups who should have no business in influencing legislative decisions.


Claim 9: Rotating year-round shelters will discontinue after the new permanent low barrier shelter is built

It always surprising to see CFH bring in homeless individuals to testify on their behalf. Will they bite the hand that feeds and shelters them? This practice should be deservedly frowned upon and CFH should face a harsh penalty if they forced him to testify.

The homeless individual from the CFH year-round shelter, said that he had trouble remembering the dates and where he was because they moved every month between host churches. I sympathize with him, but I hope someone from CFH will tell him that the shelter LUCA will not address his issue with rotating locations. Even after the low barrier permanent shelter is built, I am told that the rotating medium barrier church shelter program will continue its operation and this individual will not be sheltered at the brand new building. If you recall, David Bowling mentioned how an individual from their low barrier shelter moved to the year around church shelter and then toward permanent housing.


Claim 10: Wilburton TOD, the most important TOD in the world, is unworthy of a shelter
A member of the Wilburton TOD CAC, testified that a shelter in the precious Wilburton TOD commercial district will deter the vision created by the CAC. We should all thank Wren for his great work on the CAC and disregard the folks who also worked hard on the Eastgate and other TODs. If you have read this far, I hope you sense my sarcasm. No TOD should trump another TOD or neighborhoods due to a personal relationships or campaign donations. The LUCA must be fair and not give a special exclusion to Wilburton, Spring District or any TODs.


Request 1: Review possible code of ethics violation. An appearance of a conflict of interest

Mike Katterman, a Board member of CFH and was also a staff on Planning department for a long time. Though he was never on a project directly related to the CFH shelter he was assigned to affordable housing TAG where he invited his friends from CFH and Imagine Housing. A while back I had mentioned to the council that there was an appearance of a conflict of interest because CFH was getting a lot of special “gifts” and that there was a CFH Board member on staff. A permanent shelter for men on free public land and a nice new free building with nice new free office space may make sense, but giving it all to CFH to operate without an RFP from other operators did not. I never received a response to this but I later heard that Mike had left CoB and joined another city.

At the hearing, Mike testified, as a Board member of CFH, AGAINST buffers and other safety measures in the draft LUCA along with his other CFH Board member friends. It was evident to me, that he wants an easy path and fewer requirements for his organization that is already benefiting substantially from the special treatment.

Today I learned from Stephanie Walter, current EBCC vice chair and former Planning Commission (PC) chair, that Mike Katterman acted as staff liaison to the PC while they were working on the Eastgate TOD. This was during the same time parallel discussions were going on between CFH and staff about using Eastgate KC parcel as the ONLY site for the CFH low barrier men’s shelter. Why did Mike withhold the homeless shelter details from PC at that time? Why was staff attempting to set up the shelter code under “transient housing” as ACUP when PC specifically asked for CUP? I am not sure if Mike withheld the shelter information under someone’s direction or other reasons, but it is a mystery that PC was purposely kept in the dark. In fact, that time was the perfect opportunity for PC and public involvement and collaboration. When the public asked the council to include the LUC experts from PC in the shelter LUCA, we were told that PC was too busy now with other priorities. Did Mike or some other staffers feel that PC or public involvement would hinder the process back then? Mike/CFH has everything to gain from the shelter LUCA because there is no RFP or competition from other operators for a low barrier men’s shelter. Who decided that there would be no Request for Proposal for the free public land?

I am not making accusations because I don’t have all the information. I struggle to understand how Katterman could objectively and fairly act in the official capacity as an agent of both CFH and City of Bellevue concurrently while being involved in city discussions that attempted to enable favorable land use codes, and allocated public funds and assets to CFH and none of its competitors. It is rare for any city to give away public land to a specific private organization without a bidding process and this is why it doesn’t pass the smell test.

I hope that these questions can be answered in an open and honest way at the local government level. I ask the council to find answers and let the public know as soon as possible. It is your job to ensure no laws or ethics codes are being violated and that the public’s goodwill and assets are not being distributed in a corrupt manner. Public trust is crucial to an effective government.


Request 2: Prioritize Bellevue residents at a public hearing before those from other cities

Ms. Karen Studders did a commendable job and took great pride in organizing the tea party at city hall for the special interest non-profit faith communities from Bellevue and other cities who were able to sign up as a block for the first 2 hours of the hearing. Sadly this attempted to delay the voice of some of the local Bellevue residents and perhaps even caused some of them to leave due to the time of the night. I hope you will find a way to prioritize Bellevue residents to speak first before those from outside the city. Residents from other cities must not be allowed to play games to tire or drown out the local voices. It continues to amaze me how boldly non-profits use their resources and network to influence legislative matters and endanger their non-profit status with IRS.

Thank you for reading.

Best regards,
Tuli Davenport
Bellevue citizen

Anti-immigrant “Blood and Soil” leaflets in Clyde Hill

A friend emailed me:

On my driveway today was a ziplock bag with a melted Snickers bar and a leaflet that says, “KEEP AMERICA AMERICAN. REPORT ANY AND ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS THEY ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS THEY ARE CRIMINALS CALL 1-866-DHS-2ICE. BLOODANDSOIL.ORG Honestly, I am shaking and thoroughly disgusted that fascists are at work here. The phrase ‘Blood and Soil’ expresses a racist and nationalistic ideology originating in pre-Nazi Germany and is now used by white nationalists in this country. In my opinion it expresses ideas antithetical to our American experience and ideals.

A friend said she collected three blocks of these leaflets on 24th, 23rd, 22nd and 21st st NE between 98th (Clyde Hill Elementary) and Bellevue Way NE:

Keep America American: Nazi leafleting in Clyde Hill, WA

 Someone on nextdoor.com reported that the Bellevue Police Department stopped two men who were distributing the leaflets. It’s unclear whether the police detained them or asked them to stop.  Even hate speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Someone else told me that it was Clyde Hill police, not Bellevue police, who stopped the people, who were driving an old green Ford and throwing the leaflets at houses and into bushes.

Someone pointed out that such racism is promoted by Tucker Carlson on Fox News:

On Seattle’s head tax

If taxes on corporations kill jobs, as opponents of Seattle’s head tax claim, shouldn’t we tax only the middle class? 🙂

After all, the rich will just take their money and invest it elsewhere — in other states or, perhaps, the Cayman Islands.

Indeed, tax avoidance is a national and international problem and is a big reason why economic inequality is so large. Amazon and other large corporations have benefited tremendously from state and city services. It’s time for them to reinvest in the community. If they move some divisions elsewhere, that wouldn’t be a total loss: their presence has caused over-crowding and homelessness.

Report on Bellevue meeting on Homelessness: “The Difference a Home Makes”

On Thursday, May 18 I attended “The Difference a Home Makes: A Dialogue about Homelessness and Housing on the Eastside” at the First Congregational Church in Bellevue. The church donated the use of their attractive facilities for the meeting.

(See also Report on the Mercer Island forum on homelessness of May 15, 2018.)

The meeting was organized by five Eastside service and housing providers: Attain Housing, Congregations for the Homeless, Imagine Housing, Lifewire, and The Sophia Way. The event was billed as

… a deeply personal look at homelessness and housing on the Eastside. Hear directly from those who have experienced homelessness and who are currently receiving support from Eastside services organizations.

At this event, you will:

  • Learn about the services available to people struggling with housing instability or homelessness on the Eastside
  • Learn about the benefits of affordable housing
  • Hear the stories of those who have received services from Eastside organizations
  • Find out how you can make a difference

We heard presentations from homeless people (or formerly homeless people).

During the first part of the meeting, we were asked to use our cellphones to use an online tool and to guess the answers to some questions about homelessness. The questions exposed the (alleged) truth about the myths behind homelessness.

Myth #1: Homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work.

Fact: you have to work 150 at minimum wage in the Seattle area to afford a 2BR at market rates (assuming that 30% of your income goes to housing — people have to pay for food, etc). It’s impossible to support a family on a minimum wage job.

25% of homeless people have jobs but can’t afford rent.

Myth #2: Homelessness is a choice. Fact is: only a very small number of people choose to be homeless, they said.

Fact: 47,600 more affordable homes are needed (in King County).

Myth #3: Homelessness is due [just, mainly] to their own behavior.

Fact: 52% of homeless families with children suffered domestic violence.

Myth #4: Providing homeless services just attracts more homeless people.

Fact: only 9% of the homeless clients are from out of state.

We were encouraged not to judge the homeless. For example, if we see a homeless man with a dog, don’t question why he can afford a dog. It may be his beloved companion. (There’s a young Asian woman who often begs in Bellevue. I gave her a dollar the other day. Later I saw her sitting, enjoying a cigarette, and I thought: how can she afford to smoke?)

For the second part of the meeting, attendees broke up into separate, smaller groups to listen to stories from (formerly) homeless people.

A homeless woman described being cold and hungry in her car with her kids. She had been a victim of domestic violence. A homeless advocate challenged attendees to imagine making tough choices between staying in an abusive relationship (which often emerges gradually over time) and being out alone on the street, often with no assets, since abusive husbands often horde all the money and force their wives to be isolated and dependent.  Or the woman has to choose between leaving her kids behind with her abusive husband (who may abuse them or who may blame her for leaving) or taking her kids with her to live in the car, or on the street if  you have no car.

Lifewire serves abused women. Shelters often full. Homeless people try to couch surf with friends.

Statistics suggest that 1/4 of women suffer domestic abuse in their life, and 1/7th of men do too.

Two veterans spoke of being homeless. Robert has been battling homelessness since he left the military in 2000. He lost his job and ended up homeless in 2010. He ran the gambit of many ways to become homeless. Homelessness among veterans is way too high. One man put himself on the street so his wife could have a home. I asked why there are so many homeless veterans; the speakers said it’s unclear why, but it may have to do with PTSD.

John was living with his ex-wife to be near his kids. That didn’t work out and he ended up homeless. He slept in his storage unit for three months. (It’s very common, and the residents have to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid detection and to avoid getting trapped in the buildings at the wrong time.) The Veterans Administration helped him at the Compass Center.

Alita (sp?) was homeless during two periods. She worked three jobs in her 20s. She has a disabled dependent. She was married for 17 years. She chose unsuccessful relationships. Most of the guys were emotionally or physically abusive. Maybe it’s because her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a gambling addict. Her last relationship was hauntingly scary. She was saved by Sophia’s Way — the Cadillac of shelters.

Worked for the UPS, but injured her shoulder. Then grocery clerk. Embarrassed and afraid to be in a shelter. Had a background of using pills and of drinking. Never dawned on her that she’d be homeless.

A homeless client James from the Marshall Islands spoke. According to Wikipedia, “Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, subsidies, and access to U.S.-based agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Postal Service.” So, residents have a special immigration status. James has 11 children. At first he lived in Arkansas. He hurt his back. Drove. Stayed with relatives. Too many people for lease. Lived in car for three weeks. Finally at Mary’s Place. Nine months in shelter. Working full time now at the airport, fueling planes. Nice house. 33 unit building. Transitional housing, up to two years.

James is fortunate to get housing, they said. There is a huge backlog, because housing prices are so high.

When you’re homeless, getting a shower may be a one-day project.

Some of the homeless people didn’t “look” homeless.

Affordable housing is the crux of the issue, because it’s hard to find homes for the homeless. (duh!)  That was the theme of the evening.

At the beginning of the meeting they asked us to submit questions online. I asked, “How should we respond to those opponents of the Eastgate shelter who claim that its ‘low-barrier’ nature will result in increased crime in the vicinity.” I saw only two other questions (with lots of typos) in the online tool, and my question was up-voted by a couple of other people. I was expecting the meeting organizer to address my question at the end of the meeting, but they chose not to. I asked them about it, and they said to look online for answers.

But one (formerly) homeless guy asked me if I attended the city council meeting a few weeks ago. He said that a police officer reported that the highest crime spot in Bellevue is the west garage of Bellevue Square. Criminals target cars there. He also told of professional criminals who were arrested trying to steal electronics, etc. from Costco.

A worker for one of the homeless organizations said, off the record, that crime might increase around a shelter but that’s true of any group of people. (There are corrupt doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. My brother investigates insurance fraud among doctors. The governor of Florida’s company was fined for hundreds of millions of dollars of Medicare fraud. Crime was rampant on Wall Street; companies paid billions in fines. Steal a loaf of bread and they throw you in jail, steal a nation and you’re a hero.) Also, he said, if there’s a shelter the cops will know where to look. He’d rather have the homeless concentrated in one place rather than living in, say, Robinswood Park. He lives in that neighborhood and supports the shelter.

One thing that annoyed me, at first, was that there was a lot of free food and bottled water at the meeting. The food include vegetarian and vegan options. A speaker at the beginning said “There’s plenty of food, so enjoy!” I thought it was rather unseemly for there to be free food at a forum on homelessness. But who am I to judge (as Pope Francis asked)? I am blessed with a well-paying job in high tech, and we are spoiled with free food and perks. I’m sure the homeless advocates are paid low salaries compared to me. So I should be happy they get some perks too, I suppose.

These issues are complex.

The organizers encouraged attendees to share the evening’s stories on social media, to write letters-to-the-editor, and to contact city council members to support affordable housing. Use the hashtag #AHW2018.   See www.housingconsortium.org.

Report on the Mercer Island forum on homelessness of May 15, 2018

On Tuesday night several dozen people attended a homelessness forum at the Jewish Community Center of Mercer Island. The forum was arranged by Clarity Bellevue, which has been involved in the debate about plans to build a low-barrier homeless shelter in the Eastgate area of Bellevue. (Clarity Bellevue is generally opposed to locating the shelter in Eastgate.)

The aim of the forum was to be educational, and the moderators emphasized that discussion should be polite. The discussion was indeed polite; nobody raised their voice or shouted out.

Steve Fricke moderated, after introductions by Tzachi and Lara Litov. City Council member Lynne Robinson and East Bellevue Community Council member Steve Kasner were in attendance.

The speakers were:

  • Daniel Malone, Executive Director of DESC, “Seattle’s largest and most comprehensive agency serving chronically homeless adults.” “The Downtown Emergency Service Center works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental or addictive illnesses. Through partnerships and an integrated array of comprehensive services, treatment and housing, we give people the opportunity to reach their highest potential.”
  • Eleanor Owen, a feisty and lucid 97 year old advocate for the mentally ill, as well as an actress, playwright,  professor, and creator of DESC. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Owen
  • Deryl Davis-Bell, works with NorthWest Urban Ministries and New Horizons Ministries. Mr. Davis-Bell went through a phase of homelessness and addiction but now helps others recover.
  • Rob Stewart, Executive Director at New Horizons and Deputy Director at Mary’s Place. New Horizons serves homeless youth.

Steve Fricke asked the panelists a couple of questions of his own and then read questions from audience members.

Anyone expecting to hear powerful ammunition for or against building a homeless shelter in Eastgate was probably disappointed. The panelists were frank about the challenges of helping the homeless population.

Mr. Stewart described how his team liases with the local community to address issues of undesirable behavior around their facilities (pan-handling, drug use, sleeping on the ground, loitering, etc). More often than not, he said, the perpetrators are unrelated to the shelter. Another panelist (Mr. Malone, I believe) said a similar thing.

There was discussion about barriers/rules for entry into facilities. Union Gospel Mission requires abstinence. Some other facilities have low barriers (including allowing convicts and sex offenders and people under-the-influence). Some shelters have a curfew/deadline for entry; others don’t. But a standard barrier is: can the people be safely accommodated? If not, they are rejected.

The panelists discussed accountability: how many of their clients enter stable housing and get jobs. Many homeless do, some don’t. A short-term aim of shelters is just to get people off the street. An additional aim is to help them become independent. Some cities have had more success solving homelessness than others.

Eleanor Owen was surprisingly outspoken about the homeless and about nonprofits that serve them. She suggested that for some of the homeless, it’s a lifestyle choice. She lived through the Depression, and hobos used to come to her family’s house. Her family gave them potatoes, and she would see them cook hobo stew. When it was time for them to leave, the hobos were thankful and always asked how they could pay back (volunteer). Nowadays, says Owen, many homeless have no sense of responsibility (giving back). Instead, they have a hang-dog look, which she hates.

Owen also suggested that some of the nonprofit organizations serving the homeless community have a vested interest in keeping the money flowing. An entire ecosystem has developed which encourages dependency. The more low-income housing we build, the more people will fill them up. [Of course, this is true about most charity, isn’t it? Should we forsake all charity?]

Daniel Malone seemed rather offended by Owen’s comments critical of the nonprofits serving the homeless . He said something like, “Do firemen want houses to burn down?”. He went onto to describe the challenges of homelessness and to defend efforts to help them. He said that few people are irresponsible. Owen said, “I agree with everything you said but …” She told stories about homeless or mentally ill people building and maintaining their own homes in Italy and other places. Somehow, the homeless need to be made responsible. [Is the problem drug addiction?

Rob Stewart said that if you ask homeless youth they may say that they like being out on the street. But he doesn’t believe it. If you actually give them a safe, private place to live, they will jump at the chance.

This led to a discussion of Housing First, the approach followed in Salt Lake City and elsewhere. The idea is to give homeless people a room and a key with no further requirements about sobriety, etc. At first, they can’t believe it. But quickly they like it, and it turns out that this approach (house the homeless!) seems to work: it SAVES money otherwise spent on the justice system (police, jail) and Emergency Room visits. Also, drug use and mental health issues get better when people have homes, since it’s very hard to treat addiction and mental illness for people under the stress and instability of homelessness.

Eleanor Owen wondered how society can pay for Housing First (she complained of high real estate taxes). But perhaps the approach really saves money in the long term.

Housing First was pioneered in the Seattle area in the 1990s. See https://www.desc.org/what-we-do/housing/housing-first/

Deryl Davis-Bell said that interpersonal relationships (with clients) are more important than “resources” (money).

The debate about the Eastgate shelter involves questions of the effect on the surrounding community of its being “low-barrier” and worries about the process (some opponents claim it was secret and biased).

Supporters of the shelter accuse the opponents of engaging in NIMBYism per the opponents’ sign “Shelter yes. Eastgate no!”

I had wondered why the moderator didn’t ask the $500,000 question that is on everyone’s mind: “In your opinion, would a low-barrier homeless shelter likely result in an increase of crime and other problems in the area around Eastgate?” But the organizers told me that that question was off the table, since the purpose of the forum was to be just educational. Besides, they said, the judging from the experience of others shelters, the answer varies and is difficult to formulate.

Some people on nextdoor.com refused to attend the forum, saying it was biased towards people opposed to shelters.

See: https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/bellevue-must-pull-its-own-weight-in-homelessness-crisis/ https://www.change.org/p/i-am-against-the-low-barrier-men-s-shelter-in-eastgate

How progressive are Washington State’s members of Congress?

Govtrack.us has a useful chart that purports to show where each member of Congress stands on a continuum from liberal to conservative.

The chart is based on co-sponsorship relationships between members of Congress: how often they cosponsored each other’s bills. Lawmakers who cosponsored another lawmaker’s legislation are placed close together. The X axis measures ideology (from progressive on the left to conservative on the right). The Y axis measures leadership: how often the lawmaker sponsored bills.

Click this link to explore the data interactively. I have copied the image here and marked Democrats with arrows and names:

Ideological positions of Washington State Congressional Democrats, from govtrack.us

A surprising thing about their analysis is that it puts Adam Smith to the left of Primila Jayapal. This seems wrong. I will redo their analyses using my own data science skills.

The govtrack pages for each candidate show scores from the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, Human Rights Campaign, NORML, and various right wing advocacy groups, such as Freedom Works, the Chamber of Commerce and Club for Growth.  See

Another scorecard they should probably have shown is the Social-Economic Justice Scorecard from the AFL-CIO: https://aflcio.org/what-unions-do/social-economic-justice/advocacy/scorecard/us-house-scorecard . According to that scorecard, all Democratic Washington State Reps score pretty high. Again, Smith scores higher than Jayapal or anyone else.

District Name Party 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%) Lifetime (%)
WA 1 DelBene D 92 100 92 94
WA 2 Larsen D 88 100 95 91
WA 3 Herrera Beutler R 14 50 18 17
WA 4 Newhouse R 17 13 24 20
WA 5 McMorris Rodgers R 13 13 11 10
WA 6 Kilmer D 92 100 95 94
WA 7 Jayapal D 97 97
WA 8 Reichert R 42 63 37 41
WA 9 Smith D 100 100 95 90
WA 10 Heck D 96 100 95 95

I am curious about their votes on taxation and military issues. Are there scorecards covering those fields?

Here’s govtrack’s image for all Senators (Click to see bigger version):

U.S. Senator ideology

And for all House members (Click to see bigger version):

U.S. House member ideology