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I provided all photos in this post.
During a nap late yesterday morning, I dreamt of having lots of back and forth with Father Steve Braddock, CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC).
All below came after the nap.
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:37:47 -0400
Subject: Fwd: FYI
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Not good sirs!
I was able to open and read the attached newspaper articles, but I was not able to copy and paste them elsewhere. I ended up saving them as a photo, and this link was produced, perhaps magically, for I had no clue what I was doing.
Click on the numbers/link to see the St. Petersburg and San Antonio newspaper articles painting homeless rehab guru Robert Marbut’s handiwork and promises
somewhat differently than he recently held forth to and promised the Key West City Commission.
After opening the two newspapers articles, Depress ctrl and + keys together to magnify zoom/font size.
Email recipient bwardlow – Billy Wardlow – seems to be the only Key West city commissioner who does not want Key West’s new homeless shelter on Stock Island, and maybe not anywhere because of its uncertain cost and unknown results.
Steve Braddock replied to ALL:
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Re: FYI
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:46:16 -0400
Thanks for sharing. Just for the record, FKOC and the Monroe County CoC are not in any way involved with the shelter proposal at this juncture and do not have a position. There is still much more information needed.
I wrote to Steve only:
Monroe County CoC is?
I did not think FKOC was involved with new shelter.
Much information indeed is needed.
Steve replied to me:
Monroe County Homeless Services Continuum-of-Care, Inc. is the entity that replaced SHAL [Southern Assistance Homeless League] as lead agency for homeless services in the keys. I am currently chairman.
There are approximately 40-member agencies.
I wrote to Steve:
Thanks, Steve -
I didn’t know you were involved with the new “SHAL”. You had not spoken well to me of “old” SHAL – I think I recall you told me you were so dissatisfied that you stopped attending SHAL meetings.
Do you, FKOC and MCHSCoC have a position on KW police:
1) putting only homeless people in jail for having open containers containing alcohol?
2) harassing, threatening to arrest and actually arresting homeless people sleeping outside, when KOTS [Key West's present homeless shelter] is full for the night and there is no place else for homeless to sleep but outside?
I then sent Steve a newspaper article I had only just received from Nashville J:
And, what is your, FKOC and new SHAL’s position on KW’s anti-panhandling law?
August 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm
Criminalizing begging in Michigan unconstitutional, court rules
Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington— A federal appeals court has ruled Michigan’s Depression-era law that criminalizes begging is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court decision that said Grand Rapids police were wrong to arrest two homeless men in 2011 for asking for change. The court said between 2008 and 2011, there were 409 reports of incidents where police enforced this anti-begging ordinance, and 399 people were arrested or issued tickets for begging in Grand Rapids. Of those, 211 were sentenced to jail terms, the panel said.
“Michigan’s interest in preventing fraud can be better served by a statute that, instead of directly prohibiting begging, is more narrowly tailored to the specific conduct, such as fraud, that Michigan seeks to prohibit,” Judge Boyce Martin, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter who reportedly is retiring at week’s end, wrote in an opinion joined by judges Jeffrey Sutton and John R. Adams, both appointees of President George W. Bush.
Two of those arrested sued in federal court: James Speet and Ernest Sims, two homeless adults. In January 2011, Speet was arrested for begging in Grand Rapids. He was holding a sign saying: “Cold and Hungry, God Bless.” The police gave Speet an appearance ticket, and he pleaded guilty to the charge. Unable to pay the $198 fine, Speet spent four days in jail.
Then in June 2011, Speet was holding a sign that said, “Need Job, God Bless,” while standing between a sidewalk and a street in Grand Rapids. The city police again arrested him for begging. After Speet secured pro bono counsel, the prosecution dismissed the begging charge.
Michigan has barred begging since 1929. The court said the Michigan law “simply bans an entire category of activity that the First Amendment protects.”
On July 4, 2011, Sims sought money for bus fare and asked a person on the street: “Can you spare a little change?” A Grand Rapids police officer witnessed the conversation and immediately arrested him.
“After Sims, a veteran, requested that he not be taken to jail because it was the Fourth of July, the officer agreed to give him an appearance ticket. Later, Sims appeared without counsel in court on the begging charge. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $100,” the court said.
Speet and Sims sued Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the City of Grand Rapids and several of the city’s police officers. Schuette argued the Michigan law didn’t violate the First Amendment rights of the men arrested.
A spokeswoman for Schuette said Wednesday the ruling is under review by the Attorney General’s office.
A Grand Rapids city attorney who defended the city was not immediately available for comment.
The ruling written by Martin, whom legal website FindLaw calls “the court’s vociferous liberal lion,” noted the U.S. Supreme Court has not directly decided the question of whether the First Amendment protects soliciting alms when done by individuals, but it has held repeatedly the First Amendment protects charitable solicitations by organizations. Three other appeals courts have upheld the right of citizens to beg for money.
Detroit News Staff Writer Chad Livengood contributed.
Central to Robert Marbut’s homeless rehab theory is stopping panhandling. What if – eeeek! – that Michigan federal court decision becomes the law of the USA land? Or, what if – eeeek! – somebody brings a similar lawsuit in federal court in Key West? And, what if – eeeek! – whoever brings that law suit adds further “counts” against the city and city officials, city staff and city police for selectively enforcing the city’s open container ordinance against homeless people and for not letting them sleep at night?
That pleasantry aside, I found myself wondering yesterday, if Key West goes forward with Marbut’s plan and builds the new homeless shelter, who will run it for the city? Marbut does not run the homeless shelters in other cities where he consulted. The St. Petersburg article is spot on about that. The person who was running that shelter resigned, and now they have someone else running it, while Marbut tells them they are not doing it the way he thinks they should be doing it, while their numbers of homeless on the streets and in public places are rising despite the shelter they built. Like Key West, St. Petersburg is a “homeless destination resort” due to its fair weather, waterfronts, etc.
When Key West opened KOTS (Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter) in 2004, city officials quickly found they knew nothing about homeless people and running a homeless shelter. The city officials then begged Steve Braddock and FKOC to take over KOTS, which had instantly become a den of drugs, sex, thievery, disease, etc., as FKOC and I had told the city officials would happen if it opened KOTS. Reluctantly, FKOC went in and straightened KOTS out and ran it for the city until the city was sued a couple of years ago by a nearby condo association for KOTS being built without any city permits. FKOC was sued also, and turned in its resignation because lawsuits against FKOC had to be reported in grant applications. The city was thrown into a lurch, and Southern Assistance Homeless League, which never before had hands on dealing with homeless people, nor with running a shelter, agreed to step in and run KOTS.
The same lawyer who filed the lawsuit against KOTS represents the golf course community, adjacent to which the new shelter most likely will be built, if it is built. That lawyer and members of the golf course community have threatened to bring suit if the city tries to build the new shelter next to the golf course. I see little (zero most likely) chance that Steve Braddock will be inclined to have FKOC or the new SHAL run the new shelter for Key West. So, that leaves the city having to find someone to run it, and if that doesn’t go to suit the city, who will run it then? I propose Mayor Craig Cates, whose idea all along it has been.
Later Steve Braddock sent:
Sent by SB
Homeless — and Happy — at Age 92
Posted: 08/14/2013 4:46 pm
Homelessness, Homelessness Is Not Helplessness, Key West, Veteran, Veteran Homelessness, Impact News
On Saturday, Michelangelo Giuseppe Peluso will be 92. And there are a couple of things especially noteworthy about his birthday.
Michelangelo is — at age 92 — homeless. But more important, Michelangelo is — at age 92 — a happy camper. And the words “happy camper” are appropriate, for they describe a man who enjoys, as he does, living close to nature. The van he has called home for some 40 years can usually be found parked in a shady spot, within sight of the ocean that surrounds his beloved Key West.
I’ve known Michelangelo for only a decade of his 92 years, but his is a treasured friendship. We have much in common, and that includes experiencing some of life’s ups and downs while “sort of” homeless. And though I reside now in north, central Florida, contact with Michelangelo is frequent and full of fun. Even by phone, he remains a joy to be around.
In writing about homelessness in Homeless Isn’t Hopeless, I offer Michelangelo as an example of America’s “sort of” homeless. He does have some income — but not enough for a place to live. Maintenance for a van is a cost he can afford. Normal housing is not…
To meet Michelangelo in person is to see a smiling, well-groomed older gentleman, who does not fit the usual stereotype of a homeless person. Yet he does fit the official federal definition of a homeless person, for he is, indeed, “an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, nighttime residence.” At 92, Michelangelo could be the poster child for the urgent, nationwide need for affordable housing.
Michelangelo is among that 47 percent, that 30 percent, that somewhat-dependent-upon-government group of Americans that some politicians continue to disparage. But, here again, Michelangelo could be a poster child — for the good that is within many of those less fortunate.
Michelangelo is a veteran, who served his country as a medic in World War II. And he is an active veteran — driving that 40-year old van, with its handmade, patriotic signs, in the Key West Veterans Day parade.
Until recently, Michelangelo went to work daily as an unofficial City of Key West volunteer, clearing litter from parks and public places. And Michelangelo is an advocate for others who endure some form of homelessness. Last year he made an impassioned appearance before the Key West City Commission to oppose an effort to outlaw the use of a vehicle as shelter.
Come Saturday morning, I will be calling my friend, to wish him well on his 92nd birthday. And sometime during that conversation, I will hear him utter those words that are part of his every conversation. Michelangelo will remind me that “life is good.”
Michelangelo (middle) with friends in front of his home in Key West
Michelangelo is hardly your typical homeless person. He used to head north for the warm months to escape the Key West summer heat and humidity. Finally, he was unable to make the drive north, and he became a full-time Key West resident who did not pay for housing because he lived in his van.
A true Key West living treasure, Michelangelo is a tough old bird. He has lots of friends in Key West. I worry for when he gets to where he is unable to fend for himself. Maybe by then the assisted-living senior center will be built and operational. Or, maybe the city will make Michelangelo live at KOTS, or at the new homeless shelter if it ever gets built. Or, maybe FKOC will take Michelangelo in. He is so hard of hearing, I wonder how he can safely drive his van anywhere in Key West? I’d hate to see him end up in jail because he had a bad traffic wreck and somebody got hurt, or worse.
Maybe five years ago, I met Bill Laney and read his book, Homeless Isn’t Hopeless, which is about his own experience being homeless.
Bill mostly was homeless on Greyhound buses, traveling many places, and my impression from his book was he was growing ever more hopeless until he entered Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s program. If Bill had lived on the street, he would have learned a different kind of hopeless, the kind of hopeless I experienced, the kind of hopeless nearly all street people come to know. It’s street people Key West Mayor Craig Cates and others want to get out of Key West.
Maybe Bill’s situation has changed, but last I heard he still was living in a subsidized situation. Same for me. Absent an act of God, I never will earn enough money to live independently in mainstream, and I wager that is how it is for probably 95 percent of homeless people who live outside, contrary views of experts, pundits, prophets and elected officials notwithstanding. Looks to me, the downstream effect of Robert Marbut’s program is to create a very big welfare state for homeless people, funded by mainstream.
I wrote back to Steve:
I know Michelangelo, have had many conversations with him at Higgs Beach and Indigenous Park. I watched him address the City Commission. He put them on the spot, for they had before them an ordinance that would make him a criminal for living in his van in Key West. They passed the ordinance.
Do you know if they enforce it against Michelangelo?
What do you think of the ordinance, which makes Michelangelo (and others like him) a criminal because he lives in his van?
Michelangelo is really hard of hearing. Maybe he hears better with a telephone receiver against his ear, than when I speak with him in person.
Next time I see him, I’ll ask him if they are enforcing the ordinance against him. If not, how can they enforce it against anyone else who lives in a vehicle?
Not a sincere question, of course. Key West enforces its ordinances selectively.
I received an auto response saying Steve was out of town until August 19.
I can see that city ordinance against living in a vehicle added to a federal lawsuit filed in Key West’s federal courthouse on behalf of Key West’s homeless people. If a person cannot afford to own a home or pay rent, how, under the US Constitution, can that person be made a criminal by living in his van, which has become his home?
As I recollect from email back and forth a few days ago, Steve will drop in on the St. Petersberg area shelters Robert Marbut had a hand in and see what he can see there. That’s what Billy Wardlow and the rest of the city commissioners and Mayor Craig Cates also need to do. Surely, they are not going to let Marbut talk them into building his kind of homeless shelter in Key West, without them first going to St. Petersberg and sizing up how its Marbut shelters and St. Petersberg’s homeless situation really are doing? That will entail them talking with St. Petersberg city officials, shelter staff, shelter homeless people, shelter homeless graduates, and various homeless help agencies in and around St. Petersberg – that area’s equivalent of the new SHAL in the Florida Keys.
REPEAT, looks to me, the downstream effect of Robert Marbut’s program is to create a very big welfare state for homeless people, funded by mainstream.