Thursday, July 21, 2016

SLO COUNTY: 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness is NOT WORKING!

My blog is filled with things that people can do to help the homeless. Remember, "there but for the grace of G*d go I", which means - it could be you that is homeless, instead of them.  So do something helpful.

Our public officials display no sense of urgency in dealing with our unhoused crisis. I have no doubt that they are well-meaning, but: They write goals in annual plans to "end homelessness", then just worry about re-election. That's what I observe, anyways. At government meetings, I just want to stand up and scream: 8 years into your 10 year plan to "End Homelessness", there are MORE HOMELESS PEOPLE THAN WHEN YOU STARTED - doesn't that bother you just a little? Enough to do something - anything - about it?????


On July 15, 2016, the San Luis Obispo Tribune ran this letter to the editor about how we should be doing much better on our 10 year plan to end homelessness, given that it is now year 8. Please read the letter from Karen Wyckoff Bren entitled: SLO County Can Do Better for It's Homeless Population. I have been saying this so long that my tongue is bleeding.

Here are just a few excerpts from Ms. Bren's letter:

We are now in year eight of this plan. And given what I see on our streets and in our parks today, I question our progress toward this goal. I’m educating myself about homelessness, and I know how severely our state is being impacted by it — 22 percent of America’s homeless reside in California.


I call upon the Leadership Council Committee that generated this impressive 10-year plan to hold a meeting to update our community about our progress toward housing San Luis Obispo County’s homeless.


Finally, here is a link to SLO County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, so that you can educate yourself on how poorly we are doing compared to the plan's "goal".

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

SAN LUIS OBISPO: Every Night of August 2016 - Homeless Shelter Overflow

Please consider helping homeless families in our community! CAPSLO’s (Community Action Partnership SLO) Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter in SLO has limited beds for the homeless compared to the current need. Additional shelter is provided by the “Homeless Shelter Overflow” each month by 12 different Houses of Worship covering all 365 days per year. 
Being an overnight volunteer involves coming in at 6:15 pm and spending the night with another volunteer until 7:00 am. Only one volunteer needs to stay awake and the House of Worship for August 2016 has a nice lounge and couch where each volunteer can spend 1/2 the night. Bring reading material and sleeping bag. Snacks are provided. Wi-Fi is available. 
Above: Theo the backpacking dog, taking a needed rest. Beveridge Ghost Town, Inyo Mountain Wilderness, May 2016.

CAPSLO staff provides all the professional support needed for the homeless clients! CAPSLO also can be called anytime at night if there are questions or concerns. Please consider giving it a try! 
You will find out the location of the House of Worship in SLO once you sign up. Use the Sign-Up Genius link below and your email address to volunteer for a particular night in August 2016:
http://www.signupgenius.com/go/904044aa8ae22ab9-august1
If you have any questions, please contact Amanda Bailey (CAPSLO Volunteer Coordinator). Please pass this along to anyone that may want to help.
Amanda Bailey – Volunteer Coordinator
Phone (805) 544-4355 x121
abailey@capslo.org
www.capslo.org 
www.facebook.com/capslo

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Monday, July 4, 2016

MIND OF WAAG: This and That!

I've been spending a lot of time with the homeless lately, and our law firm is VERY busy, so haven't had time to do much posting. Wanted to put out some general thoughts while getting ready to put on a 4th of July BBQ and Party for 35 homeless guests at the CAPSLO's Homeless Shelter Overflow.

1. WE CAN DO BETTER! We need to do better with helping the homeless!  This month at the overflow there are about 9 babies under the age of 3 living in the homeless shelter, including 4 babies under 1 year old. Babies should NOT ever live in a shelter - sorry, they just shouldn't. We have to do better than we are doing!

2. THEO AND I ARE CONFUSED ABOUT TRADE: Fascinating that it used to the Republicans in favor of trade and the Democrats against it. Now its just the opposite. Except Hillary is against Obama's TPP, so maybe both parties are against Free Trade. Of course, Hillary was in favor of TPP before she was against it. It's hard to keep track sometimes. Personally, I am in favor of Free Trade, but then, nobody cares what i think (except my wife) which is fine with me! Photo of Theo the Dog - he is both confused about trade and all wet!!!
3. FAILURE TO PULL THE TRIGGER ON BREXIT? I have a libertarian bent, so I wouldn't like living in a country (such as the UK) where a faceless bureaucracy from another country tells my country what to do, so I tend to favor BREXIT. Go BREXIT! However, right now, I believe the odds are strong that the Brits will never invoke the BREXIT notification to the EU. Why? Because nobody expected it to pass, and Britain's political Brexit crowd has no idea what to do, and is running away from it as fast as their little British legs will carry them. Sure is entertaining to watch from our vantage point on the "other side of the pond"! Will the Brits pull the trigger on Article 50 and start their 2 year exit timetable? I doubt it. Time will tell, but I think I'm right!

4. HILLARY WORKS THE SYSTEM BETTER THAN TRUMP! For years, I had a Top Secret Clearance, as well as HIGHER classified clearances. One time, many years ago, I left a piece of classified paper out on my desk overnight in a completely classified building with armed guards. The result? I got written up! Indeed, I was told, 1 more violation, and I would lose my clearance and be fired. Oh, and never be able to get a Security Clearance EVER AGAIN! What makes something classified is the information itself, and not a "Classified Stamp". Anyways, months ago, I called it that there was no way that the FBI or DOJ would go after Hillary, no matter what they found. Could you imagine how the world economies would crash if Clinton was indicted? Anyways, I was right. Clearly, there are those who will get away with it (the big guys) and those that will get prosecuted (the little guys; i.e., most of us, like me).  If I did what Hillary did, I'd be in jail - period. And its not even close. The system IS rigged - it always has been - you just didn't know it! Mr. Comey's boss (President Obama) was out publicly campaigning with Hillary on the day that Comey released his findings. If Obama didn't know the outcome of the investigation, is there any way he would have been with Hillary when the results came out? No way! Plus, he endorsed Hillary while the investigation that might criminally indict her was still under way - would he do that if he knew she was headed for Jail? Think about it, people.

5. HILLARY TO ENTERTAIN US FOR 4 MORE YEARS! It's come down to this: I no longer think it really makes a difference who is in the Oval Office, with a few exceptions, such as nominating Supreme Court justices. Since Hillary is like nails on a chalkboard to me, and she can't seem to keep her foot out of her mouth, I want her to win, simply for the entertainment value that she will provide to us. Yes, even more entertaining than "The Donald"! Hardworking Americans will continue to make the country function, even if our leaders are clueless and continue to work against our interests. Go Hillary!!!!!! (You gotta love that face - you better, because you'll be seeing a lot in the next 4 years!)
6. ALL ABOUT POLITICS: SUPREME COURT, IRS, DEPT. OF JUSTICE, FBI, YOU NAME IT:  The current Supreme Court makes decisions based on the political beliefs of the individual justices, and not the law - they simply ignore what the law says, and vote their political persuasion. Witness the recent utterances of Justice Ginsberg made on separate occasions during July 2016, calling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump names and saying she would move to New Zealand if he was elected. The Supreme Court, along with all other courts, are supposed to maintain an air of impartiality. That ship has now sailed: the Supreme Court is just another political body that is rigged against us. Yes, justices can hold political beliefs - they just need to keep it to themselves. Sad, indeed.

The IRS goes after conservative groups, government IRS employees plead the 5th, and it's business as usual - nobody is held to account. And on and on it goes. Why did Comey let Hillary off the hook? Read about some potential answers by clicking here. What's in it for Mr. Comey, head of the FBI? Perhaps he is promised a plush job by the Clinton machine after he leaves government, or even better, $500,000 speaking engagements like those Bill C. gets, perhaps? Here's a new one: Comey actually wanted to provide evidence of HRC's extreme guilt, yet, uncharacteristically for the FBI, gave a recommendation not to indict, thus ending the suspense. Had Hillary been indicted, then a much more electable Joe Biden would have stepped in and beat Trump. So, by Comey's actions, he produced a storm cloud over Hillary's election, yet ensured that Biden would not have to step in - very clever! Yep. Against Hillary, Trump has a small chance to win - against Uncle Joe - no chance! It sure appears that the system is rigged, though we'll never know for sure, because they are never going to tell us what is going on behind the scenes.

7. My Recent Affliction - I Have a White Savior Complex!  Now, I have had my issues with the police over the years, but I still consider myself a "law and order" kinda guy (even when it comes to homeless issues). After the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" mantra was revealed by a multitude of minority witnesses to be completely false, it is still the narrative of a group that only believes one racial class "matters". We quickly learned that insisting that "All Lives Matter" makes you a racist. That same group occasionally chants for the killing of law enforcement officers (or "pigs"), without any consequences. Law enforcement has largely caved in to their demands, allowing looting, burning, and overturning cop cars to go on without consequence, and now we have increases in violent crime, particularly murders. How can this be good? Anyways, I'm a white male so I am automatically a racist - fine, if you insist. For the last few decades, I've been helping a lot of homeless people, many of whom happen to be minorities, and now I find out that I apparently have a "White Savior Complex" too! So what am I to do? Answer: continue to do the right thing, and try my best to ignore the PC crowd, no matter how "in my face" they try to be.

8. BEING IN FAVOR OF "LAW AND ORDER" IS JUST A "DOG WHISTLE" CALL FOR BEING A RACIST: Well, it's a new one on me, but okay - if I'm for "Law and Order", then I'm a racist. I'm really getting tired of this. Not convinced? You can read about how I am even more of a racist than I was before, because in no. 7 above, I said that "I consider myself a law and order kind of guy" - read about the twisted logic by clicking here.

Peace and have a great 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SLO: Seeking Volunteers for the Homeless Shelter Overflow for July 1 - 31, 2016

Seeking volunteers as Overnight Hosts: I am a member of a team that manages the homeless shelter overflow in SLO for every night during the month of July. We are looking for volunteers who can spend the night with another volunteer at the overflow, which is located at a church in SLO. You will sleep half the night, and stay awake the other half of the night while the homeless sleep. You will get no more than 4 hours sleep that night. You arrive at the church no later than 7pm and leave between 6am and 7am. Lights are out at 9pm for the homeless to get to sleep.

This is a demanding but rewarding volunteer assignment. Should you be interested, please phone me ASAP at 805-544-2109 or email me at TimWaag@gmail.com so we can discuss this volunteer opportuntiy. 
Above: "Text only" post are boring, so I like posting photos. I'm shown above on a recent backpacking trip to the ghost town of Beveridge in the Inyo Mountains. May 2016. Photo by Larry.

I have been volunteering for the homeless overflow for over a decade, and can testify to the fact that it is the most rewarding volunteer work you could ever take on, but it's not for everyone. The overflow is staffed entirely by volunteers, but without volunteers, our local homeless would be sleeping in the streets. 

We need overnight volunteers for all 31 nights of the month (although some nights may already be full, most nights should still be available). To all of our volunteers: Thank-you for giving so much of yourself to members of our community that have so little.

No experience in this area is necessary in order to volunteer. The only requirement is that you care about providing shelter for our local homeless population. Otherwise, most of these folks would be sleeping under overpasses and out in our creek beds.

About the Homeless Shelter Overflow: The homeless shelter overflow is a system of 12 houses of worship (11 churches and 1 synagogue) in SLO that provide overnight sleeping facilities for our local homeless 365 days a year. It is administered by CAPSLO, who screens all the homeless ahead of time. In addition, the homeless use the shower facilities and eat dinner before being van-pooled from CAPSLO's Maxine Lewis Memorial shelter in SLO to the house of worship.

Location of the Overflow for July: Note that for security purposes, we are not allowed to disclose the location of the homeless overflow to the general public. However, the location is a church in SLO, and (obviously), should you volunteer, you will be told the name of the church and the address.

4th of July BBQ and Party for the Homeless: Also, every year, we put on a fun 4th of July BBQ and Party at the church for our homeless friends, and we can always use some help. 7/4/2016 from 5pm to 9pm. You can help with: bringing a food dish, helping serve food, bringing or helping with 4th of July games, etc. Please contact me if you want to help - Thanks!

Why We Are Here (at the Homeless Shelter Overflow)
This was included this year in the material from CAPSLO guiding how we are to manage the overflow for the month of July. Perhaps this could sway your decision to help those less fortunate, by volunteering at the overflow with us in July 2015.

We are here to listen
Not to work miracles.

We are here to help people discover
What they are feeling.
Not to make feelings go away.

We are here to help people identify
Their options.
Not to decide for them
What they should do.

We are here to discuss steps
With people
Not to take steps for them.

We are here to help people
Discover their own Strengths
Not to rescue them and
Leave them still vulnerable.

We are here to help people discover
That they can help themselves,
Not to take responsibility for them.

We are here to help people
Learn to choose
Not to keep them from making
Difficult choices.

We are here to provide
Support for change

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NATION: America Headed Towards Europe

I try hard to remaining apolitical. I try to find solutions, and not dwell on whether the objective is highly desired by one political team or another (Team R: Republicans, or Team D: Democrats). It's hard to argue that we are not heading down a path to look suspiciously similar to Europe. I, for one, want no part of it. I love the American spirit and energy, which derives in large part from our work ethic and our drive for innovation. 

Let's look at some details in France - a beautiful country - similar in many ways to the semi-socialist state of California, where I live. France has realized the opposite-of-America dream: 35 hour work week, extreme restrictions on business and employment, voluminous and complex laws and regulations, ever-expanding free services from the government (health care, college education, pensions, etc.) 
Above: Theo the Dog resting on a recent backpacking trip to the Inyo Mountain Wilderness - his first time wearing a backpack for 5 days! Blog posts are boring without photos, and this one is totally unrelated to this blog post! Click to enlarge.

Friday, May 13, 2016

SAN LUIS OBISPO: Homelessness: Government Does Nothing, but Does Get in the Way!

I was recently asked: "What one subject would you write about homelessness in a Viewpoint Article in the Tribune Newspaper?". Here was my reply (word for word):

"It would be that government is not only unwilling to take action to curb homelessness, but through its laws and actions, prevents us (the citizens) from helping the homeless. There are actions the government can take to help the homeless, but they refuse to do them."


The very next day (today 5/13/2016) this article appeared in the Tribune Newspaper (click to read the article, then come back to this one): Mayors want to convert Paso youth camp to homeless center 


Let's cover some of the facts in this article:
• The former California Youth Authority center near Paso Robles covers 160 acres and has at least 40 buildings. It has been abandoned since 2008, and costs the state government $730,000 per year to maintain the unused facilities.
• On April 8, 2016, all 7 of SLO County's mayors sent a letter to the state, requesting that the property be used to run what they call a "Beyond Homelessness Campus".
• The effort is being spearheaded by Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, who stated that the mayors have not heard back from the state of California.
Posts are boring without photos. Starting out on the LMT in 2013. Will be heading back again soon. Click to enlarge. Photo by Tom.

• Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is willing to talk about it, but is he willing to take any action? He speaks as if he will take action, but so far he it appears that he has not. Meanwhile, thousands of homeless people in SLO County hide out in our creek beds and under our overpasses. When does it get so bad that action is warranted?
• Here are some quotes from the article attributed to Achadjian:  He is willing to consider the idea; I [Katcho] am committed to find a solution to homelessness; exploring all avenues is necessary. From these comments, it is not clear whether any action will be taken by our local government official.
• Note that I am not picking on Katcho; there is no apparent action on the part of other SLO County officials either.
• The proposed homeless facility would be used for counseling, education and training for the homeless, as well as providing transitional housing.
• Though the state of California has found no use for the property since it closed 8 years ago, it can't simply turn over this surplus property before studying alternate uses for the property. They have had 8 years - should be enough time to study the use of the surplus property? IMHO, yes, it should have been enough time. Now, let the 7 mayors have their way and use it for the truly needy. Do we need another study that may take many years, while in the meantime, the homeless are still living under our bridges and in our creek beds.

The article goes on to praise Paso Robles for spending $41,300 dollars removing 40 homeless people against their will from the Salinas riverbed. What it does not say is that none of that money was spent on housing them - just removing them out of their crude shelters - the only home they currently have. As always, they left the homeless to simply move their camp somewhere else Paso Robles, until they are asked to move again.

Here is the quote about this behavior in the article linked to above:

"Paso Robles and other cities in the county have made the issue of homelessness a high priority. In March, Paso Robles spent $41,300 to remove some 40 homeless individuals who were camped out in the Salinas riverbed in advance of an anticipated powerful winter storm.

The city also removed 20 tons of trash and debris from the riverbed. On April 5, the City Council voted to form a North County Homeless Coalition to promote potential long-term solutions to homelessness."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

SAN LUIS OBISPO: Friday March 4, 2016 - Walking SLO Homeless Camp Report

WS = Prado Day Center Warming Station, located at 43 Prado Road in SLO.
Last Friday, March 4, 2016, I spent some time walking the homeless camps in San Luis Obispo. My intention was to notify as many homeless people as possible about the opening of the Prado Warming Station that evening. If you don't know what the warming station is, I cover that in the 2nd half of this article.

The reason I was doing this was because of a recent conversation between the many homeless service players in SLO county about why so few people showed up at the warming stations that open up here during inclement winter weather. A long list was developed identifying the reasons our many homeless folks skip the WS. 

Above: I frequently found stashes of homeless gear, carefully bagged and secured in the various homeless camp areas - mostly the creek beds areas around SLO.