OtherArea: in an alley
So we did not make the top 3 we still have a kick ass blog over here as www.street-people.com which was tracking true tales of bums in Memphis long before Paul Ryburn
Nader may not be the best choice but then Obama and McCain are good choices? I would rather vote Nader and end the two party death grip which has sold us into the economic dung heap we are in. You want to know how we got here. It was not Republican or Democrats it was a broken system where they gave into the policy that was not in the best intrest of Americans. The worst part is that we already lived through this once with the S&L scandal and they turned around and did it again.
I don't understand why the music commission is going to dupilcate his efforts. Why not offer him a small grant to continue the website which for years has been the only resource for arts groups. Why reinvent the wheel - build on what is working.
Street-people.com, a Memphis based website, was started almost two years ago to do something about the street people in our city. After serving as volunteers at soup kitchens, working on fundraisers for shelters, and donating to the parking meters that are supposed to provide programs for the street people we got feed up. It seemed our city leaders felt that they had designed pretty posters telling us not to give change to beggars and that was all it was going to take to make the street people problem go away.
Yet it seems to get worse every day. It got so bad for two downtown cubical slaves that this site was launched to document that the guy you just gave a dollar to while you made a dash to your office to punch in before being considered late, or coming out of a restaurant on your lunch break, is not going to use it to get off the streets. He is most likely going to use it to buy some substance that will scramble his brain until tomorrow when he can ask you for another dollar.
We hoped a little shame, a little truth, and some outrageous comments would get something to change. It has to a degree. The street people team has been featured on local radio and news raising awareness. Our effort seems to be a clarion call as news media from around the country has featured stories about our efforts including an interview with our team being named one of the “Top Ten Interviews for 2007” by WAQY radio. Our site will be featured in Xploited magazine from San Francisco.
Locally others have joined the effort from bloggers, to reporters, message boards and forums. Paul Ryburn (http://www.paulryburn.com/blog) has done a great job rallying downtown people to address the issue and his efforts have probably been one of the reasons the Center City Commission got so many calls asking for something to be done.
A special thanks goes to our Mayor Herenton. We are all so glad that you lead this effort to promote downtown business and tourism in our city by leading the effort! The again I guess this could be considered your job creation program. Even in a post this serious you need a little sarcasm.
The Center City Commission is now planning to spend budget dollars to hire a private security firm to combat aggressive panhandling. Street-people.com applauds the effort to a degree. We hope this will not be the only effort to address the issue because if you read through our site you will learn that other cities used this technique and all it did was relocate the street people to another part of the city that was not being patrolled. What our city needs is to combine all the efforts of the social programs, church based efforts, and shelters. Could it be that the free lunches that churches give to the homeless and the shelters offering a warm place to sleep might just be enabling these people to stay on the street?
It might be time as a community to rethink how we address this issue because the street people population is made up of a diverse mix of people from those who work but just can’t make ends meet, to substance abusers, to those with mental health issues. It would seem a better use of budget dollars for all these organizations and our police to start tracking street people; much like the police do gangs, and work to get them into comprehensive social programs with long term impact.
An Alpha-Omega Veterans service is successful at getting veterans off the street, reconnected to a social network, and into a job. Why can’t we create a joint effort between all the people that are currently enabling these street people? Think about the cost of taking a street person to court for a fine – if they don’t have the money all they are going to do is lock them up in jail after they get two or three panhandling fines and then we the citizens are going to be paying to support the street person through our taxes.
I would rather have police dollars spent on stopping the next murder or high school shooting than dealing with a street person. It would be better use of our tax dollars, of the money donated by donors to the soup kitchens and shelters, and of social service budget dollars to create a comprehensive program. In Prague, they have a program that provides street people with shelter each night. While at the shelter, social service officers work to identify street people with substance abuse issues, mental health issues, or in need of social programs so they can work to get them back into society. If we are truly the greatest nation on earth why can we not treat our citizens in the same manner? It seems to make good business sense as this type of program would cost less in the long run. Otherwise when the Center City Commission stops funding the security – like human cockroaches the panhandlers will be back.
By Joe Boone
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