It's teacher hunting season!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will Autocratic NYC Mayoral Power Mean 100s of Homeless Deaths This Winter? & Calls for Indep. Police Oversight

We hear much about the ill effects of autocratic mayoral control upon public education. The details are too numerous to account here. Just see Ed Notes Online or the latest ATR farce details at NYCATR.

The latest outrage and testament to the crazed policy decisions of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's being drunk with power is the following plan by New York, to insist that single homeless persons prove that they are homeless (Yes, this is real, not GBN from another NYC blog):
From various New York news outlets, this from WNBC-TV:
"Analysis: The City Demands the Homeless Prove It"
(a photo caption)
A sign of a man panhandling for money is displayed on the streets of Manhattan October 26, 2009 in New York City. In a recently released report by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless it was revealed that the numbers of homeless people using New York City shelters each night has reached an all time high. Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office eight years ago there has been a 45 percent increase in shelter use with over 39,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families, checking in to city shelters every evening. The group also said that 2009 has turned out to be 'the worst on record for New York City homelessness since the Great Depression. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

and the text of the news story, including some hard hitting comments:
New York has a tradition of caring for its most vulnerable people. That’s why it’s shocking to hear that homeless single people will have to prove they are truly homeless to get into a shelter.

My colleague, Melissa Russo, reports that the city’s Department of Homeless Services plans to save $4 million a year by cracking down on those who are unable to show they have no other option but going to a homeless shelter. I have covered the homeless crisis in New York for 32 years -- and this latest development is outrageous.

It was back in 1979 that a young, idealistic lawyer named Robert Hayes brought a lawsuit in behalf of all homeless men in New York. He filed it in the name of a man named Robert Callahan. On a cold winter night, Hayes introduced me to Callahan, who was sleeping on a bench in a park in Kips Bay. Callahan said: “I want a home.”

The State Supreme Court ultimately ruled that everyone had a constitutional right to shelter. It was a landmark decision for New York and the nation.

Over the years various bureaucrats have nibbled away at the essence of that decision. Now, the city’s Homeless Commissioner Seth Diamond, says: “People who have alternatives are not homeless. If they have a brother or a sister who can house them, that’s where they should go.”

This sets the city up as the ultimate judge of whether or not someone is actually homeless. It’s an astonishing turn in a history in which New York stands out as a place where compassion, not the dollar sign, rules.

As winter approaches, is compassion out of style? In this city, the Callahan case should be enshrined as a standard for charity and decency. It’s hard to accept that this is no longer the case. When the first person freezes to death on the streets, will the bureaucracy change its mind? Are we going to try to force relatives to take in homeless people? What provision in the Constitution or the law entitles City Hall to do that?

Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless told me: “This new policy is unconscionable. Just as winter approaches and Thanksgiving, we are putting the most vulnerable people at severe risk. People will die if this policy goes unchallenged.”

And the coalition intends to challenge it. Meanwhile, at last reports, there are a record 39,000 homeless people in New York, including single adults and families.

People have written to NBC New York about this development. Richele Lewis wrote: “The option of sleeping on someone’s floor is not considered adequate housing although it is better than having to sleep on the subway or in a park…”

And an e-mail from Eva Clark: “It’s hard to sleep on someone’s floor, especially if they really don’t wish you there and wish you get out and go somewhere and get lost and don’t come back.”

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, I’m inclined to believe that compassion is not out of style. In the scriptures are the words: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Mother Teresa said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.'"

* * *
(I have to move on, so here are quick parts --maybe I'll be able to clean up later.)
Alisa Chang (I spelt it properly, as compared to WNYC which botched her first name on the website) reported, "Police Misconduct Cases Draw Calls For Greater NYPD Oversight," on Friday, November 4, afternoon.
the lede:
With recent reports of misconduct within the New York City Police Department mounting, criminal justice experts are calling for greater oversight of the department.

A new study by the Citizens Crime Commission, an independent non-profit organization that focuses on criminal justice reform, shows that major cities other than New York are more aggressive in monitoring their police departments.

Richard Aborn, president of the Commission, said New York City should follow examples set by Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

"They have, what I think, are the gold standards of oversight," said Aborn during an interview on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on Friday. "They are independent of the department, they are transparent , they have compulsory power, meaning they have subpoena power, and they are permanent. And the NYPD doesn't have any of that."

Recently, 16 police officers were indicted in the Bronx as a result a ticket-fixing investigation; seven New York City narcotics investigators were convicted of planting drugs on people; eight current and former police officers were indicted for smuggling guns; an officer in Staten Island was charged with making a false arrest; and three officers were convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse.

Click to the article's link above for the full WNYC story.

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