Sunday, June 25, 2006

City Mission Gives Latest Grapevine Thumbs Down

Current Grapevine Editorial Raises Concern

Grapevine #76 is out on the streets, and has generated some controversy. In an attempt to offer some balance, Grapevine staff reached out to those groups and offered space in the next issue. I ridiculed the Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board as basically a discussion group, and we offered the chairs space to rebut my comments. We offered the Domestic Violence Center space to provide their perspective on the decrease in DV beds. The big issue in the current Grapevine was the four letters regarding City Mission's shelter for families called Laura's Home and the editorial we wrote. We hope that all these groups take advantage of our offer and provide their side of the story.

We did get a call from the City Mission director who was disturbed that we did not try to resolve this issue through the Coalition out of the public pages of the Grapevine. The two editors who wrote this editorial thought that it was clear that we had a long history with the City Mission and private complaints did not work. Newer City Mission Director, Rich Trickel, felt that we should have given the grievance process a chance before doing the editorial. He also said that we had confused the readers because it looked as though we had attempted to resolve these issues unsuccessfully and then wrote an editorial.

I am sorry for the confusion, but we painstakingly detailed our process for complaints in the editorial for the purpose of saying that our normal process does not work for City Mission and St. Hermans. From the day we put the City Mission staff on the "Wall of Shame" for meeting with the Mayor of Cleveland to talk about his policy to sweep homeless people, neither the Coalition nor the Grapevine have had a good relationship with the Mission. Their staff have called for my resignation, and have started groups to undermine and oppose efforts of the Coalition. We have filed grievances on behalf of clients, and have published previous negative reviews of the City Mission shelters without a reply. So, City Mission staff felt that since their was a new administration, we should give them a chance before going public with our concerns.

I knew that their was a new administration, but I did not know that the staff wanted a new relationship with the Coalition. I also do not feel the editorial was that significant. It clearly stated that "if these letter writers are correct..." then there needs to be better oversight. We do not say that the allegations are true, but they should be investigated and all shelters need better oversight. What is so wrong with that? I hope that they take the opportunity to respond and give their opinions on the letters by former staff.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Latest Grapevine Prays for Change

Press Release
For Immediate Release: June 17, 2006

For More Information, Call: (216)432-0540 ext. 102 or email

Latest Grapevine Prays for Change

The latest salvo of social justice journalism has just been launched onto Cleveland streets: Issue 76 of The Homeless Grapevine is now available! Our front page describes a recent health care forum in which politicians listened to a litany of grievances against our stratified and fractured health system, and also applauds the outreach efforts of John Carroll University students in an article about the Labre Project.

Inside, readers will discover a scathing commentary about how Cuyahoga County is failing victims of domestic violence through paltry funding and a severe lack of appropriate shelter for women and children fleeing abusers.

Issue 76 also features the unveiling of a brand new community service: translating letters written in government-speak into understandable language. The contrast between the recent Office of Homeless Services's letter to the Mayor and reality is laid bare in this revealing piece.

Cleveland's Voice for Social Justice reaffirms its place as an essential community bullhorn for calling attention to the myriad problems of homelessness in this issue. Several letters were sent to Grapevine staff detailing a number of issues with the new management at Laura's Home, a program of theCity Mission. Shocking tales of intimidation, harassment, fear, and punitive discipline streamed in from ex-employees, a former director, and a resident. We responded by publishing their letters, and with our focused Editorial calling for reform.

Another one of our original commentaries describes how the pathetically low federal minimum wage is encouraging undocumented immigrants to stream across the border for employment, and discouraging most Americans from taking those jobs. The commentary describes an innovative concept called the universal living wage which ties the federal minimum wage to the local cost of housing.

As always, Northeast Ohio's Street Newspaper has much more, including original poetry, like the recent winners of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless' s Poetry Contest who are featured in our center pages. Don't miss our original feature articles, photographs, commentaries, state and local updates, and more! Pick up Issue 76 of The Homeless Grapevine at the West Side Market, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless office, or from any licensed vendor.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rough Weekend to Watch TV

Al-Zarqawi Death and Autopsy

On every channel, both local and national news, we had five days of All Zarqawi all the time. Why the framed picture of a dead terrorist? Why the excruciating detail about everything from the autopsy, to the mission, to the final moments. I had to tune it all out. I was afraid that any minute they were going to string Zarqawi upside down in the middle of the green zone. I was sure that they were going to announce that American forces were going to walk by and spit on him and throw rotten fruit at him. Certainly not a high point for the American media who feasted on death, blood, and the rain of bombs on top of the terrorist. Isn't this jubilation over death similar to the terrorist's reaction to their exploits?


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Press Losing Their Backbone?

Hardly Guardians of Free Speech These Days?

There are some disturbing trends over the last year with the media compromising free speech in the United States for ratings or cowardice. How is there not more outrage over the domestic telephone monitoring by the National Security Administration? It seems to me that they should be advocating revolution or at a minimum impeachment of the Attorney General. Then ABC News and others claim that the government is spying on the telephone calls of reporters and still not much anger.

Their colleagues were jailed last year in protecting sources and no protests from the media. They are prevented from talking to anyone at Guantanamo Bay--no protests? They are slaughtered at unprecedented numbers in Iraq, and yet are criticized for not reporting the happy news in Iraq. There were no protests of all the secrets kept by this government from the energy task force to the Bush Administration's relationship with Jack Abramoff or Tom Noe. What has happened to the media?

Locally, those who are unpopular do not share the same free speech protections as the rest of society. Carl Monday attacked libraries for allowing people to view porn on public computers. Sure, this is creepy and we should be allowed dope slaps for anyone we catch looking at porn in the library, but the media should never be on the side of shutting down the free exchange of ideas, content, or words. Anyone who violates this principle should be kicked out of the business, and forced to dress up like SuperHost and read copy for the third place local news station in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Plain Dealer never came to the defense of panhandlers last year when the City passed the offensive law restricting their speech. Then a few weeks back they supported the state legislation limiting protests at military funerals. The PD should never be on the side of limits on speech. Yes, protesting at a military funeral is highly offensive, but how did we get to this point in our society that this activity is necessary? Free Speech Zones. We have pushed protesters so that they are no longer even seen by the President, so what choice do they have? The media and courts have allowed government to trample on the Bill of Rights in the name of public safety. The only way to get attention today is to disrupt a military funeral. Everything else is either ignored or not in the same zip code. Don't get me wrong those nutjobs protesting at the funeral of a fallen soldier have a special reservation in hell, but it is inappropriate for the guardians of free speech to condemn this activity.

If I had the time, I would give you a photoshop version of Carl Monday dressed as SuperHost. "I can't believe you did this to me. You read my news."--Ron Burgandy


New Grapevine Out

News of the Streets or Soul Crushing Depression??

The new Homeless Grapevine is out and on the streets. The best (and only) regularly published newspaper entirely dedicated to homelessness and poverty has a new edition available. The Grapevine was the only media to attend the health care hearing at Trinity Cathedral, and the story appears in the new Grapevine. We feature a story of the Labre project at John Carroll University, and the story shocking decrease in Domestic Violence shelter beds in Cuyahoga County.

There are four letters about a change at Laura's Home written by former staff and clients. It seems that the change in leadership and the movement of Angeline Christian Home into the shelter has had a negative effect on the shelter. The Grapevine editorial board is asking for reform and oversight of this privately funded shelter.

We translate a letter to Frank Jackson from bureaucratic language into English. There is the summary of local and national news about homeless people, and a special maze by Copy Editor Tanya Goff. So, go get the latest Grapevine at the West Side Market or other locations in the Downtown area. We have had 75 issues to learn, and we are finally starting to get it right.