Wednesday, October 25, 2006

From the Holy City of Cleveland, OH

Insane Opinions by Kevin E. Cleary
There was a story on NPR last night that followed a military translator in Iraq talking to Iraqi citizens in a remote village. The translator responded to their concerns in a condescending tone, repeatedly told them that they would see results when their own government “stepped up” in the coming year, told them not to worry about militias, etc. The man and his son asked the translator for a number of things that their village no longer had, such as a refrigerator and X-ray machine at their local clinic. Each request was met with, “I’ll see what I can do.” Finally, the two men asked for AK-47s to defend themselves. That request was met, and the men were given certificates proving that they were allowed to carry the guns.

Essentially, these men had several reasonable requests denied, were given half-hearted and empty promises, and after ten minutes of condescension from the Occupier, were given AK-47s by the same Occupier. I can’t imagine why we’re having so much trouble dealing with the insurgency in Iraq...

For some reason, this reminded me of how we treat homeless people here in America, and if we should just give up the pretense and try the same approach here. Already, we ask homeless people to stand in long lines to get on waiting lists, we treat them with condescension at almost every turn, the health care we provide is generally slightly better than in Iraq, and we promote the idea that things will magically become better once local governments have “stepped up” and implemented 10 Year Plans.

Really, our treatment of homeless people is little better than the way we seem to be treating Iraqi citizens. In Iraq, we invaded a country that had not attacked us, sacked their despotic leader, but then let chaos run amok. We somehow still have the nerve to question why Iraqis aren’t grateful for this, and treat them like this chaos is entirely their fault. In America, we have sacked the funding for social programs, concentrated an immense amount of wealth in the hands of a few, kept wages low, and let economic chaos run amok as jobs have evaporated.

The fundamental difference is that here, we don’t give homeless people AK-47s to defend themselves. With hate crimes against homeless people on the rise, they may need them as much as Iraqi citizens. Also, if we had armed militias of homeless people demanding social change, our government might actually respond to their needs. But, then again, probably not.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Digital Subscriptions Now Available!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Now You Can Feel Safe at the Airport?

Cleveland's own Tabloid TV station is at it again!

Boasting that, in January, Channel 19--Tabloid TV "challenged "Mayor Jackson to do something about the homeless sleeping at the airport," Friday night they reported that Cleveland Hopkins airport is now enforcing an old trespassing law prohibiting anyone from being in the terminal unless they are flying or are picking up someone.

Included in this 'piece' was a past interview with a woman who said she had no choice but to be there because she lost everything she owned. Another clip from May showed a homeless man sleeping on the floor surrounded by bags of his belongings with the reporter telling him to "clean this up a little bit."

Acknowledging that the city needed time because of wanting "to team up with mental health workers and others" and that the Hopkins representative interviewed had said that they didn't want to "target the homeless but get them the services that they need," 'Ace' reporter, Jimmy Olsen, couldn't resist making this last comment... "Next time you go out there to take a trip or pick someone up, you no longer have to feel like you have to keep looking over your shoulder."

Seems like I should be fearfully looking over my shoulder for those self-proclaimed 'honest and fair' reporters from Tabloid TV rather than the homeless. After all, unlike the homeless, the Tabloid TV team are (shhhhhhhhhhhhh) 'EVERYWHERE!'

Homeless Grapevine writer

Friday, October 06, 2006

Latest Grapevine Looks Toward Future

Press Release
For immediate release
October 6, 2006

For more information: contact Kevin at (216) 432-0540
or email

Latest Grapevine Looks Toward Future
A new issue of The Homeless Grapevine has just hit Cleveland streets! Our latest issue includes an in-depth interview with Robert Egger. Egger is the Founder of the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, DC, which collects and distributes donated food to the area while training its clients in the culinary arts. Egger is also the former Interim Director of United Way of America and spoke to the Grapevine about the history of the non-profit sector, his frustrations with it, and where he believes they are heading. He also discussed his efforts to change the sector, including the upcoming Non-Profit Congress.

Our loyal readers will also eagerly devour the profile of one of The Homeless Grapevine’s oldest and longest-serving vendors, Arthur Price. Price has been a constant presence at the West Side Market and on Cleveland streets for several years. The article details his individual struggles throughout life, and his family’s inter-generational battles with cancer.

Families are also struggling to stay together when faced with homelessness, according to a commentary in our latest issue. The commentary decries the county policies which forces families to break up and by forcing them to stay in different shelters. This commentary also chastises the religious shelter, Zelma George, for requiring parents to provide proof of marriage just to gain admittance.

Homeless individuals won’t be able to stay at the airport either, according to a brief in our Local News sections. The Local News also discusses the City’s ongoing discussion about Bird Flu, as well as the brewing battle over a local Furniture Bank. Additionally, we examine the priorities of the Second Homeless Congress, and the Cuyahoga County Election Board’s Misinterpretation of the new voting regulations.

This misinterpretation was also a big concern at the September meeting of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting in September, which we also cover in our latest edition. The article also discusses Cuyahoga County’s extremely high foreclosure rate, and the need for a Hosuing Trust Fund in the county.

As always, Northeast Ohio’s Street newspaper has much more, including original commentaries, poetry, photographs, and a new cartoon from local artist Mike MacMillan. The Homeless Grapevine is always available at the West Side Market, The Whispering Willow Coffee House near Lakewood on Madison and W. 117th, at the NEOCH offices, or from any licensed vendor. A complimentary copy is enclosed for your records.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Channel 5 Finds "Sexual Predators"

Bad Reporting on WEWS TV

WEWS has done some intensive investigation (searched the County website) and came to the "shocking revelation" that over 100 sexually based offenders "live" at 2100 Lakeside Shelter. This is not news and Joe Pagonakis, who claims to be on my side, interviewed one staff person about the number of offenders and the 960 feet from a school. He reported that there is some thinking that they are going to move the men. Where he got this information no one knows?

So, what information did Pagonakis not report? First, the County sheriff is the one that sends sexually based offenders to the shelter. They have previously screened the shelter for "placement." Where should these guys go? They cannot find housing anywhere else in the city that is not within 1000 feet of a childcare facility. It can be assured that the shelters do not want sexually based offenders inside, but their mission is to provide a safe place not to enforce bad laws. Pagonakis never reported how bad this law is for the public and the children it is intended to protect. Most sexually based attacks against children are done by someone that the kids know and trust. Keeping men 1,000 feet away does not protect children; it just makes it harder for unbalanced people to find stability. We have now added new complications to these troubled individual's lives, and many are forced to live in shelters and on the streets.

How many sexually based offenders can we fit in the lobby of Channel 5, so that Joe can keep an eye on them? I am sure that the shelters will not mind turning the responsibility of watching the hundreds of troubled individuals kicked around by the state government over to the news media. Then we can find out if Channel 5 claim of being on "your side" includes sexually based offenders.

Other News...
The new Grapevine is out, and it is the best value for your $1 in five years. 20 pages for the price of 16. It is another colorful issue with a great deal of information. There are poems by those who live on the streets as well as a feature on one of our long time vendors. We have an extended interview with the founder of DC Kitchen, and a commentary on the shelter policy of breaking up families. It is on the streets now and sold by local vendors who keep the profit from the sale of the papers.

Stories the media is missing...
We comment in this section on the news media coverage of local poverty issues. I am going to start listing news stories that the media is not covering. For this week...The Housing Choice voucher program opens once in five years here in Cleveland. The applications for the lottery are out for only two weeks. Last time 36,000 people applied for 6,000 vouchers. CMHA sent out 75,000 applications to area libraries and government offices and nearly all were gone in a couple of days. By the first weekend, all the libraries had given out all of their applications. It is going to take 5 days to get new applications printed from California, and then the low income of Cleveland will only have a couple of days to pick up an application. No word right now if CMHA is going to extend the deadline or at least extend the distribution date past the deadline. This is a good story that is not covered by the media. Over 100,000 are looking for applications for a lottery for a house in the poorest city in the United States, and are having a hard time.


Monday, October 02, 2006

America's Darkest Day

Media Misses Saddest Day for Democracy and the Rule of Law

In the scandal over Representative Mark Foley of Florida and the other news of the day, the media failed to mark one of the worst days for democracy in the history of the United States. The passage of the bill that gives the President the ability to interpret the Geneva Convention and prevents detainees from seeking help from the courts is one of the darkest moments in American history. The story was covered from the angle of the deal that was struck, but gave little mention to the historic shift this marks. The reporters did not even comment how this new law when signed will make it difficult for them to do their jobs. They will not have access to citizens of the world that our government abducts or makes disappear. These Congressional so-called "moderates" gave away the farm, and Lady Liberty received a mortal wound.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was recently in Denver and said, "If we want to live in peace, we have to realize we are all members of the same family." He went on to praise the United States to the students gathered for a conference on Peace, "You taught us no government worth its salt can subvert the rule of law. We believed you," he said. "That's part of what you have as a gift for the world. Then how can you commit Guantanamo Bay? Take back your country." We have undermined all of our leadership on the world stage for the last 100 years. We are now the country operating outside of UN conventions. We are the country making people "disappear." The idealism expressed with the creation of the Peace Corps have disappeared with the passage of this bill. What took forty to sixty years to build has been lost in the last five years. This terrorism trials bill is the final nail in putting arrogance and disdain for the rest of the world into U.S. law. Why is the media silent?