The Lady J

I will be giving a copy of this to the Lady. When I fell ill with a life threatening bacterial infection and there was no emergency shelter that would accommodate my hospital visit / IV medication schedule I knew I needed HELP. This Lady stepped forward and allowed me the use of a spare bedroom – entrusting me with a house key. What was suppose to be 3 -4 days became 3+ weeks. she fed me a good supper every day, declining an offer to contribute to the food budget. I have no doubt that her kindness and generosity were instrumental in my living and recovering from this deadly illness. I did thank her profusely but feel she deserves a public acknowledgement of her being a true Lady.

I need also say thanks to the members of al-anon who have helped me make the self journey to the point I could ask for help. For making me feel comfortable – no welcome, accepted and loved – enough to be able to ask for and accept help. But the true gift I treasure from them is the ability to hug people.

If you wonder what you can do about homelessness I offer the above examples. Time, caring, support and a willingness to lend a hand – even if the help needed turns out to be more than than expected.

Letter to the Editor – Abby Times & News

The Mayor should resign. OR the city manager and any other city bureaucrats responsible for these actions should be fired and replaced with people having common sense and compassion. It is one thing to harass the Homeless to the point of persecuting them, it is totally unacceptable to take actions that put their lives at risk. On Thursday February 16, 2006 the city began to steal the tents, bedding, clothing and other possessions of the Homeless – throwing the property of the Homeless into the garbage. In a despicable act they hired people in recovery at Kinghaven to perform the theft under the watchful eyes of city workers. They left the Homeless nothing. Nothing to survive the clear, wind, sub-zero temperature nights with. Uncaring that that their actions in this weather put the health and lives of the Homeless at risk. And Please, the reason so many Homeless are in tents is that the available shelter beds can hold no more than a few percent of the city’s Homeless. Those interested can find information on the reality of the Homeless in Abbotsford at www.geocities.com/homelessinabbotsford.

The city just left these people, these citizens there, exposed to the freezing winds and facing a night of sub-zero temperatures. Ignoring the fact that in having rendered the Homeless even more Homeless they had a moral obligation to find them shelter for at least that night. In a true twist of IRONY one of these Homeless became Homeless last summer because of the actions of the city government and its denial of any responsibility for the consequences of its actions. Over half of the people thrown onto the streets by the city’s actions at the Fraser Valley Inn are still Homeless – unable to find other living quarters for a price they can pay. But here to the city ignored the consequences of its actions and denied any responsibility for helping these people find other lodgings.

Barely into the new year of 2006 and the city once again is ignoring the consequences of its actions, denying any responsibility. It is our city government. If it will behave responsibly then the citizens must force it to behave responsibility. Or accept our complicity and responsibility for the actions taken in our names. I myself cannot accept such such contemptible behaviour which is why I say: Resignations or Firings.

Council member John Smith’s conflict of interest:

With specific reference to Council member John Smith and conflict of interest:

– He is a large booster (Friends of UCFV) or UCFV’s bid for university status
– As a councillor he was and is in a position to influence the decision on what facilities were built and where
– Stated to the audience at a public promotional meeting at UCFV that the Arena was important to/needed for the bid for University status
– Shortly after the results of the vote were announced he was on the phone telling people what a big boost the Yes vote (and thus the arena) was for UCFV’s bid for University status
– Clearly Mr. Smith was in a conflict of interest and should have recused himself had nothing to do with the decision of what to build and where – particularly with respect to the Arena.

Abbotsford City Council as a whole and conflict of interest:

– When faced with a similar position the city of White Rock’s council felt it to be a conflict of interest and unethical for them to actively support the proposal they were placing before the citizens of White Rock.
– Were they correct it is a conflict of interest and thus should Abbotsford’s council have been neutral instead of heavily promoting THEIR plan?

Abbotsford Council ethical behaviour:

– The ethics of using unlimited city assets to promoter plan A.
– Use of city staff to hand out pamphlets and promote plan A.
– Use of city staff on overtime to go around in the evening putting back up Plan A signs blown down by the wind.
– In the final week before the vote having city staff phone the citizens of Abbotsford urging them to get out and vote Yes for plan A.
– The ethics of denying the “No” side access to and use of City property eg. “No” side not allowed to put up displays or distribute literature on city property or at “public meetings”. No side was also told they would be required to pay rent for city facilities the council and Yes promotion used for free.

Abbotsford Council denial for Free Speech:

– The “No” side was not allowed to put up displays or distribute literature on city property or at “public meetings”. The “No” side was also told they would be required to pay rent for city facilities the council and Yes promotion used for free.
– The City used tens of thousands of dollars of City funds to advertise and promote their “Yes” side but refused to even consider or discuss providing funds for the “No “side. In their use of unlimited funds for the “Yes” vote and denial of any funds for the “No” side the City denied the right of free speech and the same access to the voters of Abbotsford to the “No” side.

Questions of conflicts of interest and the buying of city contracts:

– Many construction firms, contractors, suppliers and at least one credit union donated money to the to promote Plan A and/or took out newspaper ads in support of the City’s position
– None of these firms, their family, business associates or partners should be awarded any portion of the financing or construction of Plan A; ideally these firms should not have any dealings with the city and current council
– Any contracts awarded would appear or would be council paying off firms for supporting them on Plan A
– Would give the appearance or be buying city contracts by paying off/paying to support council
– All these firms and council are in a conflict of interest position with any business conducted due to the companies financial support of City staff and council on Plan A.

Questions of timing on bid selection/awarding:

– Vote was held at the end of November: How is it possible to award contracts in January 2007 for ground breaking in April of 2007
– It would seem that the only way this timing could take place is if the City had begun to seek bids before the vote
– If this is the case it would the City is playing favourites and pre-selecting who will be awarded(rewarded) contracts
– Timing is such that no ethical business or persons that waited until the results of the vote were in could bid
– Is the city following the requirements for awarding contracts?
– I have seen no public call/advertisement for bids: how and were was this done and if not why not.

Abbotsford Council ethics and a “sweetheart” deal with Mr. Esposito:

– There is a long history of conflict between Mr. Esposito and the City of Abbotsford including Mr. Esposito suing the City; the city has opposed Mr. Esposito and his Liquor licences and establishments.
– Mr. Esposito owned the property upon which the City Wanted to build the new arena
– After Mr Esposito sold the property to the city his development application received swift approval by council.
– With the history between the City and Mr. Esposito it appears that some kind of under the table deal was reached behind closed doors; especially in light of the City’s lack of ethics and forth rightness vis-à-vis Plan A.

Questions of ethics and conflict of interest for the Board of Governors and President:

– Both parties were closely associated with Councillor John Smith and his obvious conflict of interest between his connection to UCFV and his duties as a Abbotsford City Councillor.
– Despite the obvious conflict of interest between the advantages to UCFV’s bid for University status of having a large arena type complex built next to UCFV and the best interests of the City of Abbotsford the Board of Governors and President actively supported John Smith and Plan A, failing to recuse themselves or inform the public of their conflict of interest.- This lack of ethical awareness raises questions about the fitness of the President and the Board to lead UCFV and the current suitability of the leadership to lead a University.

The Fraser Valley Inn and Aftermath

It is hard to believe but the actions of the city just get worse and worse: stupider and lacking in any consideration for people or consequences. Their actions in regards to the residents of the Fraser Valley Inn deserve only contempt.

As I write this (Saturday July 16, 2005, afternoon) I have no clear understanding of exactly what is happening or will happen with the residents of the Fraser Valley Inn. And anyone who reads the Friday Times story (July15) and then the Saturday News NO story (July 16) can only be as confused as I and the residents of the Inn are. I spoke to several of the residents earlier today (Saturday) and all they know is that apparently the are being tossed out into the streets (evicted is to kind a word for the way they are being treated) this weekend.

I am not about to argue that something does not need to be done about the Inn – it clearly does. And if the city needs to use health provisions to get action, fine. Going after the owners is an excellent idea. But their actions in dealing with the residents are unacceptable, even indefensible. No matter the label you apply to the residents of the Inn ( the Times “low-income” in many ways the kindest; a local restaurant owner quoted in the Times calling the Inn a brothel, which would label the residents ******, a comment I will not dignify by actually spelling out said label), they are residents of Abbotsford. Our fellow citizens who deserve to be treated with consideration.

But instead of making a clear statement on the situation spokespeople duck the issue and the Mayor refuses comment to the Times. Failing the duty of care owed to these citizens. Much more important is the fact that it is clear that it is the actions of the city that are causing the residents of the Inn to need to relocate. But rather than accept responsibility for its actions and deal with the consequences of the course the city is following, they deny responsibility and bury their head in the sand. As for the residents being rendered homeless….. why, there is no homelessness problem in Abbotsford – just ask the city, council or the mayor.

So what do I think is owed? Consideration. The city should have been up front and clear what was occurring. Or, if the city did not know what was happening, found out and told those affected. Acceptance of the consequences for its actions. Residents pay rent at the beginning of the month and it appears they will lose half a months rent, a financial catastrophe for them. They are owed compensation. The city can then go after the owners for reimbursement. They are due aid in dealing with any problems that arise with the Social Assistance bureaucracy from this mandated move. They are truly due the city finding them new housing. Perhaps being required to find housing will serve to drive home to city hall, council and the mayor how their actions on low-cost and subsidized housing have made it all but impossible for those who fall on hard times to find a safe, clean affordable place to live while they get back on their feet and move back into “mainstream” society. This is the very minimum the city owes its ( and our fellow) citizens,

Consideration of the consequences of its actions, acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of its actions and doing what is needed to remedy those consequences. This city administration? This council? This Mayor? The chance of this happening brings to mind the expression “A snowballs chance in Hell”.

It seems clear that we need to replace the mayor, council and senior city staff with people of character, some brains, thoughtfulness, compassion and an eye for where the city should be heading into the future. Then we can begin to into a grand city and superb community to live in. Rather than the laughing stock of the Fraser Valley it has become.

Post Script: I came across this, originally a letter to the editor. The update is that the majority of the residents of the Fraser Valley Inn were unable to find other accommodations. They are currently homeless and denied any welfare on the grounds that being homeless prevents them from job searching (as noted homelessness did not prevent me from finding gainful employment) so that even the $185 is denied them. The final Paragraph, in light of the actions the city is currently taking to cleanse Abbotsford of the homeless is even truer today.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

Air conditioning? In winter?

I am getting damp and moldy, or at least the contents and interior of my car are. With low temperatures and all this rain things are getting damp and staying damp. Earlier in the year dampness caused by moisture in my breath as I slept at night would clear up and dry up from the sun heating the car interior, especially quickly on hot days. Even a damp towel (from showering) dried draped over the steering wheel. The good old days – of sun and warmth. These days it is damp and staying damp, to the point that I put a canvas brief case into the trunk one evening and by the time I removed the following morning it had a little patch of mold. Puts a whole new concept into “old and moldy”. Even my bedding has a certain dampness, fortunately not to the point (yet) where it fails to keep me warm.

I mentioned this dampness problem to a nodding acquaintance of mine stating that I really needed to find a warm parking garage where I could sit and read for several hours with all the doors wide open to air out and dry out the cars’ interior. He pointed out that the air conditioner works as a dehumidifier and I should run it on the next long drive I had to make. Then that 15 minutes a week should serve to keep things much drier. Failing finding the hoped for garage it looks like I will be driving around in the cold winter temperatures with my air conditioner blasting cold, cold air. ‘Shiver’

I do shiver in sympathy, or is that shudder, to think of what this damp weather is/will extract from those living on the streets – eve those fortunate to find some type of shelter from the driving rain.

So the next time you are complaining about getting wet from all the rain, be thankful that you have a place to dry out. A place or opportunity that far too many members of our society currently lack. For some of us the fact is that those old jokes about all this rain causing you to grow moss or mold – is happening. While we homeless would love/dream of a “shelter allowance” that was adequate enough to actually pay for shelter, these cold, wet, damp days many would settle for a place to dry out and sleep in dry conditions. But given the willful blindness of the ideologues in power, (many) local politicians and the public… well “pigs will fly” come to mind. Until people begin to open their eyes and see the reality of our streets and demand changes the homeless ranks will continue to grow.

Et tu, David?

Sorry David but the title just appealed to me to much not to use it, even though the nature of the article has changed. I had read the interview with Dave about the changes coming to Street Hope and had a few bones to pick with Dave. However, with that old Russian proverb “The wise man says ‘I am looking for the truth’ and the fool ‘I have found the truth’” in mind I knew I needed to seek out truth by speaking to Dave myself. Especially after condemning as fools those who look at our social problems and see their particular ‘truth’ without reference to reality.

I had all these great lines and word plays in mind but in speaking to Dave about the article what I had thought and planned to say based on what I had read went into the recycle bin and I had to start over. It was not comfortable as I was required to change my mind, rethink the situation and change my planned actions. Perhaps the fear of change lies at the root of the government, the systems and the publics’ inability and unwillingness to see what is real with regard to homelessness and other social ills. Worse, it would require them to think about what is, not what they think or want to be real. I am sure you all have had the experience of someone in your lives who believes something… well a little weird and have been unable to get them to see reality. They have so much vested in what they believe they cannot begin to change. With regard to social issues so many have vested interests in seeing what they want (or need) to see that getting them to take a fresh, open eyed look is all but impossible. Their ideologies and world view threatened they bury their heads in the sand in the manner of an Ostrich when it does not want to see. For some it may be that if they changed their minds they would have to take some action – refusing to see what really is means they need do nothing. Or perhaps it is shame. As long as the street people remain bums and no-goods they feel justified in their behaviour towards these people. Seeing, really seeing these people as people is going to cast their behaviour in a very different light. Looking at your self and your actions is not only uncomfortable it can be downright painful. Denial is so much more comfortable, favouring making no changes and protecting the way we see our actions and ourselves.

As I said all those lines and words – gone. The points I had planned to make were gone and will have to wait for another day, because I have learned that you need to take another look at things as we so often see what we want to see or believe, not what actually is. Changing ones mind or views is never easy or comfortable but in the words of the character SHREK “Change is good donkey”.

As long as those in charge of the homeless and social assistance situations insist on seeing what they want to see any actions they take will be a waste of taxpayer $$$ and accomplish nothing. Only by seeing and understanding the reality of the homeless and those who fall onto the welfare roles can your actions actually have beneficial, useful effects.
Think of it this way – you have a tall pine shedding needles all over your property and decide to remove it. If you insist the tree is twenty feet to the right of where it is, insist on the tree standing were you believe the tree is, you can chop all you want the tree will remain standing – twenty feet to your left. All you will do is waste time and energy (resources) to no effect. It is the same with social problems and homelessness. Your actions will accomplish nothing until you see reality and base your actions on what is real, not the delusions of ideology or deeply entrenched beliefs.

Do not try to pre-define understanding, and do not make a
principle out of non-understanding.

YUNG-AN