Re: Santa Monica Article BOUNCE - RESEND to HPN

jennafer waggoner (
Thu, 28 May 1998 23:39:15 +0000

Feinstein... a Watermelon-Green on the Outside, Beverly Hills Pink on
the Inside...
Michael Feinstein and Today's Green Party Politics, Santa Monica City
Council Member
Exclusive and Excluding... the poor

Becky Johnson wrote:
> Wed, May 27, 1998
> article submitted for Street Spirit
> Scapegoat City
> by Becky Johnson
> and Robert Norse
>         On May 8th, Santa Monica demonstrators, inspired by San Diego's
> turbulent and well-attended homeless protest to the South, began one of
> their own at City Hall, seeking shelter from El Nino weather, police
> harassment, and city indifference.
>         This has happened before.  In 1993, Santa Monica's City Council
> dispersed a five-month demonstration in front of City Hall by allowing
> homeless people to sleep in Memorial Park.  But when right-wing bigots used
> the specter of drug-use and undesirable elements to float an Initiative,
> City Council--fearful of losing the '94 elections--closed off the park at
> night and made night-time sleeping illegal in the  rest of the city as
> well.  Even though they pandered to fear and prejudice, the liberals still
> lost their "majority".
>         In 1998,  Councilmember Michael Feinstein is singing the same tune,
> worried that the new protest by activist Jennafer Waggoner and her
> rain-soaked crew could throw a monkey-wrench in his political plans.
> Complains Feinstein,  "The conservatives used our being kind to the
> homeless, to gain a majority on City Council.   The irony of what Jennafer
> Waggoner and the protest are doing, is that we have a chance to win back a
> seat lost to conservatives in 1994, and the protest could ruin our
> chances."
>         "Whatever deal you make with the City, expect it to be broken."
> commented one-time City Council candidate, and homeless advocate, Ron
> Taylor, who later became the subject of a famous film by Richard Cohen,
> Taylor's Campaign .  "In that case during the negotiations two (24 hour)
> bathrooms were opened.  One in Memorial Park and one in Lincoln Park.
> Both closed when the city council voted to close all the parks at night
> early in 1996" Taylor snuffed.   "And if Jennafer and the homeless protest
> cost them a seat on City Council [in  November 1998] , then good.  They
> deserve to lose the seat."
>         The 1998 Santa Monica Flamingians ReUnite! boasts forty protesters.
> Demands include needed year-round shelters and guarntees that no elderly
> or disabled on Section 8 will be displaced from their dwellings.  The
> protest is supported by Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jail, & Side by Side.
> Waggoner also edits the feisty street paper Making Change [ currently
> fighting with the English megapaper The Big Issue  for survival].  Said
> Waggoner:  "We participate in group meals [and]... make a meal every night.
> A local union organizing workers at the Radisson Hotel had a large march
> which ended up at the sleep-out at city hall where ...union leaders
> acknowledged that our struggle was their struggle...If we had fair labor
> practices, there wouldn't be any homeless.  They totally understood our
> plight."
>         City Council has criminalized protest at City Hall by closing
> between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.   "We've had some particularly hard nights.  On
> the night of May 11th, it was pouring down rain outside. We were on the
> sidewalk which, at that time was the only legal place we could be. We were
> pushed to the curb, like the recyclables and the trash that the city thinks
> we are.  It started raining so we went back on City Hall property under the
> overhang next to the building to get out of the rain.  The police came at 4
> AM and forced us back into the pouring rain.  We were really shocked by
> that."
>         Feinstein supported Waggoner and homeless advocates in a losing
> fight last year to defend the rights of the homeless to sit on the 3rd St.
> Promenade sidewalk.  This year he, has taken a different view:   "While the
> protesters are right about the gap between shelter space and the number of
> homeless in need, Santa Monica spends more per capita on the homeless than
> just about any other city in California."-echoing the excuses for
> repression used from Santa Cruz to Eureka.    Councilmember Ken Genser,
> claims the city spends $2 million per year on homeless services.
> "And 93% of the money goes to salaries" responded Ron Taylor.
> "Homelessness is big business, if you're not homeless."
>         Waggoner is an old hand at bringing bad conditions to public
> notice.  Last year, she  wrapped up in a towel and took a bathed in a City
> Council sink before members of the press to pressure the city to reopen
> public showers [Street Spirit  7/97] .  Four months later, Waggoner
> established shelter space for more than 100 at the boarded-up Flamingo
> Hotel until police sawed her out of the lock-down claw and took her to
> jail. [Street Spirit 4/98]   On Christmas, Jennafer and others slept out at
> a nativity scene set up by the City to show that mannequins get better
> shelter than homeless people.  Her public criticism of City Council at
> their microphone has prompted them to walk out and even call for her
> arrest.
>           " This city is not the evil empire," complained Feinstein.
> "Jennafer slams us,  thus alienating the grassroots support from those who
> are housed."   As to the particular people being "alienated", Feinstein was
> not specific.  "When Mayor Holbrook refuses to allow crucial homeless
> issues on the agenda,"  Waggoner exclaimed,   "I think that's outrageous.
> If the people don't control the agenda, who does?"
>         Was Santa Monica or Sacramento  to blame for inadequate shelter
> this winter?  Ron Taylor admits,   "We've got to blame it right on the top.
> It was Governor Pete Wilson who wouldn't open the armories."   But
> Feinstein candidly admits:   "Clearly the homeless got screwed because the
> weather changes were not matched by social service response.   A lot of the
> homeless don't like it, but we are surrounded by cities who don't do
> anything.  They publicly say they don't need to provide homeless services
> because Santa Monica does. Malibu,  Beverly Hills, Culver City don't do
> anything at all.  Rather than rallying to support us, they act like we
> haven't done anything. Nobody protests at Culver city.  Nobody protests in
> Beverly Hills.  To be singled out is ludicrous."
>         Taylor counters this "we've done enough" argument with some heat:
> "Why do we have a 96 year old woman [Annie Paschell]  sleeping on the front
> lawn of City Hall?  What the hell.  She was a resident 65 years of Santa
> Monica.  Starting in 1993 she slept for over two years on the front lawn at
> city hall and in city parks."  Santa Monica City Council's hostility to the
> poor is nothing new:  it fired its own pro-homeless City Attorney, Bob
> Meyers after he successfully resisted writing a sleeping ban and a feeding
> ban in 1992.
>         Feinstein sees a dilemma:  "The more we do, the more people  will
> come here.  We could provide more shelter space, but it wouldn't solve the
> problem."  So for him,  sheltering homeless people only "creates" more
> homelessness--or, at least, more visible homeless people to annoy swing
> voters.    Some merchants and developers are afraid that  homeless people
> drive away tourists.   The logic follows that since it's tourist dollars
> that fund homeless services, we must ban the homeless in order to save
> them.
>         Activists say the Santa Monica "camping" Ban  is cruel or unusual
> punishment since there is literally nowhere for them to sleep.   Feinstein,
> however,  says things aren't so bad:.   "There are no public camping areas
> so that no other space exists to sleep. Unofficially, the doorway option
> and people sleeping on the beach is what people do.   The police know this,
> and only rarely is ticketing actually occurring."  Genser claims police
> issued only 86 citations in 1997.  "That's only one every 4 days."
>         But Waggoner has been homeless.  She lost her van in a calculated
> police seizure at a homeless protest in 1996.  She spends many hours with
> homeless people, putting together her newspaper, running a feeding program,
> dealing with the AIDS crisis, and organizing protests:   "Its more like
> police are chasing people all around town, and ticketing them when they
> can.  If they see the same homeless person around for more than a few
> weeks, that's when they start citing them. "        Taylor concurred.  "Its
> the Walkers Syndrome.  They want us to keep walking."
> Those wishing to support Flamingians ReUnite! may call (310) 289-7446
> or send e-mail to


Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, For All my Relatives

Jennafer Waggoner
Making Change...
a community newspaper empowering the
poor and unhoused with an income
and a voice...
P.O. Box 3622, Santa Monica, CA 90408
(310) 289-7446

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