Did Anaheim’s Council ‘Unite’ in Betraying the Homeless? Greg and Gabriel Argue on FB

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[Author’s note: If I argue with someone in a public Facebook group, and if I think that the conversation sheds useful light on the issues of the day, I reserve the right to port the interaction over here where more people can see it and it will last, in searchable form, for much longer.  Whoever I’m arguing with does not, and need not, consent to the publication of such an exchange: that’s what “public” discussion means.  So our past occasional contributor and commenter Gabriel San Roman, now squire to Gustavo Arellano at the OC Weekly, has had no role in planning the publication of this post onto this blog other than (a) taking part in a public discussion on Theresa Smith’s “People for APD Accountability” Facebook Page and (b) being smart enough and eloquent enough, in my estimation, to hold a productuve conversation where he can defend the cynical view he takes of almost all politicians and formal political activities, as part of his “above it all” public stance, with someone like me — who often agrees with him about desirable social justice goals but is much more willing to get one’s hands dirty engaging within the system.  We welcome Gustavo’s almost inevitable entry into the discussion so that he can defend his squire and call me a “bloviator.”]  Gabriel’s comments will be rendered in revolutionary-proletarian-of-color mahogany red, and mine in sad-Democrat indigo.


[The topic is, again, whether Anaheim’s unanimous approval of Kris Murray’s “Runner Beats the Throw to the Plate and Scores!” resolution last Tuesday represented a betrayal of the homeless by Jose Moreno, Tom Tait, and however many allies they might have had in opposing it if it had been left in unamended form, or if it was appropriate (and in any event, far preferable to seeing her resolution pass in unamended form, although GSR seemed to think that the issue was much less complicated.]

Gabriel San Román September 14 at 9:53am
I hope something like this doesn’t happen at the Riverbed with enforcement patrols ramping up.

Gabriel San Román September 14 at 10:34am
Anaheim still chooses enforcement first over compassionate solutions. Helluva issue for the council to “unite” on.

Greg Diamond
 Yes, Gabriel, that is indeed a good hope to have. I doubt if anyone here disagrees with that.I believe that you’re misconstruing what the Council “united” on. The City Attorney specifically stated that they were incorporating the amendment that the city recognizes the constitutional limits on policies the requirement enforcement of these policies in the absence of adequate resources to defeat a “necessity defense” — and noted that the City’s policies were proceeding on the presumption that the federal judge with control over there issues would issue the same injunctions against Anaheim that he had issued in similar previous situations if they tried to do otherwise. So at the Staff level, even if not the entire Council level, the city has not chosen the “enforcement first” policy regardless of how Murray (or you) would like to spin it. Go listen to that discussion about Tait’s amendment to the resolution again if you need to.

Without that explicit recognition by the City Attorney, I think that this proposal would have lost at least 2 — and probably 4, maybe even 5 — votes.


Gabriel San Román Enforcement is being ramped up. The infamous camping ban remains. There’s no real housing solutions.


Greg Diamond (1) I don’t have a problem with enforcement of people in the camps not committing crimes (or harassing children), as has been alleged, in the nearby neighborhoods. Do you?

(2) On the other hand, I’m not convinced that it’s as large of a problem as the neighboring homeowners assert, in which even I would not expect there to be arrests on that basis, especially if activists are there with their cameras, which I presume we both want to see.

(3) My sense is that most of the talk of “criminal activities” refers to people using drugs — and is intentionally conflated with violent crime, property crime, etc. for political purposes. Whatever you or I may think of such laws, they ARE existing laws, and it’s legitimate for the state (in the broad sense, including cities, counties, etc.) to enforce them. That doesn’t mean it’s wise policy: the effect of enforcing such laws is to end up housing people in jail or prison, an expensive solution that is good for prison guards and not much good for everyone else (including taxpayers.) At some point, common sense should kick in and people should conclude that the less expensive solution — find some places to house them and leave them alone to engage in these sorts of victimless crimes, if they’re intent on doing so — is better than the legal alternatives of arresting them or killing them on a legitimate pretext, and much better than the illegal alternatives of killing them without legal justification or “deporting” them to other cities, states, countries, etc., which is unconstitutional.

(4) A camping ban WITH EXCEPTIONS FOR NECESSITY THAT RENDER IT INOPERATIVE IF ALTERNATIVES ARE NOT PROVIDED is tolerable — meaning that if the polity chooses it, activists have to respect it. It may not be smart and you and I may not like it, but a polity can decide in the course of normal political processes to declare such behavior illegal and pay to house people without cost in exchange for the right to restrict their freedom. (This is contrasted with INTOLERABLE policy choice, such as allowing extrajudicial killings and unconstitutional arrests, which activists are not bound to respect. Activists certainly can and should protest the tolerable chosen policies with which they disagree, but you can’t say that they can’t be implemented in case you want to argue that we ought to set up a dictatorship controlled by the vanguard (which so happens to be you), in which even you’re a bigger fool than I think you are and you have been negligent in not stockpiling the arms needed to overthrow local (and ultimately state and national) government to impose your will. (Seriously, Gabriel — if you want people to go Clive Bundy behind your leadership, you’d have to prepare better than just writing a column in the weekly and some Facebook commentary.)

(5) If, by contrast, you are willing to leave our current democratic processes in place (as if you have a choice about that), then you want to keep people who are at least somewhat sympathetic to your views in office, which in turn means either having a public inclined to elect them or enough money to bamboozle them. (We have neither, and little chance of getting either; the former is more attainable, but NOT by writing about how the entire Council is worthless when a majority still want to see meaningful enough availability of alternatives to defeat a necessity defense — the significance of the City Attorney’s position in my previous comment, which you ignored — prior to mass jailings and expulsions to nowhere. So in a situation where the reactionaries have out-organized the lefties and moderates, as with the present petition drive and Kris-Murray PR offensive, you are going to have to give up on some symbolism in order to maintain a victory on substance. Murray gets the “victory” of branding the response as her own initiative (which won’t fool people in the long run) and while Sheriffs will be there to keep the peace you STILL have to have places for people to go before you round ’em up and head ’em out, or else the judiciary will come in and put it’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus-sized foot down on the enforcement efforts. It’s all in the Council meeting video, watch it again, or for the first time.

As for the lack of “REAL housing solutions” — no shit, Gabriel! Those will take time, planning, money, and the will of the people behind them. (I don’t read you regularly: have you written recently about what those solutions would be, taking note of the “takings clauses” in the constitution in case you have expropriation in mind?)

But they don’t NEED to have “real” ( which I conceive up as being “permanent and expandable” housing solutions in place in order to move people out of the riverbed: they can do it even with “temporary-but-reasonably-adequate” solutions. And City Staff RECOGNIZES that, which IS a victory, and which is NOT what the petition-signing mobs wanted. That’s about as good a victory as could have been had last Tuesday night — and I’d say better than most observers expected.

So come off your high horse and come down here into the policy weeds with the rest of us soft-hearted adults. So far, the best solutions I’ve seen proposed are these:

(A) Nancy West’s nascent “Al Fresco Gardens” idea, for those homeless who are at least somewhat “service-resistant” and don’t want to be shipped to distant indoor lodging,

(B) my even-more-nascent “mutualization” notion that — on as grand a scale as possible up to the federal level — those locales (states, counties, cities, neighborhoods) that want to NIMBY their way out of direct involvement with housing the homeless should by law have to subsidize those locales who ARE willing (or forced) to address the homeless housing problem, including providing funds for lawsuits for negligence etc. that arise from providing homeless services, and

(C) the “Housing First” idea that works well in Utah but that may be of limited applicability in a place like OC where (1) housing prices are already high enough to drive those middle class and below either OUT altogether or INTO below-code residential options; (2) resources (from water to roads) are too limited to allow a population expanding without limits; and (3) scamster developers are slavering for ways to get approval for new building projects that cannot be approved otherwise, due to opposition to untrammeled growth, that, when political winds shift, can be sneakily transformed into the high-end housing that they actually WANT to build.

This is usually where you accuse me (apparently ignorant of the actual definition) of “bloviation,” and then I accuse you in turn of either being (or just pretending to be, for rhetorical reasons) too stupid to understand what I’ve written, because you’d rather fight your easy chair revolution in proposals that would fit on bumper stickers, as with your three-bumper-sticker-length comment above. You avoid taking your next customary dance-step and maybe we can have a useful conversation.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)