OC Homelessness News, and Todd Spitzer’s Dream Journal!


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Housing commissioner Houchen muses wistfully, a few days after saving Todd Spitzer’s life (an incident we’ll retell a bit later in this story) :

“WHAT IF….THERE WAS A SIXTH SUPERVISOR?

“He would be a true gentleman with a decent upbringing.  He’d be someone with decades of experience in public office, and unafraid to exercise political will.

“Our Sixth Supervisor would have superior intellect, uncommon sense and and an incredible sense of humor, he would rather laugh with you than at you.

“Our Sixth Supervisor would be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, all at the same time but in different combinations.

“When tough decisions face our hero, he embraces the challenge with confidence and courage as if he were a born leader.  He’d be recognized as Supervisor by the people and for the people and a champion of the 99%.

The People’s Supervisor.  Supervisor Newman.”

************

Well, the People’s Supervisor would certainly have made it to the Special Meeting on Monday April 2nd, and possibly even brought it to a quorum, so it could have been more than a “discussion meeting.”  I mean, it really seemed important!  Just the next morning, Judge David O. Carter was scheduled to demand to know what next step(s) the Supes would take in the urgent matter of sheltering the riverbed and Civic Center homeless, now that they’d been scared off from temporary supervised tent accommodations by THE RISE OF THE NIMBOTS in three wealthy OC towns.  

But Todd Spitzer, who as usual had caused/exacerbated most of the problems, didn’t feel the Monday meeting worth bothering with, nor did the feckless Michelle Steel and Lisa Bartlett, leaving Chairman Andrew Do and Vice Chairman Shawn Nelson (who are both starting to look good in comparison to their useless colleagues) to lead a “discussion meeting” all by their lonesome.  The staffs of all three Deadbeat Supervisors refused to tell this writer what important function had called their bosses away that afternoon – like it was none of the public’s business what our $200K-a-year-plus public servants might be up to during working hours. 

I couldn’t help remembering Norberto’s 2016 classic “OC Supervisors Full-time Pay for Part-time Work” and its sage recommendations – it’s really high time to DRAIN THE FIFTH FLOOR SWAMP, give them part-time pay, and save $5 million a year.  ANYWAYS…

Andrew’s Tale.  Chairman “Crack House” Do was now at liberty to share his narrative, which while self-serving seemed accurate enough. Do, in his telling, had been working diligently, patiently, sensitively for six months to provide each riverbed denizen with shelter and services, dividing the area in sixths and concentrating on one sector at a time, when along comes his hotshot colleague / DA-wannabe Spitzer with his never-absent press entourage, and promises to clear off the riverbed in 30 days.

And this was the beginning of the endless EMERGENCY we find ourselves in:  There was nowhere to put those 1000+ people except back onto the unwelcoming streets of OC’s cities; advocates sued, Judge Carter forced a solution, it turned out to be a half-assed 30-day motel solution with no plan after the 30 days; after that Carter forced another solution, that was Big Tents on County Property in 3 cities; the cities rebelled, spurred on by Spitzer’s insane and irresponsible fearmongering …you know the whole story so far.

And Andrew also dinged those cities, Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach (and now Costa Mesa) for refusing to do their share for the homeless when Santa Ana, Anaheim and Fullerton do so much already and the homeless originally came from all OC cities.  As the Chairman pointed out, less than half of the unfortunate dwellers in Santa Ana’s “Courtyard” shelter came from Santa Ana, by the most recent count, while the majority originally came from ALL OVER this county, including the towns that don’t want to help.  

Shawn’s Tale.  Then it was Vice-chair “Rip Rap” Nelson‘s turn to spin a “how we got here” narrative, which again seemed accurate enough. It’s true that Shawn for years lived three doors down from Fullerton’s Armory shelter and never had any problems, and then sold the home to a family member who still lives there, at no loss of home value.

And it’s true that Shawn alone among the Supes has been trying to do SOMETHING about sheltering the homeless since the beginning of his tenure 7 years ago, and has consistently been shot down by NIMBYs and their council representatives (although it could not be truly contended that communication is the man’s forte.)  First Fullerton.  Then Santa Ana.  Then Anaheim.  Then his Big Tents idea shot down by his colleagues last year.  Then his Big Tents idea accepted by his colleagues but shot down FURIOUSLY and SPECTACTULARLY by Irvine, Laguna and HB.  And now, even Costa Mesa raising a tantrum over he and Senator Moorlach just LOOKING INTO the possibility of using Fairview Hospital. Not for the first time, Shawn dropped the hint that the Judge should punish recalcitrant NIMBY cities by ordering a TRO preventing them from enforcing their own anti-camping ordinances.  (Homeless Mecca Irvine Here We Come!)

Shawn also kvetched as always that what he and his colleagues do try to do is not appreciated, not only by the NIMBYs but by the advocates who SHOULD be cheering him on.  Yes, it does not get emphasized enough: the acerbic potty-mouthed Supervisor and Congressional candidate NEEDS LOVE.

“We are open to ANY damn idea, let’s HEAR one,” was the message of both men.  And Shawn joined in with Andrew’s condemnation of Spitzer’s fearmongering:  “I’m sick of hearing my colleague paint these people as 6’4” menacing sex abusers right outta prison.  You should talk to some of these folks like I have.  THEY ARE BROKEN PEOPLE.

***Tuesday***

I made it to the Circus of Mayors Tuesday morning but had to leave at noon for a gig, so am partly relying on two invaluable public resources – Lou Noble’s videos (“For those about to rock, we SALUTE LOU!”) and the Voice of OC coverage.  There’s an overflow room in that courthouse on the ground floor, where a few of us advocates, a few of us journalists, and a surprising number of homeless people themselves, settled in to watch the proceedings without having to jostle with the bigwigs.  So imagine our surprise when Judge Carter himself walked into the room, apologized for the limited space upstairs, and told us how to go about speaking to the Court if we wanted to.

The Mayors took turns on stage like a Carnival of Animals, good ones and bad ones from Kind Cities and Cruel Cities.  Anaheim’s Tait, Fullerton’s Chaffee, and Santa Ana’s Pulido recited the list of all the things their towns already do for the homeless.  Chaffee told Carter how he was trying to pull strings to get the Armory to stay open past April 15, but wasn’t promising anything yet.  Pulido urged the richer cities to step up, and stop acting like their children are uniquely delicate and unsuited to be anywhere near the homeless – the Civic Center and Courtyard are MUCH closer to several Santa Ana schools than the proposed Great Park Tent would’ve been to ANY damn Irvine schools.  Mayor Tita Smith boasted of some service the city of Orange provides, but I didn’t catch what it was.

What adjectives to describe Irvine mayor Don Wagner?  Fat and tall but with a high-pitched whiny voice, the insufferable Repug INSISTED that his large wealthy metropolis is pulling its weight in the homelessness crisis, but come on – TENTS IN THE GREAT PARK?  This just can NOT be allowed to happen because… because… it’s not safe there for the homeless themselves, hasn’t been remediated properly since it was a Marine base.  (Never mind that developers want to BUILD there, remediated or not.)  And – jeez – they don’t have water or utilities – never mind that that’s because Irvine refuses to provide that.  Also, never mind that this area of the Great Park is the only County property that was actually ZONED SB2 FOR A HOMELESS SHELTER BY THE CITY ITSELF – something that Borderline Felony-Stupid Councilwoman Christina Shea did years ago, and can’t remember doing it or why.  Never mind, insisted “Spanky” Wagner, Irvine was looking at ANOTHER property that would be MUCH better.  Of course he offered no details at all, he’d have to get back to you later after a lotta things were ironed out.

I can’t wait for the Temporary Tent Solution to be forced on Irvine’s NIMBYs.  

Judge Carter has a special way (so far) of buttering up politicians and officials for the “great effort” and “good faith” they are evincing, LOL, while in the next breath uttering a subtle threat.  He is as much as encouraging Santa Ana’s Pulido to go ahead and sue the other cities for class discrimination so he’ll have jurisdiction over them, and he actually DID encourage Carol Sobel, the attorney for my People’s Homeless Task Force, to ASK him to put TRO’s on recalcitrant municipalities as Shawn had suggested.  So far Carol has demurred on that.  And at least twice he quietly but darkly threatened a FORENSIC AUDIT on the County’s finances to figure out where all the mysterious INTEREST on the chipmunked funds disappeared to over all the years.

May the day of Carter’s Wrath come Sooner rather than Later!

*****

“Suddenly Saving Supervisor Spitzer”

Like an opium addict to the den, like a bear to the beehive, like a shark to chum, like a frightened child to safety, our friend Spitzer will rush out of a hearing and hit the mikes and cameras at breakneck speed, and woe betide anyone standing in the way!  (Who IS that short Latino-looking KFI guy with the mike?  He and Todd are INSEPARABLE, and when Todd’s not on the air, they confer like colleagues on what they’re gonna do next.)

But I started to notice that, when I’m standing at the back of the gaggle, Todd keeps glancing nervously at me, even though all I do is listen.  Am I his guilty conscience?  Well, on Tuesday he broke the ice and clasped my hand:  “Vern, didn’t I have you in my house, playing my piano?”  “Um, yeah?  That’s true, that happened.”  Then he started complaining about the stuff I’d been writing about him on this blog, and how I illustrated my last piece with pictures of his head tilted in different directions.  Well, it’s nice that he still reads my blog, even though he won’t answer my phone calls or texts.  But my criticisms of him are not unique, and he takes none of it to heart, so who cares.  Demagoguery seems to be working for him.

At the time I didn’t realize he’d been on John & Ken the week before, puzzling out loud to millions of listeners, in the perpetual perpendicular pronoun:  “Why am I going to build — really? — in Newport Beach, what, a mile from the coast — should I give everybody an umbrella, a lounge chair, and a piña colada? I mean, is that my responsibility?  Or can I put people in the High Desert, and give them services, and at least where land is cheap and they’re away from everybody else.”  This crazy proposal, which sounds ripped straight out of the uneducated fantasies of NextDoor or anonymous Cunningham commenters, drew a swift and pungent retort from San Bernardino Supervisor Lovingood who, while bristling at the notion of the High Desert being a dumping ground with no real people, also offered tips on how REAL Supervisors deal with their homeless population.

But then – oh my!  A man flew out of the assembled crowd and lunged at the demagogue, swinging and missing, while quick-thinking homelessness advocate Tim Houchen placed himself between the endangered Supervisor and the man, who turned out to be Travis, a homeless veteran with PTSD.  Travis began babbling and weeping, not making too much sense, except for when he referred to Spitzer as a “WMD” (weapon of mass destruction); meanwhile a shaken Spitzer quickly fled with his aide, as advocates and the attorney Brooke Weitzman worked at calming Travis down.

This was Travis a vet voicing his outrage at Supervisor Tod Spitzer.This is one of our Vets who lost it, Many of our Veterans who are homeless with PTSD lose it after a while of being homeless when they don't get the help they really need, Sorry to say that Supervisor Tod Spitzer hasn't chosen the right words to diffuse the misconception of who is out there in our homeless community, instead he has done more harm then good by taking about the criminal element and not more about the homeless victims who need housing.

Posted by Lou Noble on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

 

Combining this scary incident with the grave peril Mr. Spitzer faced in Wahoo’s last year, and the innumerable sex offenders and violent felons he came within yards of while touring the riverbed with Judge Carter, US Marshalls, and the ubiquitous camera crews, we came to appreciate the horrendous stress and fear that must attend every day of Being Todd Spitzer.  Hence our discovery [***satire alert***] of Todd’s Dream Journal, apparently kept as a sort of therapy, was unimaginably serendipitous.

The Orange Juice Blog is not at liberty to reveal how we acquired this journal (although if you guess that Todd may have accidentally dropped it as he fled from Travis, you might not be far off.)  This blog is sensitive to a man’s privacy, but we feel that the public interest in the mental state of the DA candidate outweighs that, and justifies sharing passages of the journal.  Regularly.

Thursday March 28, 4:15 AM.  Once again I fell out of bed and woke up in a terror, my heart pumping like crazy.  After assuring Jaime I was all right, I came to the kitchen table to have some warm milk and write this.

The first thing I remember in my nightmare, I was walking along the riverbed at dusk with Judge Carter and the camera crews as I have so many times, when I had this strange uneasy feeling and turned around, and there was that familiar face again – that preacher from Wahoo’s, bearded and squinting, whispering, “Jesus loves you, Todd Spitzer!”

My heart jumped into my throat, and I turned away, but everyone was gone – no Judge, no US Marshalls, no camera crew!  I reached into my coat pocket for my handcuffs and gun.  I thought I’d remembered putting them there but they were gone.  I turned around and realized that I’d dropped them, and the preacher was holding my handcuffs and gun and grinning, and snarling, “Am I a sex offender, Todd Spitzer?  Am ***I*** a sex offender?”  Then he started walking toward me and I ran like mad!

Or, rather, I TRIED to run, but it was like my feet were in quicksand, and the preacher just kept getting taller and his legs getting longer.  I was running as fast as I could, and he was taking long slow steps, and he kept gaining on me!  I looked to my right – the riverbed was full of flowing water… and then to my left – and who was sitting there on a boulder but Tony and Susan!  They were laughing and laughing at me.  “Hurry up Todd, he’s getting closer!” snickered Susan.  “Hey, we gave you a chance, didn’t we?” chuckled Tony.  I cursed at them, and kept trying to run.

Then I heard the sound of a helicopter – it was already dark.  I looked up – it was John & Ken, come to rescue me!  They dropped down a rope ladder, and Ken yelled into a megaphone, “Grab the ladder, Supervisor!  We got you!”  But every time I reached for it it swung away out of my grasp.  I felt the preacher’s breath on the back of my neck, snarling, “Sex offender, eh?  Really, Todd?”

Then, like I said, I fell out of bed and woke up.  I hope these nightmares go away when I become District Attorney.  I think that will take care of everything.  Otherwise… I don’t know what to do. 

I gotta try to get a couple hours sleep now.  Press conference at 9…

 


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.