Mary’s Kitchen: the Killing of a Miracle. PART 3.

Illustrated with David Freeman’s photos of Mary’s Kitchen.

Throughout history the poor have been the class of people who experienced prejudice from all of humanity. It is no different in America today, especially in Orange County, California. Before we continue with our tale of the Killing of Mary’s Kitchen, let’s zoom out just a little…

In February of 2018, Federal Judge David Carter slapped a temporary restraining order on the County of Orange, citing violations against citizens civil rights. In that TRO Judge Carter demanded that the county come up with a viable plan to assist the homeless in getting off the streets and into housing. Carter gave the county two years to come up with a plan.

Upon hearing the Carter’s order, five homeless people from the riverbed and one advocate decided to have a say in what was going to happen to them. Within months they came up with a plan. Their plan was to create transition camps where the homeless could prepare themselves to move into permanent housing. Key to their plan was the one advocate, a former emergency camp manager in Europe. He laid out what would be a mirror of the emergency camps in Europe. They researched and found a piece of property unused and owned by Caltrans. They drew up their plans for transition camps and had another advocate present it to Judge Carter. Carter liked the idea, yet when it was presented to the County Board of Supervisors they shut it down immediately and hard.

During that same year, Norberto Santana Jr, publisher of the Voice of OC, published a story revealing that Orange County had accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars from the state and federal government earmarked to help the homeless. (What Carter came to refer to as “chipmunking.”)

Even as the Board of Supervisors were answering Judge Carter’s questions about where the money was, supervisors Todd Spitzer and Andrew Do continued to demonize and criminalize the homeless from the riverbed. This was done to sway public opinion and deflect from their own devious doings.

Then, at the end of the year, the county unveiled their plan. The talk was of shelters, wrap around services, navigation workers, and permanent housing. The homeless know only three things about the County’s plan, shelters, jails, or death. There have been some who received permanent housing but usually through their own efforts and not those of the county’s paid navigation workers. Every year more and more homeless die in the street.

Since 2019, over nine hundred homeless people have died on the streets of Orange County. The county will deny these numbers because they do not count a person as homeless if they died at an address – i.e., a person goes to the hospital and dies in the hospital, they’re not counted as homeless because they died at an address. It is interesting to note that in a recent point-in-time count, the county stated that since 2019 there are 1000 less homeless on the street, verifying that their plan is working. That one thousand less homeless is coincidentally very close to that 900 homeless that have died in the streets.

So what does all this have to do with the killing of the miracle of Mary’s Kitchen? Closer examination uncovers how the city of Orange mirrors the tactics of Orange County when it comes to dealing with the homeless.

In the small little kingdoms of which local politicians seem to feel like they’re kings, where transparency is ignored and lying to the public becomes a matter of course, here are two examples that happened to Mary’s Kitchen.

ONE. When the closing of Mary’s Kitchen was first put on the agenda for the Orange city council meeting, many supporters and citizens came to that meeting to speak their opinions, expecting to be heard and listened to. After all had been heard and just before the meeting was officially adjourned, the City attorney rose and announced that, behind closed doors and before the meeting had started, the city council had voted to go along with the city manager’s recommendation to close Mary’s Kitchen, by voting on an issue before any discussion, by the public, could be heard, the city council of Orange showed what they thought of the voters and their opinions and also violated the Brown Act.

TWO. In 2020, one year before the city ordered Mary’s Kitchen off their property, a preliminary environmental impact study was conducted by the city of Orange to permit new construction of an 80 bay warehouse for the huge trucking firm Prologis inc. In that study the question is asked: Are there any neighborhoods, facilities, institutions, that would be impacted by this new construction? The city promptly answered, no, none. And when the CEO of Mary’s Kitchen asked the city was anything new coming that would force Mary’s Kitchen to move- any new construction, their answer, no.

Yet, thanks to an article published in the Voice of OC by investigative reporter, John Underwood, this lie was exposed, revealing that not only did the city council have no regard for transparency, or the truth, they also cared nothing for the less fortunate. King Murphy and his jester John Dumbitru’s false accusations of criminals and prostitutes at Mary’s Kitchen was a feeble attempt to manipulate public opinion to achieve their own ends.

If you want to know where the real demons and criminals are, check your June primary ballots. Dumbitru is running for County Stupivisor and His Majesty Murphy is trying to make a clone of himself, to escape term limits!



Part 4

About Patrick Hogan

Patrick Hogan is a retired surveyor from the international union of Operating Engineers/ local 12. He has had four short stories and five poems published in the last 5 years. He received his Bachelor degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2010. For the last four years he has volunteered at Mary's Kitchen in Orange California.