Archive for the Dollhouse and homeless Category

Clear and Present Danger

Posted in <3, Dollhouse and censorship, Dollhouse and homeless with tags , , , on July 14, 2011 by toresimonsen

Owing to political paralysis, the Minnesota state government shutdown. As a consequence, Judge Gearin and Special Master Blatz are reviewing funding requests for core government services.

One of those services is homelessness. Participating in the Minnesota Coalition of Homelessness, one of the petitioners is Catholic Charities.

Not surprisingly, with money on the table threatened by the shutdown, nonprofit groups suddenly claim their services are “core government services”.

As regular readers of my blog know, Catholic Charities denied it was a state actor and claimed it was instead a private actor when I filed a lawsuit against them.

In my legal filings I argued that “The shelter system operated by Catholic Charities works hand in glove with the state. ”

Judge Bruce Peterson, in his order of October 14, 2010, found that Catholic Charities was not a state actor. Judge Peterson apparently gave no weight to Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak’s statement that, “What we did with that was we coordinated all these services together and put a phenomenal person named Cathy Ten Broeke in charge of all that laid out a multi-point program that one by one by one we’ve been executing.”

Yet in the most recent funding actions before Judge Gearin, the Uptake’s live testimony of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless stated unequivocally that, “Providing services that keep Minnesotans sheltered or in housing is a core function of the state.”

Many of these services are provided by groups and organizations like Catholic Charities. In opposition to the impact of the shutdown, Catholic Charities filings are featured prominently on the page of the Minnesota Coalition of the Homeless web page.

Apparently, these groups are private actors when it comes to assertions of freedom, but state actors when it comes to assertions of funding. The system begins to resemble a system designed more to maintain homelessness funding than address the problem of homelessness. Assigning accountability is complicated by the myriad of entities involved. No entity wants to claim to be in charge.

Another key claim I raised in my lawsuit, which was dismissed summarily by Judge Peterson, was the claim that Catholic Charities claims of providing dignity to its clients were fraudulent. The claim that these services are providing dignity was also made by the Minnesota Coalition of Homelessness during the oral arguments to Judge Gearin.

Nevertheless, Judge Peterson and Catholic Charities combated my fraud claim by relying on Bernstein v. Extendicare Services, 607 F.Supp. 2D 1027, (2009), where the court found these statements constituted mere “puffery” and were therefore non-actionable.

In my experiences, I personally found some shelters so bad that at times I chose to sleep outside. If you look at the handout provided to Judge Gearin by the MCH, you will note that they explain that the state grants about $688,000 to provide shelter to approximately 3,980 people. I’ll let you do the math.

Nevertheless, we see once again that “dignity” is a word these groups use freely when their funding is threatened- and why not? After all, it is legally protected puffery.

I find the sudden decision of Catholic Charities to proclaim itself a core government service to be at complete odds with their claims of being a private actor in my case. I find the recent decision by Judge Gearin that Catholic Charities is a core government service is irreconcilable with the decision of Judge Peterson’s decision that they are not a state actor.

A few additional observations are worth making.

Notably absent from the recent core-government functions hearings before Judge Gearin were two groups. First, Catholic Charities did not make a sworn oral argument before the judge. I suppose the affidavit of Tracy Berglund in my case would prove too problematic for Catholic Charities.

The second group was, in fact, the homeless themselves. In watching the testimony of the homeless coalition at Uptake, I noticed that blind people who were to testify on behalf of cuts to their services showed up. Nevertheless, despite the claim that many thousands of homeless would be impacted, the oral arguments did not present the live testimony of a single homeless person.

To me, the fact that they could not produce a single stooge to mutter vaguely about the value of the services, is a statement in itself. This suggests that the homeless themselves are aware they are nothing but human shields used in a game to fund nonprofits rather than real beneficiaries of services.

If this statement seems harsh, consider the following statement from TCDailyplanet:

“Shelters are horrible places,” Catholic Charities director of communications Rebecca Lentz said. “We run shelters because the alternative is having people die on the streets.”

In choosing between staying at a shelter like Safebay or sleeping in a park in fair weather, the park has the upper hand. It’s a choice I’ve made. Maintaining the shelter system with funding may make it much more difficult for the homeless to make that choice. I refer here to the (subsequently vacated) Jones v. City of Los Angeles case.

The city will largely maintain its “benevolent” practice of not pursuing the prosecution of homeless- in order to save money. Most homeless live with with random searches and seizures and adhere to a regimented lifestyle without the benefit of real rights.

The cynical use of charities creates a charitable veil that covers the harsh and ugly truth. Hiding behind socially acceptable symbols, like the cross, groups are able to perpetuate far more harm than they would if they had to openly don the mask of the state or a corporation. The symbol allows for the unquestioning social acceptance that the groups are well meaning- even if they are not. If a corporation, like Haliburton, tried to run a homeless operation the same way Salvation Army ran Safebay, there would be no tolerance for it. Yet these same conditions are tolerated when run by a nonprofit.

It should also be noted that the coalition’s characterization of the homeless as chemically dependent and mental ill probably stems from the fact that one can secure better living conditions by claiming to have these problems. (I will not digress into a side discussion of mental health funding incentives to warehouse people without need or benefit, but I will refer you to the U.S. Rep. Tim Walz video.)

Again, if it seems harsh, consider the following from Minnpost:

“We’re not sheltering mentally ill people, we’re creating them. All of their anxieties, any of those conditions of mental health deteriorate under poor conditions,” said Nilsson, a soft-spoken woman.

My own recent experiences in homelessness stemmed from the simple wish to express my love for Eliza Dushku which was construed as a mental illness. Did Dante not write for Beatrice?

Over the course of the last few YEARS, I have lost many things including a car as well as my freedoms. Many people, who were former friends and family, have become enemies.

My efforts have been peaceful and democratic in nature. Camus reminds me that “Violence is never justified.”

My attempts at raising serious interests with wholly grassroots democratic methods has been a failure. My blog has been the subject of constant ridicule. My posts to various social networking sites have been censored or overlooked by the so-called “slacktivists”. My press releases have been ignored. My testimony before the Minnesota legislature appears to have been ignored. My lawsuit against Catholic Charities has been summarily dismissed. My suggestions to provide homeless individuals, rather than organizations, with the direct relief of Chromebooks, has gone nowhere. Nevertheless, the systemic subversion of democracy I experienced, constitutes a clear and present danger to everyone’s freedom.

For all my efforts, the only thing I really have to show for it, is the mutilated corpse of democracy and the video game I made about my experiences.

I watch now with the interest of an exile at the events unfolding in Minnesota. I see a shutdown in which access to public restrooms is restricted, alcohol is becoming scarce, state parks are closed, individual economic opportunities are being undermined by policies or arbitrary and capricious judicial holdings- and it lightly mirrors the experience of homelessness.

It is quite possible that social control policies are tested on the poor before being implemented on the wider population in softer versions. In any event, many people chose to ignore my experiences in homelessness which I reported on my blog. As the events continue to unfold in Minnesota, I sometimes wonder what these people will do now.

From exile, however, I do not wonder what I will do. I will live like my namesake, somewhat unpredictably, with flashes of brilliance, and always expressing my love for Eliza Dushku.

Homelessness photos from old posts.

Posted in Dollhouse and homeless with tags , , on October 7, 2010 by toresimonsen


This was my shelter bed.

Marchers in the Homeless memorial event

Marchers in the memorial homeless event.

Simpson shelter's "beds"

Beds at Simpson Shelter

Happy Birthday Eliza Dushku

Dollhouse Sign posted at Catholic Charities Branch 3

Homeless Taste of NFL Volunteer

Lunch at the job club!

Not currently homeless.

Posted in Dollhouse and homeless with tags , on August 28, 2010 by toresimonsen

Just a short update.

On a mission in San Diego

Posted in Dollhouse and homeless on July 22, 2010 by toresimonsen

Ended with a train ride and bus trip out to mission beach.

I arrived at Old Town just in time to see the fireworks.

Post Comicon Fireworks

After that, it was OP.

Staying at the beach is a pretty mixed experience. It seems very safe in general. There is a lot of foot traffic and people continue to go to the beach after hours for swims. There was only one other person apparently sleeping on the beach.

The biggest disadvantage is the unseasonably cool San Diego weather and the mist. It mists all night which means your top layer of clothing or blanket will get damp. As the temperature drops, it can get quite cool. You will need multiple layers of clothing to compensate for this.

The atmosphere itself is quite relaxing.

I’m still trying to locate shower facilities. If worse comes to worse, there is always the ocean.

Commuting to shelters.

Posted in Dollhouse and homeless with tags , , on May 16, 2010 by toresimonsen

I have spent a few days in St. Paul. The conditions at Harbor lights proved simply intolerable. The environment is noisy, overcrowded, and chaotic. Although I am on a waitlist at Our Savior, I have not been able to get in. (I finally got in on Friday). The process of moving in and out of a place every week and going to lottery over and over again is stressful and seems counterproductive.

St. Paul offers its own set of challenges. I am not entirely familiar with the area. I have opted to stay at Dorothy Day. Check in at Dorothy Day appears to have the both random PBT testing and bag searches at the door. Dorothy Day now provides bedding to people staying in the free to stay area. You get a plastic bag to store the bedding in and write your name to keep track of it from night to night. You should inspect the bedding before use as it may not be clean.
Check in is at 8:30 p.m. and exit is 6:30 a.m. The center reopens at 9:00 a.m.

In the morning, I opt to go to Salvation Army for breakfast. The breakfast seems more like a dinner or lunch at times, but the food is not in short supply. The center does not open until 7:15 or 7:20 because service does not start until 7:30 a.m. (I am not entirely sure why departure from Dorothy Day is 6:30 a.m. when breakfast is not served until 7:30 a.m.)
Dinner has been a bit more problematic than anticipated. Last fall when I spent a few days at Dorothy Day they served hot meals even during the later check in. Now it is sandwiches.
Between 6:30-7:30 there are few things one can do. There is a free hotspot at the St. Paul Convention center provided by Headwaters cafe. I am not entirely sure what there hours are as they seem to close fairly early (3pm) and open later (7 am) than the coffee shops in Minneapolis. I picked up a cup of coffee at the cafe. There is also a document printing company inside the convention center. It is tucked away in a small corner of the building. You have to go upstairs and toward the carpetted area and go through the glass doors on the right.

The library hours are also a bit different. The library is typically open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Monday has different hours, but since Monday is lottery day, I won’t be in St. Paul anyway. The library does provide access to the internet. In my experience, such access was limited to 1 hour per day per library. You need to library hop in order to get more than 1 hour. In Minneapolis, the access to the internet seems much better- allowing for multiple renewals. The wi-fi access is unlimited at St. Paul so having a laptop or netbook is critical in that circumstances. For people without their own laptops, netbooks, or wi-fi capable devices, Minneapolis is probably a better bet. There is a scanner on the third floor, but you will probably need a usb stick to take full advantage of it. Printing costs a dime.

Transportation can get a bit sticky. MTC has placed automated machines inside their store. Points of sale appear to close relatively early, which means you cannot count on purchasing fare after 5 p.m. This can make it very difficult for someone like me. I can’t buy the fare until I know that I have a bed at Our Savior. I don’t find out until 6 p.m. The smart thing would be to have a token in stock for such an occasion. (Free bus rides would again be helpful).

After a few days in St. Paul, I headed back to Our Savior. My first night in Our Savior I had a room all to myself. It is the first time in months I have had a room to myself. Still, it meant a bed that could have been used was not. Some people have been wondering why the shelters do not call us, rather than always vice-versa.

In any case, my last night at Our Savior is tonight and then the cycle of stupidity begins again with a new lottery Monday.

My goal is to save Dollhouse.

Posted in Dollhouse and censorship, Dollhouse and homeless, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse with tags , , , , on April 28, 2010 by toresimonsen

I attended the Minnesota House committee meeting at Health Care and Human Services Finance Division. There was extensive testimony, much from institutional players, about the proposed changes to the MFIP funding and more.

I am homeless. I am not receiving GA, but I took the opportunity to testify. I focused on the deprivations of fundamental rights and censorship threats to democracy.

You can watch my testimony here.

I am uploading the video to Dailymotion.

I mentioned my interaction with other political figures, specifically Rep. Tim Walz and Gubenetorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Those stories can be found on my post on unconventional politics.

As I summarized in my testimony, my goal is to save Dollhouse.

Please help save Dollhouse.

Please sign the e-petition.

Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Please send emails.

Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the Twitition.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

PLEASE!!!! Let other people know about the efforts to save the show.

MFIP Cuts? GA safe for now.

Posted in Dollhouse and homeless, Dollhouse and Jobs, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse on April 26, 2010 by toresimonsen

As regular readers know, I am not currently on GA. In my case, it does not seem necessary.

I found out today that the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee released its proposed budget. I heard about this by chance while at Central Lutheran Church. There was a table with flyers. I picked one up.

I decided to head over to the capital. Getting there was not easy. I had to pay for a bus fare to get to the capital. I am not sure how many people in a similar situation will be able to get to the capital. The Basillica would not provide tokens to get to the capital and there did not appear to be any coordinated effort to get people from Minneapolis there. For example, the organizers from Stand Together Minnesota focused on outreach at drop-in centers in St. Paul.

There are some budget cuts coming. At the time being, the current budget proposes no cuts to the $203 general assistance program. In a somewhat unusual move, the cuts are being made to the MFIP program which supports families.

The MFIP program is being impacted. The current proposal is to cut $9.5 million from MFIP. The eligibility requirements for MFIP have been reduced to 110% from 115% (so you must be poorer to qualify). There is also a reduction in asset values. Cars can only be valued up to $7,500. The old limit was $15,000.

A handful of people wearing supportive stickers regarding MFIP were walking around the capital.

Public testimony on the proposed cuts is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. at the capital tomorrow.

As for me, I spent most of my time to try to conduct outreach to save Dollhouse. I handed out materials to various people at the capital about Dollhouse.