Archive for homeless

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.

Case Dismissed

Posted in Dollhouse and censorship with tags , , , on October 14, 2010 by toresimonsen

Regular readers know, I have been running a blog to save Dollhouse for Eliza Dushku, who I love.

I also spent several months homeless in Minneapolis.

In an attempt to save Dollhouse, I often handed out fliers to people I came into contact with. I also took photographs of a variety of events that I participated in.

I was confronted by a staff/volunteer at Branch 2 of Catholic charities who prevented me from distributing my fliers to save a television show. In short, I tried to take the staff/volunteers picture. I was told that I could not take photographs inside the shelter. The next day at Branch 3 of Catholic Charities, I tried to take photographs of people playing Madden 2010 on a Playstation 3 for a second time at Branch 3 and was again told no.

As a result of these denials, I sought a legal order to enjoin them from preventing me from conducting outreach to save Dollhouse and allowing me to continue to take pictures. I am also concerned about the taking of pictures of homeless people while they sleep.

The injunction evolved into a full blown lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed.

Readers may recall I stated:

“I am asserting that Catholic Charities invades privacy by video taping everything at the shelter. I also assert there is a first amendment right to engage in solicitation and free speech as a homeless resident at Hennepin County secure area. The fact that it is a charity and not the state should not make a huge difference. I maintain that fundamental rights cannot be outsourced by transferring the administration of programs to charitable organizations. Allowing charities to eviscerate the first amendment would effectively create a “charitable” curtain, isolating members of the homeless community and impairing their ability to communicate with the outside world. Disallowing photographs/media in this environment would also fundamentally impair legitimate news gathering activities.”

The judge ruled for Catholic Charities on all counts.

You can read the decision here.

Shelter Locker.

This was my shelter lock.

You may also want to listen to Mayor RT Rybak.

I focus on the part where Mayor RT Rybak claims, “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.”

Freedom of the press- analysis?

FYI, Homeless people, like myself, could store our things in lockers during the day if we were paid guests of the pay for stay section.

Here’s a look inside the “private” Branch 3. This photo shows the empty inside, but anyone standing on the sidewalk would be able to see the people inside.

Here is a photograph of people standing on the street, visible to all the passing traffic, while waiting to get into Branch 3. People are often waiting outside. I have used a paint program to hide their faces.

Here is an example of what happened to one of my signs, prior to the initiation of the lawsuit.

Some readers will recall that I asked Minnesota Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) whether homeless people should be videotaped while they sleep in homeless shelters. My efforts were featured in a City Pages article. You can watch the video to see her response which is carefully crafted but open minded.

I also attended the Minnesota House committee meeting at Health Care and Human Services Finance Division. 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.

More background on the legal case can be found here.

You can also watch my hastily thrown together proposal for Eliza Dushku.

Fixing nothing, but fixed nevertheless.

Posted in Dollhouse and censorship with tags , , on October 10, 2010 by toresimonsen

I recently complained about the fact that Craig’s list had moved the post I made linking to photographs I took while homeless to the “isle of the misfits”- basically a Craig’s list junk heap.

Moved?

I received some very negative feedback from what appears to be the person who is a Craig’s list “helper”.

I guess the Craig’s list ‘helper” is called a “peanut” named TheFixxer and he runs a blog. Dismissing my complaints as ridiculous and suggesting I have no recourse is the gist of the “help” I received from TheFixxer

TheFixxer wants to ignore the fact that people can post to links on Craig’s list.

The TOU states:

“Your linking to any other webites is at your own risk.”

It is clear Craig’s list expects people to link to their website. I linked to my website. I posted homeless photographs in the photography section.

The TOU goes on to state:

“You acknowledge that craigslist does not pre-screen or approve Content, but that craigslist shall have the right (but not the obligation) in its sole discretion to refuse, delete or move any Content that is available via the Service, for
violating the letter or spirit of the TOU or for any other reason.”

I’m not going to get into a detailed legal analysis of this troublesome language. I’m just going to say, let’s pretend you do have the absolute right to remove homeless photographs from the photographs section- I’m still going call you out for doing that.

In any event, Craig’s list does include instructions on how to
link to pictures as well as URLS. People are allowed to post to these things.

Now, I didn’t post an ad. But the ad section is interesting in noting that 98% are correctly flagged.

What about the other 2%?

What about the other 2%? 2% may not sound like a lot, but given the potential volume of posts, it actually could be a very large number in the aggregate.

They don’t even give statistics for the Isle of the misfits. One can only speculate.

Now lets get to another few “loose facts”.

The Fixxer apparently claims he was blocked on this forum. That is not true. TheFixxer could post to this forum. I merely said, “Good-bye.” I also closed the next post totally to threads, but not the post TheFixxer is referring to. TheFixxer could still post to it or this blog.

TheFixxer claims I’m making money on this forum from click-n-pay google ads. I am not making any money from this forum. I think the fact that I was living in a homeless shelter should be proof of that.

TheFixxer uses words such as “claim to be a non-practicing lawyer”.

Here’s some non-legal advice for TheFixxer: You might want to spend some time checking out your facts. You might come across an article, like this one, that might confirm that I am a lawyer who became homeless.

I could try to respond to the thread, but I can’t seem to find it on Craig’s list.

Update: I posted a link in the media forums about the John R. Finnegan award winner on the Freedom of information day.

I found this on the Craig’s list media discussion forum sidebar.

I also posted my hot air balloon pictures to Craig’s list, but those were not moved.

Homelessness photos from old posts.

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

Bed

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.

Heart

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 12, 2010 by toresimonsen

It is clear to me that things have not worked out the way they were supposed to at any step along the way. It would be impossible for me to ignore the actions people have taken to see this is the case.

It is unfortunate that I will not be able to attend the mediation tomorrow in the case with Catholic Charities, but I am in Nevada with $6. I am not sure what will happen next in light of my inability to participate in the mandatory mediation.

A lot of things were lost in the last year. My car is gone. The digital camera mysteriously disappeared. I had to abandon property I could not store while homeless.

I am not currently homeless.

I have access to my books again. Most of the books do not speak to me right now as I am only interested in love. I did find one essay which has peaked my interest and does speak to me. It reminds me that while I have not married Eliza Dushku, as I desperately wanted to, my love for her is all that truly matters.

I think of her all the time. I distract myself as much as I can, but I am left completely aware of my longing for her.

Last Night

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 23, 2010 by toresimonsen

Last night was not a good night. I headed back to the park I spent the night at before. There were a lot of city park trucks trolling the area and police cars. I waited until nightfall to stake out a spot, but it was to no avail. The squad car drove into the park and found me sleeping on the bench. The officer told me the park was closed. She asked me if I had somewhere else to go. I said no. Personally, I do not feel that Safe Harbor is a viable alternative given the fact that my camera and usb sticks “mysteriously” disappeared there. I need a place that is secure for my possessions as well as me. Rather than dispute the matter, I left. As I have witnessed very serious disputes over property at Safe Bay, I do not feel that going there is necessarily a “safe” alternative.

Unfortunately, the police had also closed the next nearest park. I ended up going all the way to Calhoun Beach for a place to stay. There were a variety of revelers in the area who were living it up.

I watched the night descend and storm clouds slowly moved in. At first, there were merely flashes of lightening in the distance. Eventually, it became clear it would rain. I moved over to a playground where I found shelter. Unfortunately, the area was a bit sandy so I decided to move towards another park structure which was on cement. Unfortunately, this structure was exposed to the wind and to traffic lights. I decided to move. Eventually, I found an area under a bridge (cliche) which was shielded from wind and rain with little traffic and noise. It was relatively warm and very secure. I spent the night there. (If there was some way to secure my possessions, I would obviously opt for a more formal shelter setting. Nevertheless, my netbook is in good shape.) It was a long night and still raining when dawn broke. Overall, I would say it was a fairly poor night of sleep, but it offers a great chance to reflect.

Some of the things I reflected about how far off track things are. It feels impossibly and overwhelming at times.

At dawn, I walked through the rain from Uptown back to downtown in anticipation of today’s World Cup games. I am very hopeful that Team USA will have a great day.