Thoughts on the City Council Meeting

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Well, tonight was the city council meeting and it was an interesting process really. Before I go any further i would like to thank Mayor Kitty Piercy and the rest of the council for having the patience to deal with my total ineptitude at the podium.  as i mentioned on Faceboook earlier, Wanderer is not an eloquent speaker. So a big thank you to the council. I also met Kitty Piercy face to face tonight. She is pleasant enough, but i knew she would be from interviews i have watched with her.

Ok, so for one i was surprised at both the small size of the public forum, and at how organized it really was. Of course this surprise comes from only having seen these things in movies and television, where they are all packed as half the city attends and its all an exercise in yelling to be heard and chaotic jockeying for time on the floor. Yes, Wanderer is just as prone to Hollywood make believe as the next guy. 🙂

As you arrive at the public forum  the first thing you do if you wish to be heard is sign in. This consists of filling out a small form that asks your name, phone number, address and topic of your speech. Once signed in you take your seat in a sort of amphitheater and wait for the meeting to begin. The meeting begins with a routine explanation of the rules for the meeting given by our Mayor Piercy. Each person who is called to speak gets three minutes in which to talk on their issue, at the end of which they must leave the podium. At the end of this the council will share their thoughts on what they have heard and discuss certain things that were talked about.

My first impression was that there are not too many people in this city of 156,000 people who are involved in their local politics and communities. We had perhaps 30 people other than the city council members present. I would think in a city of Eugene’s size and claimed activism we would have more involvement in the arena of social issues and change. It was a little dis-hearting really. People need to come together if they want to bring on change and awareness of issues important to them. Regardless whether living a decent life in a home with a job or as one of the homeless and unemployed, only through political action can there ever be change and motivation to begin that change. People need to start taking a more active role in government. The lack of such is one of the big reasons our country is in the shape it is now. Whether Dem or Rep we need to become more involved. Voting once every couple of years doesn’t cut it. We need more.

For those who did show up to listen and to be heard, these people seemed compassionate concerning the issues they brought up. There were several others who spoke to the issues of homelessness as well. This seems to be an issues of importance in the city and its good to hear others taking a stand on the issue. Not everyone who spoke on the issues were for the homeless however. Two of the gentlemen who spoke last night concerning the homeless were voicing frustration and concern for the behaviors of the homeless as it effects them as business owners. Particularly the issues of loitering and pan handling in front of the local downtown business. I would refer those of you reading this to the post titled “A word to The Homeless”. Even as an advocate for the homeless, and one myself, I believe their needs to be responsibility in the way we, as homeless, act and carry ourselves. Pan Handling in front of peoples business is not responsible, and in the long run it chases business away from those who rely on the income from those business. I can hear several of the homeless now, “well they own the business they have enough money”  The simple truth is this however. Many of the small business that the homeless choose to beg in front of are not rich. they are only a couple of bad weeks from bankruptcy and need the business coming in to stay afloat. Your continued presence and intimidation of their customers could very well have a negative effect on their business and ultimately their lives. I can understand why these two gentlemen are concerned about his and sympathize with their concerns. Even with their topic of discussion neither of these two men were disrespectful and/or cruel about the plight of the homeless. They were very respectful and therefore deserve our respect. I can not say it enough times, if we, as the homeless, want to be seen and treated in a respectful and dignified manner, we must carry ourselves in a way that justifies our being treated that way. Nothing is free and we have a large stigma we carry.

I would like to disagree with one thing said by one of thee gentlemen though. The person mentioned that he understands homelessness is an issue, but that the city needs to focus on the business end of the city as that is where our tax dollars come from.  yes, business is where the tax dollars come from and should be an important part of the city’s focus. However, if we can focus on bringing jobs and work to this area, if we can focus on getting the homeless back to work, as many of us really do want jobs, we resolve a couple of issues. One, we get some of these people off of the streets and into housing which is cheaper by far than their current situations. Two, it creates more tax revenue to be used towards the important issues in the city, such as the overly narrow roads that was mentioned in this meeting also. A key component to the issue of the homeless is the creation of jobs. Believe it or not, most homeless do not want to be where they are.

At this meeting i made some interesting contacts involved in the advocacy of the homeless and will be attending a meeting at one of these groups later on today. I look forward to hearing what others are attempting to do in Eugene on his issue.

 

Well i just wanted to touch on the meeting a bit. I will talk more on this once i get the minutes from the meeting. I will post them and some comments on what was discussed in more detail then.

 

Respectfully,

 

Eugene Wanderer

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