OH GIVE ME A HOME…

Once upon a time, you could have a different opinion on a topic and not be instantly labeled a jerk or insensitive or worse.

You’re a Republican or Democrat?  Independent?  Cool.  It’s what you believe, we all have the best interest of this country at heart—we just have different ways of getting there. Got it!

I don’t know when the shift began or maybe it’s a generational thing, but we’ve become a society of “If it’s not my way, I’m not going to play!” (see Kentucky) Rather than allowing people to have opinions and then go with what the majority wants, there are now clear-cut lines that you are simply not allowed to cross over.

This week, I’m tackling one of those topics:  homelessness.  Prepare to call me a jerk.

Seattle has a serious homeless problem that is getting worse by the year.  Yet, the politically correct way to talk about homelessness is to do everything in our power to make them more comfortable.  Not get them out of their situation, just enable it.

That doesn’t work for me.

Now, when you drive along I-5 in Seattle, you see little camping tents set up under freeway overpasses or on hillsides.  The residents will get up, spend the day panhandling or begging for funds to continue their barely-getting-by lifestyle only to wake up the next day and do it again. Some see it as a reminder of the homeless issue.  Others see them and feel guilty, as if WE have failed them.

For you 30s and under, it never used to be this way.  Oh, sure, in the 1920s after the Stock Market crash, little shanty towns sprung up where people lived until they could get back on their feet.  It was a tentative existence until the economy turned around. But the residents of those villages never ever planned to stay their the rest of their lives.  Today’s homeless seem to be content with their surroundings, and homelessness has become a lifestyle.

Seattle and the Misdirected Compassionates (I should register that term) have created conditions that cause these pup tent apartments and villages to be an acceptable option.  They are not.

Seattle’s current philosophy on the homeless:

Regardless of history, drugs or alcohol abuse, anyone who has chosen to live this lifestyle is a saint.  Their welfare comes before those of tax-paying citizens, as our politicians set up tent villages in areas far from their homes but close to ours.

Church members gather together to pack sandwiches, drop them off, then drive home while patting themselves on the back.  Of course, they don’t do that for every meal every day, but one day a week or a month and they’re able to feel a little less guilty.

I don’t remember “Thou shalt be coddled and waited on by people who work and have earned everything they’ve got.”  I do remember “Helping the poor.”  Helping.  An active form of the word, “help.”

Enabling, accommodating, coddling, and tolerating is not helping. Forcing a homeless camp into a neighborhood because the city claims it knows best is not helping.

People who are down on their luck need real help and real solutions.  Job training, counseling, a safe place to live temporarily while they make the effort to help themselves.

You say, “Well, Tim, that’s going to cost a lot of money.”  In 2014, Seattle spent $40-million on homeless services.  Add to that all the efforts of churches and private social agencies and you can see we have the weapons to fight this plague. Instead, we opt to show compassion, at any cost.  Well, $40-million last year, to be exact.

To get ahold of this issue, perhaps we need a Homeless Czar. Someone that leads the efforts of the city and county and enforces it.  You’re homeless?  Here’s how we’ll help you fix that.   Choose to ignore that, continue abusing drugs or alcohol and prepare to suffer the legal consequences.

Oh, that’s right.  There are laws.   I was driving through Bothell yesterday and noticed there were white letters painted on the freeway pillars, saying “No trespassing.”   That’s right, it’s actually illegal to just toss a tent up anywhere and call it home. The burbs enforce it.  The city of Seattle feels the compassionate response is to ignore it.

I’ll cover for you on the next response: “But Tim, you can’t just arrest those people.”  No, you give them warnings.  If they ignore them, then they do get arrested.  If you make the threat real, word will spread.  Seattle is NOT where to go when you’re homeless. Go to any suburb, try that and you will be arrested.

You see, what they’re doing is against the law.  We are currently ignoring all kinds of laws—vagrancy, trespassing, etc—because, currently, homelessness buys you lots of leeway.

“But we just need to ignore those laws.”  OK, so which laws do you want to ignore?  Do we all get to ignore them or just the homeless?  And which ones are you keeping?  We live in a society of laws.  Otherwise, you have anarchy.

Our Homeless Czar should compare notes with other major cities about how they’re handling this issue. I remember traveling to Japan a couple of decades ago and saw a homeless guy, begging. One guy.  I asked our guide if homelessness was a problem in Japan and she told me that being homeless was a great shame to the family, so they often would take care of it themselves.

The way I see it, there are three ways to deal with the homeless situation:  Keep feeding it and hope that it fixes itself, do everything in our power to just hide it away from our sight, or make a commitment to really deal with what’s happening out there.

Think about it—Seattle spent $40-million on the homeless issue and yet, it continues to get worse.  There are people who have found themselves living on the streets due to unfortunate circumstances.  We have too much at our disposal not to offer help to those in need.

But again, they need real help, not “feel good” enabling.

Tim Hunter

tents

OK, Playtime Is Over

Seattle has earned the reputation of being too nice, too accommodating when it comes to anarchists.

So, unlike most major cities in the U.S., when May 1st rolls around, we allow our downtown area to be held hostage by a large collection of thugs wearing masks, throwing rocks, bottles and anything they can get their hands on at p0lice, buildings and other public and private property.  All in the name of “punishing corporations.”

It’s time to stop tolerating this coward’s party.  Yes, you’re mighty brave behind that black mask, hanging around a bunch of like-minded morons.  Obviously mommy and daddy told you to be you, to be “the best anarchist you can be” and after a night of destruction, there’s probably a nice plate of milk and cookies waiting for you at home in your basement room.

As you might pick up, I’m done.  I’m embarrassed.  For as much as I like to brag about my adopted home town, when the 1st of May rolls around and Seattle tolerates this kind of destruction–when businesses have to close early out of fear what might happen to them or their employees–that’s nothing short than legitimized terrorism.

You have the absolute right to peacefully protest.  This country was built on that right.  Spraying buildings with graffiti, breaking out the windows of a news car, carrying a rifle into a crowd (yes, there was a guy that was interviewed on TV), ALL are not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

So, I have solutions.  I have thoughts.  I have ideas on how best to deal with this problem to greatly reduce the number of participants every year.  See what you think.

1) Every police officer on duty that night wears camera vests.  That way, when you’re arrested and taken to trial, we’ll have video proof of which crime you so boldly committed while wearing your mask.

2)  Police snipers are set up where ever the crowd gets out of control.  They take their position, armed only with paint guns and when they see someone break a window, the sharpshooter nails the perpetrator with a paint gun ball.  He’s marked, police arrest anyone marked with paint gun stains, and we make the largest arrest of unruly protesters in May Day history.

3)  Besides the sharp-shooters—more video cameras, to capture the broad scene for further prosecution.

You wouldn’t have to do this every year.  One out of three.  Or as needed.  Once this happens in Seattle, like rats when their safe hangout is disrupted, these thugs will find another city to target.  Although, I believe this model could prove effective for almost any city.

I’m all about peaceful protests.  There were several of those in Seattle yesterday as part of May Dy. But being destructive for misguided reasons is NOT an excuse.  We’re standing up to bullying in our schools.  It’s time to take that cause to the streets.

Besides, threatening police lives should be a crime.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it is.

May Day Seattle

My final suggestion. The parents of anyone arrested for causing damage to property will be invoiced for compensation.  You turned out this gem of a human being, so you get to pay for them. Either that, or we bring out that mom from Baltimore and turn her loose for a couple of ass whoopin’s.

Mr. Mayor or Seattle Police, if you need any more suggestions, please reach me at my usual number.

Tim Hunter

A Rare Opportunity

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Recently, I blogged about Christmas, encouraging everyone to absorb what was around them and enjoy all that the season offers. It can be such a magical time of year if we just allow it. But, as they say, Christmas comes but once a year, always making its annual arrival at Costco, sometime in August.

Right now, Seattle Seahawks fans have one of the rarest of opportunities available to any sports fans. To follow a team that generations will look back on as one of the greatest N.F.L. teams in history.

In my near 60 years on earth, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to cheer for a championship team or two. There were the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, that swept the New York Yankees in the World Series, four games to none. Two years later, they blew the first two games of the World Series, only to come back and beat the Minnesota Twins in seven games. Two championships in three years!  That was back in the days when World Series games were played during the day and the cool teachers were the ones who brought in a TV so we could watch during school.

Always while growing up, I got to experience an NBA championship.  However, it was after years of the Los Angeles Lakers losing to either the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks (I think the league made them take turns).

When I moved to the championship desert of Seattle in the early 1970s, I began my conversion to the local sports teams. That worked out well with the Sonics, as they won the N.B.A. championship in 1979.

And then, the great dark period began.

The Mariners came close.  OK, our W.N.B.A. team, the Storm won a title. The UW Husky Football team won a co-National Championship in ’91. But our professional baseball, football and even our soccer teams would only flirt with greatness: a playoff game or two, then done.

When the Seahawks actually won the Super Bowl last year, you know what it was like. 12 flags all over town, jerseys everywhere. People not normally sports fanatics were talking about them. Then, upwards of 700,000 people took to downtown Seattle in the frigid cold for a victory parade. Amazingly, not a single arrest.

It was a special time that the pundits said was highly unlikely to repeat. And it’s happening. A win this Sunday and we have a chance at winning our second N.F.L. championship in a row.

I believe we can do it. Yes, you risk a serious heart-break if you allow yourself to get caught up in the madness and we fall short.  But first, don’t think that way.  Secondly, if we win—we get to experience sports nirvana. This team is special. The owner, the architects of the club, the talented, colorful and talented players, are the special concoction that every team in the league is trying to mix up. We’ve got it.

I hope you’re going in deep. That you believe. That you’re ready to experience something very few cities ever see. The beginning of a sports dynasty.

And brace yourself—because we just may have to do this all over again next year.

Let’s just focus on winning Sunday, then the re-Pete.  Then, the 3-Pete next year. Go Hawks!

Tim Hunter

D-Day for May Day

I'm pretty sure the constitution guarantees the right to break windows with a skateboard

I’m pretty sure the constitution guarantees the right to break windows with a skateboard

For whatever reason, the first day of May has become a day of rioting in Seattle.  Oh, it’s not a group riot.  It’s a select collection of knuckleheads who are made up of locals and troubled kids from other cities, who use the march to support workers (big in communist countries, mind you) to break windows and vandalize downtown businesses.

Last year, it was if our police force was caught off guard, as mask and hood wearing vandals would do their damage and then duck back into the crowd.  To them, this is just a big game and a way to punish the successful.  The second any of them were arrested, they’d start screaming “police brutality.”

By the way, quick side-note.  Do you really think that the stores paid for all the damage caused by vandals?  Muck like graffiti and shoplifting, it’s the rest of us that pay.   The stores merely increase prices to cover whatever insurance doesn’t cover.  Just sayin’….

So, back to “What to do about the cowards who cause the damage on May Day?”  Again, it’s not a large number, so here’s my plan:

Set up phony video crews, like TV news teams–a reporter, a camera guy-complete with call letters and have them video-taping away so you capture high-quality video of the destruction.

Next, set up a swat team of paint guy snipers, who shoot anyone who throws a brick through a window or smashes a car windshield is marked….so when police arrest them and they deny being the vandal, we have video proof.

Do that a couple of years and watch the event return to just a march instead of a license to loot.

Better ideas welcome.  But just standing by and protecting the right to riot doesn’t work.

Tim Hunter

Drone On

Lately, remote control drones have been in the news a lot.  Not just on a nation and international level, but also right here in Seattle.

President Obama has been in favor of utilizing unmanned drones to attack insurgents and Al Qaeda members who would do us harm.  The big flap this week was that we used one to blow up an Al Qaeda leader who was born in the U.S.  In other words, we used a weapon against an American citizen.  Frankly, he lost any protection of being a citizen when he embraced an organization that considers the destruction of the U.S. as their Superbowl.

Now, closer to home, the federal government had given the city of Seattle some drones to experiment with, to see if we’d like to incorporate them into our law enforcement efforts.  For some reason, Mike “Out there” McGinn and the Seattle police chief decided to scrap the test.  Why?  Because they can.

This after approving cameras along the Seattle waterfront. Oh, and those cameras at certain intersections, to catch the red-light runners.

I just don’t get it.

First off, they’re not armed.  They’re used for surveillance.  How many times have you heard the phrase, “There’s never a cop around when you need one!”  This would allow them to have a bird’s eye view of the city.  Bank robbery breaks out–get away car headed north on I-5?  The drone’s going to get there a lot faster to pursue the bad guys than the police can through traffic, even with their sirens.  If you live down in Los Angeles, a police helicopter flying over your house is a pretty common occurence.  I’ve got to think that the cost of a copter and trained personnel is going to be a lot more than a remote-controlled drone.

The biggest critics of the drones appear to be the privacy pirates.  The ones who are so concerned about police being able to go over our homes in the sky.  Why is that?  They might catch me barbecuing?  See how many weeds have sprung up in the backyard?  Turn me in because I’ve neglected to refill the bird feeder?  As is often the case, the ones most concerned about their privacy are trying to protect getting caught from doing something illegal.  If you’re not doing anything wrong, what are you worried about?

Do what I do on some of these issues and take it to the extreme.  So, you’re not OK with a drone flying overhead.  But you’re OK with a police helicopter?  Or, we don’t allow those?  OK, then we keep it on the ground and only allow police to patrol in their cars.  Very inefficient and costly, but…..Oh, they shouldn’t be in cars, that’s not fair or also an invasion of your rights?  OK, we’ll put them on foot patrol.  Now, get into a situation that requires police help and let’s see how fast they can arrive on the scene.

Maybe it’s because I’ve known quite a few law enforcement folks over the years to realize that it’s not an “us versus them” situation.  They ARE us.  They’re Justin’s dad, or Bob’s wife, or the neighbor down the street.  They’ve gone through training, they risk their lives every time they show up for work and because a few bad apples have lost it under pressure, we’re suppose to tie the hands behind all of them and then say, “OK, now do your job!”

The drones over our city would seriously help the efficiency and effectiveness of those charged with protecting us.  I’m sorry to see grand-standing politicians get in the way of making their job safer and a little bit easier.

Tim Hunter