Home > Arcata California, homelessness > There and back again

There and back again

[Guest post by Jackie Wellbaum]

Several years ago, during the Bush/Cheney administration, a few members of congress decided to live on the approximately $427 of food-stamp benefits provided to the poor. They reported regularly on how they managed to stretch this meager amount across the entire month in order to feed their families.

I attended the Arcata City Council meeting in 2010 when the aggressive panhandling ordinance was passed in a 3-2 vote with Shane Brinton and Susan Ornelas voting against (Ms. Ornelas seemed prepared to vote in favor but was swayed by the ground-swell of public comments against, hence the 3-2 vote rather than a 4-1 vote).

I wonder if any members of the Arcata City Council would be willing to shed their homes, hot showers and ‘normal’ lives to live for just a few months on the streets of a strange town with no money–just as many of the folks targeted by this ordinance do? I myself had been living a comfortable, well-insured and highly functional existence paying not one but three mortgages and preparing for retirement alongside other Gucci Loafer-wearing ‘American Dreamers’ when suddenly I experienced an extremely embarrassing and shameful psychotic break from reality. A period of complete and udder madness which quickly led to multiple “5150′s,” months in and out of fancy and not-so-fancy psychiatric hospitals, and finally homelessness after being prescribed a prescription drug with a known side effect of psychosis (similar to well-publicized accounts of our armed forces who are required to take prophylactic doses of anti-malarial drug mefloquine).

Within a short time, although I owned several homes, I was living on the streets and in the parks of San Francisco and eating out of trash cans. Finally I was placed in a locked-ward of Napa State Hospital for the criminally insane. No one expected to ever see or hear from me again. Not one family member came to visit or called to inquire how I was or answered my mail.

I can personally attest to the fact that however a person becomes homeless, once there you quickly come to understand how cruel and uncaring other humans and their laws can be. Helpless, vulnerable, broke and suffering from untreated mental illness hardly equip one to better their circumstances. Thoughts of suicide are constantly on your mind. And police officers can trigger a panic attack upon site.

As I walked the streets in a daze and looked through the windows of other people’s homes, my only wish was that one kind person living behind one plate-glass bay window trimmed with expensive, custom-made curtains in their well-heated homes would reach out to me and offer me a shower. I had been working since I was 14-years old and remained well-employed for most of my adult life. That low-point was not the life I worked so hard to attain. But it happened to me anyway, without warning, without time to properly prepare. Without the ability to find homes for my dogs. I never saw my puppies again.

I hope the City Council members of Arcata will consider ways they might better understand the plight of these fellow human beings who live on sidewalks across America perhaps by committing to walking a few blocks, for a few months, in their moccasins. The experience of street and park living and dumpster-diving with no money is so traumatizing and damaging that I can guarantee you will never look at ‘solutions’ to the problem of homelessness or at panhandlers the same way again.

There IS a solution to homelessness. It’s called homes, not sidewalks, folks.

This is my story.

  1. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 5:27 am

    You can’t make people live in homes when they don’t want to, when they’ve made the decision — for whatever reason — to travel the countryside and call Arcata a temporary home. Truly local residents without homes aren’t aggressive panhandlers. With one or two notable exceptions, they don’t panhandle at all.

  2. Bill Wayman
    May 23, 2011 at 6:31 am

    WAHHHH WAHHHH WAHHHH listen wacko, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You just found it really easy to find a sucker to take you under their wing until they can’t take it any longer and kick you out. Get real, get a job, no job? Then go somewhere where there is a job. Don’t be a vagrant mooching moron.

  3. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Assuming for the moment that Bill Wayman is real, I wonder if he’d feel the same way about someone who had cancer as opposed to a psychotic break.

    Congratulations, Jackie, on your recovery. Thank you for your willingness to share your story.

    I hope we can all pause for just a moment this morning, take a deep breath, and think about the people on local streets who have “chosen to panhandle.” There will always be exceptions to any rule. But do we really, really think that most of these folks have chosen to do this because it’s easy, fun, and an exciting career path?

    I’m not suggesting that anyone give money to panhandlers, nor am I suggesting that anyone not.

    But I am suggesting that they themselves are not the problem — they turn out to be flagging real problems that our society wants to ignore. Attacking those who are panhandling is treating a symptom, not the problem.

    The people who work hard to provide support systems for the most vulnerable among us, people like John Shelter and Betty Chinn, and organizations like the food bank, deserve our thanks and support.

  4. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 7:02 am

    This may be the food stamp challenge referred to by Jackie Wellbaum.

    It makes for interesting reading. Somehow I don’t picture Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh signing up for something similar:


  5. scooter
    May 23, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I wonder how Bill Wayman would deal with a similar experience. . . Would he be so hard on one of his own children if they fell on hard times and could not cope the way Bill wanted them to cope. Buck up, hey Bill? Is that the answer, just buck up, and be an adult? Is that all you have to offer folks in this situation? If that is all you can come up with, then I pity your family and friends, you will never be able to hold up your end of a real friendship.
    Jackie, nothing about your story is “shamefull”. Embarrassing I am sure, but you should be proud of the fact that you survived, I am glad you did.

  6. Mr. Nice
    May 23, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Great story and shit.

    But hold up, how in the fuck do you get $427 in food stamps?

    Folks would be off the chain going through stacks of top ramen on $427 per person. Eating mad English muffins and shit all day.

    Last I seen if you get assistance, they subtract that. You work? They subtract that. You work too few hours, they fuck you. You work too many, hours they fuck you. Ain’t heard of nobody having $427 in food stamps since the days when folks would camp in the parking lot, taking double stamps for hubba rocks.

    If you don’t make any money and get pissed on for welfare checks, that’s $150 or $200 on the EBT card. Unless you got some kinna government hustle you want to share with us.

  7. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

    The Food Stamp Challenge was to live on $3 per day per person. I think the $427 may be the maximum monthly loan offered to someone needing welfare.

    Meanwhile, an amazing story from DC this morning: California will be required to release 100,000 overcrowded inmates from the prison system over the next two years, because it has failed to provide proper health care. Supreme Court, 5-4.

    Each inmate costs the state something like $50,000 per year. Three dollars a day comes to about $1,000 per year. See anything wrong financially with this picture?

  8. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Yeah, umm, most of the people who panhandle, and certainly the ones who aggressively panhandle, are not on food stamps. They’re travelers. You don’t get on a food stamp program when you only spend a week to a few months (summer) in one place. That’s why, out of all the people who panhandle in Humboldt County, there are only a handful you see longer than a week. Only one person comes to my mind in Arcata.

  9. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Sorry: 46,000 not 100,000.

  10. Little Buddha
    May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Rich Salzman is my hero, but only because he’s so cute. Who wouldn’t be moved by Jackie’s story above? Regardless, having compassion does not mean you can’t or wont’ do anything to prevent the homeless from being obnoxious. The Arcata City Council just need to get better legal counsel, as there is tons of case law on this issue. My personal opinion is that most folks around here understand the difference between those who are truly destitute and the middle class white kids who want to pretend they’re Jack Kerouc and panhandle while they’re smoking cigarettes and they have a dog and a guitar, and trying to score our weed.
    I been truly phucking poor in my life…I didn’t have money for smokes and dog food. And okay, maybe Salzman’s not that cute, but he’s still my hero.

  11. May 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Wellbaum’s story is one of mental health, not poverty per se. While I have no issue with panhandling, I do draw the line at aggressive tactics that invade my space and get ‘in my face’. Streetcorner signs aren’t particularly aggressive as long as they don’t block traffic. Camping in a business’s doorway, intimidating potential customers is aggressive and should not be allowed. I think Arcata is on the right track so far.

    It seems to me that Wellbaum’s story speaks to our failed healthcare system and our failure to include mental health as a legitimate part of it.

  12. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Little Buddha,

    Surely you know, Little Buddha, that Mr. Salzman has NOT challenged Arcata’s law against aggressive panhandling?

    Let me ask you the same question I asked above — do you think these “middle class white kids [pretending to be Jack Kerouac]” are doing just fine on their own? Is it possible there might be family problems for at least some of them?

  13. May 23, 2011 at 8:14 am

    “Wellbaum’s story is one of mental health, not poverty per se. While I have no issue with panhandling, I do draw the line at aggressive tactics that invade my space and get ‘in my face’. Streetcorner signs aren’t particularly aggressive as long as they don’t block traffic. Camping in a business’s doorway, intimidating potential customers is aggressive and should not be allowed. I think Arcata is on the right track so far.

    It seems to me that Wellbaum’s story speaks to our failed healthcare system and our failure to include mental health as a legitimate part of it.”

    Blame Ronald Reagan and the republicans for this one, as it was them that forced the closing of most inpatient mental health centers and forced people onto the streets that can’t take proper care of themselves.
    Most people do not fit into the “a danger to self or others” category.
    Thanks again for the deregulation republican asshats, remember that the wall street collapse, high energy prices, high homeless rates among the mentally ill and veterans, the bank bail outs and the shity state of airline travel.

  14. May 23, 2011 at 8:18 am

    …all fall on the shoulders of the republicans like Newt Gingrich, and Paul Ryan.

  15. May 23, 2011 at 8:23 am

    “California’s 33 state prisons held about 147,000 inmates, at the time of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments last November. This is down from a high of some 160,000 previously cited in legal filings. The higher figure amounted to “190 percent of design capacity,” officials said.

    Last year, a three-judge panel ordered California to reduce its inmate population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two years. That’s the equivalent of about 110,000 inmates.

    “California’s prisons are bursting at the seams and are impossible to manage,” the three-judge panel wrote.

    Even before the court ruled Monday, California officials began taking steps to cut the overcrowding.

    Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed A.B. 109, which shifts to counties the responsibility for incarcerating many low-risk inmates. Up to 30,000 state prison inmates could be transferred to county jails over three years, under the bill; first, however, state officials must agree on a way to pay for it.

    “The prison system has been a failure,” Brown stated when he signed the bill “Cycling (lower-level) offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation and impedes local law enforcement supervision.”

    The overcrowding leads to inhumane and constitutionally impermissible conditions, judges and monitors warn.

    Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/05/23/3647586/supreme-court-orders-california.html#ixzz1NBnrUWEn

    Now can we really afford to keep arresting people for marijuana offenses when we don’t have room to keep people already convicted of more serious crimes? And how much do you want to bet that at least %15 of these inmates would be better served in a locked down mental health facility?

  16. 344thBrother
    May 23, 2011 at 8:32 am

    All I can think of is the day is almost here where we will get murdered by rich familys looking to eat us as food They want us to slam beer and meth and cocaine and get really high then at night they will kill and eat to the bones. Everybody homeless is smart / all people with money are evil satanists. We can make our own drugs have sexand kids and grow your food.

  17. Charlie Bean
    May 23, 2011 at 8:45 am

    For me, being on SSI and disabled I have never been homeless. it is difficult to feel sorry for someone who is homeless that takes in more money than I do. Yes, this money intake had changed since first becoming homeless, but is that my fault? You ought to try finding a place to live that is wheelchair accessible on a limited income.

    If these homeles panhandlers did not spend money goven to them on alcohol and drugs it might be different (Not all of them do this, but you can tell.). It is not the homeless that holds the cards on panhandling, I believe this prdinance was aimed at those who are usually panhandling money to buy their next drink or joint.

    I sound prejudice because I have seen most panhandling just buying alcohol later and I do not care to help someone who may have more facilities than I in taking care of themself.

    Heck, I was thinking about sitting on the corner with a sign that read “I am disabled and need help! Your assistance is greatly appreciated!” At least you could see my sign was telling the truth!

    May 23, 2011 at 9:20 am


    I don’t want to “break wind” on your thoughts about deregulation and homelessnesses being republican schemes, but, Clinton’s Congress ALSO did some schematic maneuvers….like changing the “capital gains” tax rate exemption on multiple sales of multiple residences…..2 outta 5 years of residency in the same main residence. Then, sell with a 250k or 500k exemption (single versus married) and move on to the next 2 year tax exempted residency status of 250 or 500k. There is now no limit on the number of 2 outta 5 year transactions for tax exemptions where as before, it was a once in a lifetime deal to use a main residence as a tax exempted status.

    Ya see Mark, even Democrats are to blame because they are part of increasing societal valuations no matter what type of scheme is used. It just so happens that the Democrats are probably worse than Republicans in so far as “affordable housing arguments go”. This is why affordable housing is a ruse, a guise. Many Democrats are hipocrites by even discussing affordable housing concerns because they won’t admit they are flip-flopping and deceiving the voters. Why? Again, power, control and tax collections. Do you know how much money from real-estate taxes goes into government wastes due to unwisely “throwing away” tax dollars toward political wastes?

    Ever since prop 13 passed, the California Legislature KNEW that the citizens had an easier opportunity to own a home. WHY? Because the way the tax collection rules allowed for, meant that California State Government was constitutionally limited to what it could collect. AT the time, the State had a surplus in the latter mid 1970’s – this meant that taxpayers were over-taxed. The legislature was awestruck because they saw they could expand and broaden their power and control with more money, even though the money collected was “over-collected”. SO, the State tries to justify a wrong (over-taxation) by increasing the size and expansiveness of governmet to launder claims for the need for more real-estate/personal property tax revenues (the antithesis argument to fair taxation) by and through inventing ways to waste money to justify its collection in the form of taxes to begin with (not to mention bureaucratic set-ups for additional future issues to secure employment for the future for whomever is the elected at the time). The State is in hot water because it got a “wild control freak colony of bugs” up their pee brained buttoxes. Yet, the taxpayers who keep voting for bond measures and other tax increases are also to blame since they vote without confirming that money already exists or that it will definately exist without becoming part of the monetary tax shell game of shifting burdens and unfunded liabilities using tricks like timeline extensions to carry-over line items from one budget to another budget. There is a lot of government waste when stealing funds from here to subsidize the under-fundings over their. The state of The State is much worse than taxpayers are being led to believe. Those who really understand economics will agree, but many who are sinister would never openly admit it but for their close, strategic allies in the ruses of the American economy.

    Clinton is on the hook for causing the additional over-valuations of real-estate by confirming the Federal Capital gains tax exemption while in office




    Wealthy enough to purchase that home or pay for that development in order to take advantage of the timelines that include increasing valuations for those wealthy to “pop in and out” of and expanding real-estate sales market where valuations were rising. So, this too made the spread between wealths much greater in so far as purchasing a home. Then, the wealthy often dump that over-valued asset for profit gains that never should have been to begin with so that a less wealthy up-and-comer gets stuck with the asset debt due to a reversal of fortunes concerning asset valuations.

    *****Before Clinton, The CG residency tax was a ont time deal only. This is also partly why the American Housing market is unstable as compared to Mexico and other countries….. speculation enhanced by fraud and money launderings.

    As far as mental Health – Yes, Reagan is the prez to take that criticism….even a long time republican supporting family member say Reagan is to blame. I say, Reagan was merely a puppet and most every move Reagan made, was someone else’s move to order to make. Presidents have lost their luster, and integrity…same with congress. This country is on a DARK, long and winding road……….

    Economics is like an energy bar for me. Hopefully, more people will understand the need to understand economics. If a humanoid is to make it these days, a humanoid must refrain from false involvements within the economy. A beginning point is to trust “no one” when it comes to your wealth, assets, health, needs, etc… We are all pawns when a higher order of power exists. This power is not solely autonomous to just the elected officials, but also to those in the private sector that operate banks, insurance companies, title companies, etc…..the ones heavily involved in financings and liability coverages. Documents are surely tainted to benefit those filing the documents, which bares a form of a conflict-of-interest.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  19. High Finance
    May 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

    $427 a month on food stamps ??????

    That is more than the average, hard working, tax paying citizen spends on their food per person per month !

  20. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I’ve been approached by panhandlers many times who come right out and tell you what they are aiming to purchase. One woman said she was trying to “raise money” to help her sister get a new fuel pump for her car. Ironically, I was on foot that day because my OWN car needed engine work I couldn’t afford. Another time an able-bodied young man, dressed in the shabby-chic way that looks slightly street-worn but displays a lot of expensive labels, politely asked for money. “I’m saving up to buy a dome tent.” No shit? I had to get a job and work to buy MY dome tent. Are some of these people capable young adults who perhaps took off from home because there were problems? No doubt. But look around. Do you think everyone out working their butts off every day for a wage was raised by Donna Reed? I have enough dysfunction in my raising to write a memoir, but it would not have occured to me to stand on a streetcorner and beg. I’ve had to literally walk up and down the street and go into EVERY BUSINESS and ask for work. It’s humbling and exhausting, but can bring surprising results.

    Part of the problem with the current debate is that we have to search for blanket solutions to regulate a hydra-headed problem. Each person panhandling is there for specific reasons. I want very much for people who are hurting and struggling through tough times to receive whatever help they need to get it together. But I also think it’s reasonable to have regulations about how people behave on the streets. We’re sort of trying to have a civilization here.

  21. CletusAnn
    May 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

    HF, that $427/mo is the max amount for an entire family. Deliberately obtuse much?

  22. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

    9:36 has it exactly right, in my opinion. Please keep in mind that no one, to my knowledge, has complained about regulations aimed at aggressive panhandlers.

    “Part of the problem with the current debate is that we have to search for blanket solutions to regulate a hydra-headed problem. Each person panhandling is there for specific reasons. I want very much for people who are hurting and struggling through tough times to receive whatever help they need to get it together. But I also think it’s reasonable to have regulations about how people behave on the streets. We’re sort of trying to have a civilization here.”

  23. Not A Native
    May 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Jackie doesn’t write there was anyone else being supplemented with food stamps but her/him, except there were also pets. In any event, food stamps is need based the amount given is calculated by a formula.

    I think its very unusual that the story says ‘not one family member came to visit or called….or answered my mail’. What relatives were contacted, what was their social/economic situations and what was her/his relationship history with them?

  24. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

    The state and the county bear more responsibility then cities. Homeless march on Sacramento. Demand rights there. Ya, I know I am a cruel hater but I don’t have anything for them and I don’t want my city punished because the state and county are trying to ignore this issue. I am passing this one back up the chain.

  25. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I seriously doubt that even 10% of the money that’s panhandled turns into a food purchase. My bet is drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

  26. tra
    May 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

    And your “bet” is based on what?

  27. Plain Jane
    May 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Based on wishful thinking that homeless people are in their dire situation because they are addicts, TRA, “It can’t happen to me.” The ghost of Reagan above with his “You can’t make people live in homes when they don’t want to” is suffering from the same delusions.

  28. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I doubt very much, 10:31, that you are a cruel hater, and I don’t believe anyone is asserting that you or others bothered by panhandling are such.

    Does any individual have a right to repeatedly harass you? No.

    Does any individual have a right to make a reasonable person fear for their safety? No.

    Do you have to give money to panhandlers, or even behave politely towards them? No.

    The issue is this: do people have a right to politely and non-assaultively ask for your money, assuming they cannot afford to rent a storefront from which to do that?

    The answer under the American constitution is yes, and remains yes even if panhandling makes you less likely to go into Arcata’s business district. That’s not an endorsement of panhandling, it’s an acknowledgement of constitutional law. The answer may be different in other countries.

    If I’m bothered by the presence of short people making themselves visible in downtown Arcata, or if I’m bothered by people blatantly wearing Rush Limbaugh T shirts and even listening to his program at a moderate volume, I do not have the right to banish them because of my discomfort. Neither does the Arcata business community.

  29. High Finance
    May 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

    CletusAnn 9.37am, the problem with the internet is that it is so easy to check up on the facts and the fact is you are wrong.

    Food Stamps in California;

    “As of March 2011, the maximum amount of food stamp benefits a one-person household can expect to receive per month is $200. The maximum amount of benefits a five person household can receive is $793.”


  30. Teacher
    May 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Tra, Mitch, PJ- Predictably, you seem to be advocates for the homeless. Why not prepare some food right now and go and feed it to the hundreds of starving homeless people wondering around Arcata? I am guessing you all have the disposable income to do that at least once a week. Start something. Inspire people. Do something if you really care?
    At least those of us who believe most of the homeless are addicts who are there by choice are consistent through our words and actions. We say we don’t give a shit and our action support that. You three spew the same crap all the time and I’m guessing you’re not putting in a lot of work on the streets to help these people you so adamantly care about in the blogosphere. Mitch, cruise in from the haven that is Trinidad and get your hands dirty helping people.

  31. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 11:54 am


    I’m responding only because the hypocrisy argument gets old.

    For several years, I spent my summer Saturday mornings hauling boxes of vegetables around the county.

    For the last two years, I’ve devoted more than forty hours a week to unreimbursed work on a project that I believe will improve things for everyone in my community. I do that without particularly large resources, though I was a high earner earlier in life, and feel a responsibility to give back.

    None of this should suggest for a moment that I believe anyone needs to “earn” the right to speak up for what is right.

    I try to be polite, HiFi. I often fail. Go fuck yourself.

  32. Mitch
    May 23, 2011 at 11:57 am


    I apologize. Teacher’s comment sounded so much like you I didn’t realize it wasn’t. My prior invitation is now extended to Teacher.

  33. tra
    May 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm


    I don’t know P.J., so I don’t know what P.J. does or doesn’t do to help poor and homeless folks. But I have no reason to assume she does nothing to help them (and you have no reason to assume that either).

    And I do know who Mitch is, and I know that he has participated in work that has benefitted hungry, poor, and homeless folks directly (which he alludes to in his 11:54 comment) and indirectly, see


    For my part, I donate food, produced right here in Humboldt through my own sweat and labor.

    So if you’re taking aim at hypocrisy and armchair opinonating, you’ve set your sights on the wrong targets.

    Meanwhile, I have yet to hear any compelling argument against Salzman’s lawsuit. For the most part I just see a lot of repetitive complaints about “aggressive panhandling,” despite the fact that Salzman’s lawsuit doesn’t challenge that part of the Arcata ordinance.

  34. Plain Jane
    May 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I second that, Mitch. Teacher’s “I don’t give a shit,” doesn’t absolve him from supporting the indigent any more than being anti-war absolves anyone from paying to support the military – industrial complex. What people choose to do or not do with their after-tax money is their business, what is done with the taxes collected is everyone’s business. You can’t force people like HiFi and Teacher to give up their state of denial about the necessity helping the poor to survive, but we can tell them at every opportunity what heartless, hateful fucks they are and wish them a first hand educational opportunity to find out how awful it is to be homeless and hated in America.

  35. High Finance
    May 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I am sure that Teacher, just like me, has nothing against somebody temporarily down on their luck.

    Those that are mentally incapable of fending for themselves should be locked up for their own protection.

    The rest of them are taking you for the fool you are PJ. A homeless advocate once told me his experience was that 1/3 of the homeless belong in each group. From what I see around town the number would be closer to 10-20% deserving of our help, 40% walking zombies and 40% screwing you guys over.

  36. Red Tractor
    May 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    So leave the country Jane. No ones holding you back. As for the anti-war crap not everybody agrees. The majority of the USA supports it. So quit the sniveling crap you dumb hippie wannabe.

  37. Plain Jane
    May 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Teacher and HiFi should tell everyone where these job openings and vacant cheap housing are so that the homeless who are “just screwing us over” can be informed by those who do give a shit but don’t know what they can do but hand out cash so people can buy the toilet paper, laundry soap (and coins to feed the machines), shampoo, tampons, etc. that foodstamps don’t cover but which are necessities of life.

  38. Plain Jane
    May 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    GO FUCK YOURSELF, Red Tractor. What an idiot!

  39. tra
    May 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm


    My recollection from the discussion on an earlier thread is that you actually agreed with Brinton and Salzman that non-agressive panhandling should not be banned. Am I recalling your position correctly?

    By the way, I’m not demanding, or even advocating, that people should give money to panhandlers, and I’m certainly not advocating that people should give money to obnoxious or aggressive panhandlers. I’m simply saying that begging itself should not be made illegal, that people should have a right to ASK us to help them.

  40. May 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I hope you’ll excuse this interruption in the conversation as I’m happy to hear folks debate the issue of homelessness and panhandling (and I’m thankful to Jackie for her post), but I would like to be clear that my motive for my lawsuit against the City of Arcata is NOT out of support for panhandling or the homeless, it is about protecting our rights of free speech. Other then as a publicity stunt, I don’t generally hold up signs asking for handouts, but I do often hold up signs for or against a cause, politician or political issue, and that’s the freedom I’m looking to protect, by stoping any erosion of our free speech rights.

    When the ACLU defended the right of the American Nazis to march in Skokie Illinois link, it was not because they agreed with or supported any of the Nazi’s positions, but rather they defended their rights, in spite of their positions.

    I do feel I can address the greater issues of the homeless by working for politicians and policies that address the underlying systemic causes and offer cures, solutions and remedies, but this lawsuit is not intended to do any of those things, it is about protecting everyones rights under the Constitution.

  41. May 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I guess I’ve not yet learned how to insert a link. Let’s see if one of these works:

  42. CletusAnn
    May 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    HF, you wrote: “$427 a month on food stamps ??????

    That is more than the average, hard working, tax paying citizen spends on their food per person per month !”

    Clearly, your implication above was that people were getting $427 PER PERSON each month. By your own ehow reseach, you were way off base in your original assumption.

  43. Bolithio
    May 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I work hard, pay taxes, and bleed red. I could care less if someone chooses to panhandle for a living. What living!! I also dont care if people try to ‘game welfare’ etc… Big fing deal. I acknowledge that “my” tax dollars contribute to this. I also know that my tax dollars entitle corporations to make billions at the expense of all of us, which in turn likely leads to people panhandling. So throw em’ a bone. Or a beer, or what ever. Getting all pissed about someone else (who is way less off than you) wont help you!

    Also, like most people, Im pretty apathetic. So Im unlikely to end up serving food at the shelter. But Id like to think my tax money helps people less fortunate – and I believe that 95% of the people seeking help really need it. Knowing that my tax money also funds the profits of billion dollar corporations (who never need it), I dont think its too much ask. We all know the big corporations wont help the needy.

  44. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Big funny is the stupid law didn’t make a lick of difference. Just more unenforced BS downtown. If Arcata enforced more on the books, proven, laws they could “clean up” town in a week. Start a rigorous round of citations for public drunk and camping, followed by warrant checks and rides to the jail where applicable. It would fill up the county jail and word would get around. Can’t sue over proven laws. This anti-panhandling stuff was an unmeasure from the beginning

    May 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Leave it to PJ to devolve the conversation into curse-word attacks. Apparantly, calling PJ a hippie “hit the spot”.

    I wonder why?

    The truth?

    Or, some other emotional attachment?

    Anyhow, gotta wonder about the “F-Bombs”. Then, the “BJ4PJ” comment as a retort to the “F-Bomb”. PJ loses control so easily, that the retorts are justified…. very irrational loose cannon PJ is. Sigh, there is a savior out there somewhere for that type of aggressive anger and rage.

    Freedom of speech less the slurs. Funny, aint it. So, is a person being restricted on their freedoms of speech if the speech is mean spirited? Speech is speech, good and bad, yes? So, how many more categories of restricted speech will freedom of speech have to include? Why are not slurs termed as “harassment” instead of restricting free speech? Meely hiding away one’s inner feelings only perpetuates the problem by hiding away those folks who will eventually cause problems. I like to know that someone called someone else a name that fits the character because it tells me whether or not they are humane. I certainly don’t endorse prejudices, but the “free speech” shenanigans are absolutely ridiculous. On the one hand, protect this group or classification, but, on the other hand, do not protect this one over here or that one over there. Sure seems these ruses are geared toward voter bases – inventing issues to create issues to establish issues to re-enforce those issues, politically.

    Not that it is positive, but is calling someone who is not glbt “a faggot” wrong, when the intent is just to find a word that is depicted as negative to retort to something that was previously done or said by the other? In fact, why is not the word “hippie” included in the “restricted free speech” if it is used in a demeaning style just as using the word “faggot”. The attempts to control “free language” has gone way above and beyond appropriatenesses when equal protections are not applied.

    Note: the “f” word I used is for discussion purposes only and I do not endorse using the word as an attack on an actual glbt person. Yet, when discussing free speech, it is a great word to deliberate upon when considering what speech is free, and what speech a person pays for.


  46. Plain Jane
    May 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Anyone who tells me I should leave if I don’t like it can go fuck themselves. Anyone too stupid to understand that can do the same.

  47. Oldphart
    May 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Such a class act.

    May 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    But it is okee dokee for PJ to do unto others as long as they don’t do unto her. Yep, PJ is an advocate for equal protections and rights…..not.


  49. middle ground
    May 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    PJ take a deep breath, it’s okay. I suggest you not take a blog personal and try to control your hostility (GFY). Where is the middle ground here? I work on the plaza in Arcata and know the usual characters. A few of them definitely have mental issues, but most are kids traveling around. Arcata is a hip place that attracts travelers. Should we feed and cloth them all? Where do you draw the line? What if most residents do not want a large homeless population?

  50. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks, Middle Ground. How much can this town take? Jane, calm down. You have valid and thoughtful comments and are a big part of this blog but your emotions and anger get the best of you. Kinda like Rob in the anger management area, but you are not as bad, obviously.

    Can we relax a little and just comment?

  51. Ruthie
    May 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm


    On another site they have a poll for Arcata CA and it looks like it’s becoming a problem with the homeless people.

  52. middle ground
    May 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Truthfully, the knee jerk free handout crowd can be as closed minded as the anti homeless crowd. We need solutions, not GFY.

  53. Anonymous
    May 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Ruthie- I voted I love Arcata. It’s a great place. I hope anyone who doesn’t will leave, ASAP, along with the aggressive panhandlers.

  54. High Finance
    May 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Tra, that is correct, I am not opposed to NON aggressive panhandling. As long as some obvious rules are followed like not blocking businesses or subtley intimadating little old ladies, etc.

    Eureka has some and from my encounters they are politely asked and I always politely decline.

    CletusAnn, it was the article above that inferred it was $427 per month for one individual. That did sound too high but you posted at 9.37am posted that was the “maximum amount per family”.

    So both you and the article were 100% off. But my point is valid. People can get more in food stamps than the average person pays for food.

  55. Plain Jane
    May 24, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Good article, Mark. But no Republican will admit the truth of what Stockman is saying and they certainly would never nominate anyone who criticized Reagan, or anyone with a real plan to fix the economy. The Tea Party will support only magical fixes from rigid ideologues who can’t win a national election.

  56. Redwood Life
    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I live up Fickle Hill Road about 3/4 mile bordering the Community Forest. In the past two years I would have to chase the bums out from under the house at least seven times. I have closed off the space from the outside with a strong lock. It doesn’t help. They break it to get underneath where it’s dry. I have found burnt wood underneath, feces in all the corners, cans, garbage. This summer I’m going to build a concrete base. I’m sick and tired of the bums and it ia a disgrace to see our City Hall bicker and not do a single option.

  57. tra
    May 24, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Redwood Life,

    There’s already a law for that — it’s called trespassing. Rather than “chase the bums out,” next time try calling the cops.

    It makes no sense to blame City Hall when you won’t avail yourself of the law enforcement options that you already have.

  58. Teacher
    May 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Tra and Mitch, I am glad that both of you volunteer locally to support the causes that are near and dear to your heart. I think that speaks to your character that you are willing to put your time, money, and effort where your mouth is.
    As far as panhandling goes and the general homelessness in Arcata and Eureka, I truly don’t care about those people. I don’t dislike or wish them harm. I simply just do not care about them past the fact that they be given the basic necessities to live (food and water) and I have yet to see starving people on our streets. When I do, I’ll make them a PB&J and give it to them.
    I believe that both Eureka and Arcata have a panhandling and homeless problem. I believe this problem stems from meth, alcohol, and other drugs. People like myself, don’t feel comfortable with the idea of my kids or wife walking around old town Eureka. I get tired of the panhandlers in Arcata stealing from my friends and myself and their overall sense of entitlement. If they want to live on the streets, that is their right. However, for someone to write an article and say that we need to provide them housing and more money for food, that seems so ludicrous to me I don’t know where to start.
    The truly mentally ill who are out there and do need help, I believe that the state, you and me, should provide places for them to go, live in safety, and receive treatment. These people however, are a relatively small portion of the people you see on the streets in both Arcata and Eureka. No, I can’t back that up with a link to a website but I do work with the homeless in downtown Eureka. From my experience, the vast majority are addicted to meth and if they are experiencing mental instability, it is due to their meth use.

  59. tra
    May 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

    As far as panhandling goes and the general homelessness in Arcata and Eureka, I truly don’t care about those people…

    … I do work with the homeless in downtown Eureka.


  60. Teacher
    May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Tra 12:47 pm, “I’m…demanding..that people give their money to panhandlers.”
    My work brings me into constant contact with the homeless and, on a personal level, many are very likable. However, many of them admit to me that they are meth addicts. If they choose to do this with their lives, I won’t stop them and I’m not going to lose sleep over it or say that they deserve more money for food stamps. I should have clarified that I do worry and have empathy for people who have mental illnesses and/or handicaps. Junkies, however, I don’t waste my time worrying about. If you know junkies Tra, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you worry about them, they are going to do what they are going to do and that is why, I don’t care about them and neither should you. If they ever truly want your help, then they are a recovering junkie and possibly worth helping. If they are simply a spun-out tweaker, why should you, me, or anyone else worry about them? In all seriousness, why worry about them? Let them be and spend our scant resources on things like education which will better our society.

  61. tra
    May 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I respectfully submit that the way I truncated your remarks did not substantially change the meaning of what you wrote, whereas the way you truncated mine changed the meaning 180 degrees. Surely a “teacher” should be able to see the difference?

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