Muriel Bowser, Go with the Council's Family Shelter Plan. Beats the Hell Out of Yours!!! (Pt 1)

Part 1 -- Below
Part 2: HERE

On May 17th, 2016 as Kentucky and Oregon held their presidential primaries, a couple of incumbent politicians in Washington, DC had a rather nasty spat in a hallway in the Wilson Building (City Hall). The most notable moment was when Mayor Muriel E. Bowser shouted at Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and called him a "f**king liar". A reporter was nearby recording all of it.

[For my ever-increasing number of Russian readers, I should point out that I eliminated the "uc" in what is an American curse word -- also known as an expletive. That explanation also begins to convey the gravity of the situation; as, public outbursts of anger are looked down upon in America -- especially when they come from politicians.]

Most people that I've spoken to since that day (and the author of the previous hyper-linked article) believe that Ms. Bowser is upset that the council has taken away her ability to line the pockets of her wealthy developer friends who stood to make exorbitant profits by leasing several buildings to the city for about 20 years each, after which the city would not own the buildings for which they will have paid five to ten times the market value of the buildings in rent.

At least one person believes that it is a matter of administrative embarrassment. That is to say that Mayor Bowser presented herself as a champion of the city's homeless families and promised them a better way forward. She then won the mayoral election and began to pull her administration together around this promise. On February 11th, 2016 her administration held meetings in various wards of the city so as to inform the public about her plan for replacing the decrepit DC General Family Shelter with seven smaller shelters by the fall of 2018. Now 16 months into her term and having made the promise while campaigning, Bowser's plan still has some apparent flaws (apparent to anyone who didn't help craft it anyway) and the DC Council is fixing those flaws. Contract steering aside, the mayor has plenty of reason to feel embarrassed right about now.

Add to that the fact that Muriel Bowser met with the International Olympic Committee so as to try and bring the 2024 Olympics to  DC. She failed but might try for the 2028 Olympics. The city floated the idea of building the Olympic village on the site of the DC General Hospital-turned--shelter. Neither will I let people forget that the hospital was dilapidated when closed but good enough for the homeless -- according to the Williams administration anyway. Now the same class of people who were thrown into a building that was not fit for human habitation or healthcare might get pushed out by a one-time sporting event which uses government dollars that could have gone toward social uplift of the poor to instead construct a sporting complex that will only collect dust after a few weeks in use. (This tragedy-in-the-making might be reconsidered in 2018 after many more well-to-do people who are disconnected from the struggles of the poor move to DC and change the voting dynamic.)

So, Mayor Bowser has a few reasons for wanting to close the DC General Family Shelter and the public's cries for its closure that began in the spring of 2014 following the abduction and murder of Relisha Rudd who resided at the shelter with her family have just given the mayor a good-sounding reason to close it. That is not to say that she doesn't care for homeless parents and their children on some level. She loves holding babies and being photographed with them. Her social uplift agenda favors those who are young enough to have been her children -- 24 and under. However, I AM saying that she's putting forth the reason that is most appealing to the public while hoping that they'll forget about her other motives for the planned closure.

It's worth noting that, irrespective of Mayor Bowser's motives for replacing the DC General Shelter, her efforts have made homelessness more of a political issue than it has been in this city since the death of Homeless Advocate Mitch Snyder in 1990. Her obscene outburst was just the icing on the cake -- serving to make the public discourse about poverty just a little "sweeter".

Now let's put her outburst in perspective. Muriel Bowser is the "Captain Planet" of DC mayors. After all, she had several former mayors on her transition team and is turning out to be "their foul-ups combined". She is far from the only local politician to fly into a fit of rage while operating in their official capacity, though she might be the first to do it in front of a reporter who was recording at the time. Here response to the incident???

This unapologetic letter to her on-line followers (who, for the obvious reason, would much rather take their chances following her on-line than from within arm's reach):

Dear Washingtonians,
Homeless families deserve shelter that is safe and dignified. And this February, I put forward a comprehensive plan to close DC General - by creating short-term family housing across the District.  The sites were selected based on size, location, access to transportation, and an ability to relocate homeless families to clean, safe, and dignified facilities by 2018.
This week, Chairman Mendelson and the DC Council passed a bill that includes alternate sites in several Wards.  While I am pleased to see the Council finally take action, I am concerned that their proposal delays the closure of DC General beyond 2018 and may include restrictions that jeopardize the entire program.  That means years of families having no choice but to stay in an old, dilapidated place that does not live up to the ethical and moral values of our city. 
To boot, the Council passed the legislation without hearing one word of input from District residents.  After all the Chairman’s talk about the need to listen to the community, he came up with this scheme in the dark of night, without allowing for one single day for public debate.
 We will work with the Council to minimize the delay, and give families who experience homelessness the dignity and hope they deserve.

[Fouled Up Chick, Keeping Instability, Not Governing]

Now to tear into her about her latest display of hyperbole and dishonest insinuations:

1 -- Her plan was not comprehensive and I have a city council to prove it. So, I won't belabor that point.

2 -- Is it me or has anyone else noticed that she is now calling homeless shelters "short-term housing"??? The new name emphasizes the fact that shelters are not meant to be long-term residences. It also comes off to me as window-dressing that is meant to suppress the images that people have had of shelters as city-run slum dwellings that are, in many ways, worse than Public Housing.

3 -- The sites were selected based on.....location??? What the Hell does that mean??? I'm just guessing that every site is at a "location". I can be wrong occasionally; but, I'm pretty sure that I'm right about this one. That statement tells me nothing -- which is right in line with Bowser's mannerisms.

4 -- The sites were selected based on.....access to transportation??? Well, if you're a five-year old trying to travel from the proposed Ward 5 site to a strip club, all you need to do is follow the trail of used condoms a few short yards from the shelter exit to the club's doors. On the other hand, you have one city bus within two blocks and the next closest route ends two miles away, though the bus repair depot emits exhaust particulates from right across the road. You're three miles from the nearest subway station and don't have many other amenities within a reasonable walking distance -- unless you want to count a nearby KFC, Checkers's Restaurant and the Days Inn from which many of the would-be-occupants can carry their few belongings if they were to move into the proposed site.

5 -- Bowser is "pleased to see the council finally taking action". Now, that's a not-so-subtle political jab by one mayor at an entire council of 13. I'm supposing this insinuation won't do much to create good will between her and the council. Additionally, I recall the council having made homelessness a matter for the committee of the whole in early 2015, it having been a single council person's committee before that. I blogged soon thereafter about the competition that would emerge between the council and the administration. Damn, I'm good!!!

6 -- Bowser said in a fit of hyperbolic BS:

"That means years of families having no choice but to stay in an old, dilapidated place that does not live up to the ethical and moral values of our city."

Hmm. Click HERE and HERE. I'll stop there for now.

7 -- As for this bunch of baloney:

"To boot, the Council passed the legislation without hearing one word of input from District residents.  After all the Chairman’s talk about the need to listen to the community, he came up with this scheme in the dark of night, without allowing for one single day for public debate."

...she must not think that the many meetings and hearings that her administration and the council had leading up to this latest version of the plan actually counts as public input. The council's most recent plan takes all of the public input hereto now into consideration.....

To be continued. Part 2: HERE


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