PART 1 of: Best Ways to Advocate to and "With" Incumbent Mayoral Candidate Muriel Bowser for DC's Homeless People
PART 1: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's 30,000-strong(?) Administration
Can't Defeat One Homeless Advocate in 3.5 Years -- and Counting.
(The court case and what can be learned from it by other DC homeless advocates)
With me having advocated for DC's homeless people since mid-June 2006, I just received my first jail sentence related to advocacy on July 11th, 2018, following a nine-month long court case that began on October 13th, 2017 -- shortly after my August 26th social media post indicating my intention to run for mayor in 2018. For reasons that I won't explain in this post (but might in a later post), I was arrested on May 21st, 2018 and released on July 11th -- after serving 52 days, with the remainder of my 360-day sentence having been suspended. As if it were even possible, DC's homeless people now have even more respect for me. I have enough street cred to purchase grounds for a homeless tent city to replace those which the current administration has spent the last three years shutting down -- often removing the same homeless people from different locations in monthly cycles. Thank you, Mayor Muriel Bowser and company. Haters make me famous.
DC has a somewhat obscure and overly protective law which few of its denizens knew about prior to this blog post. Avoiding convoluted legalistic explanations (for now), the long and short of it is that a person can be persecuted...err prosecuted for sending at least two unwanted messages to the same person -- texts, e-mails, social media posts etc. (They don't have to contain threats or libel; but, either is useful if getting arrested is your goal.) The legal technicalities give the court much latitude in deciding outcomes; and, they also allow for different levels of jurisprudence based on class, race and other factors -- especially class. As far as race is concerned, Caucasian ex-girlfriends who learn about this law are the most likely to make use of it against those pesky White males that just won't go away. This is where the Black-male tendency to move on quickly from his most recent [m]ate and to resume his "hoe-hopping" actually becomes a plus. For the Black male knows that there are "millions more fish in the sea" and, if minstrel shows like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich are any indication, he want's to check at least a million of them off of his list -- twice, like Saint [N]ick. At any rate, my unwanted messages were sent to a couple of Mayor Muriel Bowser's administrators who ostensibly are working on ending DC homelessness. Though non-threatening, I admit that they were written in a mean-spirited way -- the first one having been sent on October 2nd, 2017.
So much for this law which protects the hypersensitive emotions of thin-skinned people and for the charges that were leveled against me; as, this post is about the best ways in which to advocate both "to" and "with" Mayor Muriel Bowser on behalf of homeless people. I'll say right upfront that the absolute best advocacy involves directly-affected people speaking on their own behalf, though their feelings of disenfranchisement can make the homeless apprehensive about speaking up and thereby lead to their plight and oppression being prolonged unnecessarily. Fearful homeless people as well as the people for whom this over-reaching law against cyber-bullying was created need to toughen up and get some thick skin. 'Nough said on weak people (for now).
Two highlights of the case that I'll mention here are as follows:
1 -- On June 25th, 2018, in open court, the prosecuting attorney actually formed her lips to say, "The government fears that, if [Eric] is released today, he might incite the shelter".
2 -- On July 11th, Judge Marisa De Meo said (off the record) that the reason that neither plaintiff (Kristy Greenwalt, Laura Zeilinger) showed up is that they were approached by a reporter.
The case is decided, and thus, over; so, there is no gag order in effect. But both statements are enough to make me gag, nonetheless, on account of the sheer stupidity among our public officials that they expose. These officials seem not to realize how they are showing their cards and contradicting themselves. The former statement is an admission on the part of DC Government that I have power; while, the latter statement represents an unwillingness to recognize my power. No worries. The government's words can now be used to teach citizens how to corner government into doing right by its most vulnerable constituents, thus this post.
Being as these words were spoken and not written, it's quite possible that the prosecutor was saying that I might "insight" the shelter by teaching homeless people about laws, policies and plans that can and will adversely affect them (as well as how they might work the system to their benefit). Even so, there's nothing that I can say along those lines today or tomorrow that I couldn't have said on June 25th. I've yet to learn of the government having contacted the shelter between June 25th and July 10th to ensure that I am not permitted to "incite the shelter"; but, I'll soon find out. If it turns out that they didn't, that will speak volumes to my argument that "the Bowser administration's case against me was a bunch of Trumped-up bull bullarky" that was intended to muffle the effects of an intelligent and analytical advocate and to dull his poignant critiques of DC Government's failed attempts since 2004 to end or even significantly decrease homelessness in the nation's capital.
2004: 8,253 homeless people.
2018: 6,904 homeless people.
Difference (net): 1,349 people.
Average annual decrease: 95.65 people.
Number of homeless service provider staff: hundreds
Annual homeless services budget (recently): Over $200 million.
" " " " in past years: C. $160 million.
Average cost per homeless person: C. $30,000.
Average DC rent (annually): C. $25,000.
Make what you will of that.
I've never sought to incite the shelter residents to do anything illegal or outlandish, though I've organized events during which the homeless were able to speak constructively to government about their issue -- the outcomes of such events notwithstanding. As a churchgoer, I love to prey; so, I'll prey on the government's stated fear and pray that other advocates do the same. If perfect love casts out fear, then that is reason enough to vote Bowser out in November. (The nation as a whole should have learned after Bush 43 used fearmongering to "win" a second term.) That said, I'm more inclined to incite the shelters (plural) now than I was before the prosecutor's ill-conceived comments on June 25th. Never let [Eric] see you sweat, Bowser.
I didn't get the chance to converse with my lawyers about the "shelter-inciting" comment until July 10th, at which time these ladies explained to me that they'd spoken further with the prosecutor about the government's fear and they had been told that:
"Other advocates are already using [my] tactics".
(And you wonder why I'm such a helium head. Go figure.)
To this explanation I must say that Mayor Bowser (whose executive office lawyer spoke on behalf of the administration as a whole) brought this one on herself. Like Hercules, she has chopped off the head of the Hydra, only to have many more heads appear. She ought to follow the advice of Danny DeVito's character and "Forget the head-slicing thing!!!!!".
Fact of the matter is that I had not taught any classes about my methods (in-person or on-line) prior to writing this post, though I've been beating myself up mentally since October of 2017 for having failed to train other advocates to be like me. This claim by Ms. Prosecutor might be all I need to stop doing that to myself, though I know enough to take what government says with a grain of salt -- especially when they make as many flagrant errors as I've heard this one prosecuting attorney make during our several occasions being in the same room. Until proven otherwise, I'll have to entertain the possibility of a hyperbolic administration having made ill-informed or deliberately dishonest claims that any behavior of other advocates which the government finds to be unfavorable is somehow the result of my influence. That is a cheap shot, if in fact that's what was done. It also shows weakness on the part of the Bowser administration if that's the best that dozens of administrators and the poverty-pimping non-profits that they steer homeless service contracts to can do (after 3.5 years in power) to slow down the work of a poor man like me. I'm amused that Mayor Bowser sees me as having that much power. (Thanks, Babe. Wish I could say that I think the same way about you.)
I'll posit another possibility as to what's happening; and, I'll make it my business to figure out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God -- which Marisa De Meo's court failed to do. It stands to reason that, in my absence, the other advocates have sensed the need to replace my aggressive attitude with aggressive attitudes of their own. While I was present in government meetings, there were occasions where I'd make a comment and several other advocates would sum up their thoughts by saying, "I agree with Eric Sheptock". When my air filled the room (helium, methane or otherwise), it kept the poverty pimps in check with a sense of gravity. With me gone, these six-figure "earners" [sic] must feel like they're on the moon (or ecstasy). The Bowser administration has in effect removed a POTUS and begun to replace him with both houses of Congress. The "Housing Hydra" lives on.
I'd begun to wonder what exactly the other advocates have been doing in my absence, being as court-imposed conditions have greatly decreased my ability to attend government meetings between October 2017 and December 2018; but, I didn't want to seem like I was under the impression that, were I to dip a finger in a cup of water and remove it, I'd leave a hole -- indicating that I can't be replaced. So, for the sake of modesty, I didn't ask. The Bowser administration has given me all the cover I need in order to ask without first being anchored to the ground next to the Remax balloon. Thanks again, Mayor. I'll find out soon enough. Some of the advocates attend my church which I'll enter for the first time since May 20th on July 15th. It would seem that a growing number of advocates are rising to the occasion in order to fill the void left by my absence. At least, that's the conclusion I'm leaning toward. Whether or not that's what HAS been happening, that's what SHOULD be happening. Take a hint, advocates; as, 535 heads are better than one (usually).
If you don't collectively beat government upside the head with hard facts that they can't deny and shame them into doing right by even their poorest and most reclusive constituents, you'll spend decades working onerously to get a mere pittance of short-lived concessions, while government lavishes long-term benefits upon the well-to-do who won't need to return next year to fight the same fight (budget or otherwise). This begins to explain the nature of gentrification.
I've danced around the issues of having an intellectually-aggressive attitude and of doing analyses of the data that speak to government's progress or lack thereof at curing social ills. (I apologize to my fellow Marxists who got their hopes up and thought I was going to address broader societal analyses. That's another long post in and of itself.) Now I'll stop dancing circles around these issues and say that:
"A poignant collection of juxtaposed facts that offer the general public an easily-understood analysis of government's so-called work, that eliminates the need for a glossary of government jargon and that connects the analysis to morals and values which are widely-held throughout society actually scares the be-Jesus out of government."
That brings me to the matter of the Bowser administration having decided against having either plaintiff show up for the July 11th court date. I'd already accepted a plea bargain, thereby giving up my right to a trial by jury. July 11th was the sentencing date. Both plaintiffs had the right to read victim-impact statements or to speak off-the-cuff about their feelings. Kristy had shown up for several court dates between October 2017 and April 2018. Laura was only added as a plaintiff in May and didn't attend any court dates. My lawyers had advised me that, in order to minimize the sentence that got handed down on that day, it was best for me to stick to expressing remorse and to avoid any show of disagreement or disdain for what might be said to me. They told me not to use that time to try and explain my reasons for anything that I did or to accuse the judge or plaintiffs of exaggerating or being too emotional. All things considered, the scene was set by my female lawyers and the rules of Ms. De Meo's court to have me get pummeled by the emotional expressions of these two female plaintiffs. It was a misandrist's or feminist's dream. Even so, neither plaintiff showed. Instead, they had Ms. Prosecutor read an error-laden statement that didn't contain any quotes from the plaintiffs or even any words that either plaintiff claimed to be in agreement with.
I'll assume that both administrators knew that I'd commit their words to memory and publish them on the web -- like so. I'm sure that they also know that I can find enough solid proof to substantiate my most damaging claims. Oddly enough, I need not look any further than government's own year-to-year data. That's not to speak of the fact that media requesting to interview multiple government officials about their collective case against a singular homeless advocate for printed words that hurt some feelings carries the message that this homeless advocate is powerful and is one to be reckoned with. It would give me more fodder to use against them; and, they don't want to give me anymore. It would highlight the fear that the prosecutor, on June 25th, had claimed the government had of me -- the government whose collective efforts since as far back as January 2015 haven't been sufficient to shut me down. It was easier not to show up. Let's face it: No matter what I do, a government that takes the time to build a public case against me will draw unwanted attention to itself by causing the masses to wonder why such a large organization feels the need to go after one of society's weakest members. In the end, it turns out government is afraid of what people would learn about their public officials. Advocates, you can afford to have government disparage any one of you, as an individual. In so doing they declare your power. Word to the wise: Don't give details about what you're accused of doing; as, this would eliminate the need for government to do it. The idea is to correctly accuse them and watch them fume because they can't return fire without actually boosting your image and ego.
NOTE: I promised some people (including Mayor Bowser) in an e-mail yesterday that I'd start teaching my tactics this weekend. Promise kept. Stay tuned for the next lesson.