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Archive for May, 2010

REPORTS from only three days!

May 6, 2010

This morning I was wakened from sleep at around 7 in the morning by four men in uniform, led by Sgt. Swithenbank.

I was sleeping under the Bear Gulch bridge.

They told me they were having complaints about “you people”.

I said I wasn’t “you people” but they said yes I was.

They gave me a white paper notice of trespass warning with the County of Humboldt and Swithenbank’s name on it.

They said I would be arrested if they found me sleeping anywhere.

They photographed me with a board with my name, first and last, and something else written on it. I objected briefly before being photographed but one officer pulled out his handcuffs and said “I’ve been waiting to use these”.

I then let them take my photograph.

I wear glasses, I was not able to see the officer’s names. I know Swithenbank by sight; the others I think are new to our area.

I think referring to anyone as “you people” is stereotyping or profiling.

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At about May 6, 2010 at about 7:30AM I was sleeping in my tent on the ridge north of Redway and I heard “you in the tent, come out”. I asked if I could put on my pants; he said no, come on out. I had long johns on so I stepped out.

I was surrounded by 8 officers, including a female.

The female was blonde and tall. The guy making demands was dark haired with a mustache and a chiseled, hawk like face. I did not get the names of the officers.

They asked what brought me to Humboldt County. I said “camping”. They said you’ve been camping for a while and I said I’d been ripped off by 3 companies and decided to live different.

They said I was trespassing on private property and asked me to produce my ID. I did. I had glass beer bottles containing water in my tent; I use glass bottles because they are safer and chemicals don’t leach into my water. They said “you’ve got your 40” and I told them it was water. Are you sure you aren’t making moonshine he asked. I was reaching in to get one of my water bottles and he yelled “hey, get out of there, you might have a gun”

I said “no, no, nothing like that”.

He said “Stand up, we’re gonna take your picture” They put a board with my name in front of me. One of the officers made a joke about my morning hair looking like a rooster and another officer said it was the best photo of the morning.

They gave me a white piece of paper and told me “If you’re here again it will be a fine. You have an hour to get out of here”. I told them it might take a little while longer.

They tazed someone the other day. I didn’t want to provoke them, there were 8 of them, and one of me and I was alone in the woods.

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From an Iraq veteran.

On May 6, 2010, yesterday, about 0700 me and my girl were already awake after staying up all night watching shooting stars on the hill a little north of Garberville. Swithenbank and his officers came out and gave us papers and teased us about being a couple. We had no garbage there, nothing, the camp was clean. There were 4 or 6 officers and animal control, they seem to want to just take the things homeless people have, and their dogs, and everything.

They ran our names to see if we had warrants. I don’t understand why they took my picture.

I’ve been cleaning up this town for years; they need to stop harassing us. I have a fiancé, I’m trying to keep things together.

They said we can’t camp down by the river either. They didn’t tell us where we could go.

I grew up around here and Redding, I was part of a homeschooled family. My grandpa died and I was left homeless.

I’m trying to start my life again.

Two years ago I got laid off 9 times; I was doing jobs I never did before, like welding.

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from Vietnam era vet:

On May 6, 2010 at about 10AM I was sitting in my chair drinking a cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet morning. My cat alerted me that intruders were coming. Four deputies walked up into my camp. I saw them first, I said “good morning, how’s it going”. They asked if I had any ID. We don’t know if you are America’s top ten wanted, please have a seat (on the poison oak). They ran my name and told me I was camping illegally on private property and told me I was being issued a trespassing/littering notice. And that I should leave as soon as possible.

I told Swithenbank it would take me at least 24 hours to get things together (which I did, but I have to go back to get my cat).

They took my picture with a board in front of me with my name, as if I were a criminal.

They said they would come back and would be checking. If I were still here they would “have to take appropriate action”

One cop asked if I was on drugs like heroin or meth. I said no.
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9 Contacts from the raids on the homeless in SoHum
May 6, 2010 from 7AM till around 1PM

-Man at Bear Creek Gulch (just north of Garberville) contacted by cops with Sgt Swithenbank. Cops took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County (aka public property)

-Man at Redwood Drive by Bear Creek Bridge contacted by cops w/Swithenbank. Took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County(aka public property).

-Man Contacted by cops under Bear Creek Bridge, took picture. He’s from out of state: Swithenbank told him “to leave Humboldt county and if they come back he would go to jail”

-Young man contacted by cops at Bear Gulch. Cops took picture. Gave warning.

-Young man contacted by cops. Took picture, gave written warning.

-Man contacted by cops. Cops took picture, given warning.

-Woman contacted by cops at 10:45 AM. Cops took picture, gave warning. Contact was behind Blue Star Gas
(north of Garberville, near the freeway). Cited for no rabies tag on dog. Officer C. Nikolaus #99704. Cops were very rude.

-Young man contacted by cops behind Blue Star Gas. Cops took picture, issued warning.

-Man contacted by cops at Raven’s Cliff (Redway, above the river). Cops took picture, issued warning.
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Woman who was born in this area. Her boyfriend used to work for John Casali.

On Friday May 7, 2010 early in the morning around 6:30 we were in our tent about a quarter mile out of town (Redway). Police approached us and told us to get out of the tent. We did. They asked for our ID’s and our names. They said “We’re taking your pictures” and they wrote our names and dates of birth on paper on a clipboard and held it in front of us and took pictures. They did not ask our permission to take photographs of us.

They gave us a paper saying we were trespassing and that we should move immediately. They cited me for having a dog without a rabies tag even though I had mailed in my papers to get the tag.

We moved down to the other side of the road, to the bridge near Dean Creek.

Hamilton came by on Saturday, gave us till 9 AM Sunday to move and told us he was arresting us, but releasing us at the scene. Tresspassing and littering is what it says on the ticket, although we were not at the same location as we had been and were not littering.

Hamilton came on Sunday and gave us till 1 PM to move.

I get my food stamps here, and counseling, I was in a house
in Myers Flat for 4 years but now I am in a tent. I have no place else to go. I was born in Humboldt County. I feel I am being pushed from my home. I have Cherokee in me.

We keep our camps clean.
—————–
Ticket issued today, May 8, 2010 by Sheriff Deputy Hamilton for trespassing and littering. However, the circumstances were that the guy returned to the river bank with a few friends to have lunch there. There is a firepit; they were heating their lunch. They informed Hamilton they were just there for lunch, not to stay, but he said they’d been warned.

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more from May 8, 2010:

1) Man contacted by cops. Picture taken, warning given. He was on Public Land

2) Woman contacted by cops on public land. Picture taken.
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On Tuesday, May 4, 2010 John Shelter awakened a couple sleeping outside in Eureka and gave them a NorthCoast Resource Center pamphlet. Then he told the couple, who have no other place to go, that cops were coming that weekend.

Shelter, who, for months, has been waking houseless people sleeping on public property in Eureka and stealing houseless peoples’ possessions (whether the people are present or not, leaving a written and false promise that the person can retrieve their gear and personal stuff if they CALL John Shelter) just received a huge grant to… what? continue his “work” ?…

Back to May 4th: John Shelter told the couple that they could get a certificate from the NorthCoast Resource Center (in Arcata) which would allow them to sleep there (a pass so the cops would not get them?), but the cops were to come on the weekend, and John Shelter told the couple to come get a certificate on MONDAY!!

Perhaps, John Shelter now has the authority to determine for the cops who is “deserving” or allowed to sleep!

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While harassment of houseless people happens all the time, sometimes, there is an even more concentrated attack by the police over the course of a few days. It appears that may have started today in Southern Humboldt.

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As I walk along the Boardwalk admiring the bay, the birds, and the boats, I’m touched by a painful contrast. The bay and the birds are nature’s bounty not dependent upon humans, but the boats dance across the waters powered by people with paddles. When the boat people complete their voyages, they bring their boats ashore and lovingly wash them clean before they put them away on their racks (beds?!) in secure weather tight buildings for the night. The sad and emotionally jarring contrast is one hundred yards up hill where up to ten “homeless people” huddle from the cold and rain night and day.

Can’t our city Fathers and Mothers find some way to provide (or at least permit) some shelter for these human beings? Perhaps it would be too much to ask for a building as elaborate as the boathouses, but at least a shed with a dry floor, a roof, and walls to stop the wind and rain.

Yours in hope,

Mac McCormick

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by Nick Jiles
May 3, 2010

Since the 2009 summer press conference addressing his proposed cuts to California’s IHSS program Governor Schwarzenegger has been relentless in his condemnation of an allegedly fraud-ridden program which he and his cronies claim is depleting the state’s tax revenue. The governor has no made no secret of his disinterest in closing tax loop holes for some of California’s most profitable corporations or in entertaining the thought of enacting oil tax legislation, both of which would generate much needed revenue but would be in stark contrast to the anti-working class agenda which has embodied his tenure in Sacramento. Perhaps no greater example of his recent attack against California’s working class is his latest effort to eliminate the IHSS program, justified by the blatant lies that comprise his anti-fraud campaign. Armed with fallacious rhetoric and testimony from a handful of county District Attorneys hiding behind the secrecy of Grand Jury findings the governor has championed one number, 25.

The governor speculated that fraud in the IHSS program was as high as 25% statewide, an alarming number for any program receiving state and federal tax revenue. Despite the efforts to ignore his critics, who have proposed such ludicrous measures as validating his estimation with actual data/empirical evidence, the governor has propelled his anti-fraud propaganda forward, using tax revenue to enforce anti-fraud policies and substantiate the urgency of dealing with such a sensitive issue that he claims lacks conclusive data to support his critics. Comments from governor Schwarzenegger’s July 6th, 2009 IHSS Fraud Press Conference included the following, “There is, of course, hesitation amongst the legislators. They say, “Well, we have to do some more studies,” and, “I don’t think we should jump to quick conclusions here,” and, “I don’t think we should make this part of the budget.”

Perhaps the “hesitation” of the governor’s critics could be attributed to the fact that one significant inquiry (unless one considers arbitrary statements from district attorneys as anecdotal evidence) has been made pertaining to fraud in the state’s IHSS program, a statewide audit commissioned by the governor himself in 2007-2008. The audit succeeded in providing an eerily powerful contradiction to the governor’s recent statements regarding the IHSS program. Of the 41 counties which participated in the quality assurance review, conducted by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), nearly 24,000 (23,823) cases were reviewed in attempt to uncover fraud/activities requiring further investigation. Of the cases reviewed, just over 1,000 (1,076) required further investigation and of that number only 557 cases were referred to the California Department of Health Care Services for review. Schwarzenegger’s supporters point to the inadequacies of the audit’s methodology, pointing out the insufficient resources available to adequately find fraud and using such figures as the relatively low amount of home visits conducted during the audit (3,883) to justify the shortcomings of the audit’s conclusion (to be discussed in further detail below). How convenient! Conduct an audit to reveal the ubiquitous fraud of the IHSS program and then dismiss the audit’s findings when you they don’t return the desired results!

One might wonder: Why did the governor fail to mention the results of the audit to the public? Or perhaps even more troubling, how do public officials whose job duties require them to know such information support such a clear attempt to misinform the general public? As we’ve come to expect from the governor, logic ceases to exist when it comes to issues affecting the working class and despite the facts there were public officials who came forward, eager to defend the governor’s unfounded speculation. District Attorney testimony which mirrored the ambiguity of the following statement from Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten, “The current estimates range anywhere from on the low side, maybe 5 to 10 percent to 25 percent in terms of the fraud that occurs in this program…” is illustrative of the haphazard journey of speculative nonsense that the governor’s supporters have exhibited when discussing fraud in the IHSS program. After all, the confidence exuded by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully sounded somewhat convincing, right? “And what we’ve told them is and I know you’ve used the figure and a lot of us agree with that, 25 percent fraud.” To state than an examination of the six grand jury reports does little to alleviate the unsubstantiated conjecture void of empirical evidence is a gross understatement.

Grand jury report findings are protected from public disclosure by the following legal disclaimer: “Grand jury reports area based upon documentary evidence, and the testimony of sworn or admonished witnesses, not on conjecture or opinion. However, the grand jury is precluded by law from disclosing such evidence except upon the approval of the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, or another judge appointed by the Presiding Judge (Penal Code Sections 911, 924.1(a), and 929).” Is it not surprising then that the testimony of District Attorneys in agreement with the governor’s anti-fraud efforts, bolstered grand jury findings with sheepish obedience to his estimations of the magic number, 25%? Another principle element of the grand jury findings espoused by district attorneys who provided testimony was the program’s lack of adequate safeguards against fraud.

However, the IHSS Quality Assurance, the progeny of bi-partisan legislation enacted in 2004 and an active participant in the state’s most recent audit, is comprised of state and county officials whose job duties include monitoring the program for fraudulent activities and ensuring the efficacy and quality of care provided via the program. Counties are also supposed to conduct “targeted reviews” which focus on specified IHSS cases that indicate the potential for fraud. Much has also been made of background checks and technological implementations that would protect consumers from the litany of prisoners plaguing the IHSS program. A recent fallacy extolled by the LA Times stated that, “Requiring background checks of providers and hiring more fraud investigators could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.” (Op Ed, 7/3/09) The recklessly irresponsible and untrue statement is merely a pathetic attempt to justify the governor’s proposal to spend $26.5 million of California’s tax revenue to investigate fraud that he claimed wasn’t discovered due to lack of available resources at the time of the audit. After reviewing the evidence available (i.e. the state-wide audit discussed above), it is apparent that adding yet another state funded bureaucracy to eradicate the 2% fraud rate that is draining the state’s tax revenue is beyond ridiculous.

Perhaps those who are convinced of the deviant characters serving as IHSS providers statewide and endangering the health of the vulnerable should take into account the following assessment of social workers’ struggles during the Schwarzenegger era, “Catching unscrupulous providers in the IHSS program requires good case management by trained social workers. Unfortunately, the Governor has consistently grossly underfunded the case management oversight in the program throughout his tenure. His budgets fund less than the bare minimum of case oversight — just over 8 hours per year per client to perform a number of activities, including client intake, assessment, provider enrollment, timesheet processing, and overall case monitoring. IHSS social workers often can’t get out to see their clients more than once a year. To make matters worse, the Governor permanently cut county IHSS budgets by another $15 million in 2008-09.” Apparently it’s difficult to find fraud when the very people employed to help monitor it find themselves subject to the governor’s guillotine as well.

Finding one’s way through the maze of guesswork and ancillary commentary of governor Schwarzenegger is easy enough when one has the facts. The people governor Schwarzenegger claims to represent in his efforts to eradicate waste and fraud within the IHSS program are the same people who will inevitably suffer in the event that he realizes his elitist agenda, an agenda that leaves California’s most vulnerable population without the care it deserves. I leave you with the following, the CONCLUSION from the most recent statewide audit of the program, “We continue to see the positive impact of QA and look forward to our continual collaborative efforts to ensure improvement and consistency in the delivery of services for all IHSS recipients and to minimize the potential for abuse or misuse of program funds, to enable more funds to be available to serve those in need.”

-Nick Jiles is an organizer with CUHW (California United Home Care Workers) and can be reached at: nicholasj@cuhw.org

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