Letters for December 2, 2010

The select few

Re “Find moral solutions” (Editorial, Nov. 24):

The only problem I have with amending Reno’s municipal code is that it doesn’t go far enough.

When I retired, I decided to relocate to Reno because of the many things the area has to offer: low cost of living, an excellent bus system, scenic beauty, great skiing, lots to do, and one of the best VA hospitals in the country.

I like Reno, and I’m generally enjoying my retirement.

I enjoy the clubs and shops along the river. I enjoy the casinos and restaurants downtown (though I quickly learned not to venture north of Third Street at night).

What I’m not enjoying is stepping over drunks passed out on the sidewalk. What I’m not enjoying is having to constantly watch my step to avoid vomit, feces, and broken liquor bottles. What I’m not enjoying are the panhandlers asking for cigarettes and change every 20 feet. What I’m not enjoying is my increasing fear of going downtown at night.

I realize the bad economy has been hard on a number of people, and I do feel sympathy for the select few who have lost their homes and jobs.

But, let’s face it: The vast majority is homeless because of drugs, alcohol, a past filled with bad choices, or a violent prison history, not because of bad luck.

But opening up the old bus terminal as a homeless basecamp, allowing the homeless to sleep anywhere they please, not arresting the drunk and disorderly, and providing free food so close to Virginia Street only encourages the homeless to remain here.

It’s only logical that if the situation in Reno becomes intolerable for the homeless, they will move. They won’t be a major problem.

Besides, why would anyone who is homeless want to spend a winter in Northern Nevada? The weather is cruel, the shelters are small, and the city services are too inadequate to make a meaningful difference.

Above all else, Reno is a gambling mecca. Tourists are important, and gamblers even more so. The city fathers (and mothers) have made it quite clear that the homeless are not welcome downtown. I’m surprised the city has made it as easy as they have in the past—new shelters, food programs, lack of police involvement, etc.

But behind the scenes, I’m certain the politicians and business owners are not happy about the current homeless situation.

Maybe the motto, “The Biggest Little City,” should change to “Contribute or Leave.”

So why is anyone surprised over the new proposed ordinance?

I’m a veteran, but even I have mixed feelings regarding our homeless vets. When approached by a vet on the street, I always tell them the same thing: We have a great VA. Check in, clean up, sober up, get fed, and take advantage of the many excellent programs that are available. There’s absolutely no excuse for a vet to be hungry and homeless.

But more often than not, they say they don’t want the hassles and B.S. of the system. It’s not worth it.

Translation: They want to keep drinking or using drugs.

So be it. It’s their choice. But don’t ask me to support and finance their choice of lifestyle. Don’t expect me to feel bad if they land at Parr Boulevard.

What about crime in our city? You only have to watch the local news to see how the economy has led desperate people to do desperate things. Violent crime and robbery are worse than ever.

Eliminating the homeless completely—admittedly a futile concept—or forcing many of them to move, could solve many of our crime issues.

Reno is not Las Vegas. We’re too small to have a crime-ridden homeless ghetto close to downtown. It’s become a big problem for tourists and residents alike.

As the editorial states, “The City Council will probably vote to make these poor people’s lives a little worse, a little less safe.”

Unfortunately that’s probably true, if the homeless choose to stay in Reno.

However, the amendment could be the first step in making many other lives better, and safer.

It could even result in providing a better, safer, and warmer environment for our homeless population: Las Vegas.

Chuck Tanner

Illegal doses

Re “Limited discourse” (News, Nov. 24):

I suffer from a chronic pain disease. The docs have finally settled on methadone to treat my pain. After six-plus years on the same dose, this methadone works about as well as two aspirin. I have tried and now use marijuana to treat my pain, but I am not on the list for medical marijuana. Would you put your name on a list to use a drug still illegal in the United States? A list our police can read? I have to lie to my doctor because he has to give these same police my info if asked.

What a world we could have if the drug war, like all wars, were over and the problem placed in the hands of health care professionals, who, right now, sing the psalms of the legal drug cartels. I guess maybe that might not be the answer either. As long as we have no say, drugs, health care, and all hope belong to the far right, which scares me no end.

name withheld

Make a connexion

Re “Out and about” (Feature story, Nov. 24):

Awesome article! I think Reno is an amazing community. I feel like it’s a great place to be a gay man. I just wish it were easier to meet other gay men. There is an underused free resource that I would like to bring to everyone’s attention: It is www.connexion.org. It seems to me like it would be a great way for Reno/Tahoe’s gay community to connect.

Dillon Brown

Good for the head

Re “State of Denial” (Notes from the Neon Babylon, Nov. 24):

Thanks to the News & Review for Bruce Van Dyke’s column. Yes, medical cannabis is a no-brainer. Anyone who says cannabis isn’t medicine is an intellectual troglodyte.

But worse than our nation’s ignorance on cannabis as medicine is our ignorance of the process behind its prohibition.

No science, no facts, truth or even common sense were ever involved in the banning of cannabis. Instead it is a pile of xenophobic, racist newspaper fictions and the manipulations of career prohibition bureaucrat, Harry Anslinger.

As we found in the mid 20th century, policies founded upon racial bigotry bear bitter fruit. Cannabis is medicine and has been medicine since before recorded history. To deprive citizens of medicine growable in the home garden is cruel and capricious. That cannabis in any form—whether industrial, medicinal, nutritional or recreational—is illegal, is a travesty of truth and an act of massive collective ignorance.

The federal government is lying. Grow up, get over it—and change it.

Allan Erickson
Eugene, Ore.

Or a joint

Re “State of Denial” (Notes from the Neon Babylon, Nov. 24):

“Guidance and clarity” from our legislators? You might as well go sit on Santa’s lap and ask for a pony.

Joe Sikorski