There are no Virtual beds

Words and deeds: Two 11 a.m. events held in Sacramento last Monday offered a telling contrast, showing how California deals with its homeless problem. One was an actual event, in which people embarking on a three-day fast to protest next month’s closing of Sacramento’s homeless shelter were blessed. The other was a virtual event, a media teleconference in which gubernatorial first lady Sharon Davis touted her husband’s approach to homelessness.

How appropriate it was for the political approach to homelessness to be in the faceless, disconnected world of modern telecommunications, while one could hear and touch the activists who work with actual homeless people, whose hunger will be real, and who gathered outside the meeting of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the body that is allowing the shelter to close.

There was a flesh-and-blood press conference that the Davis administration staged to claim what a “top priority” homelessness has become. It was held last Thursday, two days after the Board of Supervisors voted against extending operation of the emergency shelter at Cal Expo past April 17.

All the top administration muckity-mucks were there, at which they unveiled strategies, challenges, a new report and a statewide summit on homelessness set for April 22. In fact, there were more cabinet members and department directors at the event than there were journalists—another telling indicator of a problem we’d rather just ignore.

In typical Davis appointee fashion, they rattled off a dizzying array of programs, statistics, funding levels, sympathetic statements and bold claims to be doing something. “The governor has made homelessness a key state priority,” said Grantland Johnson, the Sacramentan who serves as secretary of Health and Human Services.

These were clearly intelligent, knowledgeable people, and there seemed to be many good ideas about attacking homelessness at its root with better approaches to addiction and mental illness, two leading causes of homelessness.

Yet the discussion seemed to dance around the number one source of homelessness: lack of a home. And when questioned by Bites—“Can the administration commit to increasing the number of shelter beds in California in the next fiscal year?”—the answer was obfuscation and avoidance.

California doesn’t have enough beds for its residents. Or rather, it isn’t willing to make the beds it does have available to the dregs of society. So as long as we’re shutting down homeless shelters, blocking efforts to create new ones and rousting the homeless from encampments along the American River Parkway and other spots, let’s not feign great election year concern for their plight, OK? It’s as insulting as it is disingenuous.

Broadway broadside: So, concerned about the homeless, huh? “Bites must be one of them liberals,” you talk radio listeners out there are probably thinking. Well, if you mean that Bites feels that society has an obligation to the less fortunate: guilty as charged. If you mean that Bites is a slave to some kind of politically correct orthodoxy: guess again.

Want an example? OK, here’s one that just crossed Bites’ desk. Union activist Al Rojas has been persistently trying to get SN&R to publicize this Saturday’s Cesar Chavez Day march, which he’s using to kick off a campaign to change the name of Broadway to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

Now, Bites considers Chavez to be a great man well worth honoring. Hell, Bites will even plug the march, which begins at 8 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Broadway. But changing the name of this street is a stupid idea for which Rojas, when questioned, could not voice one good reason, except to express indignation that a paper he perceives as liberal would dare question his idea.

It’s approaches like this that make some progressives seem so loopy, oversensitive and out-of-touch to many Americans. I mean, geez, the Cesar Chavez state holiday march is wrapping up at Cesar Chavez Plaza, across from City Hall in the heart of town, which has a cool statue of Chavez and everything. How is it again that Sacramento has failed to honor this man?

And if that isn’t good enough for many of you liberals out there, try this: your persistent efforts to name stuff after your guys leads conservatives to keep trying to name stuff after their guys. Isn’t Ronald Reagan National Airport in the country’s capital bad enough? Stop the madness!