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June 25 - July 2, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

Dinging DeCinzo

I'M NOT really sure what DeCinzo was trying to say in his recent cartoon (June 18) showing homeless people sitting around a campfire avoiding work and using their purported problems with drugs and alcohol as their excuse for avoiding work. I guess I can just assume that he was representing common stereotypes and misperceptions of homeless people--and that he was hoping to inspire someone who knew something about homelessness to respond with good information.

At the Homeless Services Center, where I work, we see many hundreds of homeless families and individuals each month. Some of them do have significant drug and alcohol problems. But why single out the homeless? There are thousands of people living indoors in Santa Cruz that have drug and alcohol problems. When a housed person has a drug or alcohol addiction, the community generally seems to see this (correctly) as a treatable illness. Somehow, when it strikes a very poor person who has the least access to treatment, it is seen by some as a character flaw. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

As for the work issue, of course there are some homeless people who could work but make excuses. Again, I would ask: Is something only homeless people do? But I can't leave it at that. Clients at all four programs of the Homeless Services Center seek out and find jobs every week. Many of these folks remain homeless and continue to use our services (and the services of other capable agencies that assist homeless people) because the low paying jobs and part time jobs they manage to find do not provide enough income to get them into housing. It is simply a mistake to assume that all homeless people are jobless.

It would be interesting to see a cartoon some day showing a homeless person sitting around the campfire (or sitting in a shelter) telling his/her buddies that she/he had to turn in early and skip the drink because he/she had to get up early and go to work. Many people would chuckle at this scene, thinking it was far-fetched. As a matter of fact, this is exactly the way it is for many homeless people.

Don Lane,
Associate Director,
Homeless Services Center

Unhappy Ticketholder

THIS is to alert the general driving population of Santa Cruz and drivers on the Westside of Santa Cruz in particular about a scheme carried out by the Santa Cruz city police. The driver gets pulled over by a city cop, who typically hides out on a side street off High Street or Bay Avenue. The cop tells the hapless driver that he has been seeing drivers make "Hollywood-style" stops (rolling stops) all day long but that he saw you (the driver) fail to stop altogether at (name intersection) stop sign. An alternate line is that he observed you doing a "rolling stop." The spiel that follows is that he could give you the high-cost ticket, which would count against you and cause your insurance to go up, and then quotes a figure such as "$250," but that he is just giving you a "municipal" ticket for failing to stop, which will "probably" be "only $80," but then when you receive the bill it actually turns out to be $210, according to my friend who was stopped in the same neighborhood and in much the same way, and fed the same line of BS. At that point you feel relieved and grateful that it's not going to run up over $200.

Right after my friend was ticketed, she spotted her boss getting the same treatment at the same intersection where she had been stopped. The two of them then witnessed a third person getting stopped at that particular intersection. When I called to tell my story to another friend who lives locally, her 87-year-old mother told me the identical thing happened to her, except her ticket ended up to be "only" $143, after being told it would only amount to $75. I told my story to my across-the-street neighbor, and she told me that the identical thing happened to her husband not long ago. People, what is going on around here??

Julie Reiner,
Santa Cruz

Last week we got the photo that ran with the article "Organic Odyssey" (Dining) completely wrong. Not only were the subjects misidentified (their names are Tarah Woodrum and Amy Bumby), they don't have anything to do with the subject of the article (Feel Good Foods Catering). To say we regret the error would be an understatement.

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