I haven’t seen anything so petty and disgusting and heartless since the days of Dave Cieslewicz.
The Homeless Issues Committee has met two or three times and already the County Executive is trying to kick one of the homeless people, who attended all the meeting, off the committee.
There are many questions involved here, starting with the language in the resolution forming the committee:
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Dane County establishes a Homeless Issues Committee to explore issues of homelessness and their relationship to community service providers and resources within Dane County including, among other issues, public access to restrooms, showers, laundry, third party complaint systems, access to daytime storage of personal belongings, the ability to utilize public spaces free from harassment and other issues identified by community members. This committee shall consist of two (2) City of Madison alders and one (1) member of the Madison Police Department appointed by the County Executive, four (4) County Board supervisors appointed by the county board chair, and six (6) citizens, three each appointed by the county board chair and County Executive, which shall include three (3) currently or formerly homeless persons who have used Dane County homeless services, and three (3) members of the Homeless Services Consortium. The Board requests that Dane County Human Services provide staff support for this committee and also requests support from the City of Madison Community Development Division;
The appointments are the following people:
Steve Schooler, Porchlight (clearly a county executive appointment)
Deedra Atkinson, United Way (clearly a county executive appointment)
Michael Basford, chair of the Homeless Services Commission
The memo that appoints these folks do hot specify who appointmented whom, but comes from both County Executive Joe Parisi and County Board Chair Scott McDonell. The memo says “Please be advised that per Sub 1 to Res 20, 2012-13, we are appointing the following people to serve on the City-County Homeless Issues Committee.”
However, in an email I have yet to see, Jeff Kostelic (aide to County Executive) informed the chair of the committee and staff that Dan Callahan is to be removed from the committee. Dan Callahan has been one of the outspoken homeless people from Occupy and had been staying at the campgrounds with many others, and much to the frustration of the County Executive Joe Parisi this appeared in the media. There was an incident in which Callahan ended up getting beat up and ended up with a concussion, but he has been banned from the county park campgrounds and now the County Executive is, without talking to him, informing him of the decision or considering extenuating circumstances, kicking him off the committee. At least I suspect that is why he is being kicked off the committee – but we have to guess as the email did not indicate why and Callahan wasn’t informed of the decision. (Danny is a friend of mine and I know quite a bit about this situation and there other things that the county executive should take into consideration, but for confidentiality reasons, I don’t think I should say more. And for the record, I did witness the incident.)
Here’s my email to the county executive and his staff:
You’re kicking a homeless man off the Homeless Issues Committee, care to share why?
Do you have any clue how hard it is to get a homeless person to reliably show up to these meetings?
When were you going to notify him of this decision? Why didn’t you talk to him first and ask him to resign which is a courtesy I would expect you would give others?
What authority do you have to do this, weren’t these joint appointments?
Do you kick others off committees too when it isn’t an attendance issue? If so, for what reasons?
I’m assuming I might know why you made this decision, but wouldn’t you wait to find out the facts of what happened and any extenuating circumstances (there are many I could share with you off the record due to confidentiality issues) involved?
The is absurd, and petty and embarrassing and insulting – I’m extremely disappointed you would kick a homeless guy when he is down – its so heartless and cruel and disrespectful, but then I again, I guess since he’s homeless its ok?
As you can tell, I’m extremely appalled by this decision and I hope you reconsider.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry beyond belief that he would treat anyone this way, but especially someone dealing with so many challenges in his life. Yes, Danny is my friend, but I would be appalled if it was anyone. He’s been more than punished by taking away his one legal place to live in the county – I don’t think he needs more punishment for a situation that requires services, not punishment. I don’t expect an answer from Parisi. But I do hope he changes his mind.
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