Jeff from RealNEO has a wonderful description of the court hearing today for the Cleveland Brown's player. The media were all present to see the opening salvo in the trial for disgraceful behavior exhibited by a community role model. Jeff was there but found a much better story in the trial of Mr. Baskin who was "caught" urinating in public at 2:30 a.m. and appeared after the Cleveland Brown's Leigh Bodden's hearing.
I have to say that RealNEO is one of the best blogs in the region. I love the amazing photos combined with the rare collection of readable text. I wish I had the time and talent to add good pics to this blog. Too many of the blogs are just poorly written or photos with no context or both.
Anyway, Jeff dedicates a great deal of space to go through this waste of taxpayer money in this public urination trial. He describes the one hundred dollars fine, and the judge questioning the homeless individual about jobs and housing. Mr. Baskin told the judge that he was leaving the City. Here is how Jeff ends the post.
A couple of things about this sad affair:
"Mr. Baskin’s story is much more important, and much more poignant, than Leigh’s - because Mr. Baskin’s story is the story of why Cleveland is continuing to fail. Mr. Baskin’s story is the story of why the Cleveland Police Department is purportedly “understaffed”. Mr. Baskin’s story is the reason the dockets in the Cleveland Courts are so cluttered. Mr. Baskin’s story is the story behind why the Jails are overcrowded. Mr. Baskin’s story is the story behind why our taxes are not producing effective services for the citizenry.
I would have liked to have interviewed Mr. Baskin but I didn’t have time. I had to take my dog out on the treelawn to pee."
The City of Cleveland Police realized five years ago that there is a lack of public restrooms, and attempted to solve the problem. They found an acceptable location. They found the money and they got agreement from homeless people who would clean up the port-o-johns. They took the plan (which we supported and lobbied for) to the Campbell administration. The Parks Department rejected the idea because of the liability issues raised by some lawyers. Who would pay if the port-o-john tipped over and the user sued? The plan died, and we still don't have a place to go to the bathroom downtown.
This was never a problem in the past because there was always construction sites that had Port-o-Johns to use. Since we have not built anything downtown in years it is impossible to find a place to pee after 9 p.m. downtown.
There are so many people who do not want to go into the shelters in our city. From my experience there are more people sleeping outside or in abandoned buildings then there are living in the shelters (2,000 people in shelter every night). There are so many reasons why people do not go into shelter and they have to deal with where do they find a bathroom. From theft, and disrespect by staff to fear of crowds and pride are just a few of the reasons why people choose not to use the shelters. Imagine, they are willing to deal with the rain, wind, and snow instead of going into a local shelter.
There are a few day shift officers who have become the liaisons to the homeless community. Night shift is a different story. Why these officers would take someone in for using a tree when there are no bathrooms open is beyond me? Don't they have something else that the officer could be working on at 2:30 a.m? What a waste of tax payer money to have this officer go to court and try to extract blood from a turnip.
I am not as down on Cleveland as Jeff is with all this public urination stuff, because I have seen other cities. There is a war going on in most cities in America between homeless people and the municipal government. In Atlanta, they have a team of lawyers working on ways to make it illegal to be poor. In Las Vegas and a few cities in Florida, they have decided that feeding people only makes more people poor and so they outlawed the distribution of food on the streets. Cincinnati, Austin, and Los Angeles are all developing ways to make it difficult to exist if you do not have a home. I would not be surprised if all these cities were meeting on a regular basis to compare notes on the best strategy to make their homeless population disappear through law enforcement. Cleveland has issues, but they don't compare to some of the other cities in the United States.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.