Jesus Center’s board has conflicting interests

The following letter appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record on January 8, 2018:

Jesus Center’s board has conflicting interests

A letter writer claims I’ve “displayed contempt for the Jesus Center.” Well, I do have concerns.

When former Jesus Center Director Bill Such was fired two years ago, our community should have been outraged. Instead, there was indifference. To all appearances, a good man was ousted by a business-heavy board of directors (six realtors, a police officer and a wealthy farmer) for not playing ball with various commercial interests, those determined to drive the homeless from the downtown.

Under new management, we see a strong alliance between the Jesus Center and the most powerful, propertied people in Chico; when the Jesus Center should be an unequivocal voice of homeless advocacy — and not beholden to the Downtown Chico Business Association. The plan to remove our only downtown soup kitchen, the source of food and clothing for hundreds of people, is not in accord with the basic needs of people living in our public space.

Jesus was a strange man. He instructed his followers to do strange things, like feed and clothe poor people, without condition. He didn’t ask for Social Security numbers or talk about “data-driven” approaches or intake facilities, as is now happening at the Jesus Center.

Maybe it’s time for a name change. The “Dr. Robert G. Marbut Center” has a nice ring to it.

— Patrick Newman, Chico

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