Madieros is back…

I’m sad to see Michael Madieros (faux-homeless advocate) back in the news, after a more than year long hiatus. Because:  1) Madieros loudly supports criminalization as a “tool” for reaching the homeless. In fact, Madieros has been a tool of the Chico Police Department for years.  2) He fails to support realistic/humane proposals for downtown restroom access.  3) I’ve heard report after report of substandard conditions at Stairways (the housing program run by Madieros)–along with substandard/abusive management.  (This is well known to the social workers of Chico.)

Madieros was mentored by mega-landlord Wayne Cook and Joe Montes–both right wingers.   Cook led the charge on kicking the Orchard Church off the plaza.  Montes is another believer in the authoritarian/fascist idea that we can fix poverty and dysfunction with tweaks by the criminal justice system.  Insane.

In his latest incarnation, Madieros has teamed-up with attorney Ron Reed to offer legal services to the homeless–three hours a week.  Sounds good, but I don’t trust these people at all.  Reed has gone to bat for Madieros on criminalization, in the past. If the long arm of the law can help, why not?  It’s a way of making the “velvet gavel,” “nudge from the judge” and all that bullshit seem credible and Christian (Reed again).  Madieros is on record, ad nauseum, as supporting this approach to “reforming” people. It’s a shitty, cheap, trickle-down, neo-liberal substitute for housing and decent social services.  All popular with the morally bankrupt masses.  Hence, Madieros is the kind of advocate the public wants to hear–someone who rubber stamps current policy.  He has a lot of traction in the local media.

Two letters referencing this new development:

Sent to the CN&R today:

“A lot of homeless people have warrants because they didn’t go to court for whatever reason…” says attorney Ron Reed.  True, but without laws criminalizing sleeping, leaving carts/bags unattended, etc., there would be no warrants.  (Also, our city is locking restrooms 10 hours each day, while arrests are made for urination and defecation.)

So, where are Reed and his partner Michael Madieros on the subject of criminalization?   Madieros is a strong supporter of criminalization.  And, when I took Madieros to task, in the pages of this paper, Reed called my objections “cow flop” and offered what appeared as a mealy-mouthed endorsement of criminalization–complete with references to God Almighty.

Those pushing the medieval notion that criminalization is useful in assisting people with brain injuries (40% of men on the streets), the mentally ill, addicts, people with PTSD, the financially broken, etc., cannot be credible advocates.  To suggests they are, is like saying arsonists make credible firefighters.

Reed aside, where is the legal community?  I recall no lawyer, other than Jennifer Haffner, as having the courage to confront the city on the dehumanizing and unconstitutional Offenses Against Public Property Ordinance.  This acquiescence should be cause for shame in every law office.

In today’s E-R:

It seems that good is barely out of bed while evil has already made three trips around the world.

Your recent coverage of the possible Peet’s coffee shop closure leaves readers with the impression that “vagrants” are to blame.  I’m in Peet’s many times every week and I’ve talked with staff about “vagrant” impacts for years.  I’ve also observed, first hand, how much impact the poor/disabled/homeless have on the business. It’s minimal, but the apparently very well heeled landlord, who owns much of downtown Chico, is bound by some commercial code to demonize the homeless at every opportunity.

Then we have an E-R editorial asking the city get some restrooms open.  Great idea, because the homeless are now locked-out for ten hours each day.  But, why does the E-R care?  Is it because so many people, living brutal lives, are further punished, humiliated, degraded and criminalized by having no place to legally urinate and defecate?  No. Instead, it’s the inconvenience Bank of America or Morgan Stanley might experience when some poor soul takes a dump on their stoop.

Lastly, we have news that Michael Madieros and Ron Reed are opening a legal clinic for the homeless–with lawyers available three hours a week.  But, Madieros is a vocal proponent of criminalization, the very engine of legal entanglement and misery for the homeless. Something doesn’t add-up.

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