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Archive for Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Outgoing mayor: Shelter issue needs cooperation

New commissioners take their seats

Outgoing mayor Mike Dever listens to a discussion among the commissioners Tuesday at City Hall. On his final night as mayor, Dever delivered his State of the City Address, in which he asked the commission to prioritize its search for a new homeless shelter.

Outgoing mayor Mike Dever listens to a discussion among the commissioners Tuesday at City Hall. On his final night as mayor, Dever delivered his State of the City Address, in which he asked the commission to prioritize its search for a new homeless shelter.

April 15, 2009

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New mayor, commissioners begin tenures

Rob Chestnut was elected by his fellow city commissioners to serve a one-year term as mayor. Enlarge video

City Commissioners Mike Amyx, Lance Johnson and Aron Cromwell are sworn in by City Clerk Frank Reeb on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at City Hall.

City Commissioners Mike Amyx, Lance Johnson and Aron Cromwell are sworn in by City Clerk Frank Reeb on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at City Hall.


Outgoing commissioner Sue Hack listens as commissioner Mike Amyx thanks her for her service Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Outgoing commissioner Sue Hack listens as commissioner Mike Amyx thanks her for her service Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Outgoing Mayor Mike Dever on Tuesday congratulated the community for coming together in the last year to handily approve a trio of sales taxes for public transit and infrastructure projects.

Now, he says the community and the commission need to come together on another long-talked-about subject: homeless shelters.

“We must put aside our differences and allow the community to create a system where we can be assured that those in need can find clean, safe and consistent shelter from the elements,” Dever said as he ended his one-year term as Lawrence mayor.

As expected, Vice-Mayor Rob Chestnut was unanimously elected by fellow commissioners to serve as a one-year term as mayor. Dever will remain on the commission as a commissioner. Recently elected Commissioners Aron Cromwell and Lance Johnson were sworn in Tuesday, while Commissioners Boog Highberger and Sue Hack, both of whom did not seek re-election, left the commission as part of the changing-of-the-guard ceremony. Commissioner Mike Amyx also was sworn back in after being re-elected by voters last Tuesday.

Dever highlighted the need to do more work on finding a new home for an expanded homeless shelter as part of his State of the City address. Dever said the need for action on creating a new homeless shelter is urgent because of plans by The Salvation Army to shut down its 42-bed homeless shelter in early May.

The closing next month is expected to create more demand for space at the city’s other homeless shelter, the Lawrence Community Shelter. Leaders of the Community Shelter have said they are out of space at their location at 10th and Kentucky streets and would like to find a new home. Past efforts to relocate the shelter, however, have been met with opposition from prospective neighbors.

Homeless service leaders also have expressed concern that the closing of The Salvation Army shelter will increase the amount of illegal camping that occurs by the homeless on city and private property. In October, the city cracked down on homeless camping on a city-owned site near the Kansas River. Dever apologized for how the city handled that situation, which involved the destruction of several items left on site by the homeless.

“I am sorry for the way this was handled, and resolve to do whatever I can to ensure this does not happen again,” Dever said. “Before next winter we must have a plan, place and a passion for solving this ever-growing social issue. No one in our community should be left out in the cold.”

Chestnut, who takes over as mayor after serving two years on the commission, said the homeless issue will be one that receives city attention during his term.

“I definitely believe that the way you treat the least fortunate in your community is a reflection of who you really are,” said Chestnut, who is the chief financial officer for Lawrence-based Allen Press.

In addition to Chestnut’s election as mayor, Amyx — a downtown barber shop owner — was elected as vice-mayor. If tradition holds, Amyx will serve a one-year term as mayor beginning in April 2010.

Comments

igby 5 years, 8 months ago

Lets get rid of the shelter for just one year and place all these people in public housing. The cost would be less than running a shelter. Then in one year, instead of 331 homeless people you will only have three or four. Because most of them are not homeless. Their families are from Lawrence. They just never grew up and muched off liberal mom or dad until they died or kicked them out. Now they just wonder the streets, not working because they don't have to when every things free and you can party all the time. Hang out at the crackheads place for a while and then another smokehouse; then back to the shelter when they wear out their welcome all over town. Stealing what they can and hooking people up with the drugs that they know about for a little chip or whatever.

These are Lawrence, Kansas, own homegrown losers. Their not all homeless, but few of them are even house broke and not worthy of household living. Even fewer are job ready for more than a few hours and then they walk off or don't come back the next day.

We already have here in Lawrence, a system for temp job day work and if you compile the names of the homeless people with the work centers ready workers, you will find few homeless people ready to do day work.

The city of Lawrence, does not need to spend any of the tax payers money to continue the lifestyle that these people have chosen. Get rid of the shelter and they will go back to living with mom or dad. You know the people that raised them to be losers.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 8 months ago

the lifestyle that these people have chosen ++++ Many do choose to live this lifestyle. Choose I tell ya! And you are correct,addiction is a family disease for which there is no known cure.Generations of addictive behavior cannot be changed overnight. Igby is free to pack up and leave Lawrence at any time and many men and women have died to give him that freedom.If things are so horrible here, he dishonors those patriots by sniveling on these forums without action.Put up or shut up. I can hear it now,"My tax dollars..." blahblahblah. Yeayea. Keep 'em.If money is all you have to offer this community than we dont need you.There is plenty of money in this city and your little contribution would be better spent elsewhere.Somewhere out there, people are 100% selfsufficient and ask for nothing.No streets to be maintained.No fire to be put out and if you have a serious injury,your family will pick you up and nurse you to health.The indians used to have system like what you are looking for igby.What happened to them?Oh yeah,they were exterminated in the name of progress.And people like igby still complain.

workinghard 5 years, 8 months ago

They will probably take the money they save by getting rid of the crossing guards and use it on the homeless. I can't believe they will risk the lives of kids whose parents work and pay taxes. Some of those kids are walking because mom and dad are working. But I quess the commissioners have their priorities.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 8 months ago

We are not going to close the shelter and we are not going to give up on the homeless. There are some that can make it with help and compassion. Let us not do a Indianapolis.

Lars Larson 5 years, 8 months ago

They should put the shelter at Bella Sera when it goes upside down.

Connacht 5 years, 8 months ago

Why don't Lawrence's Christian families step up to the plate and start taking in homeless people?

You know, a little practicing to go with the preaching?

Keith 5 years, 8 months ago

One picture is worth a thousand words.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 5 years, 8 months ago

Are we talking about the same shelter that housed an arsonist, a guy who flashed a gun at a citizen and a knife-wielding attacker recently? That's what I thought. Whatever decision is made, this place absolutely must not be relocated in a residential neighborhood!

Practicality 5 years, 8 months ago

I believe that there are currently hardworking, honest individuals who were living paycheck to paycheck until they recently lost their job due to the economy. These people will continue their financial struggle that we all face when the economy gets turned around. For these people, I am all for giving them a little help until they can get back on their feet.

But, it appears the vast majority of homeless people in Lawrence choose homelessness as a lifestyle. They want the freedom to just do as they please without having any responsibility. They gladly trade the suffering that goes along with being homeless for the freedom of not having a job or trying to be self-sufficient.

About a month ago, I was pulling into a Dillons in Topeka when I observed a man standing on the corner with a sign that said "homeless and hungry". It was cold outside and while I was shopping I kept thinking about this guy, so I bought a whole rotisserie chicken that they cook in the Deli. When I left Dillons, I pulled up next to him and offered him the chicken. He looked at me and said in a gruff voice, "I don't want your f***ing chicken, just give me the money that you paid for the chicken instead!" I kept the money and went home and ate the chicken for dinner.

pace 5 years, 8 months ago

Everytime they clear out the camps, there is the after apology for the wanton and malicious destruction of personal property. Ten years ago I heard the guys bragging about how they tossed someone's VA id and birth certificate. It would be nice is they remembered it from one attack against the poor until the next one. What a surprise. A little more believable from the politico s if they stepped up to the plate rather than passed the buck.

Practicality 5 years, 8 months ago

I say build the new shelter in Eudora. It's already full of Arkansas hillbillies, no one will be able to tell the difference!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 8 months ago

A home is a home, not a shelter or a soup kitchen. True compassion is making it possible for the homeless to get the professional help they need. This is way beyond what an individual can do. After all if you saw someone on the sidewalk having an heart attack, you wouldn't take them home, you would call an ambulance.

Practicality 5 years, 8 months ago

Wilbur,

Is it true that the only song in the Juke Box at Cecil's Monkey is "Dueling Banjos"?

Sigmund 5 years, 8 months ago

"Outgoing Mayor Mike Dever on Tuesday congratulated the community for coming together in the last year to handily approve a trio of sales taxes for public transit and infrastructure projects."

Yes we frightened Lawrencian's into paying more in protection money and quite proud of it! Best of all we haven't had to lay off a single City employee or take a single dollar less in wages!

Now lets shove the new homeless shelter into someone besides Irish's, or Dever's, or Amyx's neighbourhood! Truth is we want the homeless shelter next door to someone else's family and kids and will call racism, or petty, or fearful anyone who opposes our plan to put the homeless shelter in any neighbourhood except ours! Yes we are quite proud of the nice little scam we got going here.

Sheila Couchman 5 years, 8 months ago

Wow! Sometimes the comments on here could almost be the ramblings of one of the drunk homeless guys downtown! Oh well...one thing is very true, we make it much too comfortable in Lawrence for all those homeless people. The only ones I have compassion for are the ones who are homeless due to financial circumstances. The ones that beg for money to get drugs and booze need to hit the road! I think Topeka would be a good place for them.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 8 months ago

I live about three blocks or so from the Open Shelter and the Salvation Army Shelter and I don't have a problem with either. Homeless people need professional help to turn their lives around. They need a place where there are programs and access to social workers and mental health people.

Sigmund 5 years, 8 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… "I live about three blocks or so from the Open Shelter and the Salvation Army Shelter and I don't have a problem with either."

Kewl, problem solved! Leave it where it is.

Still I find it funny that Dever is proud of the sales tax shakedown he helped foisted on Lawrence. Seriously, like taking candy from a baby. This towns economy is based on taxes and convincing those that suck at the government teet to raise sales taxes is hardly a huge accomplishment. Convincing private businesses to relocate here and to replace those jobs lost at Hallmark et. al. or shoppers to spend money with local businesses when Lawrence has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state, now that will be much harder.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 8 months ago

"Sigmund (Anonymous) says… Still I find it funny that Dever is proud of the sales tax shakedown he helped foisted on Lawrence. Seriously, like taking candy from a baby. This towns economy is based on taxes and convincing those that suck at the government teet to raise sales taxes is hardly a huge accomplishment."

No doubt. Dever may be convinced that the sales tax won't make a difference, but I can personally point to several large purchases - including one over $10,000 - that I purposely structured to avoid the higher taxes in Lawrence. Thus, not only did local businesses lose out on those sales, but the city lost out on the taxes. Enjoy.

jumpin_catfish 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey Connacht why just Christian families, why not call on Jewish families and Muslim families or Buddist and Hindu families. While on the subject what have you done lately for the homeless not that you have any obligation to do anything. Personally, its hard to feel sorry for folks who don't care much for themselves. What is the answer to the homeless issue? Its like the yard signs that say "Wars not the answer" but they never put up a sign that tell us what the answer is.

independent_rebel 5 years, 8 months ago

Let's be honest. There is no solution to the homeless issue because many of them choose this lifestyle or at least choose not to take the necessary steps to remove themselves (because ultimately only they can) from that lifestyle.

All we can do, then, is create positive results for the homeless population that choose to leave that circumstance.

Read the following two quotes from this article:

"I am sorry for the way this was handled, and resolve to do whatever I can to ensure this does not happen again,” Dever said. “Before next winter we must have a plan, place and a passion for solving this ever-growing social issue. No one in our community should be left out in the cold.”

“I definitely believe that the way you treat the least fortunate in your community is a reflection of who you really are,” said Chestnut.

Did you see it? They are putting out a blanket comment about our community's homeless. Sorry, but I disagree with both commissioners.

There may be three-hundred homeless in Lawrence, but a small percentage are actually from our community. Go back over the last 15 years of LJW articles featuring a homeless person and you'll find almost every single person is not from Lawrence.

Look at the police blogs over the same period. When a homeless/transient individual is arrested guess what, almost all have arrived to "your community" from outside of your community.

If you truly want to make a difference demand that if the city is going to spend our money to support homeless causes that they only put our money into those homeless from "our community." How do we do this? We find out who they are, where they are from, what is his or her dilema that caused them to be homeless and what steps are they making to overcome being homeless.

Is that too hard? No, it's not. I was part of a neighborhood organization that prepared to fight the LCS from putting the shelter in a resthome on the edge of town. We literally researched all of the homeless population stories, read the police blogs, and two ladies even went to both homeless shelters and talked to dozens of homeless people to ask where they preferred the shelter to be (all said downtown vs. on the edge of town away from begging areas and food pantry areas).

Why can't the city do this? Why can't we demand they do this if they plan on wasting our tax dollars by spreading the wealth to a population that has flocked here from the outside? Why spend money of people put on busses to come here or get brought here by outside agencies because of the compassion of the homeless supporters.

If we build a new shelter it will be full within months and people will cry that we need more money to expand it.

It makes all the sense in the world to focus all funds and all efforts on the few in the homeless community that we can actually help--where we can actually make a real difference and not simply enable a lifestyle of freeloaders.

Jim Williamson 5 years, 8 months ago

I really thought once Wookierusa Fest went under, the homeless problem in Lawrence would be next to nothing. Huh. Learn something new everyday.

Summerguuurl007 5 years, 8 months ago

Okay. Here's what we do. Build some barracks, complete with watch towers and razor wire, and move all the homeless there. Then we organize them into labor parties that go and fix the potholes. We'll pay them $3.00/hr and make them work 12 hrs a day, 6 days a week. That will get them $216 a week. We can keep them there for six months, at which time we'll buy them a bus ticket to Spokane and give them their $5,616 dollars that they've earned for their work and send them on their way if they want to leave. Then we can conduct raids to get more homeless and start over. It will be perfect! The camps will be dry, so they won't have drugs or alcohol. I know this will work. It's win-win for everyone. We get cheap labor to fill our potholes, the homeless get 5 grand, room, board, and a rehab program all rolled into one, and then they can go start their lives over!

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