This is a most amazing thing! You absolutely must, gotta, have to see this. It is Brenda Konkel pushed to the limit. It is what Progressive Dane looks like when it is cornered and squeezed.
Brenda has posted her own rogue's gallery of people banned from her neighborhood on East Mifflin Street. As she explains, in an attempt to parody my Banned on Bassett post.
These "bans" are generally verbal warnings and wishful thinking resulting from being annoyed by their inability to see that homeless people and "transients" are not trash, but human beings. Having been warned, these subjects can easily be ridiculed for their backwards thinking, gross use of stereotypes and general contempt for poor people.
They should be cited for indecent public dialog, arrogant disdain for the poor, shameless fundraising [Brenda has a beef -- it figures -- with the Salvation Army] reckless disregard for facts and/or the lives of other human beings and other violations as appropriate.
And who should those undesirables be? The envelope, please:
- Major Paul Moore of the Salvation Army
- Madison Magazine columnist John Roach
- Madison Police Lt. Joe Balles
- Former UW Regent and champion of downtown living Fred Mohs
- Wisconsin State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred
- And your faithful Blaska Blogger.
Attention shoppers in Aldermanic District 2: Brenda is prepping your neighborhood as the new vagrant hunting grounds. Breath mint, Mr. Bum?
Really, Brenda, you owe me a couple of tokes from your Puff the Magic Dragon pipe for spurring your creativity. Go here for the Full Brenda (equivalent to the Full Monty).
The final idiocy
Kyle Nabilcy is trying to evoke Endlösung with this comment on my previous post. He writes:
When, exactly, can we expect your street-sign logo for this post to be made into a patch to be sewn onto these offenders' sleeves? Maybe tattooed onto their forearms?
Kyle, patches sewn on sleeves? Tattoos? That's pretty extreme, don't you think? Let's just go with what the police have deemed to be prudent. If the businesses in the area are informed, why should not the citizenry, particularly in light of recent events?
If these folks wash and ease up on the hooch, or commit to try, and quit accosting decent citizens, they will be on the road to getting a job, a home, a real life. And then they will be welcome anywhere. That is the goal, isn't it? Not enabling their deviant behavior but getting them to change that behavior.
I printed those pictures for another reason. Many of you are talking about vagrants in the abstract. "The poor." Makes it easier to conjure them as sympathetic victims -- our failures. They're not responsible. If only we would throw more tax dollars at this or that program. If only we would adopt John Nichols-style trade protection and political isolationism. The truth is a lot uglier. Poverty is not an excuse for self-debasement. There is no excuse for predatory behavior.
I save my sympathy for the Joel Marinos and Brittany Sue Zimmermanns. I share my resources to help people who are committed to bettering themselves, to getting back on the straight and narrow. Until they make that commitment, I will ratchet up the pressure and I will keep after their enablers.
With age came wisdom
Political whiz kid Brian Fraley, an acquaintance from a previous campaign, writes about getting some extra-curricular learning on the streets of Madison:
When I was in college there, now twenty years ago, the same guy would hit me up for spare change every time I went into a particular fast food joint. "Spare change so I can eat a cheeseburger today?" was his constant pitch.
One day, I bought an extra cheeseburger with my meal and handed it to him on my way out.
"F*^% You!" he shouted as he threw the unwrapped sandwich at me. "You think you're funny buying me a cheeseburger? Ha. Ha. Really funny you..." You can imagine the rest.
... I was 19. ... With age came wisdom, and I grew out of that nave notion that the panhandlers on State Street were just temporarily down on their luck and merely needed some money or food or counseling to get back on their feet.
The City itself remained nave.
Madison is now coming to grips with the fact that the city has become a haven for homeless panhandlers.
Read it here at Fraley's Daily Takes.
A refresher on broken windows
Patrick McIlerhan of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a story about the issue in the New York Sun. He writes:
Remember squeegee men? Fare jumpers? Times Square squalor? What New York was like before Rudy Giuliani and William Bratton started fixing the broken windows and stopping all the horrors that crawled in through them?
It's been 15 years, and not only has New York changed, but so has the rest of America. What was once its premier urban disaster has become as safe as Boise, Idaho. Out here, we noticed. So deeply has the lesson sunk in that even Madison, Wis., the Midwest's most self-congratulatory liberal college town, is asking whether it's been too generous to vagrant troublemakers.
... The loss of public spaces hurts most those who can't intimidate back.
... Order most helps not the privileged upper-class males, who can take care of themselves, but everyone else. It is the easy targets who benefit when authorities are unafraid to look mean about troublemakers.
Read the full article, titled "Back to the Future in Madison."
Great work by Jason Shepard of Isthmus. His reportage is getting national attention and could very well be a true difference maker.
I'm just going to throw out my one and only up close experience with 9-1-1.
I was on my way to an event on behalf of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy for which I was tasked to make a presentation. Driving East Johnson Street, I had a panic attack, which expresses itself as vigorous coughing and gagging. My cell phone rings.
Who is this?
"It's the 9-1-1 center: Are you alright?"
Had I somehow activated my cell phone during the gagging and then hung up without knowing it? I can't imagine. In any event, the 9-1-1 Center did call back to see if I was O.K.
Someone murdered Brittany Sue Zimmermann -- he or they are the real bad guys.
Just a thought
MPD Lt. Joe Balles posited that Madison presents the perfect breeding ground for vagrancy: bus station, shelter and meal services, low-cost liquor, nice parks, nice business areas "with very compassionate citizens and shoppers, caring churches, and target rich student housing areas who never seem to figure out that you need to lock your doors."
Lt. Joe, here's another one: Saturday's Mifflin Street Block party. Like putting out blocks of salt in a chronic wasting disease area -- just watch the bums come out for their free taste.