Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Question asked, question answered late and sorta!

June 9, 2014

A while back I was asked something that I thought was a good question.  It was actually difficult at the time to answer and the person asking me this question wanted me to share my answer with his church and others in support of his group called Resurrections.  The answer has been forthcoming for a good long while and believe me it took more than a week to come up with it as well as more that I keep bringing up to myself often as time goes by.  But first, let me tell you what Resurrections is about.

For over a decade now Resurrections has been providing one meal each Saturday to those that are homeless and those in need.  This group of individuals is not from just one church but many.  This organization gets others involved (other churches, local businesses, as well as one entire school district).  So it’s not just a core group who comes to feed those like myself who are on the street or those in need (low income people).  The volunteers that come feed those of us are the ones who share their time and also learn that homelessness isn’t about just one issue but many.  From here out, I’ll describe individuals I know from the group’s core and talk about the people who volunteer their time.

Over the years, Resurrections has gone through two organizers.  The first person goes by C.J.  I never really got to know him well or know what Resurrections was about till he retired and Larry took over.  When Larry took over is when I started actually assisting Resurrections with their setting up for feeding those in need.  I’ve not asked what Larry does for full time employment.  However, I know he does a lot of footwork for Resurrections.  He sets up the volunteers for time slots and hunts down donations as well as more volunteers.  I’d like to think of it as his second job and almost a calling in life.  Other than that, Larry has been a great individual and I like to count him as a friend.

Monica, is one of the sweetest individuals I know with the group.  She’s what we call our chili lady.  Every week she cooks up at least two to three pots of chili for the hot dogs served as well as offers prayer at the beginning of the meals when there is no others available for this small chore.  However, that isn’t where her work started.  By day she’s a school teacher that is deeply involved with teaching her students.  She goes above and beyond the usual teacher stuff.  It wasn’t till I met her that I knew more about teaching than I did when I was a trainer in the military.  Often times she’s putting in over seventy hours a week.  And yet, she still feels as if those that come are like her wayward children.  I know no other person that can do this.

Betsy, our cookie lady, is also a fine person who has problems of her own which I can’t discuss here.  She’s there at least once every two weeks handing out home made cookies she bakes herself.  Every week she’s off, I miss her and think about her as well as keep her in my prayers.  She makes me think of my mom’s own cooking when I get her chocolate chip cookies 😀

Tobie is the woman who brings our bananas most weeks.  When she can’t she gets Herb or some other member to pick them up where she gets them from.  I won’t name the place because I don’t advertise anyone if possible.  There are many like Tobie who are concerned citizens and think that everyone in America should treat each other with equal respect irregardless.  She’s a wonderful person to talk to and know.  I wish I could say more.

Robbie is our desert man.  He’s one of the most unique individuals I’ve met here in Columbia, South Carolina.  Sometimes I think of him as our overgrown child.  He often brings his “big kid” toys to the weekly feed.  Bless his heart for always thinking about those in need and working with a local grocer to provide the deserts at each of those events.  He’s a blessing to many of those that come and is always friendly with those he talks to.

There are many others in the core group and it seems like it’s always growing.  Some come and some go.  They will never be forgotten.  I could name many others who help out here by name but I’ve covered the main individuals.  They are just what keeps this going.  If it weren’t for the volunteers this wouldn’t come about at all.

That is the main point of this weekly event.  It brings those that often don’t know or have very little knowledge of what really goes on in this town beyond their own personal life.  I’ve met many a volunteer through this weekly event and have several people who I’d like to call friends other than those I deal with on the street.  The volunteers make this event work more so than the core group.  We ALL get to know more about each other when they come.

Yes, I say I don’t advertise here.  However, I’d like to thank two groups in particular.  One is a local business called Southeastern Freight.  Their corporation has two or three groups that come down once or twice every three months to volunteer their services feeding those in need.  They are a great bunch of people that I relate to very easily as one of my brothers was/is an over the road truck driver like many of them.  The second group is a large group of children of various ages coming out of Richland county school district two.  They frequently come out to volunteer their service and actually work to get some of the things those out on the street need (mostly book bags so that those on the street can carry their belongings in something other than trash bags).  These children give me faith that there is a tomorrow for this country.  I hope they can learn some valuable things as well from those of us out on the street.  I know I try to impress upon them the importance of education as I’m still learning even from them.

All the volunteers as well as the regulars do so much with so little funding it’s truly amazing.  I can’t recommend more for those that chose to do something for their fellow man but to get involved in this group in one form or another.  Donations are always welcome by these people.  It could be clothing, shoes, book bags, toiletries, your time helping out by serving those in need, or even chipping in funding this wonderful group and their volunteers.  Resurrections would be more than happy for any assistance in their mission.

My final words here are words I’ve shared with Larry about Resurrections.  I’ve promised him that if I remain in South Carolina, specifically Columbia, that once I got off the street I’d still come and help him out.  I would be bringing more instead of just my assistance of helping set up in this case.  I believe in this groups mission and thank God himself for what it’s done for me in the way I see society in general.  If you’re not from South Carolina or the United States there are others like me and those of us out on the street.  Help however you can.  It doesn’t have to be a monetary handout.  It could be a meal or even just time listening to those that need a person to listen to their story.  Never ever look down on those that are having a hard time.  You could be there yourself at one time or another in your life.  Everyone needs friends no matter what the circumstances are.  Because of a group like this I’ve many more friends than I first had here and hope to find many others through this group.  God bless everyone involved.

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Benevolence!

January 9, 2014

Many of you might wonder how my holidays went.  Being homeless doesn’t always allow you to have great holidays or holiday cheer.  Almost all the homeless would much rather spend them a different way than out in the street, sometimes cold, sometimes wet, and sometimes hungry.  Some have better holidays than others even if they are in the street.

Myself, I’m not much of a holidays person after my father passed away.  I tend to prefer to be alone even though I’m often lonely for someone of like interests.  I spend the days much like I do now.  Usually reading a book and going to one of the few places who feed the needy on those days.  One of my favorite places to be is a local park where few homeless go.  It’s here where my story of benevolence begins.

From just before Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas and even on to my birthday (January 5th), I’ve been the recipient of the benevolence of others outside the usual and even more from the usual.  Not once but five times I’ve had people whom I didn’t know come up to me and give me money or offer me food.  Almost every time I’ve attempted to refuse the assistance.  Not out of pride, but out of concern for those attempting to give the gifts (some of these I believe can’t really afford to do what they do but do so anyway).

Most of these folks I’ve met this way have been younger than myself (I just turned 54).  Some have families, others do not.  Those that have had families, I’ve tried to explain that they should put that money into their families and not into my hands.  Others, like the gentleman who I’m guessing was around 75 years old, smile when I finally do accept their offer.  In the case of the 75 year old, I’d like to think it brought him some pleasure and joy to help out his fellow man.  Two who helped me out I’ve known through helping them help others in my shoes.  I won’t name them, but they know who they are.

The one thing I always do with these people is attempt to befriend them.  What I would much rather have is their friendship and understanding instead of their money.  Over my 54 years, I’ve learned that it isn’t about “money.”  I no longer crave the material things I once craved.  The one thing I crave most is friends since it’s not likely I’ll ever have a family.

Very few of these people do I ever see again.  Though I don’t find it odd, I find it odd that they wouldn’t take credit for doing what they do.  These are the true benevolent soles out there.  The ones who don’t have a lot and yet they go out of their way to help a total stranger out.  They may or may not do this in just one place.  Often times, they would much rather be forgotten for their good deeds.

Well, to those that helped me out with charitable contributions, I thank you.  Even if I’ve never known them or never got their name, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your money was well spent on either food or keeping my bicycle going.  As all my followers know, I don’t have the vices of drugs or alcohol to use the money on.

Needy, Greedy, and Fraudulent Homeless!

August 7, 2013

As you know, I’m a homeless veteran.  Recently I witnessed something that should not happen.  Actually two things.  I witnessed both greed and fraud at the same feed for the homeless.  I’ve pretty much covered greed before, however this is a different type of greed.  When I speak of fraud, I’m talking about those that come to those places that feed homeless and eat when they got food, shelter, automobiles as well as other items the homeless don’t have.

Let me talk first of those in the homeless community who are greedy.  These are the types who come to homeless feeds desiring to be the first in every line whether they need the food or not.  Many of these types come to multiple feedings per meal time whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner feeds.  They take what they want and then throw the rest of the served food away instead of offering to someone else who may need it.  This is wasteful and down right ignorant.  Those that prepare the food expect it to nourish those in need of this food.  Yet I see it all the time.  What’s worse is they like to jump lines of people already there waiting to be served or just waiting for a ticket to be served.  This doesn’t count the disrespectfulness towards those that prepared the food by throwing unwanted food out.

I had just that happen last Saturday.  A female who I’ve never seen at a local feed jumped the line that had already formed up for tickets.  Thankfully the person who I’d assumed had the tickets didn’t have them.  They were being doled out by someone else.  This person was wrong even though she was female.  I could have seen it if she’d had small children, but she didn’t have any.  It was pure greed.  This wasn’t the only thing I saw at that same said feed.

I witnessed two almost brand new sport utility vehicles (one Ford Explorer and one Mercury Mountaineer) pull up and have more than two people get out of each of them and grab tickets including the drivers.  These vehicles retail for around $40,000 each.  If you can afford to drive these vehicles and pay the gasoline bill for said vehicles, you should have a home (I’m sure these people did) and have food on the table.  Wrong again.  These people were frauds.  They are people who had everything needed but were taking advantage of free food.  This isn’t the only feed I’ve seen this at.  I’ve seen it at the Trinity Episcopal Church breakfast on Sunday’s as well.  This and the prior type people happen EVERY week there.

Though needy myself, I only attend the feedings I need to sustain myself.  I eat at most three times a day and sometimes as few as once a day.  Most of the time I’ll use the Soup Cellar for lunch and various feeds for dinner throughout the week.  On Saturday, I only eat at the Resurrections feed (often called the HotDog Man) feed during lunch sometimes but not always getting a second serving there.  Sometimes but not always, I’ll catch breakfast at a local park before the Saturday lunch.  Sunday’s I eat at Trinity Episcopal Church’s breakfast and eating only the supplied bag lunch later in the day unless I’m able to get and store additional food from the day before.

If I get a third meal during the weekdays, I get a snack at the coffee shop set up for the homeless.  It may not be much (usually amounts to a PB&J sandwich or some sort of sweet), but it gets me by till lunch.  Yes, I’m a caffeine hound.  This generally goes with at least three cups (6 ounce) of coffee.

For those that are homeless and read my blog, you probably have witnessed this type of stuff happening in your area or see various sources of food literally dry up because of actions like this or other actions.  My message to those homeless that get greedy, stop and think about others instead of thinking about just yourself.  You’re not gaining anything by your actions.  Should things continue to get worse around Columbia, you might even find yourself getting killed over your actions.  There are those that would consider this (I’m not one).

Now a message for the phoney frauds or those that are considering it.  Years ago in San Diego, California the state and the Internal Revenue Service (federal) caught a man defrauding the government for taxes as well as defrauding the state of California citizens.  He was imprisoned for his fraud and lost everything.  He was panhandling on a busy freeway on ramp.  This man was making in excess of $30,000 per year and driving an almost new Lexus, not to mention he was paying for a rather nice home this way.  ALL FROM PANHANDLING!  By now he is truly homeless for his fraudulent behavior after serving time in both the state of California as well as a federal prison system.  IS IT WORTH LOSING YOUR HOME, YOUR AUTOMOBILE, AND ALL YOUR OTHER POSSESSIONS TO DEFRAUD OTHERS? 

A Visit To Mom’s!

May 22, 2013

My second tour of the roadways via bicycle was a trip to Mom’s about five years ago.  It was all pretty good up till the last four days on the road.  I’ll explain to you in depth in the following paragraphs.  However, I did make it back to Columbia, South Carolina.  Not necessarily in the best of conditions though.

I don’t remember specifics, but it started out shortly after I quit working at Sam’s Club.  I rolled out on my $1400 Gary Fisher Dual Sport 129 (http://www.vintage-trek.com/Trek-Fisher-Klein…/2004specmanualFisher.pdf‎)  with my B.O.B. Yak trailer (http://www.bobgear.com/bike-trailers/yak) fully loaded.  Yes, I did say trailer.  This may have been my second tour but I had to try something different for toting my stuff around other than panniers.

This time my route was totally different that before.  It was more mountainous as well.  My first leg took me from Columbia, SC to somewhere just north and west of Laurens, SC in the very first day.  My second day saw me almost out of South Carolina when I stopped on the northwestern side of Spartanburg, SC.  Next stop was somewhere in the vicinity of Cherokee, NC.

From Cherokee, NC, I got the fun of attempting the last of the Great Smoky Mountains on my journey into Knoxville, TN.  From that point on it was almost totally due northwest through the rest of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio.  My course was pretty much following Interstate 75 via the side roads.  U.S. 25 was maintained till I hit Ohio.  From that point on it was following U.S. 27 from Cincinnati, OH to Fort Wayne, IN.

Now let me digress just a bit here as I forgot to mention that I did get a ride from some very kind folks while in the Smoky Mountains.  I was looking at several miles of two percent grade and fairly hot temps.  Not to mention I had failed to fill up water and was still about four miles from the nearest source of it.  I was exhausted and parched when these kind folks gave me a lift from some point just inside the North Carolina border and gave me a lift with their pickup truck to Knoxville, TN proper.  To this day I thank those folks and pray for them.  They saved me a nasty climb that I just wasn’t ready for.  Since then I’ve learned a different route altogether.

Getting back to where I left off.  From Fort Wayne, IN I took the county roads starting with the 3 moving to the 9 up through Kendallville, La Grange,and Howe in Indiana.  Once inside the Michigan border just north of Howe the 9 turns into M-66 and into Sturgis, MI.  From that point on it was relatively easy to get to my mother’s home in Centreville, MI.

All in all, it took me only ten days with numerous stops along the way.  Again, I don’t remember all my stops.  However, I do remember stopping at my sisters home in Covington, KY.  I was treated to a nice dinner with her and my brother-in-law as well as my nephew.  That is the night I remember being asked to try calamari.  I love seafood however, I draw the line at something that resembles rubber.  I declined the fried calamari my sister had even just for a taste.

My ride back was a similar route after spending a month or so at my mom’s home.  The only real differences were the weather, slight variation on route, and one very bad time before leaving Athen’s, GA.  Other than that, I made it back to Columbia in a little longer than it took me to get up to Michigan.  Along the way, I learned a very valuable lesson as well.  It’s one lesson I keep at the forefront of my mind while bicycling to this day.

The weather when I left my mom’s house was tolerable.  As I rode, it became increasingly worse as the day wore on.  Traveling back through Indiana and Ohio was more hell than was Kentucky and Tennessee.  I was fighting a constant fifteen mile per hour cross wind as well as temperatures dropping down into the lower thirties.  Thankfully I was prepared for the temperatures to the point of being sweating like a pig when I did stop.  Alas, this also led to some very intolerable times when I stopped without having some form of shelter.  Hypothermia could have been a real issue.  Of course riding in those conditions as well as sleeting snow drags hard on energy levels and makes the muscles groan even more when pulling around one hundred pounds behind a bicycle that is carrying your body weight (mine at the time was around 210 pounds).  Here is where I can honestly say training and preparation is a must.  That and a little motivation.

My only variance of routing on the way back was while I was in Tennessee.  Instead of turning back toward the Smoky Mountains at Knoxville, I rode on toward Cleveland, TN.  At that point, I changed over from U.S. 11 from Knoxville to U.S.64/U.S.74 through to the U.S.129 and into Gainsville, GA and then to Athens, GA.  There I remember is where I stopped for a cup of coffee at a local Waffle House on the east side of town as I was leaving via U.S.78.

It was when I took my coffee break that valuable lesson was learned.  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS LOCK YOUR BICYCLE AND POSSESSIONS UP WHEN STOPPING SOMEWHERE!  EVEN IF YOU CAN PLAINLY SEE THE BIKE AND POSSESSIONS LOCK YOUR STUFF UP! I made the fatal mistake of forgetting to lock my bicycle and trailer up while stopped at the Waffle House in Athens, GA.  It was on the wrong side of town in what would be classified as the slums (crack alley).  Not only was my bicycle stolen but all my possessions that I wasn’t carrying with me into the Waffle House.  Yes, I did report it to the police.  Four hours later, there was still no site of it.  I decided it was time to push on for Columbia.

From Athens, GA to Columbia, I walked.  Three days worth along with three rides (two of which were by county law officers to the county border).  That equated to roughly one hundred fifty miles.  As I walked, I kept kicking my own ego for not locking the bicycle up.  I felt lower than whale dung in the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

When I finally made Columbia, I was exhausted, hungry (I’d not eaten much in those three days), and homeless yet again.  However, I did make it by sheer will power.  After five years of seeing that day happen repeatedly in memory, I still lock the bicycle I have now up no matter if I leave it for more than just a few minutes.  Lesson learned even though I’m still homeless.

Bicycling!

April 29, 2013

Some would think I’m not really a bicyclist.  Actually I’m a die-hard bicyclist.  I quit driving in 2000 after having a second Ford product blowing up and remembering that if I took one more severe whiplash I’d look like Christopher Reeve.  My neck injury in a 1982 automobile accident is the cause of this diagnosis which I’ve ignored till 2000.

So let me tell you my experience of touring.  First off, my tour from Michigan to Florida.  I’ll cover my trip as well as the equipment I used for that trip.  Then, in a separate article, I’ll cover my trip from South Carolina to Michigan and back.  Lastly, I’ll cover my current bike and hopes for a future and hopefully final bicycle build.  Without further ado, I’ll start with the first of my bicycling articles.

In 1998, I lost yet another job and was not seeing a possibility of working again soon.  With the final check from a subcontracting job (not computer related), I purchased a reasonable bicycle (from Sam’s Club).  It was better than most from Walmart or the likes anyway, though not as good as the bike I once owned in California in my final two years in the Navy.

The bicycle I purchased was a Motiv.  I forget the model.  It was a twenty one speed mountain type bicycle with Shimano Altus components.  It really wasn’t all that much.  It didn’t have a rack nor at the purchase time did I have a set of panniers.  Those were purchased afterward at a local bicycle shop in my hometown of Three Rivers, Michigan.

From that point, I had to plan what I would take.  Since I was going to be pretty much homeless, I had to prepare for the trip with a minimalistic living style.  Of course I had a small tent and sleeping bag, but beyond that I had to have the bare essentials in clothing.  This amounted to four t-shirts, two pair of shorts, two pair of jeans, socks, and shoes for clothing (it was in the beginning of June that I left for Florida).  I didn’t pack much more than that because I had no room.  I was only running a rear rack and panniers for it.

Why Florida for my first choice of destinations you ask?  Simple.  My uncle god bless his departed soul had offered me two years before to come down to Florida to get further education at a branch of Florida Technical College where he’d become the only non-relative Dean.  The college was nationally certified and the head of it use to be Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education Secretary.  To me, that made this school a good bet.

The day I left Three Rivers, Michigan was a partly cloudy day that turned into a mostly cloudy afternoon.   I made good time the first day cutting across the northwest corner of Indiana and into Illinois.  My intention was to go visit my cousins in Pontiac, Illinois for a day or two before going on with my journey.  I made it into Valparaiso, Indiana before the bottom came out and rain ruined the rest of the day’s ride.  That night I spent a rather soggy nasty night under a park picnic area roof with the tent on top of a picnic table.  It was a rather stressful night to say the least.  By morning the weather had abated and I was off on my second day of travel.

The second day fared better.  I was finally able to make it to Pontiac where I was able to catch one of my cousins around and asked to stay a bit before moving on.  That turned out to be almost a week.  It was a time of discovery, learning, and re-association between myself and one of my cousins.  I still cherish that time I spent there and always will.  It was also a time of true relaxation.

After day two, days get jumbled together quite a bit.  However, I do remember rolling around St. Louis and down through and into Rolla, Missouri in about three days time.  I went this way in hopes I might meet up with a lady I’d talked to online.  Alas, it wasn’t to be so I continued my trek from there back to Kentucky and southward.  I pretty much followed the Mississippi after returning to the east side of it.  Crossing the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau, Kentucky, I continued from there through Tennessee avoiding Memphis altogether.

It wasn’t even a week after leaving Pontiac, Illinois, that I made it to around Montgomery, Alabama.  This was via Kentucky, Tennessee, and the northeastern corner of Mississippi.  I vaguely remember staying in St. Louis and Montgomery for two days each to do laundry as well as rest.  From Montgomery, I went through Dothan, Alabama via the southwestern corner of Georgia and into the Florida panhandle at Monticello, Florida.

From Monticello, Florida, I turned south and east ending my trip in Winter Haven, Florida where I visited my grandmother on my mother’s side for a week before my uncle picked me up and got me started at Florida Technical College.  I actually ended up in Jacksonville, Florida where I attended that college branch where my uncle was Dean of for a short time before going back south to open yet another branch.  I traveled from Winter Haven to Jacksonville via my uncle’s car so that doesn’t count as part of my tour.  In all, I spent thirty days on the road.  Of that, I spent twenty-one days riding.  I figured it out to be a shade over two thousand miles one way.  Average mileage per day ended up being around a century a day with on long day being over a century and a half.  Not bad for at the time a thirty-eight year old man.

Next up, my trip from Columbia, South Carolina to Centreville, Michigan.  Different bicycle and equipment for that.  Stay tuned.

Freedom of Speech! Freedom of Press! Obviously NOT in Columbia, South Carolina

April 24, 2013

Last week I saw a letter by a fellow homeless person in the Columbia Free Times newspaper under the topic of “Sound Off.”  This column is basically a letter to the editor item and the Free Times is of course a FREE newspaper in Columbia.  Does this mean that they believe in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States?  I guess not.

Compare the following copies of the same letter.  The first is the original that I typed up to submit to the “Sound Off” column.  The second is what was published today.  You be the judge yourself.

My version:

Dear Editor,

I’m writing in follow up of “Treat the Homeless as “You’d Treat Yourself” April 17-23rd issue.  Along with Mr. Brown (and I’m sure others homeless or not), I couldn’t have put it better myself.  A lot of these programs who benefit the homeless and needy are NOT  run by our illustrious mayor or city council.  No matter what they do, they’ll Never find a way to free downtown of those in need or the homeless. First of all, there are at least three local businesses that this city will find in disagreement with their thoughts.  They are businesses whom the city collects taxes from.  If they were to move with the homeless population out of town, then you’d lose those taxes as well as taxes the homeless DO pay into the system.  Of course this doesn’t count the other businesses who DO hire the homeless. Every year I’ve been here (that will be 13 years as of June 2013), I see the same thing no matter who is in city council.  City council, the mayor, or any other politicians ignore their constituency all to fill their own re-election coffers and hope they can fool the voters into re-electing them into another term just like those other politicians around the country.  In the almost thirteen years I’ve been here, I’ve been homeless for almost half of that or better.  The other half has been either living with a friend or in an extended stay motel.  I’ve witnessed each year the city council has GONE BROKE and had to raid some other fund (namely the water and sewer fund) to pay for schemes that didn’t bring downtown any business at all.  Prime example is the ice arena in downtown (which has been committed to again next year).  No one really has heard the total cost of that fiasco.  Your paper printed a story on the cost but left out one key expense.  That was the electricity bill the city paid for that rink.  I personally heard from a city employee who will go nameless that the rink was costing the city $10,000 per month in electricity that it was open.  This is just one of the many mismanagement issues I’ve witnessed. This city is in major trouble and not just locally.  Its infrastructure is a train wreck.  The city council and mayor are only interested in two things (lining their re-election pockets as well as their own).  What this town needs is three major items that will get EVERYONE off the street and help fill city coffers.  First of all, the city needs to rebuild its infrastructure (that means resurface roads, fix sidewalks, rectify the bus issue, as well as fix the sewer (using water and sewer fees instead of using them for other expenses).  You know it’s bad when the Environmental Protection Agency comes down and has to fix something that the city IGNORED.  Secondly, bring full time jobs (both technical and otherwise) into Columbia by completing the first item.  Third, educate those you have in the city instead of importing more and more people to perform the jobs that are brought into this city.  Fourth and last item, direct the police into their proper roles of protecting the citizens of this city instead of CONSTANTLY harassing the homeless.  The city could be wealthy if they were to properly enforce their traffic laws.   Every day I see people running red lights or stopping on the heavy white lines on the road meant as stopping points to protect the pedestrians of this city.  I’ve seen this happen not just when a police officer was not around but right in front of an officer and the officer never did a damn thing.  The more the Columbia police harass the homeless, the less time they have to do their appointed jobs.  Judges are getting pretty tired of the same thing year after year in their court rooms.  One judge was even quoted as saying to an officer a couple of years back, “Bring me someone who can pay their fines, instead of the homeless who can’t.” As to your other article “Councilman Calls for Homelessness Dialogue as Issues Boil Over” (same issue), you miss stated who actually ran the city’s winter shelter.  It was run by Christ Central and Jim Jones.  USC had nothing to do with that to my knowledge.  Also mentioned in this article are two meetings that city council has planned to hear in the near future.  I’ll lay odds that there might be one or two actual homeless people who show up.  The problem is they WON’T be heard by city council.  Matter of fact, I’d lay odds that city council won’t have more than one or two members show up for these meetings and they again will do what they want to do and everyone else be damned. If anyone is truly interested in the insights of homelessness in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, I personally invite them to my blog.  Just search for “touringfrog” via any search engine and click on the link with WordPress in it.  You’ll find a number of articles about homelessness there and what is actually happening in the city with the homeless and those that purport to help those who are on the street or those in need. Now I’ve stuck my two cents in, its someone else’s turn.

Sincerely,

Terry L. Parris (Homeless Veteran)

Published version:

I’m writing in response to “Treat the Homeless as You’d Treat Yourself” (Sound Off, April 17). I couldn’t have put it better myself. A lot of these programs that benefit the homeless and needy are not run by our illustrious mayor or City Council. No matter what they do, they’ll never find a way to free downtown of the homeless or those in need.

In the almost 13 years I’ve been here, I’ve been homeless for about half of that. The other half I have been either living with a friend or in an extended-stay motel.

Each year, I’ve witnessed the City Council going broke and having to raid the water and sewer fund to pay for schemes that didn’t bring downtown any business. Prime example is the ice arena in downtown. No one really has heard the total cost of that fiasco. Your paper printed a story on the cost but left out one key expense — the electricity bill. This is just one of the many mismanagement issues I’ve witnessed.

This city is in major trouble. Its infrastructure is a train wreck. The City Council and mayor are only interested in two things — lining their re-election pockets, as well as their own. What this town needs is four major items that will get everyone off the street and help fill city coffers.

First of all, the city needs to rebuild its infrastructure. That means resurface roads, fix sidewalks, rectify the bus issue, as well as fix the sewer — using water and sewer fees, instead of using them for other expenses. You know it’s bad when the Environmental Protection Agency comes down and has to fix something that the city ignored.
Secondly, bring full-time jobs Columbia by completing the first item.

Third, educate those you have in the city instead of importing people to perform the jobs that are brought into this city.

Fourth, direct the police into their proper roles of protecting the citizens of this city instead of constantly harassing the homeless.  The city could be wealthy if they were to properly enforce traffic laws. The more the Columbia police harass the homeless, the less time they have to do their appointed jobs.

If anyone is truly interested in the insights of homelessness in the city of Columbia, I personally invite them to my blog. Just search for “touringfrog” via any search engine and click on the link with Wordpress in it. You’ll find a number of articles about what is actually happening with those who are on the street or those in need.

Terry L. Parris
Homeless veteran
Columbia

As you’ll note, there was some restructuring of my letter as well as some severe deletions.  I’m not entirely displeased with the restructuring.  However, I’m very annoyed with a publication who is unwilling to reprint the original material I sent without chopping it all to hell in order to make me look like I didn’t even have an education.  It’s quite obvious that the publication is either checking my claims on some of what I wrote or they are just too damn scared to publish it in it’s entirety.

For the record, I’m a high school graduate who majored in English, Math, and Sciences in high school.  I attended Southwestern Michigan College for computer sciences (dropped out due to funding as well as burn out and grades).  I’ve also attended Florida Technical College (diploma in C++ and Java programming).  And this DOESN’T count my twelve years serving in the United States Navy fighting for the rights granted to me an all the others under the Constitution of the United States.  As if this isn’t education enough.

What happened here strikes me of George Orwell’s 1984.  Yeah, you guessed it.  No freedom of speech here in Columbia, South Carolina.  You have to mark your speech very carefully when talking about politicians in the press or pointing out errors in the press itself.  Maybe that is why I spend more time reading news on the web instead of reading the printed (filtered) publications.

Now I have no animosity toward the editor of the Free Times.  He has a job for which he is paid for irregardless of what he feels is right and what his publication requires of him.  However, it’s his publication for which I seldom read anymore that I find myself at odds with.  Obviously the “Free” in their title only refers to the cost of their publication and not to “freedom of speech.”

Thanks to the “Free Time’s” I’m now in wonder of just how corrupt the press really is.  I could understand something like the “State” newspaper in South Carolina just flat not publishing my letter.  Their a corporate entity.  I’m unfamiliar with who owns or operates the “Free Times.”  However, if they were unwilling to publish my letter as a whole due to some things I investigated, then hold it till they investigated it themselves.  Don’t butcher it.  In most cases, I don’t speak unless spoken to and I don’t say anything I don’t KNOW to be fact.

I’ll end this with but one thing.  It’s an age old saying.  I may not get it quite correct but it applies here.  “If you can’t talk nice about others, then don’t talk at all.”  In this case if you can’t print something due to unsubstantiated facts that you haven’t investigated, then don’t print it at all.  At least send me an email and explain why you won’t publish it.

Columbia, South Carolina state’s best city? NOT!

March 27, 2013

I found this rather interesting item in the news a few months back.  It was a determination of the United States best cities.  The survey was done by the Milken Institute and is rather informative.  If you’re not from the United States or even if you are you can check out your cities standings (if it’s listed ) at the following links.  This information is based on several factors and the determination is actually described by the institute’s site (first link).

http://bestcities.milkeninstitute.org/
http://bestcities.milkeninstitute.org/best-performing-cities-2012-large.html
http://bestcities.milkeninstitute.org/best-performing-cities-2012-small.html

The table below is just a standing for the cities listed from South Carolina.  It’s not the entire table at the links above.

2012 Rank

2011 Rank

Metropolitan Area

State

9

11

Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville

SC

35

114

Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill

NC-SC

52

113

Greenville-Mauldin-Easley

SC

88

77

Augusta-Richmond County

GA-SC

108

181

Spartanburg

SC

129

115

Columbia

SC

165

128

Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway

SC

127

141

Anderson

SC

129

151

Florence

SC

131

155

Sumter

SC

I found it quite interesting that Columbia is one of three cities listed from South Carolina that actually fell from their previous years listing.  Of the cities listed it is in the bottom twenty percent and tied with Florence.  The worst city of course was Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach/ Conway for obvious reasons.

Now as to why Columbia is failing to move up the listings.  There are several things that mark the decline of Columbia.  First and foremost is the number of jobs (jobs that pay significantly more than minimum wage) in this city.  The second and I feel should be the most important and will bring the first to this city is infrastructure.  Third is a friendly government.

Now let’s talk about infrastructure.  This should be a city’s first order of business since without a sound infrastructure jobs will NEVER come.  The city of Columbia is and has been in hot water with the Environmental Protection Agency over it’s sewage system.  Progress of repairing it has been slow at best and has cost the citizens of this city far more than they need it to cost.  Why you ask?  It’s because like all governments, the Columbia city council pools all the cities funds into one lump sum and spends it without regard to setting aside money for future needs nor repair of in use systems.  It’s why not only the cities sewage system is still in need of repair (even through not one but several water rate hikes in recent times) but the roads, parks and other things are in need of repair or proper maintenance.

Where is all this money going you ask?  Look around.  You see block parties (not necessarily for the general public (i.e. normal citizen), parades, and other nonsense things being supported by city council in order to draw people to a DEAD downtown.  Tourism isn’t happening in this city let alone this state because of several things that I need not mention.  Tourism is also a dead industry like manufacturing has become in the United States.

Roads are seeing very little repair outside that which the city spends from state and federal funds they receive.  One thing could help this issue other than further taxing an already burdened people.  Think before you make repairs of streets.  Two or three years ago, Columbia resurfaced several of their downtown streets instead of spreading the funds around the town on these projects.  What happened after the resurfacing?  Sure enough, not one month after the roads were resurfaced, the city started tearing up the NEW surface repairing stuff that could have been repaired before the resurfacing.  Now they’ll scramble for more state and federal funds to resurface the same streets they tore up again instead of fixing other more in need streets.  This isn’t new.  It happens in many a city.  Ill thought out maintenance and repair is killing things.

As to the parks, they aren’t getting but subsistence funding.  Meaning, they aren’t getting anything more than what they need for basic maintenance.  Water fountains in the parks aren’t being maintained where there are such.  Restrooms which need repair, maintenance, or just flat need replacing are not getting done to attract citizens to the parks.  The sad thing is I’ve talked to people who work these parks.  They request the necessary things needed but are denied what they need in order to make the parks a better place for citizens.

Now a word about public safety in the city.  Columbia has recently added several new police officers to their ranks.  However, they like other government employees don’t seem to be doing their job properly.  Granted ALL police officers are underpaid for what they do, but most here are NOT performing the basics and the police chief seems to be spineless in his dealings with city council.  What I mean by this is, the police chief’s officers are being redirected against the current homeless population by city council and not able or willing to perform the basic functions they are paid for (writing traffic citations to those that commit the simplest of crimes).  In other words if you are homeless in this city as other major cities have homelessness as well, don’t expect a police officer to help you.  If anything they’ll lock you up faster to get points with city council.  If you’re an automobile owner, you can do no wrong.  Run a red light, speed, wreck less driving, or hit a pedestrian, no problem.  It seems pedestrians as well as bicyclists have NO rights in this town.

For Columbia to succeed in moving upward, they need to first task their police for properly.  Secondly, think proper repair and maintenance of their infrastructure (funding for current and future).  And last, FIRE their current city council.  Then and only then will they have an efficient and well run city where government responds to their citizens instead of being self centered egotistical megalomaniacs  like most government officials are.  Maybe then and only then will the Columbia police force remove the tag for them as being nothing more than “Uniform Gang Members.”

Nutrition and being homeless!

March 12, 2013

This is a topic almost NEVER discussed and I feel it should.  It seems that NOBODY and I mean nobody pays attention to this topic at all.  Most people worry more about the nutritional feeding of school children than they do the homeless.  Aren’t the homeless a member of society too?  What puts more strain on the Medicare/Medicaid programs?

A while back, I did a posting on the various places that feed and shelter the homeless.  Unfortunately, I did not go into great detail on the feeding of the homeless.  I hope to correct that here with additional information.

It’s said around Columbia, South Carolina, that “if you go hungry around this town, you’re not trying to get food.”  This for the most part is true.  There are tons of places feeding at various times of the day/week.  I’ll list several here:

Oliver Gospel Mission (from here out known as OGM)

Ebeneezer Church (usually prepared by the Salvation Army)

Trinity Church

St. Peter’s Church

First Baptist

Soup Cellar

various other groups large and small

The three main groups here are OGM, Ebeneezer, and the Soup Cellar.  These are the people feed on a daily basis.  Well OGM and Ebeneezer do.  The Soup Cellar serves lunch during the weekdays but is one of the main providers of food.  Here is where I’ll admit even I don’t have all the facts.  However, I’ll tell you what I know about OGM and the Soup Cellar.  I’ll relay what I’ve heard about Ebeneezer (we call it Ebisqueezer).

OGM I know well.  You’ve read what I’ve already said about them as a shelter.  Now you’ll know what think of their food service.  My biggest complaint about OGM’s food service is not so much the food, which is often times donated and reasonably fresh (sometimes you get a meal that is prepared the same day, sometimes not).  My biggest complaint against them is with a cook that adamantly will NOT follow the Department of Health’s food preparation regulations.  But to talk of their food is another thing entirely.  Yes, there are times you get what is suppose to be nutritious and it is a balanced meal if nothing else.  Problem with any prepared food (most of their supplies come from U.S. Foods when it’s not donated), it’s not really nutritious at all.  It’s more like institutionalized food.  Over cooked and tasteless.  I’ve had vegetables there that were like mush.  Meats are mostly soy or fatty.  Donated meals are often overcooked as well.  Anyone in their right mind knows overcooking food ruins the nutritional value of the food not to mention fatty foods raise cholesterol levels.  Oh wait, they think pumping too much overcooked veggies into you to up your fiber levels will prevent this.  Bullsh*t!  This isn’t the only thing I’ve been served there while I did eat (I no longer go to OGM for anything) there.  I’ve actually had to eat or starve some stuff there that I wouldn’t slop a hog with and being from rural Michigan, I do know what they slop hogs with.

Now the Soup Cellar on the other hand does NOT serve anything but lunch Monday through Friday as well as most holidays.  For the most part these people are a group of churches in the community who provide lunch for the homeless as well as those needy people who are barely getting by.  Their lunch consists of two sandwiches of which on is PB  &J (you all know what that means), soup during the winter months, fruit cups during the summer, and cold sweet tea.  The bread here is generally fresh though at times it suffers.  PB & J is generally nutritious and not overly fat.  The soups during the winter are generally good though they tend to be either too much salt or too much pepper.  And, as God is my witness, they use far and away too much beans in their soups.  I can deal with green beans, Lima beans, or even butter beans in my soup but they’ve gone beyond even that making some of their soups totally inedible.  When you can pick up an eight ounce cup of hot soup and the bottom comes filled with no less than four kinds of beans (some of which I’ve never heard of or eaten before other than the ones I’ve mentioned) you’ve gone far to far.  Homeless people don’t need all the fiber and protein that they are getting fed.  Now where the Soup Cellar gets decent at is getting other things like pasta salad or bagels or things like that in to supplement their usual offerings.  I love pasta salad personally.  However, their pasta salad often has far too much oil (oil based dressing) and again beans in it.  The other pasta salad they serve from time to time is mayonnaise and mustard base.  This type is excellent for the most part.  But again, they ruin it by adding beans.   I don’t mean just any beans either.  I mean a bean that is red in color and leaves a foul taste in my mouth.  When they use this bean in the soups the soups often come out looking like human manure and tasting just as foul (NO I DON’T EAT HUMAN FECES ).  At least when the soup is good you can have all you can eat of it.

Ebeneezer, I’ve only heard minute things about.  Mostly the meals they are served are done by the Salvation Army or so I’m told.  When one hears of the Salvation Army, they think how good they help the community.  One only has to look at the South Carolina Salvation Army’s record.  Especially the fact that it fired one of it’s Major’s for embezzlement/fraud and said person is still in jail last I knew.  The only thing good I’ve heard about Ebeneezer is that they serve dinner at all.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that their portion size is way too small.  Go figure.  Sounds to me like the Salvation Army hasn’t gotten rid of their corruption issues yet.

There are other places to eat for the homeless.  These are the three main ones who serve a meal or sometimes two a day.  Others (churches, private individuals, and small groups) seem to do better than the larger feeders.  One church for certain takes precedence.  That is Trinity Episcopal  Church who does breakfast every Sunday.  It is at least a nutritious breakfast of grits, scrambled eggs, sausage, warmed apples, milk, and coffee.  The apples part is new as they use to serve baked beans and orange juice instead.  Personally, I welcome that change with the exception of dropping the OJ.

Sadly, the homeless AREN’T getting the proper nutrition for what they have to face on the street.  Often times the homeless are walking from one place to another to warm up in the winter.  Most of these places feed a high fat, high protein diet instead of getting these people what they need.  People burn a lot of energy quickly during the winter especially.  A high carbohydrate diet is called for in the winter for the homeless.  Fatty and protein rich diets do not metabolize quickly enough for the person to maintain energy for what they are doing.  I can see the high protein diet in the summer where the homeless are less likely to move during the heat of the day.

Proper nutrition is everyone’s concern.  Even today’s children are being fed better stuff in the school cafeteria now than what the homeless are fed.  They at least get more choices. The homeless get little or no choices in what they are served breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The only way we can get people off the Medicare/Medicaid merry-go-round is to educate them as to proper diet (yes, advertising actually is getting better for food substances on this issue).  The homeless need better nutrition in order to face the environment (especially if they don’t go into local shelters).  A great deal of the food fed to the homeless is largely FAT, PROTEIN, and SUGARS. These are absolutely the last things the homeless need at any time.  Especially those that are diabetic as there are a large contingency of those that are homeless.  Feeding a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates (not over cooked vegetables), starches, and dairy products would go a long way in taking a number of homeless out of the health care system.

Far too often the homeless are getting fed some of the nastiest stuff known to man because it’s CHEAP and the providers can get away with extra money for themselves in return for providing a minimal amount of sustenance for the homeless.  All to often, some of the food is day old stuff (mostly baked goods from a local bakery) or stuff that wasn’t sold at a local restaurant.  OGM is notorious for doing the later as a cost cutting practice.  Is it better than some of the stuff the relief organizations feed the third world countries?  In one word NO!

We can do better than this in America.  Yes there are children still not getting their nutritional requirements at schools across the U.S.  But think about it this way.  Many who are homeless or possibly about to become homeless will be that much more of a burden to society if their health fail due to improper nutrition.  I myself have witnessed it’s effects on me.  At one time, my body was eating it’s own muscle due to improper nutrition.  Would you rather see children on the street the same way due to YOUR GREED! Enough said.

Many A Homeless Veteran Faces This!

December 19, 2012

Generally I don’t open up about myself.  However, this has come to mind as I remember an old friend.  Though he wasn’t a veteran, many veterans face the issues I face.  Twenty five percent of all veterans will or have become homeless at one time or another.  Below is a short story I wrote that would have been me had I not continued on.  For many a veteran, this story is what they will go through.  So here it is:

The Homeless Vet

           He is awaken from a drunken stupor.  Not from the person he shared the bottle with the night before.  That one is sleeping quietly several feet away.

It isn’t from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets surrounding the alley he has awaken in.  They are hundreds of feet away.  Even the stray animals and occasional rat scampering about hasn’t done it.

Then he realizes what is happening.  It’s not another he sees.  But it’s his own prone body as a soft warm hand takes his own.

As his spirit lightens and rises, he continues to look down upon the body that was once his.  Slowly the scene becomes larger as he turns to see who has taken his hand.

It’s as the city lights fade to stars that he realizes just who has taken his hand.  It’s the only one who never gave up on him.  Though no one will remember his body or his name, this man remembered his soul.  The soul of a forgotten veteran.

 

I’m not a man of any set religion.  However, this can and does happen to a lot of homeless veterans.  Unfortunately, it’s not always alcohol.  Sometimes it’s drugs. Some of those drug addictions are actually started from the Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the name of prescription drugs relieving a patients pain or other disorder.

A lot of those addictions (alcohol or drugs) are actually people who are doing what is called “self medicating.”  This is where a person who is taken off a narcotic drug, when faced with no further supply or limited supply drinks or does other illegal drugs to substitute for narcotics he/she would have otherwise be prescribed by his doctors.  Then again, there are those that were addicts before they left the military (both legal and illegal drugs).

I won’t care to wager just how many homeless veteran’s end their lives each year due to addictions.  My guess is that one in ten do though.  It may be higher than that.  At least I beat it.  However, I’m far from out of the woods yet in this aspect.  Temptation is still there, so this story may still come true for me.  I certainly hope not.

Why do they do this? Police brutality!

December 6, 2012

Not since Rodney King and the Los Angeles police department did I ever expect police officers to be as they are today.  There is just so much corruption, discrimination, and down right anger in the Fraternal Order of Police.  The problem is how they represent themselves to the public.  The other part is the quality of the officers they enlist for their employment/service.

One of the titles stated on the street for Columbia, South Carolina’s city police department is:

Uniformed Gang Members

In fact, they aren’t all that bad really.  It’s just like society.  They have their good and bad people.  It just seems they have far to many bad people of late.  With what they pay the CPD officers (Columbia Police Department), they seem to be getting the bottom of the barrel officers.  These officers come from a couple of different camps.  There are the type who are over aggressive and then there are those that are downright lazy in their enforcing the law.

Let’s first address the lazy type of officer.  These are unique in that they have been on the force for quite some time now ( I’d like to say 5 years or more experience).  I’m not going to go any deeper than that at the present time as there are some other issues with these particular officers.  Most notably, they are overweight.  Generally, these officers are much easier to deal with than the other attitude.

Most of the “lazy” officers tend to be easier going than the rookies.  They’d much rather do something else other than harass the homeless.  Here in Columbia we know that the police would much rather deal with real crime than cajole the homeless.  They give their show of force by doing what they have to in that they patrol the area they are assigned.  Some are quite nice.  They give the homeless man a warning in the first incident then after that they up the ante so to speak (harsher violations and more).

The largest issue with these officers is that they generally don’t put pressure on the real criminals.  They don’t stop crime where it starts (traffic citations).  They also have a tendency to be corrupted easily but not as easy as others.  A lot of times you’ll find these officers wasting time with others of their ilk.  In this case, they are at the local coffee and doughnut hole (Crispy Creme, Denny’s, IHOP, or even Waffle House.  Sometimes you can find them at mini conventions where you’ll see four or more patrol cars rolled up at the same location without any of them doing any law enforcement.

Now let me tell you a story of a different kind of police officer.  Generally they are rookies or ones with less than five years on the force (though it could be ones who have had this attitude since they were rookies and made rank).  Like children, they are easily swayed as well as much easier to corrupt than the later officers.  I call them “yes” men as they will broadly apply anything their supervisors or even city counsels tell them to do.

Let’s start off with my own experience in Orange Park, Florida while I was homeless down there.  With a friends help, I was able to set up a small CLEAN camp to live in.  At the time I did not know it was private property.  I later learned in a big and costly way.  Had I known now what I know today, a county police officer would have lost his job.

I’d went to work one day for Action Labor in Orange Park for several hours.  Once I returned to camp, I found what was left of my three man tent and all my belongings strewn all over the place and the tent literally cut to pieces.  The worst part of it was a note left by what was presumed to be a police officer of Duvall County Florida.  I was told in no uncertain terms to leave the property and the officer left his business card.  Now this could or could not have been the officer named on the business card.  It could have been an impersonator.  Stranger things have happened.

Needless to say, I moved in less than three days.  I chose so to avoid prosecution and also got permission to use company land of which belonged to the company I had hired on to from out of Action Labor.  It was much better than the sixteen mile one way trip by bicycle to work and then back.

I don’t believe this is the only time it’s happened.  I beat a ticket written out by an officer here in Columbia.  The following Sunday while I ate breakfast at a local church, I left my panniers on the bicycle.  They weren’t even three weeks old and I came to back to my bike (gone less than an hour) to find them knifed and stuff strewn over a twenty foot area.

I can’t prove anything as to who did the deed.  However, I have my suspicions that the officer who’s ticket I beat had something to do with it.  He’s one of those who probably has been on the police force less than five years and is doing just what city council wants just to earn his Sargent strips faster.  He’s a known harasser of homeless and has had more homeless before the local city magistrate (judge) than any other officer.

Now this brings me to yet another incident I found out about just the other day.  A homeless acquaintance of mine got the poles on his tent destroyed and it was witnessed by yet another homeless man.  The person who did the deed here was a member of you guessed it.  Columbia police department.  Now it’s likely they will not be able to do anything about this as the witness will likely not come forward because of reprisals.  Also, the acquaintance, was probably trespassing on private property for a while.  I don’t know the entire details about his camp nor did I want to know.  Safer for him and me.

These police officers are not only brutal in their willingness to make advancement but they will listen to just about anyone or do anything to get what they desire.  There are names a plenty for these types.  I’ll leave that to your discretion.  And police wonder why the homeless WON’T help them or even communicate with them.

This is not only happening here but in several cities around the United States.  There has been to my knowledge at least one death of a homeless man due to just such discrimination and hate.  It’s not about race or anything else but the fact that people are homeless.  It has to end here and now.  We as a people CAN NOT tolerate this.

Now I’d like to share with you something I read in the local Free Times newspaper which you can read at:

http://www.free-times.com

or follow them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/freetimes

This was in a column called “Rant and Rave”:

“I have two rants I need to get off my chest today.  Columbia drivers need to stop running red lights.  You are not only putting yourself in danger but you are putting the safety of pedestrians and your fellow drivers at risk.  I see this every day.  People will blatantly run red lights and turn left on red lights.  Please stop!  I really don’t understand why our police will not give these selfish and careless drivers traffic tickets.  Something should be done.  I have seen two accidents due to  running red lights.  You know how Spain has the Running of the Bulls?  well, Columbia has the Running of the Red Lights.  And finally.  Don’t stop doing your job because a co-worker (according to you) won’t do theirs; worry about yourself.  What kind of logic is that anyway.  Oh, and if Halloween is a fall festival, then Christmas is a holiday.  A pagan one to be exact.”

The previous message exemplifies Columbia police department.  Due to orders from city council, they would much rather harass a homeless man than stop the most petty of crimes.  If they were to stop these petty crimes, then most wouldn’t graduate to felonious crimes to begin with, thus dropping our prison population and putting those tax dollars to use in better places like education.

Let me add that a recent bill which got canned in the U.S. Congress was about police being able to search your email, Facebook, and other electronic data without warrant.  The federal Fraternal Order of Police is still trying to get this passed not to mention attempting to stop you from photographing/filming them while they are on duty (within reason: must be out of the way of harm/a safe distance from any activity an officer is doing in the line of duty).  Feel free to do a search via your favorite search engine with the search of “videotaping police”.  You’ll find loads of info on it and more.

Final thought for this.  ARE WE BECOMING MORE AND MORE LIKE WHAT GEORGE ORWELL SHOWED US IN HIS BOOK ENTITLED “1984.”