Posts Tagged ‘columbia crime’

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.”

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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.”

Plague or Cottage Industry Part 3: Tying it all together! Politics and money!

February 15, 2012

Finally the most difficult thing to explain in this series of articles.  There is a lot of politics behind this entire issue.  Not just in this city but in others all across the nation as well.  They range from how do we house and feed these people to just plain throw them out-of-town.  It’s truly amazing what lengths local politicians will go to stay in power indefinitely.  Without further ado, here we go again.

First let me answer the title of this and the other two parts.  Is this a plague or a cottage industry?  In the view of the local politicians of Columbia, the homeless are a plague on a town they are trying with little success to rejuvenate downtown.  What do they blame the homeless of?  Are the accusations true?  Interestingly enough, the city council blames everything on the homeless.  Well, let me be more accurate.  City council blames the homeless for every bad thing that happens in downtown even if we aren’t doing the so-called crime.  We get blamed for broken beer bottles (there are 2 bars located on main street), breaking and entering (one store got broken into three times in one week), as well as public drunkenness, public urination, and last but not least public defecation.  Yes defecation.

I can only say one thing to city counsel.  The homeless don’t do everything you lump on us.  In most cases, like in other cases, only about 1% of the homeless are those that steal or otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. Most homeless want nothing more than a good paying job (one that pays enough to get off the street) and to be left alone much like the rest of society.  If anything, the homeless are the biggest victims of today’s society.

The homeless in Columbia, South Carolina have fallen victim not just to the politicians, but to themselves as well.  Like the society in a hen house, man has his own pecking order.  It’s not so much the strongest survive but the most creative liars, cheaters, or thieves that survive.  In the light of the homeless, it’s those that jump food serving lines, take more than they could possibly use in clothing lines, or in general make a nuisance of themselves in other manners including panhandling.  These are the lowest forms of homelessness.  These are much like our whining, thieving, cheating politicians and corporate CEO’s of today.

These people get ahead of things or they think they are doing so.  What they don’t seem to realize is they are alienating themselves from society.  Look at what’s going on in politics on the national level.  Same case here.  Politicians cut services to everyone but themselves.  CEO’s cut jobs for bigger bonuses.  It’s a vicious circle that has to end.

Currently, or in the past, several city counsel members of Columbia, South Carolina have been or are currently under federal investigation.  In the case of the current city counsel, there are three under direct investigation for misuse of Housing and Urban Development funds.  What little I know of this is from local news and it’s pretty well been quashed.  However, the investigation is continuing from all I currently know.  Frankly, I think they should investigate the entire city counsel and the mayor for corruption.  Yes, I said corruption.

Case in point, Oliver Gospel Mission is still allowed to operate in a building that should have been condemned 60 years ago.  In my prior posting I talked about the fire hazard in that building.  Now I’m going to speculate on how they get to keep this open.  Actually, I don’t believe it to be a speculation.

Here’s how Oliver Gospel Mission stays open.  Both the fire marshal and and state Department of Health Education and Welfare (DHEC) call up the mission prior to any inspections and they are alerted to an inspection.  This I know happens in many other cities as well as on a federal level.  Think OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Authority).  They do the same thing.  Usually this results in far fewer fines if any. In this case, no fines are leveled against Oliver Gospel Mission.  There is also an occupancy limit in the mission for during meals, during chapel, and berthing.  They may not exceed the berthing limit, though it is over crowded, but every time I’ve attended chapel or ate a meal there, they violated the occupancy limit by at least 20 people if not more.  Had a fire broke out in there during those particular times, there would have been deaths from exiting the building not just from the fire itself.  Of course I’ve witnessed this issue as well as a cook in Oliver Gospel Mission who continues to refuse to put his hair up in a net.  His “dreadlocks” are midway down his back and he has an issue with wearing them in a net during mealtimes while serving food.  He wears them down including several of the “locks” in front of his apron.  This is in blatant violation of health standards and he’s been spoken to several times before about this.  He’s yet to be fired and goes back to the same thing after a few days of wearing his hair up to keep the management off his behind.  I’ve spoken to the head cook twice.  Last time he told me that one of the managers “would not” hire someone else to replace this cook when they could fire him on cause alone.

As to Transitions, it’s brand new last year.  There shouldn’t be any issues either DHEC or the fire marshal need to do anything about.  Management keeps a tight lid on problems there and there is NO overcrowding whatsoever.  People there are not required to attend chapel or anything like Oliver Gospel Mission.  Last I knew, even those that were homeless and not living there could come in and do laundry as well as take a shower.  I look at those offerings and think.  Gee, this seems like a nice place.  Wrong.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

This year, the state of South Carolina chopped funding for state run mental institutes and booted a bunch out of those facilities stating that the community could take better care of those individuals.  Transitions picks up the slack where the state refuses to fund their own facilities.  They have 70 beds specifically for those mental patients who don’t have family or any way of getting help.  Do they get help if they come in there.  I can’t tell as I’ve not investigated that end of things.  However, I’ve heard some pretty horrible stories about the mental patients they house there.  Instead of the transients causing problems, it’s the mental patients there causing issues that have brought the police down there more than not.  And they have caused other issues where people who are normally good people get banned from those facilities.

Now we come to the cities own winter shelter.  This is run by the city from November 1st till the following April 1st or until temperatures get above 40 after the 1st of April.  The one time I tried it before their move, it was a pigsty.  Once they moved it, there were just as many fights and issues as before.  To be fair though, I’m told they are improving.  Still, I have no trust in this place being even remotely fit to live in after the first time I tried the city run place.  They also have started using high school gymnasiums when the main shelter is overfull.  It’s a step in the right direction even if they do overcrowd the place to begin with.  Do they get inspected by the state and local officials?  That I’m unsure of.  However, the one thing I can be assured of is, it’s run for the city’s profit and not to help the homeless.

It goes on and on and on.  Further implications of the cities politicians being discriminatory because their bribing constituents want us gone as well as the politicians themselves is the way the push through laws though not discriminatory in the way they are written but in the way they are enforced.  Two such ordinances come to mind.  One is the sleeping in city parks.  Less than 2 years ago they had the police go through Finley Park and cite all the homeless there sleeping on park property.  When you enter the park, if you read the rules there, they do not say a word of such an ordinance.  Not only that but the police did NOT cite people who were not homeless when they too were sleeping.  Again, this is just one shining example of perverse laws.  Next is the so called “Urban Camping” ordinance.  This was quoted in the last issue but I’ll go on about it here.  It as well as the prior ordinance is being used to target the homeless and get them out of downtown where ALL the services they need are.  I can’t wait till this summer when they have the police walk through Finley Park again and issue citations.  I’ll bet there will be more tickets for homeless sleeping or as classified before “Urban Camping” than those that are in the park sunning themselves on a blanket.

Oh, let me say a word on Columbia’s finest (i.e. police department).  Word that the homeless and even some of the tax payers have on CPD is that they are “uniformed gang members.”  I can’t say that as most of their officers have been friendly with me and not given me any reason to complain about their performance.  However, they have become the aforementioned “uniform gang members” with a number of homeless and I’ve come to find myself harassed by one said officer.  He seems to think I’m a special project of his.  I won’t say what happened that caused this as I want him to continue his harassment.  Can we say lawsuit?  Yes, that’s my next step for this officer.  There are one or two other officers on the force of CPD that are just like this guy.  They are nothing more than bullies or people who don’t want to face their real job which is to protect and serve those that pay there checks.  It’s a known fact that the CPD captain is following city councils orders instead of the letter of the law when the homeless are constantly rousted.  When they do have a real crime in town (one of the breaking and enterings) it takes an officer an average of 8 minutes to get to the location even when there is one around the corner.  Yes, I’ve witnessed just that.  And lets not go to enforcing speeding and traffic light ordinances.  These alone could put the city government in the black monetarily if enforced to the letter.  If the CPD isn’t harassing the homeless their in the local coffee shops.  Two mornings ago, my friend who is also homeless witnessed no less than 10 police cars outside IHop in downtown.  No it wasn’t being robbed.  They were there doing not a darn thing in the last 2 hours of their shift.  Do you call that to serve and protect?  I don’t.  If I did that on any job I had I’d have been fired straight away.

Now, let me not forget the mayor of this town.  He was elected and not more than an hour after he was elected he struck another lady’s car and darn near killed the lady.  I’m certain there is still a pending civil suit.  If not can we say “payoff.”   The newspapers here were full of speculations.  Most were probably true.  The mayor probably did have his lights off.  He most certainly was under the influence of alcohol.  But, when you have money you can buy the law.  Well, in this case it cost the last CPD captain his job.  Did the mayor look out for this guy and help him get another job.  Fat chance.  This situation was corrupt from the get go.  It took them two hours to get an someone of authority to decide how the investigation was  to go.  And then it should have been handled by the state police or county police instead of the local CPD.  He’s still mayor today and has a wife as a local judge even though it represents a conflict of interest in a number of situations.   More than likely he will not be re-elected.

And they (city council, mayor, and an scant few others) call us a plague.  Yeah right.  While they are calling us a plague there are others who use us to their advantage.  This was discussed in the feeding part of this series.  Many local churches owe the homeless a great deal.  Had it not been for feeding us bare minimums and charging outrageous administrative fees, they wouldn’t have had special renovation projects unless the church members themselves paid for that.  Would they?  I doubt seriously they would.

Another thing, there are no less than four and maybe as many as six “day” labor places within 5 miles of downtown.  Most are legitimate businesses.  But, they too,  rob from the people who use them to make a living when they can’t get work otherwise.  If you don’t have transportation they charge you for it.  Lunch you ask?  They charge you for that when it’s not much more than a bologna sandwich and maybe a bag of chips.  Yes, these people feed off our problems as well.

Now who is really the plague here.  Certainly not the homeless.  However, you yourself should be able to see that these people who put us down the most are in fact using us as a cottage industry to fill their pockets with hard working American’s dollars meant to help those in need.  Need I say more?