POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 17, 2008:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
NIMBY Strikes Again
Bravo for your article (see "To Have and Have Not" in the August 14-20, 2008, issue)! As a local pastor who serves the homeless, one of my greatest concern is their access to services and transportation. I am thouroughly disgusted with the NIMBY attitude of the elitists in this city.
As a small church our congregation spends much time on the streets downtown with the homeless who are drug addicted, alcoholics, and mentally ill. I can honestly ask those who are afraid to come downtown because of the homeless, "What are you afraid of?" We generally bring our kids with us downtown as we minister on the streets and we have never had a problem. As a matter of fact our kids (usually numbering around 5 to 10 of them ranging in age from 3 to 15 years old) have a great sense of compassion for the needs of those who are less fortunate, or who are struggling in life. The homeless actually enjoy having the kids around because in some way it brings a sense of normalcy into their lives.
What I find profoundly amazing is that this city seems to want to sweep under the rug those who are the most vulnerable in our society instead of looking for real solutions to the problems of homelessness. For example, there are many "mega churches" in this city that have the resources available to have a serious impact on homelessness, but to their shame don't see these people through the eyes of the One whom they profess to follow. They don't see any reason to get involved because it would cost them something and the homeless don't give into the Church. Yet the Christ whom they follow paid the ultimate price for them so that they could walk free of the things that bind them. Many are so rapped-up in their prosperity messages that they fail to actually see themselves in the homeless and say, "except for the grace of God, there go I". Yes, there are churches in Tulsa trying to have an impact, but much, much more could be done.
And to the "powers that be" in Tulsa, when are you going to follow the lead of successful cities that have centralized services for the homeless, and begin to provide real solutions to the problem instead of trying to shuffle them around the city like spreading the peas out on your plate that you didn't want to eat so it that looks like you did? These are real human beings, not peas! Many have been forced to live on the streets because they have been kicked out of mental health services due to lack of funding. Many are out there because of bad choices in their lives. (Let those who have not sinned cast the first stone!) Many are living under bridges or on the streets because of a bad string of events in their lives due to sickness or some other unfortunate event. No matter what the reason, these are PEOPLE! They have the same desires and dreams as the rest of us. You are holding the homeless of Tulsa in bondage to your whims and your political asperations. All I want to say is, just like Moses said to Pharoh, "Let my people go!"
Might I also take this time to suggest to Mayor Kathy Taylor that instead of alienating the faith community in Tulsa as you have, that you begin to work with us in helping provide the services needed for the homeless to get off the downward spiral they are on. Our little church has a vision to help provide basic services for the homeless, like a free laundry for them to go wash and dry their clothes, instead of wearing the same old dirty clothes everyday until they have to go to the Salvation Army for something clean to wear. How about a decent place to take a real shower, a place where they don't have feel degraded or worry about all their belongings getting stolen while they are in the shower. These are fudamental and basic human needs that are not available to Tulsa's homeless.
And while you are at it Mayor Taylor, please stop using the TPD as a private security force to uproot the homeless from under bridges and tearing down their homes in the tent city on the river just north of downtown. It is illegal in my book to take their belongings away from them and throw them in the trash without a warrant or some type of due process. What you are throwing away is all they have in this world, and they feel violated and raped by your gestapo tactics. Again, these are real people living tragic lives who have real emotions and suffer real losses because of your policies.
Instead of kicking the homeless when they are down, let's all work together to help bring them some dignity and assistance in getting the help they need to break free from the cycle of despair. Basic human services and health care in a more centralized environment would be a good place to start. For those of us in the faith community, we must love our homeless neighbors as ourselves and begin to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters living on the streets. The ministry of Jesus was summed-up in Luke 4:18 when He said: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." Aren't we supposed to be more like Him?
-Rev. Richard L. Jones
Pastor, The Uprising
Weighing in from White City
I am a resident of the White City neighborhood. In case you have not heard, the Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) and the City of Tulsa are building a facility for mentally/ill homeless people at Admiral and Yale, just a few blocks from my home. At first, I didn't really think anything about it. What are they going to do, build an 8 or 16 unit complex near me? This is not going to affect my neighborhood, or me I said.
Then all of the fake outrage from my neighbors started, or so I thought it was a fake outrage. As you know it doesn't take a lot for people to have fake outrage anymore. Phrases like these were heard: We can't have this near our home. It will destroy our property values. It won't be safe for our children. So before I added my fake outrage I decided to do a little research.
Not only did I find out the facility was not going to be a small complex, but it was going to be a $17 million four story complex that would house 76 mentally/ill homeless individuals. I also found out that it would be replacing the downtown YMCA, because the YMCA sprinkler system is not up to date and the building had been condemned, resulting in most of the current residents being moved near my neighborhood. The THA states that they will build this facility to match the surrounding area. Well obviously, the THA has not been to Admiral and Yale.
A four-story building will not match or correlate with the surrounding area. It will stick out like a sore thumb. The THA states that this is a good location, because they have access to bus routes and grocery stores. I agree with the grocery stores, because as we are all aware there are no grocery stores downtown. However, I find it hard to believe that the bus routes are more convenient than downtown where they are three blocks away from the bus transfer station. I also find it hard to believe that moving them farther away from the services that downtown offers is in their best interest.
The THA also stated that we the taxpayers, businesses and homeowners should accept this, and that we have no voice in what happens in our neighborhood. Chairman of the THA, Ruth Kaiser Nelson, (she is appointed by the Mayor) admitted that no one would w! ant this in their neighborhood and used it to justify moving forward. Well, Ms. Nelson, thank you for admitting that you don't want it in your neighborhood either!
So, are the citizens of White City and the other surrounding neighborhoods and businesses less compassionate than Ms. Nelson or any of the other donors or citizens of Tulsa? The answer is NO! All, we are asking for is a voice in our city government. We want to work with the city and the people who are funding this project (The THA plans to move forward regardless of if they get the $4 million in state funds. They already have $13 million in private funds). My neighborhood and the surround neighborhoods and businesses do not believe that the mentally ill or homeless should not have a place to go. In fact, I am willing to bet that most of my neighbors would not mind having a facility like the one they are proposing, except on a smaller scale.
So, I ask you, how do you solve a problem like this? First, our government does not need be secretive or devious about it, and put it in the classified ads 19 days in advance, where no one is looking for it or think of looking for it. Secondly, our government should invite the people who this will be affecting to come to the table and talk about it before the decision is made. Thirdly, when they do come to the table, our government should actually listen to what the people have to say and not do what they were planning on doing in the first place. And the last thing, I would recommend is, we the people of Tulsa pay attention to whom we elect to our city council and whom we elect as our mayor. (The only official representing the views of his district is State Representative Eric Proctor.)
I admit that we will probably loose this battle. However, I am willing to bet that due to the new facility that some of our local politicians will not be re-elected the next time they run for re-election.
- Bryan Clements
Terrific article (see "To Have and Have Not" in the Aug. 14-20, 2008, issue) on a somewhat disgusting but not surprising topic.
As a school girl (long before I got smart enough to leave town & then got stupid enough to return) I could see that the hoi polloi of Tulsa went to the opera or the philharmonic, etc. because it was the social event where they could see and be seen in their designer clothes and furs more often than out of a love for opera or fine music. A new generation has not changed much. Many of them are still snobby, shallow mcmansion dwellers.
And by the way, have you noticed bow many of the cultural events, lectures, classes and the like are held during the day, during the week? If you hold a "regular' job, unless you are a shift worker, you are SQL. Just another beef.
I got a huge laugh out of your sentence about the homeless not having to walk far to see Celine Dion. If they tried, they'd be criticized for squandering their money on the tickets.
Where to Put Them
The best location for the homeless I believe would be downtown, where so many services available nearby, there is room for both developers and service providers. We as citizens of a great and beautiful city are oligated to see that our less fortunate are helped . Thanks to Steve Whitaker for all the work he and John 3:16 Mission have done and thanks to Michael E. Bates for his column. Finally someone tells it like it is. A real fan. Betty Notter
Mad about Fishes
I read with interest, and some disappointment, your article on the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks (see "Gone Fishin'" in the August 14-20, 2008, issue). As an aquarium junky, I have visited more than 18 different aquariums in this country and even a few international ones. In the past six months I have visited the Scripps aquarium in La Jolla California and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I'm afraid you do not realize the tremendous asset that the Oklahoma Aquarium is to this region and at $13.95, it's actually a bargin when compared to other institutions of its size.
You mentioned that you came over on a Sunday afternoon and there was no one to explain and elaborate on the wonderful exhibits and our large shark enclosure. Are you aware that the Oklahoma Aquarium is staffed by docent volunteers? The very reason you chose Sunday afternoon was to spend time with Christi; well it's tough to get volunteers to give up their Sunday afternoon free time when they too want to spend it with their friends and loved ones. Often Sundays are staffed by only a few volunteers to cover the entire aquarium. I'd be willing to bet that the gentleman who worked the stingray touch tank also had to work the shark tank when he finished up the touch lecture.
I, myself, am a volunteer docent on Friday mornings when, in fact, I work the main window of the Shark Adventure. Come down some Friday between 10:00 AM and 1:30 PM and I'll be glad to regale you with shark facts and interesting stories. There are times I talk straight through for three and one-half hours without a break. In fact, if you will let me know in advance, I'll even pay your $13.95 admission on that day so you don't have to pay twice. Maybe if you really like it you would be willing to donate four hours a week to teach other visiters like yourself. I understand there are lots of openings on Sunday afternoon.
I also know the Newsome family - I teach at the school mentioned in the article! I am happy to see that this amazing local market is getting the coverage that will spread the word of food sustainability to Tulsa.
Food deficiency is not a poverty issue or a political issue. It is a HUMAN issue. Mothers, fathers, children, the elderly, ALL ages and races are affected by hunger, especially now when the cost of goods has increased so dramatically. Bravo to this loving family who share their knowledge and prosperity for the benefit of others!
Pete and Repeat
How do you spell, REPEAT?
As this nation enters another period of involuntary debt liquidation, whoever wins the presidency in November will not have to worry about writing an inauguration speech. The president-elect can redeliver the speech given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 4, 1933. In that speech FDR laid the blame for the severe economic distress this country was experiencing on the financial community, particularly the investment banksters.
He firmly stated, "They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision people perish." Today as knowledge is increased, we can add the Federal Reserve to the bankster class. History will prove that the major blunders by the Maestro, Alan Greenspan and his successor Ben Bernanke were the ultimate trigger for our economic crisis. Since Greenspan took over leadership of the FED in 1987, every economic hiccup was followed by a slashing of interest rates and an increase in the money supply leading to a series of investment bubbles.
The end result was a humongous real estate bubble giving us a massive debt mountain. Our politicians are totally clueless about what is happening because the debt mountain is covered by a shroud of fog as a result of the deceit, corruption, and fraud by the investment banksters who in their demise are now being kept alive by their buddies at the FED.
The FED now insists that taxpayers must pay for the blunders by Fannie and Freddie. Government ownership of more liabilities will endanger the American way of life. All pain and no gain will replace the free market economy as the FED sponsors the Mussolini business model that will cause a dollar collapse.
-Robert A. Dahlquist
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