city of la declares ‘state of emergency’ on homelessness (progressives = poverty)

Aknowledging their failure to stem a surge in homelessness, Los Angeles’ elected leaders on Tuesday said they would declare a “state of emergency” and devote up to $100 million to the problem. But they offered few details about where the money would come from or how it would be spent, leaving some to question the effort’s chances of success.


The announcement by seven City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti was a powerful signal of growing alarm at City Hall over L.A.’s homeless population, which has risen 12% since 2013, the year Garcetti took office. It coincided with a directive from the mayor Monday evening that the city free up an additional $13 million in the coming months to help house people living on the streets.

Some lawmakers assert that their proposed declaration — which the council must still vote to approve — would allow the city to ease restrictions on churches and nonprofit groups sheltering the homeless and speed up the permitting process for builders of affordable housing. They pointed to a state law that allows the city to declare a “shelter crisis” and use public facilities such as parks or schools as emergency housing.

RELATED: How L.A.’s homeless crisis got so bad

“It’s time to get real, because this is literally a matter of life and death,” said Councilman Mike Bonin, whose Westside district is home to many of the makeshift sidewalk encampments that are an increasingly glaring symbol of the problem across the city. He spoke of a “collective failure of every level of government to deal with what has been a homeless crisis for generations and is exploding and exacerbating now.”

Despite such tough talk, however, Tuesday’s announcement was marked by signs of the confused tactics critics say have hindered an effective city response to a growing challenge. Council members haven’t identified the sources for all of the money or how it would be used. Meanwhile, the mayor has yet to release a sweeping plan — now weeks overdue — he says he is crafting to end homelessness.


“This is all simply words,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn., which has argued for a more aggressive approach to clearing encampments and housing the homeless. “Again, it shows an ongoing lack of leadership on behalf of the city.”

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Gary Blasi, a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Law, said the promise to fund new housing and services for the 26,000 homeless people in L.A. was a positive step for a city government that has recently been preoccupied with empowering the police to crack down on encampments.

“If it is purely symbolic, that will be bad,” Blasi said. “But at least people are engaging in a conversation about how to solve the problem instead of just moving it around the city.”

Tuesday’s announcement was the second high-profile declaration about homelessness from L.A. city officials in as many months. Late in July, Garcetti said in a speech that his office was preparing a three-part “battle plan” for what he dubbed a “war on homelessness here in Los Angeles.” He said the plan would be released in “about a month.”

Two months later, the mayor’s office has not issued the plan, although Garcetti has spoken in broad strokes about what it would involve.

On Tuesday he said its “main pillars” were the expansion of a system for tracking homeless people used by county and city officials; new centers for street dwellers to store their belongings and use social services; and anti-poverty measures (such as L.A.’s recent move to raise the minimum wage) that could prevent people from losing their homes in the first place.

The directive issued Monday night is intended to fund stopgap measures until Garcetti’s larger plan is finalized. The mayor asked City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana to find funding for initiatives such as housing subsidies for the newly homeless and to keep the city’s winter shelters open an extra two months through what is expected to be a season of heavy rain and floods.

“These are our fellow Angelenos,” Garcetti said Tuesday, referring to the people who regularly sleep on the lawns and benches around City Hall. He said they “have no other place to go, and they’re literally here where we work, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis.”

In an interview, Santana, the city’s top financial official, declined to say where the money sought by the mayor and council could be found in a budget that only recently began to recover from revenue shortfalls caused by years of recession.

The council is “asking us to look at all revenues the city has access to, so we will do that,” he said. Bonin, a member of the city’s budget committee, said much of the $100 million could come from the city’s reserve fund, which is set aside for financial emergencies.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, chairman of the city’s housing committee, said some of the money could be used to install lights and hire guards for city and church parking lots, which could host people living in their cars or RVs. He also suggested designating city-run pools as places for the homeless to shower and easing planning and environmental regulations to speed up construction of low-income housing projects.

“We need to act like it’s an emergency,” Cedillo said. “We can’t do business as usual.”

The homelessness problem’s reach can be seen in the clusters of tents, tarpaulins and shopping carts that have spread far beyond downtown’s skid row, taking root in neighborhoods from Studio City to Highland Park. The number of encampments and vehicles occupied by the homeless has increased 85% over the last two years, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

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For merchants and homeowners, the encampments can be an unpleasant and sometimes dangerous disruption of daily life. Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley, said he receives calls “on a daily basis” from constituents concerned about the issue. An aide to Councilman Joe Buscaino said about 1,200 people attended a recent meeting in San Pedro on the problem.

Though other big U.S. cities have seen rising homelessness numbers, L.A.’s problem has gained special notoriety. In August, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton — a former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department — said in a much-publicized radio interview that “L.A. has probably the worst situation in the country of homeless.”

Council President Herb Wesson said one goal of the emergency declaration was to give Garcetti leverage as he seeks additional funding for homelessness programs from the county, state and federal government — demonstrating L.A.’s seriousness about the issue by pledging a chunk of its own budget.

The declaration is also intended to show that the council, which in May approved a controversial ordinance enabling the police to sweep encampments from the sidewalks, is willing to devote resources to housing and services as well as street enforcement.

“The key for us is to try to come up with money to be spent taking people off the street, and that we really haven’t invested in,” Wesson said. “We’ve got to begin that conversation.”

Jay Handal, chairman of the West L.A.-Sawtelle Neighborhood Council, said the council is moving in the right direction but has its work cut out.

“It’s going to take a whole lot more than $100 million, spent wisely, to fix the problem we’ve created for 40 years,” Handal said. “But this is a good start.”

The Obama disease takes toll on economy


Ronald Reagan’s famous question that sank Jimmy Carter in 1980 — “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” — could be reprised to measure the performance of Barack Obama and the Democrats. The latest figures from the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve suggest the answer would be an emphatic “no.”

In 2008, Mr. Obama’s message of hope and change resonated with the promise of “policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom up so that everyone has a chance to succeed.” Audiences cheered, but now with the knowledge from experience, the question becomes, has that investment paid off?

A new Federal Reserve study finds the median net worth of families last year fell to its lowest level since 1992, after adjusting for inflation. For most families, this means that the work of two decades of economic struggle has vanished. The dollar figure on the paycheck is higher, but dollars don’t buy nearly as much as they did.


By this measure, the presiding generation is less well-off than the one that preceded it. This is not a surprise to parents who find their dreams of peace in an “empty nest” dashed when their children return from college, unable to find jobs.

Stimulus and “investment” were supposed to reinvigorate the economy. Government spending would create jobs and rescue Americans from the grim clutch of poverty. Census Bureau statistics released Tuesday show 45.3 million Americans living below the poverty level as measured by the government. That’s almost 10 million more living in poverty than in 1992.

While the population is larger, the poverty rate is identical — 14.5 percent. It’s as likely that someone is poor today as in 1992, or in 1962. Mr. Obama’s economic policies have achieved nothing, but worse, the entire 50-year Democratic “war on poverty” has made no discernible impact on poverty.

Washington Times: The Obama disease takes toll on economy

Gov #Palin: War is hell. So go big or go home, Obama

War is hell. So go big or go home, Mr. President. Big means bold, confident, wise assurance from a trustworthy Commander-in-Chief that it shall all be worth it. Charge in, strike hard, get out. Win.

Obama famously claims to despise the “theater” and “optics” of the presidency. In tonight’s speech he illustrated the “optics” of toughness. He tried to show a war-weary America that he’s tough in his speech concerning the threat of ISIS/ISIL. “The One” who believes in leading from behind can’t have it both ways. He sure wasn’t concerned about “optics” when he let the crisis starring this Islamic death cult reach this point as he dithered and danced and golfed the time away while the Middle East exploded into chaos.


Tonight he announced he’s flipped and will finally militarily engage inside Syria – the red line he’d set and then forgotten about surfaced again. This, after three and a half years of civil war, 200,000 people killed, and millions displaced amid horrifying humanitarian conditions. Last month, he authorized U.S. military action to stall ISIS’ momentum as it’s taken nearly complete control of Iraq. Tonight, President Obama pledged to fight Islamic militants “wherever they exist” with a very small coalition of the willing. (Can you blame foreign nations for not trusting the resolve of this president enough to join us? Right now he has a coalition of nine; President Bush had over 40 allied countries that could trust America’s leadership.)

Remember the inexperienced presidential candidate speaking from Germany at the Brandenburg Gate (2008)? Or the know-it-all state senator (2002), known for merely voting “present” on the big things, yet lecturing about this “dumb war” he claimed was a distraction from his desire to force income redistribution to create security. Remember him? Today, he seems more worried about contradicting his campaign promises (2002-2008) and typical political poll angst than leading as president (2009-present). These are the “optics” he’s worried about.

The rise of the animalistic terror group, ISIS, is the result of Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy. He had broadcast his war strategy for all the enemy to see in Iraq, so the enemy could wait us out and strike as soon as America turned tail and turned away from all we’d sacrificed there. Terrorists who we had under control got to regroup and grow after Obama’s premature pull out. Those are the facts, and some tough talking speech is still just talk. Ronald Reagan was described by the Soviets as a politician for whom “words and deeds are one and the same.” When Reagan said his vision of the Cold War was “we win, they lose,” he meant it, and his policies won the Cold War. The real question Americans and our allies must ask is whether Obama-the-lecturer’s words will translate into deeds.

Go big and be real, Mr. President, if you’ve really changed your mind again and now wish to engage. You must acknowledge reality: the organization calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is, in fact, “Islamic.” Not many of us pretend to be experts on the Muslim religion, but these terrorists obviously consider themselves Muslim and they believe what they’re horrifically doing to innocents is part of their “religion of peace.” So, you can use your soapbox to fiercely encourage the sane, civilized Muslims of the world to tell ISIS and all these sickening terrorists that they’re wrong. In the meantime, we must identify and understand the enemy by at least acknowledging their ideological motivation and identity. Our president is naive to ignore this.

ISIS must be stopped in Iraq and Syria before we need to stop them anywhere else. As they dominate the region they head for us; we’re next on the hit list. For the sake of peace-loving people in America and throughout the world, let’s hope Barack Obama means what he says when he uses terms like “defeating ISIS.” He is so inconsistent in leading a failed agenda that it’s virtually impossible to put any hope in his new promises, because either his past statements shrugging off ISIS as just a “JV squad” was all talk or tonight’s new terminology is just all talk.

We should honor and understand our brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces today more than ever. Please do not support politicians who join Obama in diminishing our military. Our finest, trained to fight for what is right and determined to win, deserve our support. Thank you, military, may you be heard when you pray America’s leadership understands that if we’re in it, then we’re in it to win it; no half measures. Troops, we are always with you.

– Sarah Palin

That’s rich: Poverty level under Obama breaks 50-year record

Fifty years after President Johnson started a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty, the overall percentage of impoverished people in the U.S. has declined only slightly and the poor have lost ground under President Obama.

Aides said Mr. Obama doesn’t plan to commemorate the anniversary Wednesday of Johnson’s speech in 1964, which gave rise to Medicaid, Head Start and a broad range of other federal anti-poverty programs. The president’s only public event Tuesday was a plea for Congress to approve extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, another reminder of the persistent economic troubles during Mr. Obama’s five years in office.

“What I think the American people are really looking for in 2014 is just a little bit of stability,” Mr. Obama said.

Although the president often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty. A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he took office.

The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent; it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.


President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts “are basically to give more people more free stuff,” said Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“That’s exactly the opposite of what Johnson said,” Mr. Rector said. “Johnson’s goal was to make people prosperous and self-sufficient.”

The president’s advisers defend his policies by saying they rescued the nation from the deep recession in 2009, saved the auto industry and reduced the jobless rate to 7 percent from a high of 10 percent four years ago.

Gene Sperling, the president’s top economic adviser, said Mr. Obama has pulled as many as 9 million people out of poverty with policies such as extending the earned income tax credit for parents with three or more children and reducing the “marriage penalty.”

“There are things that this president has done that have made a big difference,” Mr. Sperling said Monday.

The White House again is pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage, this time advocating a Senate bill that would raise the hourly rate to $10.10 from its current $7.25. Mr. Sperling said that action would lift another 6.8 million workers out of poverty.

“It would make them less dependent on government programs. It would not add to the deficit one penny, but it would reward work and reduce poverty,” he said.

The president is expected to use his State of the Union address Jan. 20 to pressure Congress to raise the minimum wage. He made the same pitch a year ago.

Democrats are advocating issues such as unemployment benefits and the minimum wage especially hard this year as the class-warfare rhetoric heats up to frame the congressional midterm elections. House Republican leaders oppose increasing the minimum wage and want unemployment benefits to be paid with savings elsewhere in the budget. Mr. Obama is insisting that the benefits be extended without offsets.

Washington Times: That’s rich: Poverty level under Obama breaks 50-year record