Fort Bragg Notes

by Rex Gressett, March 8, 2017

I spent the morning talking to Fort Bragg's development director, Marie Jones. She expressed a quiet dismay and gentle sympathy over the fate of my ship, which is after all a local landmark as well as my former home. We talked about her concerns with the accuracy of my articles; she made some good points. I tried to explain to her the need that people in the community had to understand what City Hall was doing, and the perception of many people, including me, that City Hall was opaque, mysterious and suspect. I think that we agreed that whatever the reason the problem was a lack of investigative reporting.

There is no question that the election of a new city council has changed many things in the City. The Hospitality House Cartel, agent of misery for the homeless and bottomless pit of city funding, was enthusiastically described to me by a City Councilman as being on the ropes.

I cannot see that they are on the ropes, but the new City Council has dropped the credulous innocence of the old one like a bad habit. Clearly HH is in distress. Reports from the homeless tell a tale of woe. There is reportedly a continuing gas leak. They are out of everything down to the paper plates.

Under fire from all sides, HH has abandoned their clean and sober policy, openly allowing alcohol and drug use by clients. The $1 million they got from the City might have gone a little further if they had not bought a useless hotel that no one can stay in. Even the $186,000 in City money that the smooth managers of misery spent for a (very average) garden would have bought a few paper plates. They have a new solar array on the roof but reports are they cannot now afford to get batteries, so it is not hooked up. Maybe they are on the ropes after all.

I wrote with disdain of the attempt by the mayor and the public safety committee to impose a solution through the police on the homeless situation by hassling folks out of town, or out of their minds, whichever came first. But alas people in whom I have great confidence came to me later with tales of true outrage and the abuse of courtesy and decency by homeless folks. I hang my head to say it. The dark world into which we cast our house-less, the jungles where rape and meth are everyday facts of life, corrode the soul. The pious Mary Poppins enablers who make fat money from the homeless services machine understandably inspire contempt and ingratitude in any self-respecting person. Autonomy, dignity productivity are illusions. Why act like they are not? There are human beings hiding in the woods from our incapacity for economic inclusion.

Mayor Lindy Peters is hanging fire while his nomination to the Coastal Commission is considered by Governor Brown. In an innocence of my own I thought that his newly acquired opposition to the big box shopping project on a local coastal meadow, and his pending ascendancy to eminence at the Coastal Commission would make a difference to the bad idea that is stalking Hare Creek.

But I have been disabused of my optimism by staff at the Commission, who decline to offer reassurance and are not too keen to talk. The absolute horror of the destruction of this unique green space absolutely at the gateway to our town and used by all of us by a viciously ugly big box monstrosity seems so outlandish to most folks that they (and I) have not digested the real possibility of it happening.

Community meetings are being held in private homes but no realistic strategy for opposition has emerged.

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