Monday, February 21, 2011

Wake up and Smell the Coffee, and more...

In December I got in a discussion regarding the public health aspects of serving the homeless with Ms. Carolyn McInerney, Special Projects Manager for the County CEO. As we together sought ways to better utilize the homeless serving location (moving it to Eddie West field!) in the Civic Center a primary constraint surprised us both.

It would appear the a number of simple safeguards like those explained in the food-handler class Bishop Soto made me take have been blocked by deputies of the OC Sheriff. In two public buildings they decide, on the fly and without due process, which members of the public can use the toilets therein.

I suggested that were the deputies to cease preventing the homeless from washing their hands after defecating, would could all celebrate both public health and civil rights victories!

It is not clear to me as a former SNCC volunteer, what law and guidelines currently exist to inform these deputies' instant selection of those persons worthy of the use of the public restrooms in the Supervisor's building. Perhaps some old-school Civil Rights lawyer could ask them?

I have never seen a computer queried to check for warrants or security risks, or even an enumeration of the risk individual homeless persons might present to office equipment.

While the ex-Treasurer adopted the expedient of both blocking a needed fire-exit and forcing all persons to pass muster with a deputy before using that building's non-public restrooms, the Supervisor's Building process is far more suspect. The lobby guards there apparently decide, on a case by case basis reminiscent of the segregated facilities of the 50's, which people are fit to use the restrooms therein, and which are sentenced to the lone "homeless-ready" restroom near the fighter jet.

In spite of the fact that most of the volunteer groups serve the homeless at 7:00PM, the only public restroom nearby closes at 8:00PM. When we Catholic Workers serve our 500 hot brunches each week, the Supervisor and Treasurer building bathrooms are still available, but only to those who meet the approval of the deputies stationed therein. Late nights are off the schedule completely.

Needless to say, when people who cannot wash their hands after defecating in the bush get coffee in the morning, they're still as Green as you or I! They dutifully replace two of the three hot drink lids that always come off the stack when you pry for just one with a filthy HepC feces contaminated fingernail. Same with those pesky stirrers.

We'll still be paying those deputies' pensions for their fine service long after you and I are denied coverage for the HepC we contracted from ingesting human waste with our morning java. The Sheriff will perhaps tell our relatives, by way of a cursory "serve and protect" eulogy, that HepC is always "drug related."

In the OC, it's apparently also deputy related!

Dwight Smith,
OC Catholic Worker

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