“Punitive action by a nice liberal Democrat”

posted by Mike on June 5th, 2006

Mr Nemeth, in Sunday’s T&G:

When the South Middlesex Opportunity Council took over PIP in early 2004, it unveiled a master plan: Downsize and eventually relocate the wet shelter on Main Street — a move critics have demanded all along — and serve recovering clients in five halfway houses and lodging facilities. That plan ran into vociferous opposition, fueled by fear, distrust and self-serving politicians. The turning point came when state Sen. Harriette L. Chandler abruptly stripped $200,000 in state funding she helped to secure for a group home for women SMOC planned to open on Catharine Street after she learned the facility would be shifted to a middle-class neighborhood on the West Side. Such punitive action by a nice liberal Democrat made attacks on social service providers not only acceptable, but respectable. It was no longer just neighborhood demagogues, such as Billy Breault, who went after SMOC.

Then there was the Mayor’s Social Service Task Force with proposals on how to lighten the burden social services place on the city. The Research Bureau issued a report with the same aim. The city conducted a silly, and ultimately fruitless, billboard campaign to eradicate panhandling. There is now a bill in the Legislature to regulate social service providers. However, none of these reforms calls for viable action to eradicate the source of the problem: homelessness, hunger, substance abuse and mental illness.

Rep. Robert P. Spellane, co-chairman of the mayor’s task force, chimed in with blatant fear-mongering. He announced that PIP seriously endangered the Main South neighborhood because 13 convicted sex offenders are being “warehoused” at the shelter. SMOC refuted the charge as “irresponsible,” which did not stop Mr. Breault from parroting them on television.

The message of Real Solutions has been that open discussion about our responsibility to the poor, and the pros and cons of social service programs, has been derailed by “fear, distrust and self-serving politicians.” Nice to see a similar opinion in print.

On an unrelated note, check out this ad featuring Niniane.

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One Comment Leave a comment.

  1. On June 16, 2006 at 01:00 Chris K said:

    Indeed, a fantastic editorial from Nemeth. Completely on point. I can’t believe he actually wrote it. Guess I was wrong about the guy.

    The “siting” issue is one where the city’s supposed “liberal establishment” has proven itself repeatedly to be nothing more than another flavor of NIMBY.

    It’s a particularly sour one, as well, given the people involved, who ran for office as Democrats, and supposedly belong to the mainstream party that values social justice.

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