“I will be the neighbor from hell”

posted by Mike on June 16th, 2006

Thursday night was another community meeting, about another proposed social services site, this time at 2 June St. Indymedia has pix and audio.

Stately, plump Lee Hammell:

When Rev. Bachelder said that residents could still talk individually to SMOC officials after the meeting, Carol Enterline of 4 June St. used the opportunity to yell at Charles Gagnon, chief operating officer, “It’s not fair. I will be the neighbor from hell.”

She said no one will buy her house with the SMOC facility next door.

Opponents got at least some good news, when SMOC Executive Director James T. Cuddy announced that the proposed facility will hold 19 bedrooms, not the 29 originally announced. But even that brought criticism that the Framingham-based non-profit social services agency did not tell a consistent story.

Those who couldn’t be there might get some sense of the thing looking at the absurd flier (PDF) handed out in the days beforehand.

There’s a lot of things I love about Worcester, but the propaganda you get around here continues to be third-rate.

One side of the KNIT Worcester flier, optimistically titled “Facts,” is packed with information that has little to do with the program in question.

Of the seven bullet-points, three are about the PIP Shelter. The PIP is the only Worcester shelter that accepts active substance abusers, and is a unique and troublesome place. It has nothing to do with the 2 June St program, but every NIMBY train of thought in Worcester eventually pulls into PIP station.

(We should have our own local Godwin’s Law about it.)

A fourth bullet point notes that SMOC’s Framingham wet shelter, like the PIP in Worcester, has been a source of trouble. Need one note that 2 June St will be a dry shelter for women, demanding a minimum 30 days of sobriety, and probably housing people with much more? Need one note that the PIP was a mess long before SMOC started managing it?

A fifth bullet point comes no closer to the situation at 2 June St. It notes that SMOC says it won’t house dangerous ex-cons at 2 June (in fact, nobody with a history of violence, arson, or a sex offense will be there), then tries to cast doubt on whether SMOC will adhere to this policy by quoting something about how landlords can’t discriminate against recovering addicts.

(I’ve rewritten the preceding paragraph a couple of times, trying to interpret the bullet point in a way that makes sense, but I’ve given up.)

Additional bullet points notify us that over a thousand school children pass through the neighborhood of 2 June St, and that SMOC plans to add “over one hundred new beds” in Worcester. (At the same time, it is planning to shrink the PIP, which used to house 150 some nights, drastically. Not sure what the net gain will be if that happens.)

So four of the “facts” are about other sorts of programs, one is nonsense, and two are boring.

This sort of factual problem is not new. Before the last siting hearing, my city councilor circulated a flier that put a statement of mine in Real Solutions’s mouth. This statement, taken from a newspaper article, was a misquotation to begin with. But when you’re scraping the bottom of the propaganda barrel, these details don’t matter.

In their latest podcast, the Saint Kermit guys mourn the loss of civil discourse in this country. Discourse has been reduced to an unending game of gotcha. The paper quoted you as saying something intemperate–gotcha! You quoted me as saying something I didn’t say–gotcha back!

I’m hopeful that the debate over siting in this city will eventually be based on reality rather than fear. It may take some time.

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