In the San Francisco Chronicle — the San Francisco Chronicle! — columnist CW Nevius continues to complain (rightly) about the way in which the homeless are truly destroying once beautiful San Francisco (a problem I trace with unerring personal memory to the revolting decay of the drug culture in the Haight at the end of the 1960s). This time, though, Nevius doesn’t just confine himself to pointing out the problem. Instead, he fingers a culprit and — surprise, surprise — it’s not George Bush or Iraq or selfish capitalists or racism or poverty. It’s the overwhelming assistance culture San Francisco has that attracts drug addicts and then the homeless advocates that cushion them from the consequences of their actions:
When a homeless man named James Allen Hill overdosed and died in the restroom of the San Francisco library last Friday afternoon, it was a shocker.
A drug overdose in the public library? Really?
“It was an unfortunate and tragic incident for everyone,” said library spokeswoman Marcia Schneider. “Especially for the security staff that handled it.”
There will be those who will see Hill’s death as a failure of the system, another example of how the city neglects its poorest residents.
That’s not the story here. The city did anything but neglect Hill. But his case does show a flaw, all right: Chronic and incorrigible offenders avoid the consequences of their actions – aggressive panhandling, public urinating or drunkenness – often through the help of well-intentioned attorneys for homeless advocates.
And instead of being placed in treatment, the offender goes back on the street and continues his destructive behavior.
Hill is a perfect example. A familiar nuisance in the Haight, Hill slept in a garage doorway near the Panhandle and was a constant, drunken annoyance to residents and police. From Aug. 27 of last year to Jan. 22, Hill was cited at least 15 times by officers, mostly for open alcoholic containers on the street and public drunkenness.
Time and again, those citations were dismissed.
Often cases like Hill’s never even make it to court. The district attorney’s office says that is because homeless advocate attorneys drag out the process as long as possible, creating a paper bottleneck in the courts with “burden of proof” legal requests. There are so many steps and appeals that any misstep can result in a dismissal, which the DA’s office says is why hundreds of “quality of life”‘ infractions are thrown out.
Just keep on reading here. It will make you realize that, just as the alcoholics and drug-addicts have their enablers amongst their families and friends (co-dependents is the word, I think), so too do the homeless have their enablers amongst the more liberal cities.