This afternoon the City Commission voted to buy the land on 39th Avenue since a land swap is not happening. According to city staff, there is some willingness on the part of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to go with a sale. Commissioner Wells asked the city to also negotiate for early occupancy of the site, rather than waiting for all the cumbersome wheels of a government transaction to go through, and the other commissioners also agreed with that.
This is a very welcome development. At the time I called for the candlelight vigil, I was hearing that this land swap falling through could well be a deal-breaker for the DOC and at best would result in a lengthy postponement of the opening of the One Stop Center. Commissioner Wells, by the way, was magnificent in addressing the latter issue. He said, to paraphrase, What we have on the downtown plaza is an emergency. People sleeping all over the place. It is an emergency for them, it is an emergency for the people working to establish and maintain businesses downtown, it is an emergency for everybody involved....I am tired of endless bureaucratic obstacles and legal obstacles – a lot of people have been working very hard for a long time for this – it is what our community wants...
He was much more eloquent and complete than that but I am reproducing it as best I can because it was the most magnificent, heartfelt and compelling speech I have heard from the dais in a long time, if ever.
Our candlelight vigil last Sunday went really well. The group discussed the situation and made a decision to do research for a public relations campaign on behalf of homeless people and parolees. It seems we have the beginning of an advocacy group made up of people both from the activist community and the faith community working together for a common goal. That is a terrific partnership, one that is needed! So, we will meet again this Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Duck Pond, meditate a bit, and then decide where we want to go from here. There will be issues, there will be obstacles, one victory is not going to put us out of a job. We may want to meet elsewhere in the future.