Connect with us

News

Denver’s homelessness response includes permanent cleanup zone in Five Points, safe outdoor space in Clayton

Published

on

Denver’s homelessness response includes permanent cleanup zone in Five Points, safe outdoor space in Clayton

The city of Denver has quietly stepped up its efforts to prevent encampments of homeless people from forming in one downtown neighborhood while also working to provide city land for a sanctioned camping site a few miles away.

City crews are now clearing unhoused people and their belongings from sidewalks and other public rights of way at least three times a week in a roughly 10-block area in the Five Points neighborhood, officials said.

“Permanent, regular cleanups are needed in this area to consistently promote the health and safety of everyone in the area, including those experiencing homelessness … ” Nancy Kuhn, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in an emailed statement.

The area identified by officials in late September is bounded by Broadway, Park Avenue, Welton and 20th streets. It’s dotted with signs that mark it a permanent zone for what opponents to the camping ban refer to as sweeps. The permanent cleanup zone was first reported by Westword.

Kuhn said the cleanup actions make the sidewalk accessible so people don’t have to walk in the street and help to mitigate public health risks created by trash, decomposing food, discarded needles, human waste and flammable materials such as propane and gasoline.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

The city of Denver has posted signs marking a new permanent no-camping zone in a portion of Five Points in Denver on Nov. 22, 2021.

Unlike in most encampments cleanups, the city does not provide notice to people camping in the area seven days in advance. The notice rule was established by a federal injunction earlier this year.

“It’s an attempted end-run around the requirements of the preliminary injunction,” Andy McNulty, the attorney who filed the federal lawsuit against the city’s camping ban, said last week. “They are putting up a zone that essentially says you can’t exist here if you’re an unhoused person.”

McNulty and Assistant City Attorney Conor Farley delivered arguments in a hearing with a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit last week about the merits of the preliminary injunction. The city’s goal was to have the restrictions on its camping ban enforcement powers lifted.

Farley noted in his comments there is a process through which the city can speed up enforcement actions to a 48-hour timetable if an emergency public health risk exists in an encampment but said that is still not soon enough. He also acknowledged the public record is thin on examples of public health emergencies that require a speedier response.

A representative for the City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the arguments which are still being considered by the judges on the panel. McNulty said the hearing was a demonstration that the city has been disingenuous about its motives for clearing encampments.

“They just want the power to do whatever they want whenever they want with no consequences and they are not happy that someone is actually holding them accountable for once,” he said.

The permanent cleanup area the city marked out in September is the second of its kind, Kuhn said. Another area, roughly outlined by Larimer, Arapahoe, 22nd and 24th streets, is also subject to regular enforcement, she said.

In her emailed statement, Kuhn encouraged people who are homeless to embrace the city services available to them rather than stay on the streets.

“Our shelters have capacity; they are open 24/7, many do not require sobriety, they are safe and clean, and provide essential services to exit homelessness, including case management and rehousing,” she wrote.

Kuhn emailed The Denver Post her statement before a Denver Rescue Mission employee was fatally stabbed at the organization’s shelter for men at 4600 E. 48th Ave. Saturday night.

The potential for violent episodes is just one thing that can keep unhoused people from using the city’s shelter network. Cathy Alderman, chief public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, noted that sleeping in a large, open room with other people is not ideal for everyone and the environment can be triggering for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

google news

News

Pozniak: Is CDC Director Walensky failing as a pandemic leader?

Published

on

Pozniak:  Is CDC Director Walensky failing as a pandemic leader?

In many ways, Massachusetts resident Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who President Biden selected to lead the Centers for Disease Control, has dropped the ball as a crisis communications leader during the unprecedented COVID pandemic. As a communications professional, let me focus on several major missteps she has made that harmed the credibility of the CDC and the Biden administration.

The Centers for Disease Control, based in Atlanta, is a sub-agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The agency, with more than 12,000 employees, works to protect America from health and safety risks and attacks both foreign and domestic. It is also responsible for effectively communicating health and disease risks to the nation with honest, credible, unambiguous and clear information.

Dr. Walensky has impeccable credentials: a John Hopkins trained physician-scientist with a master’s in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health who served as director of Infectious Disease at the world-famous Massachusetts General Hospital. It is now evident that her academic pedigree and experience running a 50-person hospital department has not prepared her for leading this massive federal bureaucracy and serving as the high profile crisis communicator-in-chief during the COVID public health crisis.

Walensky has been at the center of mixed and misunderstood messaging on the pandemic leading to a level of distrust that is never good during a crisis. As the chief executive officer of the CDC, she has stumbled too many times on a heavily scrutinized stage. CDC officials have had to clarify many of her pronouncements. She has delivered confusing messaging on vaccinations, booster shots, testing, masks and quarantine. As omicron began to hit all 50 states, Walensky embraced a plan to dismantle large parts of the CDC pandemic response team that she later rescinded due to loud opposition from CDC employees.

Walensky has had very little major league communications experience in her position at MGH. Her missteps could have been avoided if she received, soon after her appointment, professional media training by an experienced media coach.

Based on my experience in risk communications during health crises, it is imperative that the chief spokesperson for a health care organization like the CDC be trained to communicate honest, credible and accurate information. It is imperative that the messaging be clearly understood by not only health care professionals and businesses large and small, but by your average American who may only have a high school education.

The messaging by Walensky has often times not been clearly understood. A highly skilled media coach with an extensive track record of successfully training Fortune 100 CEOs during high profile organizational crises is what Dr. Walensky needed to credibly communicate. I state this as someone who has trained and retained media coaches to work with health care CEOs on communicating complex and controversial health care issues.

Another misstep is her lack of a consistent onsite presence at CDC headquarters. Walensky has been spending too much time working remotely from her Massachusetts home. Working remotely might be OK for an insurance or high tech CEO, but not for the CDC director during a historic pandemic. With her employees suffering from low morale and burnout and taking many hits because of confusing COVID and variant guidelines and information, the onsite presence of Walensky is needed more than ever. If hospital CEOs are working onsite during chaos in the hospital delivery system, and Gov. Baker and the mayor of Boston are at their office desks leading a COVID response, the CDC director should do the same.

She needs to be in Atlanta at least 70% of the time, walking the corridors of CDC headquarters to show her besieged employees that she is standing hand in hand with them during this crisis.


Billerica resident Rick Pozniak has spent 40 years as a public relations and communications executive. He now teaches communications at several colleges and at a county house of corrections. The New England Society for Health Care Communications appointed him their COVID public relations expert.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Editorial: A burning question for gov candidate Healey

Published

on

Editorial: A burning question for gov candidate Healey

After one of the longest drumrolls in history, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has finally taken the stage and announced her candidacy for governor.

We’d hate to think she put on those waders for nothing.

Healey spent the last year on many photogenic outings, from touring the non-profit Food for Free site in Cambridge in March, to making some impressive moves in a game of kickball during the All Dorchester Sports and Leadership event in July, and finally, a visit to Plymouth’s Piney Wood cranberry bog in November, all while coyly deflecting questions about her running status.

Finally, on Thursday, Healey made it official — she’s in it to win it.

And already the 50-year-old Democrat is the front-runner, buoyed by name recognition across the state after two terms as AG, and an impressive war chest. As the Herald reported, Healey’s got more than $3.6 million salted away.

All she needs now is for Massachusetts voters to develop amnesia.

“We need a leader who sees everyone, who listens, and holds fast to their values. That’s the kind of campaign we’re going to run, and it’s the kind of governor I will be,” Healey said Thursday.

That’s not quite in line with her views from June 2020, when amid the riots following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota, as cities were aflame. and  businesses vandalized and looted — including in Boston — Healey addressed the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce via Zoom and said, “Yes, America is burning. But that’s how forests grow.”

Listening to and seeing everyone would seemingly include those whose livelihoods could be destroyed in a riot, or the police officers injured trying to maintain order on the streets. But the looted and vandalized were merely collateral damage in a progressive backdraft. What good is holding fast to your values if your own leaders don’t respect you for it?

The question for Healey, and indeed for all the Democratic contenders for governor — state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Harvard professor Danielle Allen — is will the race for the corner office be a battle to out-liberal each other?

All three are progressive Democrats, which, in a state as blue as Massachusetts, will find plenty of fans. But for Independents especially, a group that keeps expanding, agenda matters less than substance.

And as the country grows more dissatisfied with the president and Congressional Democrats look to the midterms with a sense of dread, riding a blue wave isn’t the guarantee it was two years ago.

The embers haven’t gone out from that burning forest statement — it’s up to Healey to convince us that she’s truly in the game to represent everyone.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Kimbler: No end in sight for L.A. train cargo thefts

Published

on

Kimbler: No end in sight for L.A. train cargo thefts

The shocking images of railroad tracks scattered with torn cardboard and slashed shipping containers left behind by freight rail thieves are likely to continue, experts say, thanks to an increase in criminal usage of new technology and a decline in enforcement.

Over the past year, Union Pacific has seen a 160% increase in thefts of freight rail containers at the Port of Los Angeles. In a letter from its Public Affairs Director Adrian Guerrero to Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, the company reports that, on average, 90 containers are compromised every day. And those thefts have been accompanied by an increase in assaults and even armed robberies of Union Pacific employees.

“Organized retail crime is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world due to the dramatic growth of business-to-consumer online sales, which rose from $4.2 trillion in 2019 to $5.3 trillion in 2020 due to COVID-19,” said Matt Albence, spokesman for United to Safeguard Illegal Trade (USA-IT). Albance’s organization is a private-public partnership created to fight against the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods.

“The looting of packages from trains like those seen in Los Angeles County are tied to the same criminal networks connected to the ‘smash and grabs’ happening across the country — and for good reason: It is a low-risk, high-reward crime. Instead of drugs and guns, transnational criminal organizations — including drug cartels and terror networks — are using this form of illegal trade to profit and bolster their operations.”

Thieves are grabbing items like Amazon, UPS and FedEx packages. They’ve also targeted packages containing clothing and health supplies, including COVID-19 testing kits and even epi-pens, which in many cases can be a critical life-saving device.

Karen Smith, a criminal analyst and former investigator who lives in Los Angeles, tells InsideSources many factors are at play far beyond Gascon’s soft-on-crime approach. She says adding more cops on the beat around the tracks is no easy task — if they can be increased at all.

“When you have a huge caseload, you have to prioritize,” Smith said. “I am not saying it is right or wrong, but violent crimes get precedent.”

In addition, Union Pacific has its own officers protecting the trains and rail yards using drones and a high-tech detection system. Its officers have made hundreds of arrests and handed over suspects to L.A. County authorities. But many of them are never prosecuted.

“You are dealing with the prosecutor’s office,” Smith said, “who may also have a shortage of people and prioritizing calls and types of calls has become a precedent.”

The USA-IT strategy is to take enforcement to the commerce side of the equation, working with websites where the stolen goods are often sold. During a Washington, D.C., roundtable in December, Hernan Albamonte, head of U.S. Illicit Trade Prevention for Philip Morris International, said a national strategy is needed to make it harder to sell stolen goods online, reducing the profit margin for organized gangs.

“We need to change the ratio of risk to profit to make this business less attractive for the criminals,” Albamonte said. As long as the profitable pipeline for retail profits remains, thieves will find something, somewhere to steal to fill it.


Scott Kimbler is a veteran journalist based in Atlanta. He wrote this for InsideSources.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending