Friday, March 20, 2015
Opinion: They aren't homeless, they're sick
By Thomas Widroe
March 1, 2015

The media has it all wrong and so do we when it comes to understanding what's called the homeless problem — not only here in Santa Barbara but all over the country. Yahoo recently ran a story praising celebrity and former Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson for giving some money to a homeless man as she was entering a convenience store. It's not that the blond bombshell's act of charity wasn't kind, but rather that it ignores the real problem of severe mental illness: drug addiction and alcoholism.

The vast majority of those we see on State Street occupying benches, sidewalks and elevators with their bodies, shopping carts and blankets aren't only homeless. They are very sick and suffering from debilitating psychological syndromes or patterns. Homelessness is just one of many symptoms associated with their affliction and/or addictions. In fact, were they given homes in which to live, the vast majority would abandon those homes and return to the street. That's the result of depression, disparity, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and more. Associated addictions include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and others. The dangerous combination of hard drugs, alcohol and severe mental disorder creates a state of mind in which the individual can't think straight, suffers hallucinations and delusions, demonstrates bizarre behavior, urinates and defecates in public, and even worse may be potentially prone to, or the victim of, violence and/or suicide.

Instead of providing health care and medical treatment to these people, various cities across the nation enable their squalid, regressed condition. In Seattle, advocates crow that the city is building the nation's largest tent city. Here in Santa Barbara, we tolerate the mess while business and tourism suffer the cost of many millions of dollars in lost revenue. Our public square is held hostage by those with no regard for the needs of community at large.

The good news is that the problem can be solved. The mentally ill on the street require the care of a physician who can treat them effectively through a regimen of psychotherapy and medication until they are able to return to society as functioning individuals. Law enforcement already has the authority to assist those in need of care by moving them into treatment facilities when they are deemed a danger to self, a danger to others or gravely disabled.

At Santa Barbara City Watch, we reject the status quo. In the coming weeks and months, we will work closely with various community organizations, elected officials, law enforcement, and the professional mental health care community to develop a plan that really works. This means that when the police bring the gravely disabled in off the street, rather than jailing them for a few hours and turning them loose, they will instead receive a mandatory minimum of 72 hours in an acute treatment facility with the strong possibility of another 14 days of care thereafter.

The end result of these efforts is that those who come to want help will receive treatment. Those who do not want treatment will most likely leave Santa Barbara to live in other enabling communities like Seattle. This kind of tough love and community responsibility gives real hope to the sick and an opportunity for the rest of us to reclaim our public spaces for everyone.

However, the change won't start until we stop patting ourselves on the back for giving a few loose coins to a person who's falling apart before our very eyes.

Tom Widroe is managing director of City Watch. A UCSB graduate, he has been active in Santa Barbara County business and public policy for over 25 years.

The author is managing director of City Watch.
Posted at 17:17 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015
Who Are The Minorities?
With all the talk about minorities in this country and the heat that is so often generated by the topic, have you ever thought about where you fit? Are you a member of some minority group
and, if so, how has it affected your life, your beliefs and values, your perceptions of others, your friends and associates, your job or profession, your expectations and, of course, your day
to day activities.
Even if you have never thought of yourself as a member of a minority group, chances are, when you examine the details of your personal circumstances, you will find that you are. Consider
just some of the many and varied categories that can determine your status:
Ethnic: Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Indian, East Indian, African, etc.
Race: White, Black, Asian, other
Gender: Male, female, gay
Religion: Christianity (about 33% of the world’s population, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Oriental Orthodoxy, Latter-day Saint, Seventh Day Adventist, Nestorianism, etc.), Islam (about 20% of the world’s population, Sunni and Shia), Hinduism (13%), Chinese fold religion (6.3%), or Buddhism (5.9%). Atheist and other non-believers are
about 14% of the world’s population. Other religions, such as Sikhism, Judaism, Baha’i, Janism, Shinto and others, each represent about one-half-of-one percent of the world’s population. 
There are many more types and categories of religions and religious beliefs, but this illustrates the multitude of those that most people generally follow.
In the United States, we seem to have elevated the issue of minorities to a major, if not THE primary consideration in a wide variety of choices. Decisions, such as college entrance and
employment criteria, employee relations, customer relations, housing, business associations, friendships, pretty much every aspect of American life.
 Our laws have become such a labyrinth of complex considerations that we are forced to navigate in making decisions about hiring, firing and disciplining employees, making public statements,
and membership in service clubs and other groups, among others. All decision making, personal, public and business, must be processed through a minefield of potentially risky options, with
the consequences of making a poor or incorrect decision ranging from loss of one’s position or status to being sued or public approbation.
The New York Times reported in an August 14, 2008 article, “William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, said that by the 2028 presidential election, racial and ethnic
minorities will constitute a majority of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 for the first time…When the first census was conducted in 1790, about 64 percent of the people counted were
white…By 1900, about 9 in 10 Americans were non-Hispanic white, most of European ancestry.”
What happens when whites are in the minority? Will they then qualify for favored treatment under our laws? Will they be given preferential treatment in college admissions, employment,
housing and other matters? Should they?
Looking at population projections for Texas, demographer Steve Murdock concludes: "It's basically over for Anglos."
Two of every three Texas children are now non-Anglo and the trend line will become even more pronounced in the future, said Murdock, former U.S. Census Bureau director and now
director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.
Today's Texas population can be divided into two groups, he said. One is an old and aging Anglo and the other is young and minority. Between 2000 and 2040, the state's public school
enrollment will see a 15 percent decline in Anglo children while Hispanic children will make up a 213 percent increase, he said.
Murdock also noted, “The state's future looks bleak assuming the current trend line does not change because education and income levels for Hispanics lag considerably behind Anglos...
Unless the trend line changes, 30 percent of the state's labor force will not have even a high school diploma by 2040,” he said. “And the average household income will be about $6,500
lower than it was in 2000. That figure is not inflation adjusted so it will be worse than what it sounds…It's a terrible situation that you are in. I am worried," Murdock said.
America.gov noted in August 2008, “By 2050, minorities – those who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or mixed race –
will account for 54 percent of the U.S. population…” And, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that about 10 percent of the nation’s 3,000 plus counties have already reached the point
where they are over 50 percent minority population.
Almost everything in American life is influenced by minority status and, up to now, the primary characteristic of majority-minority status has been based on race, which has been dominated
by whites, who have outnumbered all other groups. But, what happens when the current minority becomes the majority? This is already the situation in California, which has been heavily
impacted by the influx of Hispanics from south of the border. Furthermore, population projections indicate that by the year 2023 the majority of all American children under the age of 18
will be so-called minorities, and by 2039 minorities will comprise the majority of all working-age Americans.
Will we ultimately reach the point where a white minority demands the same legal advantages and benefits that have been woven into the fabric of our society in the effort to level the playing
field and make amends for past wrongs?
© 2015 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
NOTE: This commentary was originally written in March, 2011, and it’s worth noting, I think, that nothing has changed.
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Monday, March 9, 2015
Comparing Leaders
Obama: Before matriculating at Harvard, he was a community organizer in Chicago. He worked as a civil rights attorney (in Chicago) and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years. From 1997 to 2004 he served in the Illinois state Senate. In 2003, he became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, when Democrats regained control of the Illinois state Senate. In January 2005, Obama became a U.S. Senator and was the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.   He also held positions on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans’ Affairs, and accepted additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and also became Chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on European Affairs. He was elected President in 2008, and shortly after winning the election, he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama's promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a "new climate" in international relations, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world.
Who is the more formidable and effective leader, Barack Obama or Benjamin Netanyahu?
We had an opportunity to compare them through the prism of speeches they both gave to the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention in Washington in 2012.
Considering the ongoing disagreement between the leaders of the United States and Israel over the issue of if and when to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, I thought it might be instructive to look at the backgrounds of the leaders of the two nations, President Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Obama is 53, was born in Hawaii. His mother was born in Wichita, Kansas, and was of mostly English ancestry. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was from Kenya.
Netanyahu is 65, and was born in Tel Aviv. His father was born in Warsaw, Poland, and was a professor. His family lived in the U.S., in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia), where he attended the Cheltenham High School. (He is said to speak American English with a Philadelphia accent.)
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University (in New York) and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. In 1979, he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and transferred to Columbia University in New York, where he majored in political science with emphasis on international relations, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) in 1983. In 1988, he entered Harvard Law School, was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and subsequently became president of the Law Review.
Netanyahu attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a B.S. degree in Architecture in 1975, and an M.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He subsequently attended Harvard University, where he studied political science.
Military Service:
Obama: None
Netanyahu enlisted in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and was involved in numerous combat missions, including the rescue of hijacked Sabena Flight 571 (in May 1972), where he was wounded by “friendly” fire. He trained as a combat soldier and participated in cross-border raids during the War of Attrition. In 1973, he fought in the Yom Kippur War, participated in Israeli Special Forces raids along the Suez Canal and led a commando team deep into Syrian territory. He left the IDF after six years of service with the rank of Captain.
Netanyahu: After graduating college in 1977, he returned to Israel, and for a brief period worked as the chief marketing officer for a furniture company. Between 1978 and 1980 he formed the Jonathan Netanyahu anti-Terror Institute, a non-governmental organization that studied terrorism, which conducted a number of international conferences about the subject. During this period, he made his first connections with several Israeli politicians, including Minister Moshe Arens, who appointed him as his Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he served from 1982 to 1984, when he became the Israeli ambassador to the United States. From 1984 to 1988 he served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
In a 2005 poll by an Israeli news website, Netanyahu was voted the 18th greatest Israeli of all time. In 2010, the British magazine, New Statesman, reported that Netanyahu was 11th on the list of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures.
Prior to the Israeli elections in 1988, Netanyahu returned to Israel and was appointed a deputy to the then foreign minister Moshe Arens, and later David Levy.
In 1993, Netanyahu became the leader of the Likud party, and was elected Prime Minister in 1999, to become the first Prime Minister who was born in the State of Israel. He was defeated by Ehud Barak in 1999 and temporarily retired from politics. 
As Prime Minister, Netanyahu emphasized a policy of “three no(s)’: no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.
In 1997 and again in 1999, he was investigated by the Israeli police who recommended that he be indicted on corruption charges for influence-peddling and for obtaining free services from a government contractor.
In 2002, Netanyahu was appointed Foreign Minister. He also served as Finance Minister from 2003 to 2005, and as Prime Minister from 2009 to the present.
Obama has consistently shown a lack of understanding about Israel’s situation in the Middle East, starting with the demand shortly after his election as President that Israel should return to the 1967 borders that existed before the Six-Day War, which would have effectively cut the country in two. Netanyahu swiftly rejected President Obama’s demand as militarily “indefensible.”
More recently, Netanyahu advocated that Israel should not allow the U.S. to make the call about if and/or when the Israelis should attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. 
Obama has previously displayed contempt for Netanyahu, openly insulting him on various occasions: When Netanyahu visited Obama at the White House in March of 2010 to discuss the Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem, Obama abruptly left him standing in a meeting room and announced that he (Obama) was going to the residential wing to “have dinner with Michelle and the girls.” On another occasion, Netanyahu was invited to the White House at a late hour and ushered in through a back door, without media coverage or a press conference. The Administration’s spokesperson challenged Netanyahu’s statement at AIPAC that “Jerusalem is not a settlement.”
Obama attempted to dissuade Netanyahu from accepting the invitation of the Speaker of the House to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, and more than 50 Democrats refused to attend.  
Notwithstanding the absence of those 50 Democrats, my sense is that both Netanyahu and Israel have strong support from a great many of our legislators in Washington, along with a substantial portion of the American population.
The essence of Netanyahu’s message (as reported by Howard Galganov) was:
1) “That the Iranians cannot be trusted”
2) “That Iran, with or without the bomb is a country that poses a global threat,” and
3) “Without making direct mention, the current President of the United States and his entire inner-circle are amateurs at best, and enemies from within at worst.”
Considering that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and central to America’s influence in that part of the world, it seems to me that Obama should show greater respect for the leader of our most important ally in the region.

© 2015 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved

Posted at 18:06 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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