Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

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Thanks to BP, Rahm and the Kochs, Chicago Developing a Serious Petcoke Problem…

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The not-so-secret stash...BP makes it, The Koch Brothers deal it, Mayor Rahm still not ready to go inpatient...

The not-so-secret stash…BP makes it, the Koch Brothers deal it, but Mayor Rahm still not ready to go inpatient…

Directly across the Illinois border from Chicago stands British Petroleum’s Whiting Oil Refinery in Whiting, Indiana and this huge facility creates petcoke, which in turn creates a bunch of problems in Chicago, problems that only get magnified by the involvement of the Koch Brothers and the lack of involvement by Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel…

Yeah – BP, Rahm and the Kochs.

What a clusterfuck of a combination and what a typical addition to the horrible legacy of British Petroleum.

I mean, it was just this week that BP, the “Make it Right in the Gulf” company filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court to try and weasel out of the Deepwater Horizon settlements, agreed to quite some time ago down on the Gulf Coast and like theose shenanigans down there, up here in Chicago, BP continues with in its irresponsibe ways. After a 3.6 billion dollar expansion that tripled the refining capacity for Whiting, BP’s begun buying up property in Marktown, a 130 year old town originally built to house steel workers’ families and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And whereas BP says they are just trying to increase the green space around the massive refinery (green space, really) others say BP is trying to shield itself from future liabilities the refinery could pose to town residents, living so close and all. Then there was that oil spill into Lake Michigan back in March, occurring  just seven miles from the intake valve that supplies seven million Chicago residents with drinking water. BP initially low-balled their estimate of spilled oil, but they later doubled the actual figure (doesn’t that sound fucking familiar) and in response to the spill, Congressman yelled, BP placated and guys in white suits laid boom and cleaned (again, so very familiar).

But really, the latter two were just the warm-up for the big petroleum coke problem, which of course begs the question for those unfamiliar, what the hell is petcoke?

Well, petroleum coke is a byproduct of the process that removes heavy crude from those ever-famous Canadian tar sands, and petcoke can be burned as fuel. It’s high in heavy metals and has been compared to coal, “only dirtier,” and thanks to British Petroleum’s refinery there are mountains of this shit in Southeast Chicago, right in the city, right by residential neighborhoods, parks and schools and when the wind blows, this stuff gets blown all over said neighborhoods.

And it turns out British Petroleum is the preeminent petcoke dealer in the greater Chicagoland area and their main buyer? Why that’s a corporation called KCBX Terminals, a company owned by none other than the Koch Brothers.

That’s right, British Petroleum and the Koch Brothers…what could possible go wrong?

According to the people who live around KCBX Terminals, much is going wrong and they are understandably upset. They report having to keep windows closed against petcoke dust and particles, about finding picnics covered with the black stuff on windy days, or on their hanging clothes, or on windows and outside walls…or their lungs, and there are quite a few concerns about asthma and other breathing problems this petcoke could be causing.

A member of National Nurses United, Rolanda Watson-Clark had this to say:

“Petcoke contains a mix of chemicals including heavy metals, sulfur, carbon and volatiles, but even if you set the chemical aside — the dust particle size is also a killer…the small particles can get deep into the lungs and possibly the bloodstream, leading to problems like aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, non-fatal heart attacks and other negative health effects…while we are glad that the city council took some measures to curb the effects of these petcoke piles, we believe that our patients and communities can’t afford to wait two years for the relief.”

Yeah…they can’t wait two years.

Wait, what does she mean by that…two years?

Well, when Chicago residents in the affected neighborhoods started to tell their stories back in February, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago came out big, he came out swinging, all declarative statements and such, pointed at the likes of the Koch Brothers KCBX Terminals. He said things like:

“Through the regulations we’re going to put in, it’s going to be very expensive to operate here and therefore they are going to choose to leave…we’re going to make sure the ordinance puts up a ‘not wanted’ sign in the City of Chicago as it relates to pet coke.”

Oh yes, he did…how definitive.

He then went on to propose an ordinance to the city council that would prohibit new petcoke and coal facilities from Chicago while at the same time, banning the expansion of existing facilities. This would have applied to any operations that processed, transported, stored or handled the stuff.

Oh yes, he did again…how declarative.

And it was this ordinance the council was supposed to vote on last March, but then the ordinance got delayed, and then in April the ordinance was simply replaced. Yes replaced…at the last minute, John Pope, Alderman of the 10th Ward (where the offending companies are located) replaced the definitive, declarative ordinance with a substitute nobody had seen before and this one wasn’t quite so ironclad as the one Rahm had been touting a few months prior. The new ordinance permits companies that use petcoke to set up shop and/or expand the places they already have, which means that larger facilities that burn petcoke and coal are free to go on as before, which of course means neighborhood residents are free to go on breathing this shit, also, as before. And when it comes to big storage facilities like KCBX Terminals, even though they have been ordered to enclose their huge piles of this poison, the ordinance gives them two full years to do it…

Two years, that’s what Rolanda Watson-Clark meant, two more years of this shit blowing across playgrounds, schools and residential neighborhoods. Rahm has apparently realized none of the people in these neighborhoods were going to vote for him anyway and for that matter, neither will the Koch Brothers. Turns out they’re upset about the two years too, among other restrictions and are now contemplating a lawsuit against the city. If they absolutely have to enclose these mountains of toxins, they want four years to do it. Oh, and the thirty foot height limit for the piles of petcoke? Too low, way too low, they want 45 feet, because why not?

So this is where we are in Chicago right now:

British Petroleum tripled the capacity of their Whiting Oil Refinery, is spilling oil into Lake Michigan, is buying out a historic town for “green space” all while producing enormous amounts of petcoke, a dusty toxic byproduct that is even dirtier to burn for fuel than coal. To the Koch Brothers, petcoke is not merely pollution, it is a product to buy en masse and store in residential neighborhoods while looking to sell it for profit. Other factories on the south side of Chicago are planning to use it to fuel their operations, leading to more pollution and more storage and the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel though originally all definitive and declarative, saying he was going to run these companies out of business by way of expensive regulation for the sake of his constituents’ health, switched the bill at the last minute, gutting the ordinance’s effectiveness and giving the Koch Brothers two more years to poison the south side of Chicago, while the Koch Brothers…well, they feel two is not nearly enough time and want four.

Oh, and British Petroleum just keeps making this shit, because hey, who fucking cares about people and their families, right right?

Right, now that the news cameras have long since gone, BP doesn’t seem to care about those on the Gulf Coast anymore, so why should Chicago families be any different? Did I mention that also this week, a new study came out pointing to evidence that shows the damage to the Gulf is likely far worse than previously thought? Uh-huh, researchers found partially dead, deep sea coral reefs further and deeper than any other damaged reefs previously discovered…though BP was quick to point out that there is not conclusive proof…though the researchers were then quick to point out that oil found on the dead reef was the same oil from the spill…to which BP yelled “Mulligan!” and grabbed the next plane for Russia…which might suggest they are not properly concerned with the general welfare of, anything but their bottom line and certainly not with what others are doing with the petroleum coke they sell, and certainly, certainly not where these people might be storing it in Chicago.

It would in fact seem, none of these parties are properly concerned about any of this shit and after all, I’m sure that both BP and the Koch Brothers have well paid scientists who will claim (the world is flat) that not only is petroleum coke not toxic, but that it isn’t spreading anywhere.

Of course not.

And all that leads to just one conclusion for this writer, which would be to agree completely with the initial push by residents, nurses and activists after the mountains of petcoke first started climbing on the city’s South Side: petcoke needs to be banned from inside the Chicago city limits. For BP and the Kochs, it would appear petcoke is mostly about profit and rationalizations, and if Rahm Emanuel really wants to stand for something bigger than that, if he really decides to care about the residents of Chicago’s Southeast side, he would do something about all of this, something meaningful, something now. Fuck your two years. Chicago needs more than empty words and bullshit rhetoric from a failed mayor. Chicago deserves more. Rahm should do what’s right for the city and stop the Koch Brothers and British Petroleum at the Illinois border.

Have a nice day.

Written by Drake Toulouse

August 7, 2014 at 8:12 AM

The Deadbeat Dad of New Orleans…

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Family night? Oh uh, sorry, I got a thing....

Family night? Oh uh, sorry, I got a thing…

We’ve all heard the term. Typically it’ll refer to a parent who ignores his children, leaves them behind, is aware of, but does little to nothing to care for those in his charge, regardless of consequence. Well, the city of New Orleans has one of the worst deadbeat dads in history and his name is Sheriff Marlin N Gusman and his charges all occupy New Orleans Parish Prison. By his title of Sheriff, it is his responsibility to ensure the inmates at OPP have their basic needs met, have medical and mental health care and are safe from abuse by both other prisoners and the prison staff and for that matter, his prison staff too should not meet with extraneous violence as a result of the Sheriff’s actions or more presciently, what appears to be his inaction.

By any standard, Gusman is a failure, a deadbeat dad who, federal consent decree or not, seems perfectly (content) unwilling to live up to his parental responsibilities.

From an article in the Advocate by Jim Mustian:

“The outside expert monitoring a court-ordered plan to reform Orleans Parish Prison offered a blistering critique Tuesday of Sheriff Marlin Gusman, blaming the sluggish pace of change at the jail on a lack of leadership and initiative within the Sheriff’s Office.

The expert, Susan W. McCampbell, said she has rejected Gusman’s repeated excuse that city officials haven’t given him enough money to implement a federal consent decree intended to reverse deplorable conditions at OPP that have festered for years.

“The question has been posed to me several times whether it’s an issue of leadership or resources that continues to result in the Sheriff’s Office not moving forward with significant changes,” McCampbell said by phone during a status conference in U.S. District Court. “I really am now believing it’s a leadership issue — not a resource issue.””

Really, well, come on now, how bad could it actually be?

McCampbell added, “The jail is not safe…this isn’t a philosophical conversation about how to move forward. This is an in-your-face, happening, bad, everyday thing going on in the jail.”

So it’s bad then…but that’s just one expert right? I mean there are still in this day and age a couple scientists claiming climate change isn’t happening too. Course, when McCampbell went on to apologize for her frustrations, the US District Judge Lance Africk both empathized and agreed with her and this is the guy in charge of overseeing the consent decree.

Right…bad.

But still, that’s only two people and even deadbeat dads have their defenders which is why I’m sure that Katie Schwartzman, an attorney from the McCarthur Justice Center will correct all of this information, give us the real facts on the case, put us all firmly back in the no-spin zone…and this is precisely what she did when she said in her statement, “The sheriff has been called upon to fix the jail for years…in that time, there have been countless stabbings, sexual assaults and mental-health crises. The violence in our jail spills over into our streets and touches thousands of members of our community. This is not theoretical, it is not hyperbole or academic — people have died in our jail.”

Well, fuck me then.

So that’s three…but Sheriff Gusman, he must have a reasonable explanation for all this, some sort of detailed response with maybe a side of slight contrition to the court for what appears to be a horrible lack of progress in essentially, doing his job. What say you Sheriff types? Let us have it! Tell these bleeding hearts how wrong they are!

“The Sheriff’s Office is committed to moving forward and working with the monitors,” said Sheriff’s spokesman Philip Stelly.

Okay.

That was underwhelming.

Fuck me twice, I guess…

And allow me to be skeptical, because from what I read this department seems best at stalling, then blaming Landrieu, claiming a lack of funds while at the same time refusing to be transparent about the funds already received. Then Gusman offers up expensive solutions to problems of his own creation…case in point, you know how that new jail is supposed to solve so much when it comes to the consent decree? Debatable, but it appears his plans are already creating new ones, like how is it the jail wasn’t designed to house acutely mentally ill inmates? Bit of a design flaw there, and for a $145 million dollar price tag it seems reasonable to expect Gusman’s new jail to have zero design flaws. What gives? I’m assuming Marlin Gusman pays attention to trends which might affect his job, his jail and his responsibilities but maybe not…because if he did, he should be aware that as funds have dried up nationwide for mental health services, jails and prisons are unfortunately becoming the new inpatient hospitals in our current mental health system. Maybe this is something Gusman should have accounted for when spending $145 million dollars for his new fucking jail. And then back to Gusman’s bullshit solution: just relocate mentally ill inmates to a state prison in St. Gabriel. Right, because that’s obviously far less expensive (in transportation costs alone) than just designing your new jail to suit the needs of your own city and department.

Also mentioned in Mustian’s article: this month three jail deputies were stabbed by an acutely mentally ill inmate who was not even housed in the current jail’s psychiatric tier.

Yep.

And that’s not the only problem with this jail, and with the snails pace at complying with the decree. The high incident of violence and poor treatment of inmates is a really bad fucking way to go about rehabilitation, if anything because inmates are people and deserving of certain basic rights and met needs, even in jail…safety being one of the most important. Some on the outside though, politicians especially might disagree with this, instead opting to go all tough on crime and dismissing the prisoners’ humanity, dismissing the violence and making jokes about rape…jokes, all of which are nothing more than easy bumper-stickers and platitudes that crumble in the face of real blood spilled on a concrete floor or the painful reality of distraught loved ones on the outside reacting to the abuse or death of their child, father, husband or other member of their family. Furthermore, another real truth the tough on crime types should consider is that all those inmates thrown into the Thunderdome before they turn their back, those inmates do eventually get released back into the city, traumatized and with few options. But let’s say you really don’t care about those incarcerated at all. Do you do care about the prison staff? A dangerous jail is also dangerous to guards and as I said before, everyone eventually gets back to their community, both inmates and staff and the community gets impacted directly or indirectly by this violence. Nobody gets to live in a bubble. A mentally ill individual who is further terrorized can struggle far more reintegrating into society, especially with substandard treatment and no resources, than one who is treated humanely. Also, when outside divisions get brought to life inside the jail by way of violence, that violence will often then perpetuate on the outside. When the very concept of humanity is disregarded, when inmates feel under siege, unsafe and are shown by the system how little control they have over their life, or may ever have, this doesn’t bode well for the inmates, their families and anyone who helps them try to pick up the pieces upon release. The staff too has to live with what they’ve seen and experienced, and that is a hard life, with consequences.

And all of the inaction leading to this, all of this chaos is squarely on the plate of the person hired to prevent it: Marlin Gusman.

Even with a consent decree hanging over his head, it seems Gusman’s best skill set is making excuses about why he hasn’t done much of anything to resolve this mess. He needs to take more responsibility, start being present, start taking care of the inmates and the prison staff. This is his job. He ran for this job. His staff, the inmates, all of their families and the community at large are owed more than just another deadbeat dad, ducking the decree and looking the other way while blaming everyone else for why he isn’t handling his own fucking business. Stop fighting with Landrieu. If you don’t have the funds as you say, open the books and show everyone where the money’s going. Hire people who know how to run a jail and fully staff your department, because an understaffed jail is really fucking dangerous for both the inmates and the staff you do have. Recognize that inmate safety and resources upon discharge are keys in the fight against recidivism. Start acting like you’re taking this seriously and recognize an overall, basic truth: the safer the jail, the safer the city of New Orleans.

Read the article:

Jail Monitor Blasts Gusman for Lack of Progress at OPP

Have a nice day.

Melinda Haag, US Attorney for Northern California warns banks to shut down, or be closed down…

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And the Haag says: marijuana dispensaries helping cancer patients? Bad. Banks taking cancer patient's homes? Good.

Oh wait…

Not banks, marijuana dispensaries…my bad.

But you can of course understand my confusion, considering Melinda’s most recent statement:

“Marijuana dispensaries are full of cash and they’re full of marijuana, and everybody knows that…they are at risk of being robbed, and many of them are robbed…people in the community may be supportive of the dispensary until there’s an armed robbery and people come running out of the dispensary shooting guns.”

Ah, I see…

So Melinda wants to close dispensaries as they are in danger of being robbed, what with all that cash inside…

Really.

Then…why not close the banks?

You want to talk about cash inside…especially the banks that are close to schools, yes, they must be forced to shut down now…immediately. And I am sure the people who normally support the banks in their community would quickly change their minds if confronted with armed assailants, coming out of the banks shooting at their kids, their cats and dogs, grandma…hell, shooting at everybody.

Oh but hold on, hold on…

Also according to Melinda, these marijuana dispensaries are committing crimes, maybe not on the state level, but certainly federal statutes so really, she could shut them all down if she so chose, but she isn’t so you see, she’s being fair and reasonable after all.

Fine.

Then again, shut down the banks, especially the ones close to people’s homes because the banks are committing not only federal crimes, but state crimes as well…

Mortgage and foreclosure fraud, not to mention the defrauding of investors by selling derivatives with bogus grade A ratings…you know, all that stuff the banks did to make themselves great profit while helping cause the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing recession, yeah, that little economic morass that cost houses, jobs, pensions?

Right, so this is Melinda Haag’s crusade, this is her choice, either go after the marijuana dispensaries selling medicine to cancer patients, or the banks that are stealing the cancer patient’s homes and pensions…and Melinda chooses to leave the banks alone so she can focus in on those non-profit dispensaries, the dispensaries that donate to charity, give good health insurance to their employees while paying them a livable wage, in the Bay Area…the dispensaries that pay their share of taxes, contribute to city revenue and get few complaints from their neighbors. Yes-sir, Melinda Haag, that devotee to justice orders a shut down, because the dispensaries might be robbed, because they are funneling their product nationwide, because they are a crime center…

Yet, when asked, she and her office will provide no proof for any of these latter charges.

Meanwhile, the criminal banks commit fraud, illegally foreclose on peoples homes, use robo-signers and dangle out all that cash, just an open invitation for multiple, multiple bank robberies at many of their financial crime centers, and many of them within residential communities, near schools, near preschools and damnit, even near maternity wards…I mean, think of the CHILDREN!…and all of these charges are well-documented.

But Melinda Haag does nothing, they all remain open, they agree to a settlement that is little more than a slap on the wrist, financially while nobody, not one of these banking types go to jail.

Melinda closes nothing, does nothing…

Nothing, but get her name in the papers one more fucking time for going after medicinal marijuana dispensaries, approved of within their communities and legally approved by the state of California’s voters.

As Chris Roberts writes in SF Weekly, regarding the allegations by Haag of complaints and crimes around the dispensaries:

“So the feds won’t name the schools, won’t name the complainants, and won’t provide the statistics used to justify the crackdown. But trust them: The problems are real.”

Trust…right…tell ya what Melinda, I’ll start to trust you when the Feds finally really do something to reign in the criminal enterprises known as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Chase…until then, I got nothing for ya’ but scorn. You’re an absolute fraud who may know the law, but knows nothing about justice.

Read the articles:

Medical Marijuana Crackdown Explained: Feds Are Saving the Children

Berkeley Patients Group, City’s Most Prominent Medical Marijuana Dispensary, To Close

Then if so inclined, please call, tell Melinda Haag what you think about her brand of American Justice and her utter lack of honesty about this crackdown:

Federal Courthouse
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

The U.S. Attorney’s office is located on the 11th Floor of the Federal Courthouse.

Phone: (415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234
TTY: (415) 436-7221

Have a nice day.

So, this is the Tenderloin…San Francisco…

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Always liked the rain...

The Tenderloin: the TL, Little Saigon, the Loin, Tenderloin Heights…

Fifty square blocks or so wedged between San Francisco’s downtown Civic Center – City Hall, the courthouses and Federal buildings – and the main Shopping/Financial Districts with your Niketown’s, Apple Stores, Macy’s and rapists like Bechtel, the banks and their assorted bullshit…fifty square blocks crammed into the center of San Francisco that too many people of this city either try to ignore or take great pains to avoid.

Fifty square blocks that in my opinion, form one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the country…

Why?

Because, as a person, I don’t fit into a box…like so many I can be complex, conflicted and contradictory…and I never saw all these elements so put together and on display as the five years I lived in an apartment building at the corner of Turk and Leavenworth, and the affection I have for the place is one of many reasons why, one month from today, I’m moving back…

Oh…but it’s so rundown, so crime-ridden, drug infested and it smells like hella piss, don’t ya know…

Yeah, I know…

But I find it so much more vivid than so many of our American suburbs, or Home Depot homogenized cities, these monotonous places on a fast track to mass consumer conformity, so ugly that when one walks out the door, one knows precisely what headache one will get: a Burger King, a McDonalds, a strip mall Barnes, Bath and Beyond Noble Starbucks, and maybe a convenience store or two, a newly insatiable Wal-Mart and a few miserable, but shiny people walking quickly past you on the street, some hello’s maybe, so mundane, definitely… Things ain’t like that in the TL. In the Tenderloin, anything can happen, both good and bad and if you stay on the streets long enough, you’ll see all of that anything. Very few semi-lawless places still exist in this country, and take it or leave it, the Tenderloin is one of those last remaining, crumbling demonstrations of the best and worst of American culture and its consequences.

We got colorful street art covering whole buildings and public drunkenness stretched out for blocks…loud games of Mahjong played behind steel security doors and that guy, sleeping below an afternoon blanket strung between two stolen shopping carts…We got Vietnamese sandwich shops and human shit between parked cars. We celebrate great music at punk rock bars, drag shows at Aunt Charlie’s and classic bay window, SRO architecture. We vibrate with the neon signs, the gyrating strip clubs and the dimmest of dive bars, and not the trendy kind of dive bars either…but real honest to goodness dark and damp closets without windows or fresh air, stale and in need of repair and when the outside doors are propped open to the streets, we have a beer while watching some of the most interesting public observation the city has to provide. The TL’s got small neighborhood parks where kids play, and our people walk by chanting “klonopins,” or “OC’s” or “solids,” maybe we’ll see a fist fight on the corner, watched from a window eating cheap, but great tacqueria food. Maybe we’ll step past discarded hypodermic needles in the gutter or another lost soul hitting another crack pipe beneath his t-shirt, stretched over his head, too high to realize he’s not wearing pants while we listen to shrieking siren after siren after siren as the police race the one-way streets or the fireman jumps off the fire engine, races inside the SRO only to walk stiffly back out, grumbling as he gets behind the wheel and drives back to the station from this, another false alarm.

The Mitchell Brothers, O’ Farrell Street Theater and Behind the Green Door?

The Tenderloin.

The Compton Riot in 1966 that predates New York’s Stonewall?

The Tenderloin.

Tessie Wall, Sam Spade, William Vollman, the Nighthawk jazz club and Fantasy Records?

The Tenderloin…this place where there’s always something to see, hear or avoid twenty four hours a day…and though it is sometimes dangerous, it’s never boring and it’s an amazing place to be.

Oh, and I suppose it helps that I’m a social worker…

I’ve been in the field for twenty years, been everything from an adult crisis counselor to a mental health worker in shelters and support service hotels, doing the job by day while at night, I take in my surroundings on midnight strolls, emerging from my old apartment on Pill Corner and walking until three am…walking and watching and watching some more…and despite the neighborhood’s reputation, believe it or not, I was never terrorized, robbed, beaten up…

None of it.

In all those years of wandering, nothing ever happened to me, not while talking to the dealers I came to know while sitting and smoking cigarettes on the front steps of my building, or the odd corner conversation with those who live on the streets, maybe handing out a cigarette or joking around…I never even got hassled by the addicts I came to know through my work by day or the streets at night.

Sure, I spotted the precursors to a couple of robbery attempts: the baseball bat inside the trenchcoat on Turk near Jones, or the guy coming up behind me on Larkin, between O’Farrell and Geary while the guy in front tried stopping me for a light. Once I called 911 after the stranger I was talking to got jumped at Ellis and Hyde, and I waited around to make sure the ambulance came and hell, I even called in a body I stumbled across underneath the Moser Apartment overhang on Turk Street, right by the grocery store, the one owned by that cool Asian couple who let me borrow their hand truck when I moved…and that’s what I’m talking about…for all the bullshit reputations this neighborhood is forced to take on, the good stuff I’ve seen creates a more than equal balance. From the happiness of the toothless woman who begged change outside the Walgreens on Van Ness and Eddy, introducing me to her boyfriend, proudly telling me they were now engaged, to the guy I often spoke to out front of the corner store at Eddy and Leavenworth, telling me about his successful heart surgery…and I won’t soon forget the client I worked with at the shelter for just two weeks before he disappeared, only to have him break down and cry when I ran into him on the streets a year later outside Ken’s Kitchen at Polk and Eddy, emotional just because I remembered his name, and addressed him by it.

People.

They’re all people.

I don’t care how hard so many San Franciscans try to forget that basic fact, they’re still people.

The main newspaper in town, it loves to celebrate the occasional entrepreneur who raises himself up, out of the ashes of these streets, makes a success of himself and though these people should be celebrated, they shouldn’t be held up as a beacon to judge those not yet in the light. What about the guy who cries as you walk him into his first hotel room, the first place he’s been able to call his own in ten years. I’ve seen it…let’s celebrate that guy’s success too and let’s celebrate the people who made it through their haze, the needle or the pipe to get to another day, and another opportunity to do better, to be better. Yeah, celebrate them and don’t use the guy who made it shining shoes as an excuse to condemn those who pissed on yours. Rags to riches make a nice narrative, but they are the rare reality and surely not the benchmark with which to judge the rest of the Tenderloin, the rest of this amazing, colorful neighborhood.

Wanna know when you give up on an individual, for every poor choice he makes?

You don’t.

And wanna know when you give up on the Tenderloin?

Never.

Shit, you really want to fix these fifty blocks? Create jobs, lower rents, provide drug treatment, treatment, treatment… You want to get rid of panhandlers? You gotta do more than give people a room and call it a day…

That’s the reality.

The rest is just bitching from behind your closed, locked doors.

How can you give up on a place that is home to so many, and so unique, block after block of SRO’s and cheaper apartments, so many of which were built soon after the earthquake in 1906, and one of the few neighborhoods where low income individuals, families and for that matter, a social worker like me can afford to live…

And enjoy, and wander through and help to build…

It was my home a few years ago, and in a month it will be home again…and I couldn’t be happier about it…poetry readings at Edinburgh’s Castle, punk shows at the Hemlock and art shows at the Shooting Gallery…yeah, so the next time you find yourself in the TL, maybe having a beer at the Brown Jug, the 21 Club or taking in a Sharks game at the Outsider…

Take a look around, I just might be there…watching. Next to New Orleans, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be…

Have a nice day.

Back to the spill tomorrow, but first…

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Here's looking at you...dip-shit.

Ever read an article that you found to be so well written, informative and funny (cause its true) you felt the need to put it out there and share? Yeah, me too…from the wonderful writers at Cracked, enjoy this article about the wealthy gaffe-challenged -

“All of a sudden, it’s like you can’t make huge amounts of money without people getting all pissed off about it. And it’s only going to get worse — with the election coming up and the weather getting warmer, this whole “Occupy” movement is probably going to come back strong. The 1 percent will feel even more besieged than before.

“What the hell?” you’re probably thinking, if you’re somehow both rich and reading an article with this title, “I didn’t crash the economy!” You might even be tempted to take to a microphone, to defend yourself and your wealthy friends. But before you do, I want you to stop and ask yourself, “Will this make me sound like an out-of-touch douchebag?”

Continue reading…trust me, it’s worth it.

6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying…

Have a nice day.

Written by Drake Toulouse

March 6, 2012 at 3:33 PM

On Koch: Mental health, Martin Luther and martyrs…

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Martyrdom? I could build you some crosses...

It would seem if one wanted to get an idea of a person’s mental health, about their emotional disposition, one thing to do would be to take a look at their reactions to receiving hundreds of death threats. Would they brag about it in the media? Would they become introspective? What would they do, especially if they were very wealthy and a captain of industry and the founders of Tea Party activist group called (couple of) Americans for Prosperity?

Well, now’s our chance to find out…

Charles Koch recently gave a phone interview where he said, “We are under attack from various directions, both with threats of violence against us personally, and with threats of attacks on our business.”

Okay, so like I wrote, if one receives death threats, a lot of death threats, it would seem there are a couple of ways to go with this…

1.

Stop a moment and think, why do all these strangers hate me so much, what am I doing that they consider so wrong? Is there anything I want to change about these practices or at least, perhaps, really listen for a moment to what to others might be saying?

2.

Ignore all that by way of megalomania, and then proceed to take a martyr position.

So, let’s see what happens…

“The threats,” Charles Koch continued, “are obviously worrisome to me, but I kind of relate to what Martin Luther said ‘Here I stand; I can do no other’…the importance of helping to save America from a financial disaster that is going to hurt everyone…the threats against us are nothing compared with that disaster, if we fail…”

Jesus…so I suppose we know which way he went on that one.

Yep, Koch then goes on to say how continued spending will cost America its competitive edge, and lead to the decline of its culture and political system…

Interesting…

Interesting that he leaves out the part about our competitive edge diminishing because our nations schools are falling apart over lack of funding, our culture is imploding in part due to lack of cultural programs in our schools, again because of lack of funding and our political system? Well, the majority of Americans believe it’s a shambles in large part because of decisions like Citizens United which allows people like the Koch Brothers to form Super PAC’s and flood election campaigns with corporate money for corporate favors, all the while drowning out the voices of your average everyday American…and, of course, when tax codes and loopholes are kept in place to allow the wealthiest in this country to not pay their fare share, this is when we run into all this economic inequality and revenue problems that lead to all this lack of funding for education and basic needs which then destroys our competitive edge…

But them’s just details.

Not to mention, Koch gave this phone interview from Koch Brothers headquarters in Wichita, a city in a county doing so well financially they recently had to stop prosecuting domestic violence cases because the county cannot afford to prosecute them any longer…

So, I don’t know…

If Koch really wants to play martyr, maybe his significant other could just, you know…because it’s not like she’d be prosecuted.

Read the article:

Charles Koch, employees reveal e-mailed threats from past year

Have a nice day.

Say it with me GOP…

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Oil companies? What? Now excuse me, I need to get to my church where I'm signed up to volunteer at the soup kitchen tonight...

So, when the House of Representatives proposes to cut guaranteed funds from public transportation which will cause city transportation systems to run in the red, thus requiring cities to raise bus/train/subway fares, fare increases which disproportionately affect poorer residents…

What do we call that?

It’s called a tax.

More specifically, it’s called a regressive tax on the poor, people otherwise known as those who can least afford a tax right now.

And, when the House of Representatives, also as part of their transportation bill, proposes to open nearly all coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, including those places which are environmentally fragile for the stated purpose of raising revenue to pay for the transportation bill, despite their continued, steadfast support of subsidies for oil companies which already are making money hand over fist…

What do we call that?

It’s called a giveaway, a non-starter.

More specifically, it’s called taking money from the poor to give to uber-wealthy corporate campaign donors for the benefit of nobody but GOP Congressman and the masters they bow to, all at the expense of America.

In other words, Boehner’s bullshit transportation bill is just one more piece of manufactured garbage intent on giving more breaks to those who don’t need it while breaking the backs of those who are struggling.

Read the article:

A Terrible Transportation Bill

Have a nice day.

This week, it was not Jindal’s fault…

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I shit you not, Chuck Norris's balls are this big! I know! I've seen them! In the helicpter when we were fighting the oil spill!

Quite the week for Mr. Jindal.

Bobby goes to CPAC.

Bobby releases his budget for Louisiana.

Bobby blames everybody but Bobby for all the criticisms levied against the decisions and policies of Bobby.

Gotta feel for the guy, though…it must be difficult to be the only reasonable man in not only Louisiana, but the United States…the only true conservative, the only one willing to fight for the Louisiana coast he didn’t really care about until he saw the possibility to earn political points by developing a sudden, long-standing love of all things nature and fighting and Obama sucks and aviator sunglasses badassery!…oh, and the only man to care so much about fiscal responsibility, he’s willing to make the hard choices that fuck the poor out of health care and he had to, because those health care providers and bureaucrats just didn’t listen to him, didn’t plan and since they didn’t, who would Jindal be to try to remedy the situation and ensure his state’s citizens are cared for? Certainly not a benevolent leader of any sort, after all, his hands are clean and leadership is only for brief moments when one gets to ride helicopters and criticize the federal government…

Ah, but I’m rambling…let’s review, shall we?

Jindal went to CPAC and told a rabid crowd how badly Obama screwed up in the oil response, how he had “wasted precious time while that oil was coming to our coast, they refused to listen to the people who lived along the coast that knew better than the experts.”

Yeah, Obama was the only idiot in the Gulf. Because Jindal certainly never signed off on an emergency plan filed by BP which included the names of dead scientists to be contacted in case of an oil spill. Jindal never pushed forth a plan to create sand berms which not only wouldn’t stop the oil, but would also wash back into the Gulf and wouldn’t you know it, happened to make a profit for the Shaw Group, one of Jindal’s campaign donors.

Mere details, details not included in his speech because obviously, none of it was Bobby’s fault, it was Obama. If Barack Obama had just given Jindal what he needed, when he needed it, the damages from the spill would have been entirely mitigated, because for years Jindal and his cronies sat around the governor’s mansion anticipating the breach of the Macondo Well. They were all over that shit. And of course Jindal didn’t contrast democrat Obama’s horrible BP response with Bushco’s republican wonder works after Katrina…if it were to be asked, he would probably call the comparison irrelevant, not even worth a comment, not to mention politically unpalatable.

Next, Jindal proposes a new budget for Louisiana that not only privatizes everything he can get his hands on (because if there’s one thing we’ve learned since 2008, it is the efficiency and success of private industry, you know, like all things financial market and banks and auto industry and Standards and Poverty) he figures in more cuts to public health and surprise! No more cuts to higher education.

When it comes to state health, Jindal is calling for the removal of $34 million dollars in funds to the LSU network of public hospitals and clinics serving the poor and uninsured. Thousands of people receiving care from LSU would have to look for care elsewhere, where there is none, and hundreds of hospital workers would be laid off. LSU of course expressed disappointment in this development while Jindal’s health care secretary blamed LSU for recklessly overspending and blaming the administration. Also, Jindal proposes to cut reimbursement rates to doctors who work with Medicaid, but relax, politicians love to say, they’re not cutting even more services, just provider rates which…shhhhh, make doctors stop offering medicaid services in order to not go bankrupt, thus depriving health choices from the poor, yet again, so the poor, fucked again, but who cares in these times of austerity? Certainly not Bobby, All he knows is it certainly isn’t his fault LSU cared more about providing services and less about the budget. These are tough times! These are times of sacrifice! Jindal is more than willing to prove his conservative bonafides by balancing his budgets on the backs of the poor so what makes LSU’s public hospital so immune, so special?

Maybe if they served more rich people, they’d be in better financial shape.

Anyways, onto higher education which Jindal will not cut in this current budget and we certainly could applaud this, especially if we choose to forget the past three years, but maybe the reason he didn’t cut funding to colleges and universities this year is he already took everything he could over the past three…all $251 million dollars worth. Perhaps he’d been informed that if he cut anything else, the colleges were going to have to steal manufacturing jobs from the prisons, requiring students to work two hours a day in the gymnasiums making gloves or running call centers, the profits from which universities could then use to offset  further cuts to their budgets.

Hey, didn’t Jindal also say he was going to sell prisons in this new budget? So maybe there will be manufacturing contracts available after all.

Sigh…

Yes, it’s Jindal’s Louisiana…where quick, reactionary answers are proffered for any question.

BP oil spill?

Obama did it, or at least he applauded it and did very little while Bobby hung from a helicopter in a bomber jacket, sporting cool shades  and a bucket bailing out the Gulf with the help of Chuck Norris!

Denying health care to the poor?

That’s got nothing to do with Bobby. That’s LSU’s fault for not working harder to craft a more stringent budget and take on their own responsibility in denying healthcare to the poor. And hey, if those doctors decide to stop offering medicaid services because politicians like Jindal keep starving them out through reimbursement rate reductions, well, that’s on those greedy fucking doctors and their love of not declaring bankruptcy.

Funding higher education?

Hey, Jindal already cut $251 million dollars over the past three years and this year, if he tries to cut more, Tulane will have to begin selling their students for scientific experiments…

Quick answers.

No blame.

Well…no blame for Bobby, everybody else will have to shoulder their share of the responsibility, especially those who are suffering already…

After all, tightening the vise on those who can least afford it is the republican way.

Read the articles:

At CPAC, Jindal revives attack on Obama administration over oil spill recovery

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, LSU spar over cuts at public hospitals and clinics

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s state budget proposal is expected to avoid cuts in higher education

Have a nice day.

Dear Chris Dodd of the MPAA…SOPA/PIPA NSFW version

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Cash your check!

Hey Chris…

It’s me, Drake…

Just letting you know I haven’t forgotten what a whore you are/were for your big buddies of capitalism, those corporate cronies idolized in your wistful wet dreams of power that left you swooning so hard, you just had to become one more pathetic lobbyist…

A lobbyist…do the world a favor and step on the third rail!

So, now you work for the MPAA?

Okay, fuck you and SOPA.  Fuck you and PIPA.

You and your bullshit legislation have  been revealed for what it is, an end run around due process, and you and your cohorts are no more than a censorship loving, greedy bunch of assholes that would just as soon burn the internet to cinders if you don’t get your last goddamned royalty dime, a cause which you claim to have taken up for the artists…the artists!

Since when do you corporate assholes care about artists?!?!?

Please…fuck you, you fuckers!

Oh, and Chris?

Thanks for being just one more asshole congressman who sells their soul to whatever corporation for their own profit at our expense. May I someday run into you to personally laugh at your utter lack of integrity…and just in case you’re wondering if I’m one of those people who maybe gets meek when actually running into the kind of prick who feels their practiced political grin somehow insulates them from their hypocrisy, just enough, so they don’t actually get called out in front of whomever happens to be there at the time? Umm…nahhh! I would be glad to do it. I would be glad to follow you and the other bastards just like you around everywhere you go, slashing your car tires, shaving your heads, dumping every plate of food you order on the floor and throwing every drink you buy in your pasty white face…right before I officiate over your getting dragged out of whatever French Quarter bar by your red, white and blue tie, into the street where your face is pushed into authentic, mule shit, in front of the hotel where Elvis Presley shot a scene from King Creole…

Fucker…

And when you wake up in the morning, stand at the bathroom mirror all steamed up and in a towel…wondering just what has gone wrong with this country?

Recognize, you ass! It’s you! People just like you!

You tell yourself this, you explain to yourself that, you rationalize every last shred of your decency for the profit of your next pimp and…integrity? You got no clue what the word even means, you ridiculous disaster of a human void and I got no problem telling you what you’ve become…

Asshole!

Fucking MPAA, RIAA…you serve no purpose but censorship and profit for everyone but the artists!!

In other words…you’re useless, you and your compromised beliefs, if you ever had any you stood by in the first place…

Sincerely,

- Drake

Oh, and God Bless America…

Have a nice day.

Written by Drake Toulouse

January 18, 2012 at 12:01 AM

In here is more important than out there…

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Ken Feinberg, before the audit pushed him under the water...and held him there...

Internals and externals…

Why do I do what I do? Why do I write the things I do on the internet? For what purpose?

Do I believe that by writing all the things I’ve written over the past year or so about British Petroleum, Ken Feinberg, the GOP, Barack Obama and whatever else will create a world of my liking…that British Petroleum will finally admit just how bad they’ve fucked up, and how yes, they could have been more careful and now…they are truly ready to make things right in the Gulf Coast? Or maybe Ken Feinberg will finally admit he could have done a much better job at compensating people for British Petroleum’s cluster-fuck rather than hiding behind a bunch of platitudes such as – look how much I’ve paid out! Look how many claims we’ve received! Hey, this is a lot better than Road Home…right right? Just one more blog post and Ken will fess up, review the claims again, give the benefit of the doubt, really be more generous than any court of law, stop being content with a reasonable margin of error and make sure that nobody, zero…no deserving claims go unpaid. Or maybe the next post I write will finally convince greedhead dipshits like Cantor, Boehner, McConnell and all the corporations they enable how the main goal in life, and the main theorem of their oft-espoused Poli- Christianity is not “Fuck that guy! I got mine!”

Hmm…I’m thinking none of this is very likely.

BP will continue to be BP up to, and including their next environmental disaster and employee death.

Ken Feinberg will continue to get rich from the denial of his conscience.

Politicians will continue to spin, help the haves get more so they can retain whatever it is they are trying to retain in lieu of a fucking soul.

Oh, and New Orleans will still have crime and poverty problems because nobody local, state or national really wants to do that much about the cause, instead preferring to criminalize the symptoms of all these problems we have.

Okay…so then, why write at all…because, sometimes, in here is more important than out there.

The reasons why I do what I do is because it’s what I know how to do and by doing it…this helps me get along in my day to days. Venting. Expressing. Blowing off steam so I don’t start looking fondly at Guns and Ammo magazine. These things help maintain a balance within myself and continue on down the roads of self-cultivation as I filter my experiences through eastern philosophies for context and a greater understanding of my condition and how it relates to the world…out there.

And hey, if it helps or gives some enjoyment to others along the way?

Cool.

So keeping all that in mind, a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of the New Orleans Ladder, I read Nicholas Payton’s blog post entitled Fuck the 99% and my initial reaction to this piece was Fuck Nicholas Payton. His post seemed pretty judgmental (something I know a lot about) very cynical and way off base, at least from my experience on why people in the 99% movement were/are involved in the 99% movement…and he seemed to be saying that people should focus on inner peace and if they did, the world would take care of itself. My initial reaction aside, I did some more thinking about what he said as far as living authentic, connected lives and letting that outside world take care of itself and I realized Payton was right…and wrong.

I believe we need to do both.

We need demonstrations, anger in the streets and more connection to our surrounding communities…and we also need to take a hard look at ourselves and where we’re at and why it is we do what we do and how to come to terms with all of it…to find peace within.

Oh, and just when you think you’ve got yourself figured out?

Then, look again.

Developing inner peace as an internal reflection to what we wish for from an external world is just as important as being involved in helping to create that world, be it demonstrations, teaching, writing, family, what have you…so yeah…we enter a new year, and in here may be more important than out there, but out there is still something to pay attention to, be happy with or angry about and then respond accordingly, the best way you see fit.

And one of the actions I’ve chosen, along this road, is to write, and even if whatever I write never matters to anyone at all…it does matter to me, and my continuing search for balance…so, so be it…

And, when it does come to that external world:

1. Here’s hoping the federal audit of the GCCF is more than a smokescreen providing economic and political cover to Feinberg, British Petroleum and the Obama Administration.

2. Here’s hoping that criminal charges against British Petroleum finally come.

3. Here’s hoping we get to cheer the New Orleans Saints to the Super Bowl, and the same goes for the San Jose Sharks and the Stanley Cup.

Peace!

Have a nice day.

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