The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: The Hunger Games

Posted on: November 20, 2014


Good Thursday, Widdershins.  I’m finally back after a computer-enforced hiatus, thanks to my son-in-law who got this contraption up and running for me.  It is ultra-sensitive and there will be a rather precipitous learning curve, so bear with me while I try to figure things out.

As y’all well know, I live in warm,  sunny South Florida.  It has been neither sunny nor warm the past few days, but I’m pretty certain that my personal discomfiture with temperatures plummeting into the high fifties at night will not elicit much sympathy from those inhabiting much harsher climates.  For myself and the rest of the locals, this is pretty damned cold.  Fortunately for most of us, we have shelter and warm food that we can count on – sadly, the number of those who have neither is growing.

When we first moved down here (1982), the custom on holidays was to set aside some of your leftovers to be driven downtown to the park and passed out to the homeless.  Cars lined the street for blocks, and someone everyone there managed to get fed.  The City Council was horrified by the “message” that was being sent to the tourists, and got busy helping local agencies develop and implement homeless services, and things went along reasonable well for the next twenty years or so.  There was even money to expand and better the services during the Clinton Administration.  Life was good.

Even with the best of intentions, there are members of the homeless population that do not want to live in a shelter.  Many of them that I have met were simple schizophrenics who had at one time or another been institutionalized and truly feared confinement of any sort.  Ever since Reagan decentralized mental health care, things have been in a downward spiral as far as services go, and society is the worse for it.  I honestly believe that both homelessness and incarceration rates have skyrocketed as a result of these misguided policies, but this is a diatribe for another time.  Just suffice to say that a paucity of mental health services coupled with a weak economy has contributed heavily to our homeless population.  One of my friends teaches third grade, and has any number of children with no fixed address in her class.  As long as the child is reasonably clean and healthy, social services does not intervene. At least the child gets two meals per school day, and is better off than many.

Sunny Fort Lauderdale is preparing for tourist season.  To be fair, without tourists our economy would collapse,  After a late night session, the Ft. Lauderdale City Council decided to regulate feeding the homeless.  By a vote of 4-1, the Commission voted that any feeding station must be 500 feet from a residential area, have running water and bathroom facilities, and have consent of the property owner that he plans to occupy.  Yep, city property is likely off-limits.  Major Jack Seiler has become very defensive about the situation, and insists that the city is not banning feeding the hungry, just regulating it for the health and safety of all concerned parties.  He also states that there are “hundreds”, no make that “dozens” of community and religious groups that feed the hungry on an ongoing basis.

Unfortunately for Mayor Jack and the Ft. Lauderdale City Council, the situation has gone national thanks to one Arnold Abbot, a ninety year old WWII vet who has been feeding the hungry for the past decade or so, and does not see this piffling ordinance as any reason to change his ways at this late date.  He has tangled with Fort Lauderdale previously back in 1999 when they took exception to his holding picnics for the homeless on the beach.  He took them to court and claimed that he had a religious right to follow the biblical injunction to feed the hungry, and that the alternative site offered by the city was too remote and proved an undue burden.  Clearly, Arnold was ahead of the curve on this whole religious rights thing.

One would think that the city would steer clear of messing with Arnold, but one would be incorrect.  Ft. Lauderdale officers have arrested Arnold, fingerprinted him on the site, and stuffed a “PTA” (Promise to Appear) in his pocket.  I have lost count of the number of citations, but I think that we’re up to about 5 now.  Each citation carries a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.  He has also been joined by several members of the clergy and homeless advocates, who have received similar citations.  Mayor Jack claims that these are not arrests, but I assure you that they have exactly the same impact.  Should you not show up for court, the judge will issue a bench warrant and it’s off to jail you go.  Personally, I will support Arnold as best I can through his interfaith foundation Love Thy Neighbor.  I’ve placed the link so that you may send a contribution or an “attaboy”, should the spirit move you.

In the final touch of irony, the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission had a protesting homeless man removed from their chamber so that they could read aloud their proclamation of National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week.   The mayor then thanked all those who supported him in his efforts to rise and be applauded.  I don’t know about y’all, but I am speechless.

This is an open thread.


22 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: The Hunger Games"

Arnold sounds like a hoot!

I don’t know what to say about the mayor other than to shake my head.


@2: Orrin Hatch can fix this……….

Oh let’s hope not.

Oh Florida! It never disappoints! I love the amount of bad publicity arresting this old man has given it. And ’tis the season for giving after all! Well, the season does last an awful long time these days.

I would hate to cheer on Utah for any reason. So I will refrain!

{{{{DYB}}}} Great to see you!!

Hi Chat and Phredster!!!!! 🙂


It’s good to see you here.

Hey, DYB. Welcome home. You have been sorely missed.

@11: He is a loss.

@12: Oh God yes he is.


Does Obama speak Spanish, other than “Si, se puede”?

Phonetic teleprompter.

Chat, what a great post. Good to have you back. Also DYB!
Funny about Utah threatening to cut off the water for the spystation.
John Stewart opened with a great piece about the pipeline and eminent domain.

@17: I saw the Stewart piece. (sigh) Mary’s gonna lose most likely, and that ass-wipe Republican who will take her place isn’t worth squat. Folks in La are gonna rue the day they voted for him.

This is the stadium in Buffalo where the NFL Buffalo Bills play. They were supposed to host the Jets but now the
game has been moved to Detroit.

chatblu is back on line and feeling fine!

Great post chat! Nice to have you back, and DYB as well.

Yeah, feeding the hungry should be regulated, but corporations shouldn’t. Great philosophy these Austerians have.

My crazy schedule continues, or else I would have commented on every post this week. It has been quite an amazing one. I was glad to see that Keystone XL was defeated by ONE VOTE in the Senate. Hope that holds in 2015.

I was glad to see that Keystone XL was defeated by ONE VOTE in the Senate. Hope that holds in 2015.

Oh not to worry…it will pass next year. The only thing that might actually stop the thing from being built is this; if it doesn’t make sense economically to build it.

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