Czajowski's Attitude Toward Homeless Disconcerting

Since the Chapel Hill News regularly posts FIVE pro-Czajowski letters to every ONE pro-Kleinschmidt letter, I thought maybe they just weren't getting enough, so I submitted one this week.  I guess lack of Kleinschmidt letters isn't the issue, as this wasn't published and the ratio was 9 to 2 for Czajowski.  I post here because there's no editorial board to stop me!!

As a teenager, I was appalled when my dad would invite the occasional panhandler to lunch and talk to them about who they were and how they ended up on the street.  As an adult and father, I can't thank him enough for teaching me that every homeless person is a person first and homeless second.  So, I was more than a little bothered by Matt Czajowski's story of being spurred into political action after encountering homeless men while stopping by Ben & Jerry's on Franklin Street with his kids.  Instead of taking the opportunity to talk to his kids about how hard life can be and how some people struggle more than others to make it in society, he showed us all that you can build a political career by criminalizing homelessness.  This stereotype of homeless man as criminal is what feeds the flood of red-shirted families trying to keep the IFC shelter out of sight and out of mind, when in reality that shelter is a step toward helping the homeless back into homes.  Mr. Czajkowski is not a leader for the entire community as his ad touts.  He is a leader only for the community with whom he feels comfortable, and I am not comfortable with that.  I will be voting for Mark Kleinschmidt on November 3rd, a candidate who, I believe, demonstrates a strong respect for all of Chapel Hill's citizens.  


1.  Contact the CHN editor Mark Schultz and he will explain how letters get published.  The clue is that someone has to write them before they can be published.  Your accusatory tone needs a factual base.2.  Over and over again, people draw conclusions about who they see on Franklin St. Everyone you see on benches or panhandling is not homeless, if homeless means not have somewhere to sleep other than a shelter.  These misperceptions do not help our public conversation.3.  The candidate you are praising has demonstrated on more than one occasion disrespect for Council colleagues, so how is that a "strong respect for all of Chapel Hill's citizens?"


Fred how does your support for the shelter and your support for Matt reconcile with this quote from 10/18 CHNews: Czajkowski said he would oppose it "unless there is a complete level of comfort that crime isn't an issue, which I don't think can be achieved."Cam

I supported a few things you said and did, so I think you understand the complexity of real life.

First of all, I think shorter letters have an easier time of being published quickly in the CH newspaper, but I could be wrong about that. As regards the second item: Czajkowski said he would oppose it "unless there is a complete level of comfort that crime isn't an issue, which I don't think can be achieved."All constituents deserve to be heard by council. Matt is being clear about what he is hearing from neighbors and what it would take for his support. He didn't say he would never support it. He said that he doesn't think that can be achieved. Given the emotions surrounding this issue, I can see why someone might be tempted to think it was hopeless, but that doesn't mean it is. His statement reflects that.That doesn't mean that the issue couldn't benefit from mediation by a neutral party. Maybe Homestead is not the best site, maybe it is, but it won't work until and unless mediation occurs and everyone feels heard. Neighbors deserve to be heard. The IFC deserves to be heard. To demonize council, neighbors or the IFC and Moran is not helpful. As for Matt's experience downtown, I don't know the details, but I can say that there have been times when I was not comfortable with aggressive panhandling, nor other kinds of aggressive behavior by anyone, including those who are homeless, those with homes, out-of-town visitors or students. Those are legitimate concerns, especially for people with children. As for your father who invited the occasional panhandler to lunch with you, he sounds like quite an amazing dad. In that circumstance, everyone (except perhaps you as the child) chose the time and place and freely entered into respectful conversation. Everyone was richer for it. 

I have no idea what their story is, but especially before the RAM folks moved into the gas station, the folks who hang out in that area have felt scary.  Given what they wear, I've always gotten the impression they are not homeless.  And I don't think Matt actually said he was bothered by homeless when he told that story, just the people who were there.  Also, they've never asked me for money, so I can't call them panhandlers either.  As I said, I don't know their story. And maybe that's why they are scary.

My harsh judgements of the Chapel Hill News were premature. 


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