Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

No evidence for argument

By
From page A6 | February 05, 2014 | 6 Comments

Your recent editorial, “Crime in the Driveway,” repeats the unfounded allegations of our City Council and ignores the elephant in the room, the homeless. We are told that organized crime is taking our aluminum cans, that they are sifting through our trash for personal information to steal our identities, and that the city is losing money over this.

There is no basis for any of this. I am still waiting for a single piece of evidence, ideally from the Davis police, that there is any evidence of organized crime taking our cans or any cases of identity theft associated with it. Do we really even know who is taking the cans? The only people I am aware of who take cans for certain have not even been mentioned in the debate. They are some homeless individuals, working hard to supplement their SSI checks.

As for your headline that “it’s money out of our pockets,” that is not true. It potentially cuts into the revenues of Davis Waste Removal, a private, for-profit company under contract with the city, and presumably increases the revenues of other private companies that collect the cans in shopping center parking lots, where the homeless cash them in.

I wonder if the real issue is that we cannot stomach the thought of a homeless person rummaging through our trash to survive — and we are too dysfunctional to discuss our discomfort directly and instead have to talk around it, speaking about outlandish theories. Curiously, the newly imposed $100 fine is probably not enough to discourage a criminal organization, but is enough to complicate a homeless person’s life with legal problems that will drive them from the city.

It’s one thing for politicians to make unsubstantiated claims for political gain. It’s another thing for the press to support them with sloppy reporting. Even if the organized crime theory was true, or even if Davis Waste Removal’s financial impact really is significant, it is still necessary to discuss the effects of this policy on the homeless. That discussion is missing.

As for me, I don’t mind the tinkle of clinking cans at 4 a.m. on a summer morning. Leaving leftovers for the poor is expected in some societies and required by several major religions. Until I get proof that the mob is involved, I’ll be leaving my cans in a separate box for our less fortunate citizens.

Steve Hampton
Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 6 comments

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  • John TroidlFebruary 03, 2014 - 1:06 pm

    What a thoughtful letter, Mr. Hampton! Practical and humane... with a bit of being a stickler for the facts. You are insisting that we "see" the entire population in Davis. Bravo! Please write more letters to the editor!

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  • Jim LeonardFebruary 05, 2014 - 6:24 am

    Is Davis becoming just another elitist community? I grew up here and thought we were different, more egalitarian, and better than that. Now, with this new ordinance, I wonder.

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  • greg johnsonFebruary 05, 2014 - 7:20 pm

    Are you just beginning to notice this now Jim? It became apparent to me more than a decade ago.

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  • DougFebruary 05, 2014 - 12:50 pm

    This ordinance was both necessary, fair and logical. If you want to help the homeless, then give to charities that feed, clothe, shelter and educate the them. Give to programs that help them with their drug and alcohol dependence. Give to programs that help people with mental illness. But stop suggesting that letting anyone and everyone dig through our recyclables, which takes badly needed money directly from our city, is the "right" thing to do. I think most rational Davis residents have had enough of this nonsense and are happy our city council stepped in to do something about it. If you want Davis to become another Berkeley, a city overrun with homeless who migrate there because they know there are no rule, then maybe you should consider moving to Berkeley. Unlike Berkeley, Davis can continue to be thoughtful, kind and generous, without being stupid in the process.

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  • Sara WingerFebruary 05, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    Doug, I hope you, your children, your friends never find yourselves in the position of having to rummage through garbage cans for bottles and cans to make ends meet. The first time I was awakened by someone taking my bottles and cans at 3:00 a.m. I was annoyed, but it didn't take much thought to realize that anyone out at that hour of the night, collecting cans, must really need the money they'll get when turning them in to the recycle center. With the uncertainty of the economy, businesses reducing staff or cutting hours, anyone of us could find ourselves in the same position. These people are not all necessarily homeless either. They can very well be those that have had their income reduced for any number of reasons and are simply trying to make ends meet, perhaps even staying off the unemployment roll to do so. A little empathy would be nice.

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  • greg johnsonFebruary 05, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    Agreed! I find the intolerance for this type of thing to represent the Davis paradox-very sensitive and understanding in the abstract but the opposite in everyday practice.

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