In today's episode of Steve Bach: Champion Of The Homeless, we find our Mother Teresa-like mayor rounding up support for a campus-like place so all of our village's downtrodden can get a safe night's sleep, medical care and career training, and, more importantly, so the unshaven bums will stay the hell out of the downtown area.
Downtown is where the mayor and his kind-hearted, philanthropic Republican developer pals conduct business. And nothing ruins a $1,700 Dolce & Gabbana suit quite like having a despondent poor person brush up against it.
Bach, as we recall, led a fierce movement in 2012 to ban people from panhandling in 12 blocks of downtown. Here's what he said, according to an October story in the Broadmoor — I mean Colorado Springs — Gazette: "I strongly support, in a limited area, a prohibition on panhandling. I absolutely want to protect First Amendment rights, but I don't think someone has a right to accost, for example, a 50-year-old woman on the street in Colorado Springs and come across in a threatening way. That's crossing the line."
Because if you allow that, then eventually — and I know this sounds far-fetched — on weekend nights you could have hundreds of Fort Carson soldiers stumbling around drunk and turning downtown into an urban combat zone patrolled by heavily armed military police. Not like that could ever happen.
Anyway, the mayor's humanitarian, anti-soliciting proposal was approved last November by our fearless City Council (with the exception of Val Snider) because they didn't want the big, scary mayor to yell at them anymore.
The ban, though, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. Earlier this year, when a federal judge in Denver granted an injunction keeping the measure from going into effect, Bach and the Council gave up the brilliant plan that would also have banned Salvation Army bell-ringers and Girl Scouts selling cookies from the same area.
In February, Steve Saint of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit that killed the ban, reportedly said this about the homeless: "They don't need scorn and derision and judgment. They need someone to go down there, get their hands dirty and say how can we help you?"
Today that guy, our village's apparent hero of the homeless, is the very same Mayor Steve Bach. (Excuse me for a moment while I dry heave.) To much fanfare, Bach and his wife Suzi last week announced a homelessness solution after months of research and study. As I heard it, their plan was carefully thought-out and even came with a name: "Just Buy A House."
No, really, here are some of the details, gleaned from last week's big unveiling: "Sunrise Village" is envisioned as a emergency-services campus offering shelter, a day center, medical and job-training resources. Everything will be accessible in a single location, so people in need of services won't have to go "from one end of downtown to the other."
This homeless utopia, of course, will rise in a town that can't seem to fill potholes or hire enough police officers to stop people from speeding through red lights, a hamlet where a "good job" involves working at a telephone call center or sticking a sack of cheeseburgers through a drive-up window into a motorist's outstretched hands.
None of which apparently seemed odd to our daily newspaper, which in its huge story on the idea last week produced this line: "The only problem? They don't have a location for the project."
That's the only problem? How about this: Our town's heavy majority of old Republican voters, lots of them retired military, don't approve tax hikes for anything — schools included — if it doesn't benefit them.
Raising millions to help the homeless? In this town? Offhand, I'd say we have a better chance in this village of leading a national term-limit change proposal so the local folks can help re-elect Barack Obama again.
"I'm really putting out a call to action to anybody who owns a building or a site I'd say within a 10-minute drive of downtown," the mayor actually told the Gazette.
I hope they build a big parking lot at Bachville, so all the homeless people have a place to park their cars. And a valet service might be nice.
Rich Tosches (firstname.lastname@example.org) also writes a Sunday column for the Denver Post.
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