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Sunday November 17th 2019

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The Rand Report: Why were homeless misplaced during Glow?

By Rand Retterath

Rand Retterrath

On July 27, 2019 large portions of the Midtown Greenway were cleared for an event. 

Care to know what it was?

It was the Midtown Greenway Coalition Greenway Glow 2019. Through registration, ticket and alcohol sales, pledges and more they raised nearly $23,000. They say it is for the “Greenway.” PLEASE do not be confused! The money goes directly to the Greenway Coalition EXCLUSIVELY.

Care to know what was cleared? People were cleared, homeless people as well as their possessions. 

I have a problem with that.

Many years ago, the Executive Director looked me in the eye and said, “Unlike some, we do not think homelessness is a crime.” Apparently, that is true only as long as they are not seen.

One week later, the Powderhorn 24 took place. They found an ability to co-exist over the course of the 24 hour event and set up / clean up periods.

Local residents grudgingly find ways to deal with trash, theft, traffic, sex, needles, assault and much more on a daily basis and over months and years.

For a week, all the MANY people calling the Greenway home were asked to relocate to protect the delicate sensitivities of Coalition members for a single afternoon event. Their possessions littered my neighborhood.

Along the Greenway, I found Coalition-branded drink tickets. It is illegal to drink and bike, yet the Coalition encouraged it, through branded drink tickets.

The Greenway is overwhelmed with homelessness, feces, urine, drugs, sex and sex workers and alcohol in staggering quantities, creating a myriad of social and environmental problems. Yet there the Coalition was, apparently above the law. Their drunken revelries are apparently ok. Privileged white elitism if there ever was such a thing.

According to the Coalition’s most recently available Form 990, the salary expense for the Coalition is $124,820 against revenue of $119,690 down from $206,065 the previous year. Overall, they lost over $76,000. 

Further, with this shortfall, all of this money goes to salaries, NOT the Greenway, more elitism or perhaps more correctly protectionism by definition a stone’s throw from nationalism, isolationism or dare I say: Trumpism.

Somehow, participants of the Powderhorn 24 were able to coexist with everyone. Over the years, Powderhorn 24 organizers have worked diligently to mitigate the concerns of the community. To show solidarity with community and homeless alike they discourage alcohol. They clean up after themselves within hours. They manage the noise, keep the trail reasonably clean and share it with other cyclists, runners, families and homeless folks. I have even seen them sharing water and food resources with people other than themselves.

The differences could not be more profound. Homelessness is a complicated issue. It is a tragedy! Hiding people from public view for an event is WRONG, IMMORAL, TRAGIC, DISRESPECTFUL and reflects a sense of decency that I want no part of. 

Thankfully, they won’t exist much longer for lack of support and respect.

REMEMBER THE ATLANTA OLYMPICS!

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