John Hardin / @ 6:37 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: SoHum Has Created a Monster


The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors just passed a new, unnecessary, unconstitutional and unkind ordinance to limit free speech and criminalize poverty called the “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” They might as well have passed a dress code too, for all the good it will do. This is just the latest attempt to sweep Humboldt’s poor and homeless under the rug, but the poor and homeless will not go away because poverty is systemic in our local economy.

Because of prohibition, the marijuana industry breeds poverty, and the real estate-driven economy breeds homelessness. The people who complain the most about the poor and the homeless are the people doing the most to create the poverty and homelessness in our community. Rather than address our housing crisis, low wages, or the out-of-control organized crime problem, the Board of Supervisors decided to punish the victims, the honest, hard-working, low-wage workers who actually generate most of the wealth in Humboldt County.

This ordinance has nothing whatsoever to do with “public safety” and everything to do with greedy real estate bloodsuckers, dope yuppies, business owners and mobsters who are making a killing right now off of the “green rush.” The same people who sell out our forests and rivers to the highest bidders create poverty and homelessness in our human communities too, but they hate to see it in public, so they send cops to harass the poor and create new laws that criminalize poverty, like this new ordinance.

Greed is even uglier than poverty. Greed poisons the soul and turns decent people into degenerate monsters of consumption. I don’t know if greed makes people stupid or if stupidity makes people greedy, but stupidity and greed always go together, and together, they make ugly. That ugliness is palpable in SoHum.

Even a newcomer can feel it. I noticed it the first time I came to Garberville almost two decades ago and it has only gotten worse since. The whole town loudly exudes ugly, stupid, crass, greed. You can practically see it in people’s faces and you hear it almost every time they open their mouths. That’s the kind of ugliness that makes Southern Humboldt so repulsive to decent people who might consider moving here, and that’s the kind of ugliness that undermines the quality of life for the people who do live here.

Real estate offices don’t attract tourists. Increasingly, real estate offices provide no service at all to ordinary citizens, who were long ago priced out of the housing market. The greedy leeches lurking within those offices only value the natural beauty of this area and the uniqueness of this community to the degree to which they can turn it into money that they can stuff into their own pockets. They are the ones inviting every drug-dealing greed-bag in America to come to Humboldt County to destroy our forests and choke out the last wild salmon. They are the ones making Humboldt County unaffordable to anyone but drug-dealers and they are the ones making the people of Humboldt County poor and homeless while they make themselves filthy rich.

Who needs them? We should have learned our lesson after the mortgage fraud collapsed the housing market. They are still the same greedy, lying, cheating bastards that wrecked the economy and made everybody homeless to begin with. Haven’t we had enough of their shit?

Drug dealers aren’t any better. If anything, drug dealers are even greedier, dumber, and even more dishonest than real estate leeches, and there’s a lot of crossover around here. Most of our real estate leeches deal drugs too, and a lot of our drug dealers get into real estate as a way to launder their drug money. Between the two of them, they’ve turned SoHum into a vortex for the greediest and the slimiest. They’ve created the perfect environment for hard drug pushers, prostitution, human trafficking and child pornography among other things, which they welcome with open arms, so long as it has enough money.

From the depths of this pit of depravity, and fueled by the filthy black market cash that fills it, Estelle Fennell rises like Godzilla to crush the poor, honest, working citizens of Humboldt County and all who would oppose her. Stomp, new subsidies for real estate developers. Stomp, new subsidies for property owners. Stomp, those subsidies now get paid by Humboldt County’s poor and homeless. Stomp, this new ordinance makes it illegal to ask a stranger for help and effectively blocks grassroots organizers from building a campaign against her. Stomp! What’s next?

A very real monster is destroying our forests and our communities, and that monster passed this ordinance to cover it’s tracks, and dispose of the bodies of it’s victims. We have to stop it, before it’s too late!

P.S.: I’ll host a discussion of this new aggressive solicitation ordinance, with Richard Salzman and civil rights attorney Peter Martin on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine from 7 to 9am. The discussion of this topic will begin at 7:30 with an interview I recorded with a very articulate homeless man who panhandles in Garberville, and at 8 a.m. Richard and Peter will join me live, on the air until 9 a.m. If you read this post early enough you can still catch it live on KMUD (streaming at www.kmud.org): If you missed the live show, you can always listen to it on the archive at www.kmud.org

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


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