As I reflected upon the past three months, the most momentus time for me was the Great Blackout. I wrote about it a few weeks back to reflect upon the day and the potential aftermath. Although some referred to it as an “Inconvienece”, it was in some way a wake-up call to underscore how potentially vunerable we all are to such an upheavel.
One highlight of the Quarter for me was attending celebrations at Laguna Niguel City Hall as it opened up its’ doors to the Public for the first formal City Council Meeting. It was a wonderful time indeed. I continue to marvel at its’ design and practicality. The formal grand opening is scheduled for October 15 and the staff has been working overtime to make sure everything is put in place for it.
As I marveled at the stunning view, my mind drifted yet again to one of the “Voices”. I saw him manning a corner right across from City Hall. It was another beautiful day as he stood his post with a sign asking for help. I decided to buy him a bottle of water and some bread (all the cash I had) to talk to him to see how he was doing. It turned out that he was apparently disabled and had no where to go. He had no family and suffered from a number of ailments. I inquired whether he had family. He told me that he had family out of state. I suggested that he check out 211.org to see if they could help him to with bus fare so that he could at least go back to his family. I hope he took me up on my offer to at least follow up on it since I had not seen him in town since.
As I was around town this past Monday, I again saw a number of “Voices” who were manning the Street Corners. One of them was one of the regularls. I again worked up the courage to talk to him and see how he was doing. I dropped off a bottle of water and some snack with him as I wanted to assess how he was doing. He apparently has been involved in litigation for two years. He told me how over 400,000 in medical bills had been spent so far with no apparent end in sight. But as the fight has continued, he has continued to live in his car out in Buena Park because apparently Buena Park is the only City that does not ticket folks for this. I also found out that Laguna Niguel also does not ticket. He told me that if he moved across the Street to Aliso Viejo, he would be ticketed based on the City Ordinance. He also told me about a homeless court that apparently sat in Laguna Beach dealing with homeless citations. I found that to be especially interesting.
As I moved on, I ran across another “Voice” near Target. I had talked to him before, but I don’t think he remembered me. I asked him about how he was doing. He was a bit evasive this time which I found to be understandable. He told me that he was living in a hotel and was out on the street to help pay for his hotel stay. I asked him whether he had a car because I remember from previous conversations that he had a truck. He told me about some challenges he had trying to get his guard license resurrected and hoped to do it soon. I wished him well and left him after sharing a few dollars I had with him and once again, my mind drifted away to the on-going debate in Washington, Sacramento and beyond.
As I assessed this debate about confidence and creating an atmopshere for the job creators, I wondered about these two souls. One discussion also peaked my interest while at a Starubucks. Two ladies were sharing a horror story about a visit one of them had made a visit to Saddleback Hospital a year ago. She just got a bill for $ 100 for an Emergency Visit because the hospital claimed that she had not paid the co-pay. She just was talking about paying it as she was raging over the fact that she was in the emergency room and couldn’t really remember. She also talked about the predicament of her mother and how she was in tears about not affording healthcare. It seems as if everyone has a challenge in some fashion or another.
What I found especially troubling was what the State has done to our County. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw the story in October 1 edition of the Orange County Register about how The State of California took away 49.5 million dollars in Vehicle License Fees. I couldn’t agree more with Supervisor Moorlach when he noted that it was simply theft. The implications for the County are quite profound. From what I have seen so far, it appears that CountyDepartments have to find cuts that they did not need to worry about. For instance, the District Attorney is targeting thirty-one Assistant District Attorneys and 12 public defenders for layoff. The fourth floor of the Men’s Central Jail is slated for closure and other services are also planned. There are 44 additional county positions that are slated for elimination. The implications will just be profound.
The one thing that I find especially poignant is the so-called “occupy” movement. It began with a few young folks who began a movement that seems to be gaining ground. I knew that it was gaining ground when I saw the headline in the National Review noting that it was juvenile. I knew it was gaining ground when Ann Coulter compared it to the rise of the Nazis. I knew also that it was gaining ground when it made the headline of our very own Orange County Register. People are afraid, they are desparate and worried. The continued Grand Canyon that is becoming ever more is something that the current political leadership is simply incapable of solving. Budget cuts sound good, but the key is to think about the day after.
Do we have the courage, though?