Albus Brooks And Fighting The Good Fight
As Denver Councilman Albus Brooks has discovered in politics, no good deed goes unpunished. The Councilman has been inundated with complaints from residents and businessmen about the hobo army that has encamped on the 16th Street Mall throughout the year. As a result Downtown Denver was increasing becoming a place to be avoided by families.
Individuals walking down the 16th Street Mall at night face a gauntlet with aggressive pan handlers who know the more unpleasant they are the more likely you are to give them money. Mayor Michael Hancock declared, “The moment we lose downtown as a place people want to go for entertainment, recreation or a place to live we lose the heart of downtown.” He did not mention that you also lose much of the income stream you have to help those homeless people who want to be helped.
Brooks was a safety for the University of Colorado Buffaloes and is the youngest member of the Denver City Council. Perhaps out of naiveté he decided, gee why don’t we just ban sleeping on city sidewalks and byways while at the same time increase the resources available to help those living on streets. Even progressive Boulder has banned sleeping on sidewalks so that its Pearl Street Mall did not die as a commercial venture.
But Brooks could not have imagined the onslaught to come because of his modest proposal. At one time perhaps the homeless in Denver were underdogs and the oppressed. Today they are at the top of the food chain. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has a budget of over $50 million (over 80 percent of its funds are from state, local and federal governments) and employs over 500 people. Seven of its executives make in excess of $100,000 while its CEO John Parvensky earns a salary sufficient enough to be considered a millionaire/billionaire under President Obama’s latest tax proposal.
The Coalition and its allies pack city council meetings and scream insults at Brooks and loudly boo him. Fellow councilman Charlie Brown could have let him know what happens when you go up against the thugs from the Coalition. The last time Brown proposed an action at City Council that the Coalition didn’t like, he received death threats at home against himself and his family. They promised dismemberment. The Denver Police told him he better take the threats very seriously.
Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, the Council’s leading race baiter and bigot, declared Brooks proposal to be inhumane and cruel and that Brooks was trying to criminalize being homeless. This was even too much for the normally mild mannered mayor who declared her remarks to be “insulting.”
The Occupy Denver movement, not wasting an opportunity to get some much needed publicity, declared that Brooks was trying to suppress their First Amendment rights to dissent as they were occupying and camping out on the sidewalk on Lincoln down from the Capitol. And of course the Coalition’s full-time and pro bono law firm, the ACLU, declared Brooks’ proposal to be unconstitutional and violates various and sundry state and federal laws. It promised to bring suit should the proposal be passed by the City Council.
Shockingly, Brooks hasn’t been shaken or intimidated. The proposal managed to get by the applicable City Council committee by a 4 to 3 vote when City Council President Chris Nevitt made a surprise visit to the committee and broke a 3 to 3 tie. It now goes before the full City Council and the threats and insults will undoubtedly rise to a crescendo.
Edmund Burke noted, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Make no mistake — the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and its allies, whatever they once were, are now filled with some highly vicious and at times evil individuals. Albus Brooks is a “good man” and he has refused “to do nothing.” At the end of the day whether his proposal passes or not he has stood up to be counted. It is unfortunate that there are not more people like him in elected office.
— Editorial Boardu