CA Legislature Will Debate “Homeless Bill of Rights”

It could soon get easier to live on the streets in the Golden State. As controversy swirled around the police shooting of a homeless and mentally ill man on Skid Row in Los Angeles, legislators in California considered a new set of regulations activists said would “decriminalize” homelessness by providing a so-called “right to rest” in public.

The “right to rest” movement has picked up steam first on the West Coast, with similar bills under review in the Hawaii and Oregon legislatures.

Following suit, state Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, introduced Senate Bill 608, known as the Right to Rest Act. Using broad language written by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, the bill would enshrine such actions as eating in public and occupying legally parked cars as “basic human and civil rights.”

What’s more, SB608 would authorize someone discriminated against in the use of public space to sue to enforce their newly codified rights in a civil action.

In a statement, Liu described homelessness as a “social,” not criminal, issue. “Citing homeless people for resting in a public space can lead to their rejection for jobs, education loans and housing, further denying them a pathway out of poverty,” she said.

Last month, Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic released a report on “the growing enactment and enforcement of anti-homeless laws in the Golden State.” In a forceful denunciation of California’s current homeless policies, the Clinic pushed for the kind of changes WRAP helped draft into model legislation:

“Without state-level intervention, California cities have been engaged in a race to the bottom by increasing criminalization, hoping to drive homeless people elsewhere and make them someone else’s problem. Comprehensive reform must target the full range of state codes and municipal laws that criminalize homelessness.”

A pressure cooker

SB608 comes at a time when homeless issues in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have gained a higher profile as a result of rising rents in urban cores.

As CalWatchdog.com reported, the Skid Row shooting of the man known as Africa drew sharp rebuke from community activists in downtown Los Angeles, some of whom pinned blame on the LAPD’s new Safer Cities Initiative. That effort targeted Skid Row — now at the frontier of downtown’s gentrification — with increased monitoring conducted in part by cops with beefed-up training in how to interact with the homeless and mentally unwell.

Critics noted that, although the initiative launched in 2006 by then-police chief William Bratton cut crime, it imposed an unending series of infractions on the homeless. Activists complained that more than half of Skid Row-area homeless had been arrested in the past year.

The problem seemed cyclical: one reason why Skid Row hosted one of the densest populations of homeless in America was because the surrounding areas had seen a robust influx of new renters and owners, raising housing costs.

Mainstreaming a worldview

Despite the fairly radical, social-justice approach taken by the activists who are shaping “right to rest” legislation, the agenda found an advocate in Liu, widely perceived as safely mainstream. On her official website, Liu recently touted her perfect legislative track record last year, when she went eight for eight of her bills enacted into law.

For Paul Boden, director of WRAP, activists’ appropriate ambitions reached nationwide. Himself homeless as a teen, Boden has volunteered and worked on homeless issues for 30 years.

Now he has sensed the stars are aligning for a push that extends far beyond the West Coast. Boden insisted, “From Hawaii to New York and from Maine to Texas, it’s time for this to stop.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Should Sex Offenders Have Rights Too?

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the residency restrictions against sex offenders go against their constitutional rights.

“Blanket enforcement of the residency restrictions against these parolees has severely restricted the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees,” wrote Justice Marvin R. Baxter, on behalf of the court.

I’m sorry, but whenever these sexual predators decided to act in an inappropriate manner, they gave up any kind of privacy or “constitutional rights” they had. Whenever child molesters violated a young child, they sealed their fate. Whenever a rapist decided his needs were more important than his victims, he lost any ounce of “rights” he once had.

If any sort of medical treatment is being withheld from sex offenders because it takes place at a school or park, then the simple answer would be to move the location to a place that is all inclusive. That would open up these services to everyone without placing our children at risk.

I’ve come to feel very strong about the topic of sexual assault. One of my very first protests was when I was 13. My dad and I stood across the street from a high-risk sex offender who was placed in a halfway house just up the road from an elementary school. Members of the community were outraged – and rightfully so – because this man had committed heinous acts with young children. For weeks, John and Ken from KFI AM640 held live remotes in the dirt with protestors. And there I was, along side them.

I have had numerous friends and family members who have been sexually assaulted and their number one wish is always the same: they want to try and keep the same thing from happening to someone else. They want to become advocates for others before those other people become victims.

Allowing these sex offenders to be placed near schools and parks where young children gather is like dangling a live worm in front of a fish. At some point, the fish is going to bite.

San Francisco Passes Retail Worker Bill Of Rights

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, San Francisco passed a law designed to prevent employers from scheduling workers with little notice.

The law, also known as the Worker Bill of Rights, was passed by the San Francisco’s City Council and combines two pieces of legislation containing five provisions designed to make it easier for hourly workers at many of the city’s restaurants and stores.

KTIC explains the law will require employers to post schedules two or more weeks in advance and restrict these businesses from hiring new employees before giving additional hours to existing part-time employees. Additionally, the law will require employers to pay employees for any hours where they are put on call, even if the shift is ultimately canceled.

A writer for Vox argued that the absence of such laws can make life very tough for workers who have to schedule their work around other life commitments like children and other jobs. Uncertain hours also mean unpredictable income.

However, some experts see such a law as having profoundly negative outcomes for businesses and employees alike.

“Anyone who has ever run a lemonade stand knows this won’t work,” Michael Saltsman, a research director at Employment Policies Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Saltsman predicts that the law will cause employers to give their employees less hours. Before a business may “staff up” or hire more part time workers to accommodate busy days or shifts, they will be less likely to do so knowing they may be penalized if they had to change the schedule at the last second because they got less or more customers then what they expected.

The law will also likely lead to worse service because fewer people than needed will be working a given shift.

“The net result is there is going to be fewer opportunities created,” Saltsman added.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is a particularly busy time for retail employees.

This article was originally posted on the Daily Caller News Foundation