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Feb 5, 201411:35 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Our obsession with the homeless

(page 1 of 2)

From the pages of In Business magazine.

I write this in early January on the coldest day in 18 years, with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero and wind chills that threaten life and limb. As Hyman Roth might have said, this is the climate we have chosen. On balance, we have decided the good outweighs brutally frigid days. But the human species is not always rational. A temple in India is devoted to rats, which have free run of the place. The Bears re-signed Jay Quitler. And many chronically homeless people shun free shelter, even in winter.

Motivated by honest human compassion with a dollop of Marxism, Madison is obsessed with solving “the homeless problem.” The homeless are victims of heartless capitalism. No one was homeless in East Germany, right?

Two years ago, Occupy Madison, a political offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, put up a tent city on a vacant car lot fronting East Washington Avenue. If the silent rebuke of its ramshackle squatters was too subtle, a hand-drawn poster advised rush-hour traffic, “We Can’t Be Bought.” But they accepted donations.

A home on wheels produced by Occupy Madison.

The economic refugees attracted at least one police call per day for things like theft, fighting, property damage, weapons, drugs, public intoxication, and sexual assault. Former Ald. Brenda Konkel explained that her group serves people who don’t abide by the rules of government providers. I guess!

“We need to remember the good that is being done for so many and not just focus on a few people who refuse help,” County Human Services Administrator Lynn Green told In Business

Stung by public revulsion, Occupy Madison is building tiny houses, each containing a composting potty, sink, propane heater, and microwave. The 98-sq.-ft. boxes have wheels. After some neighborhoods were plagued with people camping in their cars, the city passed a law requiring them to move every 48 hours. 

Folks here donated $37,000 to build the boxes at $3,000 each. Now comes the compassion stress test: Who will be the first good progressive to request one of these parked in front of his bungalow? The phone lines are open. 

Occupy Madison wants to erect a whole village of these little houses. They are looking at a tiny used car lot on busy East Johnson Street. Not so fast, the local alderman told the Wisconsin State Journal. “It’s going to be tricky to make this work out in a way that would be satisfactory to everyone.” 

Another possibility is a half-acre bound by East Washington Avenue and Hwy. 30. “This is not what this neighborhood needs,” said a second elected liberal, suggesting that a homeless village would degrade an area already chockablock with liquor stores, taverns, and a porn store. 


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Feb 6, 2014 05:09 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Any homes with traces of Recall Walker signage should be the first to receive these new, colorful, interesting, and diverse neighbors.

Feb 6, 2014 08:38 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Everytime I think Liberals have out-gfooballed themselves, they come up with something goofballier.

Feb 6, 2014 12:02 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

King Obama said if you like your homeless, you can keep your homeless.

Feb 6, 2014 03:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I'll cut the Madistan lefties a little slack for trying to solve their homeless problem, however, it won't work. Once skid row bums from Chicago and Milwaukee hear about it, they will descend on Madistan in droves. Has Madistan passed a Bill of Rights for bums yet?

Feb 6, 2014 09:04 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

What threatens people so much about a couple that puts in over 800 hours towards earning their own tiny home. I just don't get the conservative backlash against this. No bureaucracy, no government money, no charity.


Feb 7, 2014 08:17 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Agreed that it's hard to find common ground on what constitutes true compassion. But it seems that the tonic for David Blaska is to ridicule the other guy's idea. I guess that accomplishes some kind of goal. Not sure what it is, though. Entertainment? Is that IB's mission?

Feb 8, 2014 07:17 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Anonymous 9:04, I don't think people are particularly "threatened" by these little boxes but they are destined to become eyesores as they age and are not maintained. Kind of like the 30 year old rusted and weather-worn manufactured homes in trailer parks. Really, no one wants these things parked on the street or in open lots adjacent to their homes.

This plan could work, if every bleeding heart on the isthmus would let one of these tiny homes locate on their lot. That would distribute the load. Ms. Konkel et al could make this work if they put their money where there mouthes are.

Feb 10, 2014 08:42 am
 Posted by  Brenda Konkel

I count 6 factual errors. And notice, he never actually quotes me, just puts words in my mouth. Please quote me if you're going to attribute words to me and check your facts. I expect more from the editors at In Business. I find it funny he is threatened by what he wants, people pulling themselves up by their boot straps without government assistance. Didn't know that was such a bad thing.

Feb 10, 2014 08:44 am
 Posted by  Brenda Konkel

It's illegal to put them anywhere on private property and let someone sleep in them in the City of Madison. The Zoning Code won't allow it. I know several people who have volunteered to let them be parked in their driveways - but they would get a notice from Zoning within hours.

Feb 10, 2014 10:59 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Not a single police call since the Occupy Madison Build project started over 7 months ago, p.s. loooong before the trip out West. This pile of rubbish is so full factual errors, of straw man assertions, and ad hominem spin-attacks that any self-respecting middle-schooler wouldn't turn it in as an opinion paper. But hey, we've all got our standards I suppose.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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