Tennessee Is Trying to Make It a Felony to Be Homeless Passing unenforceable laws has worked so very well for drug abuse, why not try it in other areas? By Charles P. Pierce May 26, 2022
Tennessee now is preparing to become the first United State of America to make being homeless a felony. From the AP: Tennessee already made it a felony in 2020 to camp on most state-owned property. In pushing the expansion, Sen. Paul Bailey noted that no one has been convicted under that law and said he doesn’t expect this one to be enforced much, either. Neither does Luke Eldridge, a man who has worked with homeless people in the city of Cookeville and supports Bailey’s plan — in part because he hopes it will spur people who care about the homeless to work with him on long-term solutions. What the hell kind of way is this to make public policy? Passing unenforceable laws has worked so very well as regards drug abuse, why not try it in other areas? And the idea that this particular ordnance will go unenforced in perpetuity completely ignores the current law-enforcement business model whereby cities with short budgets find new revenue streams among the citizenry at large. From NPR: “It’s going to be up to prosecutors ... if they want to issue a felony,” Bailey said. “But it’s only going to come to that if people really don’t want to move.” Or, you know, can’t. And it wouldn’t get easier with a felony rap on your record. And, in keeping with the politics of 2022, it appears that also in play here is the modern investigative tool known as Something My Uncle Found On The Internet. The Republican lawmaker acknowledges that complaints from Cookeville got his attention. City council members have told him that Nashville ships its homeless here, Bailey said. It’s a rumor many in Cookeville have heard and Bailey seems to believe. When Nashville fenced off a downtown park for renovation recently, the homeless people who frequented it disappeared. “Where did they go?” Bailey asked. Atnip laughed at the idea of people shipped in from Nashville. She was living in nearby Monterey when she lost her home and had to send her children to live with her parents. She has received some government help, but not enough to get her back on her feet, she said. At one point she got a housing voucher but couldn’t find a landlord who would accept it. She and her new husband saved enough to finance a used car and were working as delivery drivers until it broke down. Now she’s afraid they will lose the car and have to move to a tent, though she isn’t sure where they will pitch it. We move along to Illinois, where a local sheriff demonstrates the fine sense of timing once common to Studebaker stockholders. From the Riverfront Times: Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing announced early yesterday morning on his Facebook page that, "We currently have a gun raffle going on to support my re-election as Monroe County Sheriff." The post went on to say that the two guns being raffled off were a Smith & Wesson 556 caliber AR pistol and a Glock 43 9 mm pistol. "The first winner will get the choice of the two." The announcement came less than 24 hours after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed by gunman with an AR-15-style rifle. The gunman was killed by law enforcement. Pro Tip For Gracious Living: If you’re in law enforcement, call off your fundraising gun raffle if a mass murder by gunfire occurs. I should be a political consultant. During the course of this week’s semi-regular weekly survey, the electric Twitter machine pointed us to a site called boltsmag.org, which is dedicated to keeping track of obscure elections that have major national consequences. For example, there’s this one, from Idaho, where competing brands of Crazy contested the right to run that state’s elections. Idaho Representative Dorothy Moon is on the cutting edge of election conspiracies. Speaking on the floor of Idaho’s state House in March during a debate over a bill to tighten ballot access, she claimed, without providing the slightest bit of evidence, that people were “coming over and voting” in Idaho from Canada. Moon is now running to be the chief election official in Idaho, and one of her rivals in the Republican primary for secretary of state has a similarly loose grip on the facts. “I do not think that Joe Biden won the presidential election,” state Senator Mary Souza said during a recent televised debate, echoing the false conspiracies spread by former President Donald Trump. “I will call it death by a thousand cuts, as the Chinese would put it. It was ballot harvesting. It was ballot boxes that were … not manned. It was a lot of small changes in the law.” As it happens, a guy named Phil McGrane, a county clerk who ran in the increasingly narrow Not Insane lane within the GOP, wound up winning the nomination, narrowly, over the Blame Canada woman. Sanity’s constitutency is thin, but plucky, in Idaho. And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Chuckwalla Inspector Friedman of the Plains brings us the saga of Oklahoma’s water and whence it is disappearing. From nondoc: “I just thought if you turn the water in your faucet on, you were good. I didn’t know where my water came from — until it was threatened.” That’s Amy Anne Ford, president of Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, a group formed nearly 20 years ago to combat the growing threat that major farming and mining concerns could overtax the supplies of the Arbuckle-Simpson. “I didn’t know anything about the Arbuckle at all, but I had a friend that said, ‘Hey, you should really come to this meeting because they’re going to dry up the Blue River,’” Ford said about a gathering that would lead to the establishment of her group in 2002. When Ford said “they,” she was referring to farmers and farming companies that, throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, had been filing for pumping permits to pull water from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and the Blue River for irrigation all around the region and beyond, sometimes several counties away. So many permits were being issued that concern began growing over the long-term viability of the aquifer. And they were right to be concerned, since the aquifer was being steadily played out. The center investigates Enhanced Aquifer Recharge, or E.A.R, which comprises a number of connected efforts to identify the best and most natural ways to increase the amount of water stored in the Arbuckle-Simpson. Researchers are investigating all sorts of possibilities, such as collection technology to gather more rainwater, or using laser imaging to map and identify wells, openings, and tributaries that naturally gather water and empty it into the aquifer.This information all hinges on understanding the relationship between surface water and groundwater and defining the nebulous difference between them.“A lot of aquifers have kind of gotten away from us because they’ve been over-pumped and over-utilized, and it takes a long time to recharge,” said Susan Paddack, a former state senator who served as executive director of the Oka’ Institute at East Central University until last year. This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.