Reason’s Nanny of the Month

posted at 11:36 am on November 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

I’m not sure I’d call this one a Nanny of the Month. I’d be more inclined to award Sal DiCiccio and the Phoenix City Council the Scrooge of the Year Award instead. What kind of people pass a zoning decision that makes food kitchens at churches illegal — at ThanksgivingReason.tv gives us the answer:

Unless the churches charged for their pancake breakfasts, I don’t see how this is anyone’s business but the church.  It’s their property, and their food, for that matter.  If they want to feed the hungry, which seems even more of an imperative this year, then the city should applaud those efforts.  After all, a voluntary work of charity for the community should be encouraged, not zoned out of existence.

This is the kind of story that should unite property-rights advocates on the Right and community activists on the Left.  Let’s hope the December 14th hearing clears the way for Phoenix churches to feed the hungry on Christmas — and that Santa has an extra helping of sticks and lumps of coal for Sal and his friends on the city council this year.

Update: I’m not unsympathetic to the security issues of having homeless people wandering through residential neighborhoods looking for a meal.  I lived in Phoenix for a couple of years, and it’s not an insubstantial issue.  However, the proper way to stop that is to have the police enforce the law, not decide that a free meal service to the poor amounts to a restaurant.

I’ll share a story with you.  I lived in Phoenix for a couple of years, and worked at a nice office park — or at least it was until a strip club opened in it.  We would have our parking lot littered with syringes, broken liquor bottles, used condoms, and more than occasionally passed-out drunks.  The city refused to do anything about that situation for as long as I lived there, even after a tiger in one of the strip acts attacked and seriously injured someone in the audience (don’t ask what a tiger was doing in a strip act; I’ve never figured that one out).  Their sudden concern over a free meal service at a church doesn’t impress me much.

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Reason – what a misnomer!

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Drink!

Rae on November 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM

“I think there is a lot of fear,” Moskow said. “Some of it – and I will be honest – some of it is justified.” She pointed out that she also runs a school, and some of the homeless people come during school hours seeking food handouts. She added, “I think – also to be honest – not all the fear is justified,” and that her congregation provides what help it can to the effort.

“We listened to the complaints,” Escobedo-Frank said. “We have gone overboard to be neighborly. … We worked with our preschool and locked down our facility, put a camera and doorbells on the end of the office and preschool area.” The church’s office is in the preschool wing, so she has created another office for herself in another section of the building so she can receive the homeless visitors without having them go to the preschool wing.

Debbie Prenovost, director of the preschool, had not answered Jewish News’ request for comment by press time.

Escobedo-Frank said that her congregants make sure everybody leaves the property after the worship service, and provide a crew to pick up trash in the area and to do “alley checks.”

It sounds like this was poorly thought out from the beginning- they locked down the preschool section and moved the homeless shelter directors office AFTER they had homeless wandering through the preschool building. That sounds like a big no-no that should have been caught by a building inspection for the preschool.
It does sound like they took care of that and that they have volunteers cleaning up the neighborhood. What they may need is Social Services and the Police walking a beat in the neighborhood and directing the homeless to other shelters/food programs.
What isn’t mentioned is if there are OTHER churches sponsoring free meals. If you rotate the schedule by having a number of churches in different parts of the city sponsor free meals the homeless can’t settle in one area but constantly need to move around. And only allowing folks to come in for canned food donations one day a week would also help.
On the fence on this one. I like the idea of the church helping those in need. I don’t like the idea of preschoolers bumping into homeless people who may have mental issues in bathrooms or an individuals property being violated.

journeyintothewhirlwind on November 30, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Let’s assume that the church is ordered to stop feeding people before the Saturday service. What if the homeless come to the service anyway? What if the church gives away $5 coupons for MacDonald’s? I wonder what the next step will be for this elite neighborhood?

azkenreid on November 30, 2009 at 1:53 PM

What isn’t mentioned is if there are OTHER churches sponsoring free meals. If you rotate the schedule by having a number of churches in different parts of the city sponsor free meals the homeless can’t settle in one area but constantly need to move around

This ruling will affect 20 other churches that have similar programs in Phoenix.

azkenreid on November 30, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Seriously, all the “Sal is dumb”, “save us from liberals”, etc. comments are way off base.

Sal is not a liberal, nor is he dumb. He is a rock solid fiscal conservative and a very good city councilman.

Read past the headline and see the rest of the story.

For instance, this article from July which gives background that the Reason video leaves out.

Ed, you (and Reason) are way off base on this one.

MNExpatriate on November 30, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Unconstitutional joke. This will end in victory, its the only possiblility when dealing with the will of God.

Osis on November 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM

azkenreid on November 30, 2009 at 1:55 PM

I didn’t see that. Too many empty tummies. But I do believe that rotating the schedule better between the churches and only have one canned food pickup day and making sure there is enough distance between each one would help keep the homeless from staying in an area.

And the police and social services walking the beat. Their the ones who should be able to get the “able bodies and minds” into job retraining and the “mentally unstable” into treatment centers.

journeyintothewhirlwind on November 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Sal sucks. Phoenix is becoming the new LA/SF.

It’s sad my hometown is being destroyed by Libtards from CA (they’re escaping the place that they ruined) and by folks from the East Coast (which aren’t much better).

Tim Burton on November 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Seriously, all the “Sal is dumb”, “save us from liberals”, etc. comments are way off base.

Sal is not a liberal, nor is he dumb. He is a rock solid fiscal conservative and a very good city councilman.

Read past the headline and see the rest of the story.

For instance, this article from July which gives background that the Reason video leaves out.

Ed, you (and Reason) are way off base on this one.
MNExpatriate on November 30, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Thanks. Save me looking it up.

Annie on November 30, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Um, something is not quite tracking here. Sal was just re-elected here in Phoenix, and he’s a stand-up guy. I’m not sure if he’s a conservative, but he’s definitely a Republican. (He’s a member of my local district, and always comes to the meetings.)

I voted for him, and even had a yard sign in my yard.

He’s making a huge positive difference in Phoenix, and he’s the best member of the council that we have. He’s certainly not deserving of some of the comments here.

I haven’t followed this story, but it’s not consistent with his actions. So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, as usual, there’s more to this story than we’re seeing.

MNExpatriate on November 30, 2009 at 12:39 PM

The problem is: That is not saying much.

Tim Burton on November 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM

stuff like this reminds me that the pipe dream of moving welfare to private charity is sadly just that, a pipe dream.

Doctor Zhivago on November 30, 2009 at 2:43 PM

I’m not unsympathetic to the security issues of having homeless people wandering through residential neighborhoods looking for a meal. However, the proper way to stop that is to have the police enforce the law, not decide that a free meal service to the poor amounts to a restaurant.

Yeah, nice try. Until the same libs start screaming about “police repression”. Locally we never really had a ‘homeless’ problem until the do-gooders opened a full-service facility. Then every “homeless” person within a couple hundred miles showed up.

GarandFan on November 30, 2009 at 2:47 PM

We would have our parking lot littered with syringes, broken liquor bottles, used condoms, and more than occasionally passed-out drunks.

I thought libertarians approved of this kind of stuff.

aengus on November 30, 2009 at 2:54 PM

…don’t ask what a tiger was doing in a strip act; I’ve never figured that one out

That’s easy: if you correctly do the wushi finger hold on the tiger, you can get it to… oh, this is a family site.

Never mind.

karl9000 on November 30, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Phoenix city council: God? Who is this God you speak of?

capejasmine on November 30, 2009 at 2:59 PM

stuff like this reminds me that the pipe dream of moving welfare to private charity is sadly just that, a pipe dream.

Doctor Zhivago on November 30, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Oddly enough, a couple of generations ago private charity WAS welfare. Not sure who decided gubmint should get into the charity bidness, but FDR didn’t hurt the cause.

TugboatPhil on November 30, 2009 at 3:13 PM

The problem is: That is not saying much.

Tim Burton on November 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM

So are we just not supposed to have a City Council?

Who would you have preferred? There were 2 candidates on the ballot, Sal and someone backed by big labor and Planned Parenthood.

The knee-jerk “politicians are stupid” crap in the comments on this post are pathetic.

MNExpatriate on November 30, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Oddly enough, a couple of generations ago private charity WAS welfare. Not sure who decided gubmint should get into the charity bidness, but FDR didn’t hurt the cause.

TugboatPhil on November 30, 2009 at 3:13 PM

I know and I really want to go back to that route

Doctor Zhivago on November 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Oh come on. Churches have been feeding the poor for centuries…let them do their thing.

Terrye on November 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Ed,

I agree that this doesn’t qualify as a Nanny State decision, but unless I missed something I don’t think you’ve got enough background info on this.

This week, retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Robert Corcoran, serving as a hearing officer, ruled that feeding the homeless at a place of worship can be banned by city ordinance.

The determination means that CrossRoads United Methodist Church, 7901 N. Central Ave., will no longer be permitted to feed the homeless and poor at its campus unless it appeals the decision.

Corcoran, in his 19-page opinion, noted that the church had a long history of feeding the “poor in poor neighborhoods” but the use of this property to feed the poor, who were bused in by another group, Prodigal’s Home was a change. The hearing officer ruled that the “living functions” of a residential neighborhood were not compatible with the operation of a charity dining hall.

It is not fair to the local residents when groups start busing in people from outside of the neighborhood. This holds true whether it be the homeless or children bused to schools.

Buy Danish on November 30, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Can’t the church and the other churches who are doing this program, who will be affected by this law, go in on a building in a less-disruptive area and do the program from there?

Sekhmet on November 30, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Wondering if the Mayor has his socialist fingers in the cookie dough again????

hawkman on November 30, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Convince the libs that it is their moral duty to Gaia that they follow the homeless around and pick up their poopies if they take a dump on someone’s lawn.

justltl on November 30, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Doctor Zhivago on November 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

See if they feed them they don’t need welfare and that’s the game.

- The Cat

P.S. What’s next? They teach them how to work and get a job then they’ll be classified as a university?

MirCat on November 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM

P.S. Defy the order.

MirCat on November 30, 2009 at 6:24 PM

The problem is that the homeless almost entirely fall into two categories.

The first is the mentally unsound, unable to function on there own. (crazy and retarded) These people need to be housed in humane institutions.

The second are people who actually want to live on the street, for a life free of responsibility and stress. They can be controlled by consistent enforcement, and making their jail time reasonably stressful.

Unfortunately the libtards prevent both solutions from being used.

darktood on November 30, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Unless the churches charged for their pancake breakfasts, I don’t see how this is anyone’s business but the church. It’s their property, and their food, for that matter. If they want to feed the hungry, which seems even more of an imperative this year, then the city should applaud those efforts. After all, a voluntary work of charity for the community should be encouraged, not zoned out of existence.

The goal is to stifle through legislation and mandates the work of churches.

Then, when we can’t provide services to the poor and needy, government can call us useless and a drag on society, thus giving them grounds to push us from society.

englishqueen01 on November 30, 2009 at 6:41 PM

After all, a voluntary work of charity for the community should be encouraged, not zoned out of existence.

It’s not for the community, they’re being bused in. It’s a disaster for the residents who live there and have reasonable expectations of being able to live in a nice, safe neighborhood without strangers and derelicts wandering around.

This is the same sort of destructive crap that happened in NYC until Guiliani came along and saved the city and its residents.

Buy Danish on November 30, 2009 at 8:55 PM

Prodigal’s Home asked the church for help after being kicked out of several parks and parking lots in the Sunnyslope area, said Mike Ricker, pastor of Prodigal’s Home.

There were kicked out of these areas because they caused problems.

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:15 PM

* An increase in the number of homeless people sleeping and loiteringin alleyways

* An increase in the incidents of burglary

* Aggressive panhandling directed at parents of preschoolers whenwalking their children to classes

* Aggressive panhandling directed at residents living in the proximity of CrossRoads

* Homeless persons and transients loitering in the church/preschoolparking lots before, during, and after school hours, seven days a week

* An increase in vandalism

* Transients trespassing on private residences

* Residents being verbally assaulted by aggressive transients andhomeless persons

* Public intoxication

* Transients and homeless persons urinating in public

* A Patron of Prodigals Home living on CrossRoads Property

* Trash and feces being deposited in alleyways and on the neighboring properties

* Cars being broken into

* A Patron of the Saturday morning breakfasts prostituting herself ashort distance from CrossRoads

* Children attending the preschool frequently encounter homeless and transients in the halls and bathrooms while at school

* A young child attending the preschool had his lunch stolen by ahomeless person

* The nearby residents worked with the police, but the problems persisted, and the residents continued to voice their complaints and concerns to CrossRoads andProdigals Home.

[I love this one]

“….Pastor Dottie Escobedo-Frank’s perception is that CrossRoads has “added value to [the] neighborhood by feeding the homeless andpoor on [its] property.” LOL!

http://www.crossroadsphx.com/pdfs/Justice%20Corcoran's%20Decision%2011-9-09.pdf

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:23 PM

“Indeed, although the details had not been worked out, City officials had facilitated an arrangement with another organization that would allow CrossRoads to use its facility to feed the homeless and poor on Saturday mornings,but CrossRoads did not pursue this because its pastor felt that CrossRoads had “areally good spot right” where they were.

Moreover, it is undisputed that before it started feeding the homeless and poor on the CrossRoads Property in January 2009, CrossRoads had been fulfilling its religious mission of feeding the homeless and caring for the disenfranchised for 50 years, working with the poor in poor neighborhoods, including taking food to the University Methodist Outreach Ministries (UMOM). Although CrossRoads cannot use its Property to feed thepoor and homeless, it has numerous alternatives that allow it to fulfill its religious mission.” p. 17

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:33 PM

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:23 PM

What you’ve described in a nutshell is end result of liberal policies (but their intentions are good!)

Buy Danish on November 30, 2009 at 9:33 PM

I notice that all the whiners condemning the churches aren’t asking what else churches do for these people.

It doesn’t stop and food and clothing. Most churches have programs for drug and alcohol rehab, job training, ESL education and other things.

Instead of the government just throwing money and benefits at these people, and leaving them where they are, the churches try to lift them out of their poverty.

Mommynator on November 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

We don’t have to ask – we already know. Crossroads has been doing that for 50 years but they never bused them in from other neighborhoods, creating a problem for their people in the area.

No one is demanding that the churches stop providing charity to the poor, which is one of the most disingenuous arguments I’ve heard in years. That phony meme is being spread by the people here who think the church has the right to trash the property rights of the neighborhood. They don’t.

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Buy Danish on November 30, 2009 at 9:33 PM

These arguments that those who object to this are some part of a government cabal trying to take over the charity industry or keep churches out of providing charity is too bizarre. The only explanation is that those spouting that nonsense are on crack.

Blake on November 30, 2009 at 9:51 PM

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