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city has declared no veteran will be home- less in Sarasota, it must rely on The Salvation Army's shelter and social programs to keep that promise. Thus, the city by itself is virtually defenseless against the repeated onslaughts of vagrants and homeless people. The condition has been made worse by a Miami federal judge's deci- sion in a case named after Michael Pottinger. He was a homeless man tired of being arrested for sleeping, eating and going to the bathroom in public. His case was picked up by the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge found the repeated arrests for "life sustaining activities" constituted "cruel and unusual punishment." After a decade of hearings and appeals, the resulting Pottinger ruling bans arrests for these daily activities unless the offenders are offered the option of shelter. The ruling was relaxed slightly in January. The Miami Herald reported on Jan. 9, 2014, "The homeless will no longer be permitted to build fires in parks to cook or build makeshift tents to sleep in. They can still sleep on side- walks, but only if they don't block the right of way for pedestrians. Exposing themselves to go to the bathroom or to clean up would still be allowed, but not if they're within a quarter mile of a public restroom." While working with the county to create a shelter and avoid the onus of the Pottinger rules, the City Commission instructed the city police to suspend enforcement of a variety of ordinances and laws. But without the prom- ise of a shelter to avoid running afoul of the Pottinger ruling, the City Commission will be forced to revisit that instruction. Two new members will be coming on the City Commission because Commissioners Paul Caragulio and Shannon Snyder are resign- ing on Nov. 18 to run against each other for the same open County Commission office. Their resignations are necessary because of Florida's "Resign to Run" Law. Two replacement city commissioners will be appointed in mid-December. Thus, Caragiulo and Snyder will not face the consequences of their decisions between now and then. That might explain their change in stance from pro- to anti-shelter. It could be a campaign strategy instead of a policy decision. Come December, Commissioner Atwell may again find Five Points Park a figurative per- sonal "no-fly zone," and Gillespie Park may again be swamped with homeless people, sharing that situation with communities along the Seaboard Coastline Railroad right of way or those near the Celery Fields off Fruitville Road. Furthermore, this is a national problem, because a fraction of the vagrants and home- less are mentally ill. While 500,000 public and private mental health beds have been elimi- nated in the past 20 years, 1.5 million new jail and prison cells have been created. It is esti- mated that 20 percent of jail and prison beds hold the mentally ill. Every night on Central Avenue, next to an historic cemetery, the vagrants and home- less reportedly hold a party. The site is only a stone's throw from The Salvation Army facility on 10th Street, which they shun. As Salvation Army Maj. Frizzell noted on July 21, "Some of them walked out of housing to be on Central. Every city has that. At some point we cannot take responsibility for those who will not accept help." % Sarasota News Leader July 25, 2014 Page 46

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