… William Bryan Camery, Alfonso Carranza, Eduardo Galviz Casteneda, Alfred Noel Catanese…
For about 45 minutes, members of the homeless advocacy group Housing is a Human Right OC, as well as other groups, hijacked the consent calendar portion of the Dec. 18, 2018 Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting. Ostensibly signed up to speak to an otherwise obscure agenda item appropriating $624,000 for lead remediation at OC Sheriff’s Department shooting ranges, 25 members of the public instead read off the names of more than 240 homeless people who died on the streets during 2018.
And they weren’t polite about it, either.
“You have been derelict in your duties and continue to be derelict in your duties to our homeless population,” Housing is a Human Right OC member Jeanine Robbins told the board. “We are here to honor the people who have died on our streets due to your negligence.”
After Robbins concluded her two-minute testimony, Board Chairperson Andrew Do seemed confused. “Have you read Item Number Two?” he asked. “It’s about lead remediation.”
Of course, the advocates knew exactly what they were doing. “We tried to make it somewhat relevant,” David Duran of Housing is a Human Right told me after the meeting. As it happened, a number of speakers referred to the coroner’s office, which handles the dead in Orange County and is a part of the Sheriff’s Department, which is probably why Do relented.
“We speak at the Board of Supervisors often,” Duran told me. “Our understanding after speaking with attorneys who are familiar with the Brown Act is that people are allowed to speak regardless of whether they’re addressing the topic.”
Duran said that in the past, the public comment portion of the meeting happened fairly early on, but in recent years it was moved to the end of the meeting–making it difficult for people to speak at Supervisors meetings. Hence the group’s unconventional tactics to ensure that their voice is heard early.
… Stephen Allen Davis, Barbara W. De Santo, Brianna Demeo, William Francis Dennehey…
Each speaker read off a few names, 99 percent of which came from the county coroner’s office, according to Duran. But the list, as some speakers noted, was incomplete. For instance, there are no “John and Jane Does” on there, so there are unquestionable more than just 244 people who died homeless in OC in 2018.
Some speakers, like Stephanie Roberts of Garden Grove, offered a few personal details after they read a name–in her case, that of Emanuel “Manny” Sanchez.
“I met Manny when I was asked to notarize documents as he wanted to be married before he died of cancer and was unable to go to the courthouse to do the paperwork,” Roberts told the Board, which was more or less listening. “I was moved, and devastated when I saw his condition. Manny was bed-ridden, emaciated, and barely able to sign his name. He died shortly thereafter, without being able to get married as he wished.”
Other speakers became understandably emotional, like Heidi Zimmerman of Anaheim did when describing her friends who’ve died, or are right now suffering from bed bug bites at homeless shelters.
“Denise is in a bed full of bed bugs and nobody gives a shit!” Zimmerman told the Board. “You’re too busy praising each other, what a great job you’re doing! You’re killing my friends, you’re killing my people–stop it!”
When the last speaker had read the last name, the Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the lead remediation contract, as though no one had spoken at all, and continued on with the rest of the meeting agenda.
… Javier Guadalupe Soriano, Luis David Soto-Velez, Mark Steele, Thomas Edward Stewart Jr…
Housing is a Human Right OC will hold a memorial at 4pm today, Dec. 21, at Anaheim Cemetery to honor those homeless people who died in Orange County in 2018.
Click here to watch the Dec. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting. The Housing is a Right OC portion begins about one hour and 16 minutes into the meeting.
Click here to see a listing off all the names read off during the Dec. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting.