View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, December 22, 2003

Scrooge McLileks

Both the Denver Post and 9News (the text's the same; view the TV news report) are reporting that the fine folks who brought you the Northern Alliance of Blogs are giving free one-way bus tickets to homeless people, 4500 over the last four years. Sixty-three of them ended up here.

To be fair, many more ended up in Illinois, probably Chicago, where at least they'll be able to vote five or six times before being picked up. So far, they've spent $370,000 on this program over that time. Now, I'll admit that the "homeless advocates" here in Denver go a little overboard:

"Denver never has and never would use such a program," White said. "Homeless people are part of our community. We should be embracing them and finding them a home and providing for the stranger in our midst, not sending them away."

This is certainly more in the spirit of the season, although it's probably a little more than most people who've been drooled on while having their spare snacks tossed back at them can honestly agree to. Ski bums, we can ship off to Vail and Aspen. But...bums?

While I can see why anyone would want to get away from Minnesota during the winter, Colorado only ranked 13th out of 48 "destination states." (This had to include Minnesota, so there seems to be a little intra-league trading going on here, too.) I will bet you dimes to doughnuts that California, Arizona, and Florida ranked higher.

"We're not a travel agency and we're not pushing people out of the state," [Commissioner Mike] Opat said. "We're not going to just give them a bus ticket and say, 'Here, now you are Denver's problem.' We are going to make sure they have a family, a job offer, something at the end of the line before we put them on a bus."

Sure! A job offer! How exactly do you verify this, Mr. Opat? I'd love to hear that conversation. I'm sure there are construction companies and restaurants and executive consulting agencies all over the country looking to hire, sight unseen, people whose phone interviews are punctuated by shouts of "Time's up!" and "My dealer's supposed to call three minutes ago!" How delighted they'll be when their prize new hire shows up at work stoned out of his mind and needing the shower that their plumbing is going to provide that family of 5 in Aurora.

Where's the Northern Alliance on all this? They're probably out there helping these guys pack! I'm sure Atomizer has better things to worry about now, but Mitch, in the past, has had lots of time on his hands. Hell, I'm surprised the guys at Powerline didn't put him on a Greyhound to Boulder. I will say this for them: they're subtle. I've had hits originating from the Hennepin County Public Library in the past. In retrospect, it's clear that they were bums, steered to the site by the Alliance, doing advance work in return for, oh, $5 or a bottle of Thunderbird. Or maybe a bus ticket.

Now that we've uncovered the problem, I just have two words for you guys: Security Fence.

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