Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'All Things Being Equal' -- Huh?

All things being equal. What a bogus concept that is!

Case in point: Calhoun, GA, a small town (15,000) in the northwest part of this diverse state. Someone figured, all things being equal, that mismanaging a motel that housed about 80 men, women and children who previously lost their housing wouldn't matter. So very wrong...!

I got a desperate SOS from my McKinney-Vento friends in this community. They knew I had been hanging out in Georgia. They just found out that the Oglethorpe Inn, a nondescript motel on the edge of an Interstate ramp, had the power shut off and people needed to find alternative housing ASAP. HELP! I was in Illinois at the time, planning to fly back to Tillie in GA and then head south. Change of plans.

I seethed as I flew. I seethed as my sister drove me to pick up Tillie. I seethed as I scooted across the state, heading to Calhoun. Arriving too late to do anything Saturday night, I prepped and hit the ground running on Sunday. Met with Roberta and Stacey, confirming my worst fears, but being totally impressed with their stalwart efforts (along with their teammate, Vicky). These three super-heroines were making sure everyone had a place to stay, at least temporarily, while better arrangements could be made. Despite their best efforts, all things are not equal....like credit histories, felony records, pets, stuff, lack of transportation, and other seemingly insurmountable barriers to rehousing dozens of income-challenged, fragile, frazzled folks.

Tillie and I headed over to the Oglethorpe. I knew a couple people there from our previous visit under the Southern (Dis)Comfort banner. It took only moments for these beleaguered folks to respond kindly to my camera-bearing presence. Yup. The same people being displaced by the dastardly deeds of a deacon of a church (also a state senator) and his business partner, a member of Congress. All things being equal...I'll take the "least functional" homeless folks on my team any day! Their stories need to be told, and justice needs to be done.

The convoluted story (still evolving, I hope) boils down to these assumedly responsible (the bank gave them a $2.2 mil loan) elected officials dumping the motel and its responsibilities on a hapless guy who may have stumbled in his efforts...resulting in the motel being shut down. All things being equal, it should have been fine...but it's not.

As a result of all things not being equal, 80 folks were forced to pack up their meager possessions and relocate to a variety of other places. No shelter in town for homeless families, and a limited one for men, so it's not like they had options. The 3 angels set about raising money to pop folks in motels or to pay for (very affordable, if you get the drift) apartments. By Monday, the deadline, all had been placed.

My take on the deal has the 2 legislators responsible for the bulk of the consequences that displaced the most vulnerable people in their community. And as a believer in "personal responsibility," I'm calling on those responsible to make things right. Here's my petition you can sign to add muscle to my challenge to them to do right, our meager effort to make all things equal....

It's my hope that those who should know better will discover that all things aren't equal for people who've experienced more than their share of lumps. That's why our government needs to be there to help...not hurt...because all things are not equal.

It seems to me that those of us who have any wherewithal to level the playing field, aka make all things equal, will have our work cut out for us, now more than ever. Fighting bogus bullies could be a full-time job!

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