Why It’s Best To Call Journalists Back

I’d call me back. Selfie by R.V.

All I really wanted to know when I called the Good News Rescue Mission’s office a week-and-a-half ago was one simple thing: What, pray tell, is the Mission’s capacity?

That number was important to the story I was working on, “Is Redding Cruel and Unusual?” which concerns the Redding City Council’s revision of the city’s anti-homeless camping ordinance. The revisions, passed unanimously by the city council last week, were in response to a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision last September declaring such ordinances unconstitutional if there is not enough “available shelter” in the area.

In order to leap this hurdle—the Eight Amendment provisions against laws that are “cruel and unusual”—the city claims the Good News Rescue Mission, the only major homeless shelter in Shasta County, never reaches full capacity.

[s2If !current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]

Only paid subscribers have access to our site’s lead stories, as well as the Convo Cafe. When you become a recurring subscriber, you will have full access to all lead stories as well as the entire website. Plus, you’ll have the option to receive email notifications of everything we post on aNewsCafe.com.

We look forward to you being part of aNewsCafe.com’s online family of paid subscribers. Your support helps us not just survive, but thrive and bring even more quality content to you by top-notch contributors and journalists about topics crucial to you, our region and our world.

Read more about our decision here.

Click here to subscribe!

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

[/s2If]

[s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]

Good News Rescue Mission building

Therefore, since the Mission is always available to anyone found camping on public property in the city, the Redding Police Department can cite them without violating the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

As I pointed out in my article last week, the city of Boise posed a similar argument to the Ninth Circuit and was rejected, leading to its decision such laws are cruel and unusual. Boise is two-and-half times the size of Redding but has a similar number of homeless people, upwards of 750 people, figures that just about everyone agrees are an underestimate. Boise has three faith-based homeless shelters compared to Redding’s one, the Mission.

Like the Good News Rescue Mission, two of Boise’s shelters, operated by Boise Rescue Mission, belong to the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, which the court found has a policy of stating their shelters are never at full capacity—even when they are. The Ninth Circuit found this incredulous, as it did Boise Rescue Mission’s claim that its services were primarily secular.

Now the city of Redding is making precisely the same claims about its revised anti-homeless camping ordinance. There’s always “available shelter” at the Mission.

That’s an impressive claim, especially considering no one from the city, during its deliberations on the revised ordinance, has ever stated what the actual capacity of the Mission is.

I figured the man to ask about the shelter’s capacity was Good News Rescue Mission executive director Jonathan Anderson. So I called the Mission’s office, asked for public relations, identified myself to the woman who answered and told her I wanted to talk to Anderson in regard to the shelter’s capacity and Redding’s revised anti-homeless camping ordinance.

This was late Thursday morning a week-and-a-half ago. She said he’d probably get back to me late in the afternoon.

He didn’t, and he didn’t call the next day either.

Nor did Anderson call over the weekend, while I was working on the story. Faced with a midnight Monday deadline, I searched the local news coverage on the ordinance issue looking for any mention of the Mission’s actual capacity, by the city attorney, the city council, the Mission, anyone, and came up with nothing.

Good News Rescue Mission executive director Jonathan Anderson being interviewed by Redding Chamber of Commerce on site, screen grab from CoC’s Facebook page.

In last week’s story, I finally went with a statement on the Mission’s website that it provides shelter to approximately 200 people nightly. Later, also on the Mission’s website, I found the number of people it claims it sheltered overnight in 2017, some 77,461 people, and divided it by 365, arriving at an average of 212 people sheltered nightly.

Of course, these numbers in the neighborhood of 200 people don’t indicate what the Mission’s capacity is when full, or if it’s ever been at full capacity.

However, in a Nov. 2017 story by KRCR-TV on the Mission’s just-completed “Building Hope” expansion project, which added 36 long-term beds for the women’s recovery program and 105 beds to the women and children’s shelter, Anderson told the station the added bed space would quickly fill up.

“Anderson said the facility is already expected to exceed capacity,” the station reported.

Yet since the Ninth Circuit’s decision last year, the Mission appears to have taken on quasi-magical properties enabling it to expand infinitely to accommodate all of the people camping on the city’s streets.

Anderson was indeed busy on the Thursday I called him—he was standing in front of a wooden cross at the Mission giving a video interview for the Redding Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.

In the video, which may have been recorded at an earlier date, Anderson explains that commerce, tourism and law enforcement must thrive if Redding’s economy is to prosper. He says it’s a myth that the Mission has ever been at full capacity, so there’s no excuse for anyone sleeping on the streets.

He then immediately undermines his own claim by offering a rather lengthy list of people—the severely ill, the severely mentally ill, known criminals—who can’t get services at the Mission for one reason or another.

The video’s main focus is on a van Anderson plans to acquire. The plan with the van is to approach homeless campers and coax them into the Mission. Just in case they say no, Anderson says he is bringing along the RPD for backup.

As you might imagine, I was a little bit sore that this guy, a man-of-the-cloth after all, didn’t call me back. He’s the one person who can definitively answer my question, what is the Mission’s actual capacity?

I’ve been a professional journalist for 30 years, and experience tells me it’s always best to call me back. People who don’t call me back before the story comes out usually do one of two things. If the story doesn’t involve them, they let is slide. If the story involves them, they return the call claiming they didn’t get my original message.

Jonathan Anderson: Photo source – Good News Rescue Mission website.

Sure enough, the day after the story came out, Anderson contacted A News Cafe on its Facebook page, via Messenger, claiming he never got my call. Here’s the message:

“Hello Mr Scheide,

“Someone just sent me a link to a recent article you wrote. I would love the opportunity to talk. Can you email your contact info to my work email or on here?

“I apologize for sending this through messenger, I couldn’t find any contact info on the article. I am back in town this week but have a board meeting tonight that I will be preparing for all day. I would love to give you a tour of the Mission first hand so you can formulate your opinions on first had experience with us. Would you have availability for that?”

I’m willing to grant Anderson didn’t get my original message because he’s oh-so-busy, giving interviews to the Chamber of Commerce and raising money at Bethel and other such duties.

But what sort of journalist would I be if I fell for the “Gilligan’s Island” routine? The one question I wanted answered at the time didn’t require a three-hour tour.

Meanwhile, the list of questions I had for Anderson had grown considerably while I was waiting for him to return my call. I let him off the hook for not calling me back, but ignored the tour offer when I replied to him via email:

“Greetings Mr. Anderson,

“I left a message with someone in your office Thursday that I wanted to talk to you about the Mission and the city of Redding’s revised anti-homeless camping ordinance. I guess you didn’t get the message before the story came out. Here’s a few of the questions I wanted to ask. You can also reach me at [my redacted phone number].

“1. What is the actual capacity of the Good News Rescue Mission? By this I mean the total number of beds, as well as the number of people that can sleep on the floor. I’d like both numbers please.

“2. Although there are well-known incidences of the Mission being overcrowded in the past, the city of Redding and you are now claiming you’ve never been at full capacity. Is it accurate to say what you’re saying?

“3. In the Mission’s case, is it the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions’ policy to state they are never at full capacity?

“4. Is sobriety a condition of continuing to stay at the Mission?

“5. Does the mission have any non-faith-based drug and alcohol programs?

“6. Does the Mission keep a list of people who’ve been denied services because of behavioral reasons, i.e. repeatedly breaking the rules, acts of violence, etc.?

“7. If the revised ordinance goes into effect, RPD or other law enforcement will be contacting you about homeless individuals they encounter camping. Do residents or past residents have privacy rights?

“8. If RPD contacts you about a homeless individual who’s been previously disruptive at the Mission, will that individual now be able to stay at the Mission?

“9. Is the Mission capable of providing shelter to all of Shasta County’s homeless population?

“10. As a Christian, do you feel the city of Redding has put you in an awkward position of supporting a law that has been found unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment?

“That’s all my questions for now. You can write your answers or give me a call and I’ll ask the same questions, your choice.

“Sincerely,

“R.V. Scheide”

See why it’s always better to call journalists back the first time? If you ignore me too long, I start thinking up lots of questions. Number 1 being, why aren’t you calling me back?

I didn’t expect Anderson to answer my questions, and he didn’t. Instead he doubled down on the tour offer in a reply via email and Messenger last Thursday morning:

“Hey RV,

“[T]hanks for getting back to me. I just finished up my two days of board meetings (thank you for your grace in my slow response).

“I saw the questions, great questions. I think we will actually post your questions with the answers on our new website in the near future as I am responding to those exact questions almost daily.

“I have a personal policy that I like to meet a journalist and give them a tour before I engage in their questions, this is so they can have the full context and transparency of both myself and the Mission.

“I have had too many journalists misquote or misrepresent my character based simply off their interpretation but changed that interpretation after they actually met me and took a tour. I have found many times the interpreted information was based heavily on faulty outside influences which most times were very libelous.

“The soonest I am available for a tour would be Friday but I am fairly open next week as well. Would you be available either Friday or sometime next week?

“I will start working on your questions now so you can have them in writing as well. Reading through the questions I can see it will take me some time to fully answer all of them as these will have lengthy responses. I may start with answering the questions in the order you sent them and reply with one or two at a time instead of try to answer them all at once.

“If you are open to it, we could do a tour and then go across the street for lunch, debrief, and go over any additional questions that may arise from the tour.

“Does any of that work for you?

“I’ll copy and paste this from my work email as well which I hope to have cleared out tomorrow. Board weeks are atrocious for my email. I can get up to a hundred emails a day that need to be answered but can’t read/respond to any of them until the end of the board week, it’s crazy!

“Blessings my friend.

“Jonathan D. Anderson”

Gilligan and the Skipper heading out, courtesy of Gilligan’s Island.

See? He really was talking about a three-hour tour! This is a prerequisite to answering questions from any journalist about the Mission, a policy he says he implemented after all the negative experiences he’s had with journalists misinterpreting and libeling the Mission.

I dunno. Any local journalists out there misquote the padre? Anyone change their story at his request?

At any rate, journalists can’t tolerate these sorts of preconditions placed on gaining answers to what were originally simple questions about a legitimate public interest news story.

In his reply, Anderson implies that somehow the answers to the 10 questions I’ve already sent him will change to his advantage if I go on a tour of the Mission. The only way the answers would change is if I changed the questions—no doubt the intent of the tour.

Sorry, I can’t do that. One of my favorite things about this story is I get to write “Mr. Anderson” several times. I felt just like Neo in the Matrix responding to his offer:

“Greetings again Mr. Anderson,

“Thank you for your response and your offer to tour the Mission. I’ll get to that visit later in this message.

“However, your office should have informed me that a tour is a prerequisite to the Mission’s executive director answering any questions about a legitimate news story about public policy decision involving the Mission. If your office had told me that I would have told them, “Then I’ll put the Mission down as “no comment.”

“For the record, I’ve been a journalist for 30 years, I’ve won many awards, and I’ve never been accused of libel, misquoting someone or even taking someone out of context by any of my story subjects.

“That said, I know that some interview subjects feel like they’ll be misquoted or misrepresented, as you apparently do. The questions I’ve emailed to you already offer us a way around this difficulty. Simply answer the questions at any length you wish, return them, and A News Cafe will publish them as a verbatim Q&A stand alone article.

“As for the tour offer, a tour wasn’t necessary for me to write ‘Is Redding Cruel and Unusual?’ which is an analysis of law and public policy that happens to involve the Mission. That story is done and published, and as it stands now, the Mission didn’t respond to my inquiry.

“Meanwhile, I’m on to the next story, which doesn’t involved the Mission. If I can find time in my schedule, I would be interested in doing a profile on the Mission in the future, providing you would allow me to spend 24 hours — one day and one night — in the Mission.

“I encourage you answer the questions below. We can talk on the phone about this if you wish, but I would prefer, given your misgivings about being misquoted or misinterpreted, that you answer them in writing, so there’s no confusion.

“Sincerely,

“R.V. Scheide”

His response so far, as I face yet another midnight Monday deadline?

Crickets.

It’s bewildering, this sudden secrecy surrounding the Mission’s actual capacity.

Seeking the same number, homeless activist Chris Solberg recently contacted Patrick O’Connor, a fire inspector/investigator for the Redding Fire Dept. Solberg shared the email chain with me in which he gets no answer and what politely can be called the runaround. Solberg called it “a dodge.”

In the email chain, there was a link to a Record Searchlight story from last September in which then city council-candidate Michael Dacquisto claimed the Mission has a capacity of 500 people but only shelters 200 regularly.

The story did not cite where Dacquisto pulled those figures out of, but now that he’s on the city council perhaps he will enlighten us.

Nobody else seems to have the answer.

Maybe he’ll even return my call.

[/s2If]

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

48 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Living in Cheyenne and now Phoenix the response by homeless shelters to news sources has been completely different than Redding. I have written LTTE and made comments, one in OC about Glendale yesterday, based on the openness of those homeless programs to TV and print news.
    The only reluctant care facilities that haven’t been open but are now legally being investigated have been Hacienda Healthcare, which made national news, and Southwest Key Immigration holdings. which also made the national news. Now the findings about those two verges on illegal, corrupt, or worse.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I am by no means alleging any kind of impropriety at the Good News Rescue Mission. I’m sure they do the best they can with what they have. The issue here for me is city policy that’s potentially unconstitutional is being based on the idea that the Mission is never full and its services are primarily secular–just as Boise Rescue Mission claimed, unsuccessfully, in the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        What is Bethel’s response to the homeless as they have members on the CC? I know Utah’s housing first for the homeless started with help from the Mormon Church and it still helps out with some funding but largely stay out of the way. Does Bethel, or McConnell, guide Redding policy on homelessness? In Cheyenne the Cheyenne Frontier Days committee, as well as other groups, donated money to Comea House, the main homeless shelter in Cheyenne.
        As Cheyenne and Redding are similar in population and political leanings I often compare the two.

  2. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    I had considered sending Rescue Mission Director Jonathan Anderson an email asking him why he’s now claiming that the Mission has never been at full capacity, when a statement on the Mission’s website (which appeared in a now-defunct “FAQ’s” section not more than a few months ago) stated it has been at capacity for years, and that a considerable percentage of people who occupy its limited space are forced to sleep on the floor. Given the information in the outstanding (and riveting) article above, I don’t think I’ll bother.

    The removal of that statement was fairly concurrent with the decision by the 9th Circuit Court that cities may not arrest/harass homeless people if adequate emergency shelter space or other local alternatives to the streets are not available. In my personal opinion this is not a coincidence.

  3. Avatar Paul Lehman says:

    Not sure I see the issue with taking a tour even after the fact…maybe three hours of your time to get answers would be worth it as I’m sure there are several people that would like to know the answers to your line of questioning. It may also lead to getting your 24-hour visitation request for further reporting. It I guess this all stems from the fact that I’m a big fan of in-depth investigative reporting.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Paul – Mission Director Jonathan Anderson stated in his communication above that only one or two answers MAY be forthcoming following the carefully-controlled Mission tour and the debriefing afterwards (which I believe is to gage R.V.’s reaction, and to determine if he’s been suitably impressed). I personally doubt that we’d get much more information than we have now, given how evasive Anderson appears to be.

      Also, I’ve had dealings with every Mission director for the past 40 years, and it would surprise me greatly if Anderson agreed to allow R.V. to spend 24 hours there. The fact that he hasn’t responded to that request in any manner probably tells us everything we need to know on that subject.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Well Paul Lehman, there’s always a chance Mr. Anderson will take me up on my offer, though it’s a lot slimmer now that this story came out. But so far, he hasn’t responded. This isn’t the first time I’ve been stiffed by public officials and/or pr people in Shasta County, originally I was going to include several other characters who haven’t returned my calls.

  4. Avatar Tim says:

    If I was at the mission, the tone and content of your questions would leave me to believe you had an existing hostile narrarive in mind and were searching only for confirming evidence. I wouldn’t return your call either, for fear that you’d quote shop and take one statement from a longer conversation out of context.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      All I really wanted to know was the Mission’s capacity. There’s no hostility in that question. This should be an easy answer, especially considering public policy is being made on it.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        From satellite images, the mission has approximately 11,625 square feet of floor space. If people were just lying on the floor and each took 24 square feet (8’×3′), the capacity would be 484. Bunk beds would increase this, as would doubling up per bed.

        If it were a restaurant, International Building Code would dictate 15 square feet per person for a capacity of 775. If it were a dancehall, IBC would dictate 7 square feet per person for a maximum occupancy of 1660.

        However, for a building with stairs you need 0.3″ of doorway per person. I count 5 doors (2 double doors and 1 single door), but there may be a 6th door hidden from view of googlemaps. Each door should be at least 36″ wide, giving a capacity of 120 people per door. 6 doors equals 720 people…

        Shasta County had ~750 homeless at the last count, Redding would presumably have half that (you can argue that homeless are under counted, but they also count housed couch surfers as homeless).

        Cliff notes: The mission could hold 600-720 people (depending on the number of fire exits) and stay compliant with building code, easily exceeding the official number of homeless in Redding.

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Tim – The Rescue Mission is the only homeless shelter for the entire county, so it really doesn’t matter how those numbers are divided. And I believe it would be safe to argue that the 750 figure is a GROSS under-count, since it would be impossible for a small group of volunteers to count every single homeless person in this entire vast county in a single day.

          The actual capacity of the Mission (on which this entire issue rests) is a simple question. Why should it be impossible to get a simple answer? (from anyone).

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            I wonder if any of the directors of homeless population surveys ever use the methodologies of wildlife biologists (e.g., mark/recapture)? In order to determine population sizes, we rarely attempt an absolute count. The estimated population calculations we use are far more accurate than incomplete counts.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Steve, I love it, capture, tag, release. Then the homeless could be tracked like wild animals.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Steve, I think wildlife biologists might run into the same problem, since one reason the present method is considered an underestimate is many homeless people refuse to participate in the process, period.

        • Avatar George Koen says:

          I was at the mission for over a year. Your numbers are unrealistic at best when speaking of sleep space.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I’m talking about what’s possible given the building code limitations of square footage and # of exits, not what is. The 3 story mission building has a footprint of about 75 × 45 feet. One floor could house triple bunks that stack 3 twins in a space 42″ wide x 80″ long x 96″ tall in the following array:

            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed bed isle bed
            isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle isle

            That results in 216 beds in a grid 40 feet wide by 69 feet long. 2 floors could therefore sleep 432 people, with a 3rd floor for cafeteria & bathrooms and the other 45 x 30 foot building for kitchen & office space.

            I’m sure that isn’t the layout they use and they may not be able to do exactly that due to structural pillars and stairway layouts, but it is a back of the envelope estimate that shows the mission is sufficiently large to shelter Redding’s 375 homeless if efficiently configured and scheduled (e.g. the cafeteria might only be able to serve 1 floor at a time).

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Keep in mind Tim, he’d already read the original story, so he was aware of what my narrative framework was based on–the Ninth Circuit’s decision that homeless camping ordinances such as Redding’s are unconstitutional. That court case is what my questions are based on, and if that’s hostile, well, welcome to the wonderful world of journalism, where sometimes you have to ask questions people don’t want to answer.

      For the record, Mr. Anderson said they were excellent questions, people ask him the same questions all the time, and as soon as he figures out the answers, he’ll put them up on the Missions’s website.

  5. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    Must be a narrow tight-rope for the GNRM director to walk to raise funds by saying “we are at capacity and need $$$” and at the same time saying to the city “we never reach capacity.” Meanwhile as I understand it, the City is going to be legally entangled by those who will try to stop the ordinance voted in last week. Great use of city funds, time and energy when those same resources could be used to house the chronically homeless.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Anita Brady, I do think Mr. Anderson has been put in a bind here. As far as any legal challenges to Redding’s revised ordinance, I won’t be surprised if a challenge is mounted, because Boise enacted the same revisions in 2010, only to see the ordinance struck down by the Ninth Circuit.

  6. Avatar Ginny adorador says:

    I can attest that the “three-hour tour” (cracked me up) is mind-numbingly chipper and incredible self-serving to the mission and those who run it. I do not believe Anderson or anyone else at the mission is going to give actual numbers. They wouldn’t answer my direct questions before or after my tour. However, I would imagine the fire department would be required to have those numbers, public safety and all. Hmmm….interesting.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’d be pretty disappointed if I took the tour and still didn’t get any answers on the Mission’s actual capacity. Perhaps it is 500 people, as then candidate Michael Dacquisto stated in September. I’ve emailed him to find out if he knows what the actual capacity is. Hopefully he’ll return the email.

  7. Avatar Ginny adorador says:

    Excellent article, as usual, R.V.

  8. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    First off a couple of disclaimers: RV is my first born and I am a monthly contributor to the Mission.

    I won’t swear to this but their monthly newsletter has mentioned a capacity of 200 most nights.

    All that to mean is not the main question. The question should be why are they in bed with the city council, using a ride along policeman is a very bad idea especially if you are really trying to help the homeless. You show up with a cop the first reaction of the homeless would be to run because they suspect what will come next. A ticket and the loss of their hard collected possessions.

    A whole lot questions remain, but the one that needs to be answered is this law still unconstitutional if it is it needs to be gone.

    The problem remains , nobody wants to do anything to help these folks who are comprised. The reasons these folks are on the street varies from vets with problems from the wars, those victims of our crooked institutions, drugs, alcohol, loss of a job and unable to find work. It really doesn’t matter why they are out there, they are human beings, in trouble and we owe them help not tickets and jail.

    It is time to put pressure city hall to knock off this unconstitutional crap. It is bad enough we have to tolerate a cruel president which could care less what we think of him,but we don’t have to tolerate a cruel city hall.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      “It is bad enough we have to tolerate a cruel president which could care less what we think of him,but we don’t have to tolerate a cruel city hall.”

      Excellent point, Dad!

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Mr. Scheide,

      What an impressive and insightful comment. Those reasons also include the lack of available housing (Redding’s rental vancancy rate was less than 2 percent, even BEFORE the fires), jobs that don’t pay enough to support housing in this area of low wages, and physical and mental disabilities (groups that Mission Director Jonathan Anderson admits the Mission often doesn’t serve).

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        I see on the national news where the Camp Fire shelter at the Red Bluff fairgrounds is closing with those people having nowhere else to go.

        • Avatar CODY says:

          It is the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, where 600 people are still staying, that is closing at the end of the month.

          Those people are in a bad situation, as the housing availablility in Butte County was bad even before the Camp Fire.

  9. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    I would guess that a lot of homeless would be satisfied with a field, some blue rooms, and clean water, and to be left alone. A daily clean up crew could keep it cleaned up. The work gang could be comprised of jailed prisoners to do the cleanup. Yep it will cost money, probably a lot less than they spend ticketing and jailing them.

    It appears to me that we need to take a different attitude towards those less fortunate than us. I have never had a moment’s trouble from any homeless but I didn’t spend that much time in town till I moved to town a while back. I have often thought what I would do if I suddenly got a million bucks. It would make me feel very t good to ride around town giving money to any homeless I find. No judgment just a little help. Right now I limited to an occasional 20 bucks Do I care what they do with it.NO

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I periodically re-read “The Untied Way” columns that Jon Carroll of the SF Chronicle used to run in one form or another every year. I confess that it’s been a few years since I’ve heeded his advice. I also confess that when I’ve practiced The Untied Way in the past, the recipients weren’t exactly a random selection of the down-and-out—I tended to favor the elderly.

      https://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/article/It-s-time-again-for-the-Untied-Way-6631166.php

      • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

        I’ve never heard of “The Untied Way.” About ten years ago, I was outside Carnegie’s in Redding. An elderly man approached me for money for a cup of coffee. It was cold outside. I was in a mood. I thought to myself, I don’t give a heck what cash is in my wallet, I’m giving whatever is in the wallet. Happened to be a twenty. I still remember the man’s clear, blue eyes. His appreciation. It felt good to give.

    • Avatar Ginny adorador says:

      Mr. Scheide, My long held belief about giving money to people is this, It is a gift, and once I give someone a gift what they do with it is no longer under my control nor does it need to be. I withhold all judgement (or at least try very hard to) about where my money goes. If I was homeless I don’t know what I would do but I often wonder if I would be drinking a bottle of whiskey at 10 am or using some sense numbing drug daily. Maybe I would, it is incredibly hard out on the streets. As much as I know about it it is worse than even I can imagine. Mr. Scheide, please continue to give to people when you are called to. I know, that sometimes, what seems a small act of kindness can keep a person going when they felt they couldn’t go anymore.

  10. Avatar Candace C says:

    R.V. Sr.
    “Right now I’m limited to an occasional 20 bucks. Do I care what they do with it. NO”
    You are a man after my own heart. My own personal philosophy is that when I give to the less fortunate I give with no expectation. If I were wanting an expectation to be met I suppose I might do that with a loan that had agreed upon strings attached but that is not my intention with homeless strangers. If I give $20 to a homeless person that’s my choice. If they buy food with it, that’s their choice. If they buy cigarettes and booze with it that’s their choice as well. Would I choose to trade my life with theirs? Nope. Do I feel incredibly lucky that I’m not homeless? Yep.

  11. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    What a well-written article! It truly inspires me to read articles like yours on anewscafe.com. True journalism is alive and well.

    You have a gift for clearly describing the issues, factually and also compassionately. (And as I read your father’s posts, I see where you inherited that gift.)

    Thank you for shining a light on this very important issue for our community! Well Done!

  12. Avatar Candace C says:

    Terry, I agree with you whole- heartedly on all points. R.V.’s pieces seem to me to be even handed and well researched. I always look forward to reading him.

  13. Avatar CODY says:

    Many of those questions could be answered with a simple Yes or No, or a short sentence.

    Instead there is obfuscation, excuses, and stalling. My guess is that a tour would just result in more smoke and mirrors, in lieu of answers to questions.

    The Fire Marshall should have maximum occupancy numbers – perhaps it is even posted there somewhere.

  14. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    Yes – R.V. Scheide and anewscafe deserve a huge amount of credit for writing and publishing exceptional articles like this.

  15. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    I’m too am impressed with this article. Not only did I laugh over the author’s questions, I thought, damn he’s good. And I would love to know the answers.

    I readily agree, it’s important to respond to journalists. In my way back when machine, when I served as state employee, it was my personal policy to be open and prompt with requests from the media. And I also made that commitment in regard to inquiries from the public. As an aside, and I’m serious, I once received a phone call asking me where they could sue the State because her mother had a sliver from a fence in a State Park. I referred the caller to the Sacramento headquarters, yet made sure I repeated my name in case she had more questions.

    This served me well. Once, I experience a big “thing” in the Trinity County Journal, and perhaps the Searchlight. The “thing” lasted for over four months. My name in the mud. The issue was over “retiring” textile banners from the Weaverville Joss to storage. I’ve always wanted to submit a story about this, because the resolution was, in my mind, famous. It was a Taoist priest who resolved the issue. The story died down. The glasses of wine at night had stopped.

    A month later, KSBW called me up for an interview. I said, of course. I will show you the textiles, the storage unit where they are located. Everything. I would just like you to know, that this issue has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. And I am personally at ease. What time would you like to meet?

    The nice person on the phone said, “uh, I get it.”

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I….uh….I feel like I NEED to hear the story of the Taoist priest resolving a months-long conflict over retiring textile banners (?!) from the Weaverville Joss House. How am I supposed to sleep at night not knowing why this was a big enough conflict to cause the dragging of your name through the mud (or naming you Mudd) for months, and why a Taoist priest was needed to resolve it?

      Seriously.

      • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

        Well, …uh..in retrospect I will write something out and land it to Doni. Just for you, Mr. Seriously. All my images were lost in the fire. Let’s see how vivid my writing skills are. Cliff hanger, the Taoist priest answered some questions (in my mind) about the Bethel perspective. In today time. It was a dark and stormy night in Weaverville. That’s where I will begin.

  16. I love you all; first, R.V., for writing this column and giving a behind-the-scenes peek at what it takes to get story; and second — one of the best parts about ANC — you, the family of subscribers who comment and discuss and cajole and disagree and examine with intellect, humor and civility.

    Finally, I absolutely adore having Mr. Scheide weigh in on his son’s work. Double Scheides, What a treat.

  17. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    Thanks Donnie

  18. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Excellent article R.V. I can’t wait to read Linda Cooper’s article. The Joss house is one of my favorite places on earth.

  19. Avatar George Koen says:

    As a past ‘guest’ and volunteer (mostly overnight in the sleep area called the chapel) at the mission, I can assure you there is nowhere near the space to accommodate all of Reddings homeless on a given night! Just not possible. Winter always has the highest capacity.
    The mission is so fiercely protective of itself, any enquiring mind is left wondering what is really going on. Certainly they have policies but I found that the execising of said policies is arbitrary at best.
    Certainly the mission is needed, but not as it exists today.

  20. Avatar CHRISTIAN GARDINIER says:

    This should be simple….. Right? Doesn’t the The City Of Redding Government have fire law and capacity ordnance for all public business and gathering spaces that require a sign is post in public view? Don’t all hotels and motels have a capacity limit set by the fire marshal and building department? Doesn’t the fire marshal inspect the mission? If not, why and what is being hidden?

  21. Avatar CHRISTIAN GARDINIER says:

    One last thing…. The Road Home…. I have heard of this place for a few years now. NPR did a great story on them a while back. 91% outcome rate getting people off the streets in a humane way. https://www.theroadhome.org/