Damning Videos Show Councilman Dacquisto Mock Homeless Shelter; Oppose Homeless Solutions

This hand-made structure was one of many homeless shelters razed during a spring 2019 clean-up in the area formerly known as Henderson Open Space.

If you cannot appreciate the hilarity of poverty; if you cannot find humor in the sport of ridiculing the filthy, squalid living conditions endured by Redding’s unhoused population, then you haven’t toured a homeless encampment with Redding City Councilman Michael Dacquisto.

An April 2019 video surfaced recently that was filmed and narrated by Dacquisto, which he then proudly posted on his Facebook page.

The focus of Dacquisto’s brief video was the interior of an unidentified homeless person’s shelter, one of many targeted on that particular Saturday during a community “clean-up sweep” in an area formerly known as Henderson Open Space, since renamed Nur Pon.

The subject line on the “Michael Dacquisto for Redding City Council” Facebook page said: “Here’s a video of a ‘permanent’ living structure we found this morning doing a clean up at Henderson Open Space.”

Then, Dacquisto had some fun with his discoveries.

In the video, a jovial Dacquisto sarcastically points out key features during his so-called “home tour”. In addition to Dacquisto’s voice, a woman can be heard, too. She plays along with Dacquisto’s extemporaneous guided tour, and chimes in periodically with her own observations. Throughout the video, Dacquisto and the woman yuk it up as they notice new points of interest.

At one point in the video a neon-T-shirted community volunteer enters the space. With a gloved hand, the volunteer picks up a container, reads the label and says at least the person won’t have athlete’s foot, thank God.

More laughter.

Below is a transcript and screen shots from Dacquisto’s film:

“This is a video of the cleanup the day before Easter. We’ve got some kielbasa down here. This is – we think this is probably the kitchen here,” Dacquisto said with a chuckle, as the woman exclaims, “Check this out!”

“And then this, it’s got a nice tin roof. It’s got a wet bar over here. It’s got a computer on the floor, so that’s probably where the person sits and does his or her work. This is their back door. We haven’t gone out there. I think the hot tub’s in the back,” Dacquisto adds, as his female companion giggles.

“There’s probably the dining room. Here’s the living room, which is a combo bedroom as well. Another fine architectural engineering feat here. Nice and sturdy on that bucket,” Dacquisto says as he turns his recording attention to an upside-down 5-gallon bucket beneath poles that suspend draped, stained sheets and soiled tarps.

Dacquisto concluded his 1-minute-6-second video to take in the remainder of the shelter’s highlights.

“And then this is for the visitor’s chair with the outdoor look. Oh, and it’s got netting to close and keep the mosquitos out! This is a perfect home,” Dacquisto chortled.

“It’s really too bad the residents aren’t here to give us a full tour.”

Dacquisto’s final sentence — the one in which he mocked the residents who weren’t there to provide a full tour — summarized Dacquisto’s degree of compassion, decency and empathy for some of our city’s most impoverished, fragile citizens.

It appears we have a sub-zero-degree situation here.

As with most North State homeless encampments, no doubt the former Henderson Open Space inhabitants included an assortment of human conditions and individuals: veterans, runaways, aged-out foster kids, students, parolees, the elderly, families, the unemployed, and those suffering from a cornucopia of physical ailments, addictions and mental illnesses.

Dacquisto knew very well why the homeless resident of that particular shelter wasn’t there to provide a full tour: The former inhabitant of that shelter, and all the illegal campers who previously claimed Henderson Open Space as their home, had been ordered to evacuate the area.

Some days prior to the clean-up sweep, law enforcement tagged all the homeless structures with notifications that directed the unhoused campers to pack up their stuff and leave by a particular date. The orders warned the encampment residents that those who failed to comply with the warning would face consequences: Their belongings would be removed by city staff and community volunteers. That’s exactly what happened on the day of Dacquisto’s video.

In the case of the homeless structure that provided Dacquisto and his female home-tour co-host with so much entertainment, the objects found inside that place once belonged to someone who’d collected them and hauled them to relative safety beneath the fabric, metal and plastic make-shift roof held up by a pole on a bucket.

A computer. A small black frying pan that contained food left behind. Two folding chairs. A narrow wooden shelving unit (Dacquisto’s “wet bar”). And yes, lots and lots of trash and clothing. All those things and others belonged to whomever had once lived in that place.

Dacquisto’s record does speak for itself

Dacquisto, the only Redding City Council incumbent running for re-election, is embroiled in a highly competitive, 10-candidate re-election campaign.

What makes Dacquisto’s Easter Eve ridicule of the anonymous homeless person’s shelter so particularly egregious is that Dacquisto has consistently maintained that Redding doesn’t have a shelter problem.

Click here for an excerpt of a Redding City Council meeting in which Daquisto justifies why he’ll vote against an emergency shelter project.

Look at his record, as he suggests, and it shows someone who’s continually opposed funding and resources that could help precisely the population who once lived in the former Henderson Open Space homeless encampments.

Month after month, year after year, vote after vote, Dacquisto’s gained a reputation for consistently voting against the very life-changing resources that could address Redding’s shelter crisis, crime-prevention and public safety.

Collectively, Dacquisto’s record is replete with evidence that Dacquisto has played the contrarian “no” man, whose oppositions are often overruled in 3-2 and 4-1 votes. That explains Dacquisto’s frequent complaints during his campaign speeches that he’s tired of being overruled, and that’s one of the reasons why voters should also vote for Marcus Partin. The assumption with those statements is that Partin and Dacquisto will vote in Siamese-twin lock step: If you like one, you’ll like the other, and vice versa.

Councilman ‘no-man” Dacquisto is an island

Juxtapose Dacquisto’s ridicule of the homeless encampment alongside Dacquisto’s routine oppositions against programs designed to assist the unhoused and we’re left with a dissonant clang of a head-scratcher. It makes no sense.

You’ve heard of yes-men? Meet Dacquisto, the two-headed no-man. One mouth mocks homeless encampments. The other mouth denies that Redding has a shelter emergency situation.

He votes accordingly:

  • Dacquisto opposed funding to maintain four Neighborhood Police Unit (NPU) officer positions, and three firefighter positions. (Jan. 15, 2019)
  • Dacquisto disregarded and opposed Redding Police Chief’s recommendation for a lieutenant position. (Sept. 17, 2019)
  • Dacquisto opposed wage increases for RPD officers, during time of retention/recruitment challenges. (March 2, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed fire management wage increase. (April 6, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed creating a path forward for emergency housing sites. (April 6, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed police management wage increase. (April 20, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed (twice) the declaration of a shelter crisis, and the subsequent amending the municipal codes for emergency shelter sites. (June 1, 2021 and June 15, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed using $150,000 of housing funds to purchase microshelters. (June 15, 2021)
  • Dacquisto opposed St. James Church micro-shelter project (May, 17, 2022)

Anyone who’s been in Redding 5 minutes can enlighten Dacquisto that Redding absolutely does suffer from a severe shelter crisis. Residents and visitors alike can describe first-hand sightings of homeless people who lie on sidewalks, homeless people who sleep in doorways, homeless people who wash-up in the library’s restroom and homeless people who set up camp along waterways, in ravines and on greenbelts. Why? Because they lack appropriate shelter.

What’s even more bizarre about Dacquisto’s proclamations that Redding lacks a shelter crisis is that he provides indisputable evidence in his 2019 video that knows exactly the opposite is true. We know that he knows there’s a problem with city property littered with illegal homeless shelters. We know because he’s been there, seen that, filmed that. He left video proof on his Facebook page.

Finally, it’s not bad enough that Dacquisto opposes solutions designed to tackle Redding’s emergency shelter crisis. Worse yet is that he appears to derive amusement from openly mocking how the homeless live. What’s more, his Facebook post of the video demonstrates not just a lack of remorse or shame, but evidence of an elected leader who’s so cold-hearted and out of touch that it didn’t dawn upon him how cruel and distasteful that video would appear to all except those who also enjoy ridiculing society’s most downtrodden.

Dacquisto has his own housing problems

Coincidentally, candidate Dacauisto is plagued by some recurring housing issues of his own. His residential controversy boils down to deciphering the truth about Dacquisto’s primary domicile. To complicate matters, the Dacquistos have an embarrassment of residential riches. They have three homes:

  1. a beautiful Mt. Shasta home on a view-lot.
  2. a get-away in Mexico.
  3. a tiny upstairs apartment over a garage in downtown Redding, located behind his old law office, between Court Street and the railroad tracks.

By law, Redding City Council members must spend the lion’s share of their time living in their Redding residence. Dacquisto cannot legally be a Redding City Council member if his main, true residence is in Mt. Shasta or Mexico.

Dacquisto, a retired attorney, is well aware of this law.  So he steadfastly insists that the puny upstairs apartment is too his main residence, a concept that even a slightly smart kid would have a hard time swallowing.

Perhaps the fact that Dacquisto has three homes is why he’s so comfortable ridiculing the misfortune of those who lack even one home, on Easter Eve, or any other day.

See for yourself

It’s said a picture’s worth a thousand words, but nothing quite illustrates the entire story as vividly as video.

Dacquisto suggests voters make their decision based upon his record. Dacquisto says that if voters don’t like the way he’s doing things, then they should select someone else.

Fortunately, voters have facts to help them decide. They can watch Dacquisto’s April 2019 video and observe crucial factors regarding Dacquisto’s character, integrity, and compassion for Redding citizens who subsist in the worst imaginable conditions.

Inquiring voters might want to know: What kind of a person sees no problem with creating a homeless-shelters-are-hilarious video that makes unhoused human beings the butt of his jokes?

Dacquisto isn’t entirely clueless. He knows that, lucky for him, most homeless people aren’t voting people. What he may have forgotten is that those who do vote can choose candidates who’ll represent all Redding’s citizens, even those who lack shelter.

Throughout Dacquisto’s campaign he’s defended his bid for another term with two key arguments: First, his record speaks for itself. Second, if voters don’t think Dacquisto’s doing a good job, then they should vote for someone else.

He may rue the day he uttered those words, because voters may call his bluff. But first, they should watch Dacquisto’s video (click here).

You’ve seen the videos. What does Dacquisto’s record say? Should voters choose Dacquisto, or someone else?

You be the judge.

If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting and commentary, please consider a contribution to A News Cafe.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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