Public Watchdog.org

What Would Jesus Do About PADS?

03.26.08

Last week’s edition of the Park Ridge Herald Advocate contained a letter from most of our local churches (and several other organizations) soliciting support for, and explaining the genesis of, the initiative that will bring a PADS (Public Action Delivering Shelter) facility to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church beginning this October (“PADS initiative was outgrowth of outreach,” March 20).

As we’ve said before on this site, we have not yet formed an opinion on this PADS initiative…for the simple reason that we do not believe that there has been the kind of full and fair public discussion that such a facility – as well as the people of this community (especially those St. Mary’s neighbors) – deserve.  Residents, especially those St. Mary’s neighbors, deserve to know how many people will be housed at St. Mary’s, what kind of problems (financial? drugs? alcohol? sexual deviancy? violence?) those people may have, what kind of treatment/care/assistance (besides temporary housing) they need and are receiving, and how they will be monitored and accounted for.  

We also question what appears to be the less-than-forthright and transparent way the PADS proponents have gone about the process of bringing such a facility to our community.  For example, the letter states that “[t]hree feature articles about the project appeared in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate,” an assertion which seems directed at a perception among at least some local residents that there has been an attempt to sneak this facility into town with a minimum of scrutiny by the taxpayers. 

We don’t know what three articles they are talking about, because we could find only one H-A article when we did a “Search” of the H-A website – from the February 28, 2008, edition of the H-A.  And that article portrayed the PADS facility at St. Mary’s as virtually a done deal (“Park Ridge to join PADS network of shelters”[pdf]), not an early-stage proposal on which the public could provide meaningful input. 

The letter goes on to recite a litany of meetings purportedly held over several years, again with the seeming intent of depicting a process that was both fully-disclosed to, and openly-discussed by, the community as a whole.  We seriously doubt, however, that many of the 37,000-plus Park Ridge residents regularly attend, or regularly receive the minutes of, meetings of the “Park Ridge Ministerial Association” – where many/most of those discussions may have taken place. 

Similarly, we don’t put much stock in a “survey” of PADS support reportedly consisting of 600-plus pew cards collected from various churches, which sounds about as reliable as Ald. Don Bach’s (3rd Ward) “survey” of a whopping 30 of his constituents that inspired him to vote for a giveaway of up to $2.4 Million taxpayer dollars to Napleton Cadillac.  Neither “survey” sounds like a good way to measure overall community sentiment or to make decisions that can significantly impact our residents, especially when only the number (“over 600”) – and not the contents – of those pew cards is reported.

But where the letter’s authors really start to sound more like politicians (insult intended) rather than religious leaders is their claim that they “sought a church that did not have a school or day care in its building” for the PADS site, and then “invited St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to consider being the host church.”  Unless we’re grossly mistaken, St. Mary’s did have a school/day care center, St. Mary’s Carousel of Learning [pdf] (now “Christie’s Carousel of Learning”), until it hastily packed up and moved over to Park Ridge Presbyterian Church with no real explanation other than that St. Mary’s “wanted to use the…space for other things.”[pdf]

More troubling still is the fact that those PADS proponents remained strangely silent and out of sight all during last Fall’s debate over whether the Carousel’s new location could safely and acceptably accommodate the expected additional traffic.  If the relocation of the Carousel from St. Mary’s was primarily to make way for the PADS facility there – as now appears to be the case – basic honesty and decency would suggest that such information should have been volunteered by the PADS proponents at that time.

So what would Jesus do about a PADS shelter in Park Ridge?  We’re not nearly as sure about the answer as the religious “pros” who support the PADS initiative seem to be, perhaps because we see a number of potential problems that have been glossed over by the PADS proponents instead of publicly aired and resolved.  But from our “amateur” reading of the Bible we do know that Jesus always told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what he was doing, and why.

For starters, maybe the PADS proponents should give that a try.

16 comments so far

Instead of warehousing the homeless in St. Mary’s basement, why don’t all these priests, ministers, etc. who are talking the talk about what Jesus would do take the homeless into their own homes? That would be walking the walk.

Hey, give one or two of the homeless to Martha Porter-Fiszer (letter in today’s Advocate). She’s gotta have a spare sofa or futon somewhere.

I read last week’s letter again and confirmed that these local clergypeople wrote that they consulted with the Park Ridge Police Department, “some aldermen”, the Mayor’s Task Force on Human Needs and Mayor Frimark, all of whom were “very encouraging” in their support of the PADS proposal.

Even if the PADS people didn’t have the decency to consult with us about putting a PADS site at St. Mary’s, why the hell didn’t the mayor and those “some alderman” consult with us?  They are supposed to be representing us, aren’t they?

What would Jesus do? I’m not sure, but I’m dying to find out what Howard will do now that he’s painted himself into this corner.

Interestingly enough, the PADS people and the church have known about this project for quite some time. Well over a year now.

More interesting is that now that the folks in the neighborhood, and really throughout Park Ridge, have learned about the PADS shelter and have had a chance to do some due diligence on the PADS shelter – now the PADS people and the Vestry of St. Mary’s (the lay leadership of the parish) have determined that they need to do some “marketing” of the project to the folks in the neighborhood. Good timing guys.

One has to question why they waited so long to do this and why they commenced and have done so much work at such great cost to prepare the site for the shelter – without talking to the folks in the neighborhood.

Let me tell you why. They intended on a plan to ask forgiveness rather than permission. They had no intention of telling their neighbors what they were up to until it was just about too late. So now that the cat is out of the bag and they did nothing to “market” the shelter to their neighbors on a prior basis they have got their hands full and are going into crisis mode.

Personally, I do not support a PADS shelter at St. Mary’s for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is for the safety of and concern for the young school aged kids in the neighborhood. I could support one in Park Ridge but in a more appropriate non-residential area. Does such a location exist in Park Ridge? Who knows? Given the way this unfolded no one knows where else, if anywhere else, was considered. But I for one recommend that the PADS people and the Park Ridge Ministerial Association – who will tell you they have been working on this for “years” – begin their search for such a location.

You’re all very generous.

Personally, I too do not support a PADS program at St. Mary’s. In fact, I don’t support such a program ANYWHERE in Park Ridge, unless these PADS folks can offer up some proof that the homeless being served are truly our own down-n-out residents…which I am aware are usually and quite ablely aided by our own Center of Concern. Would someone kindly request that the PADS people forward the names of those Park Ridge residents, in need of emergency intervention, to the Center of Concern?

I’ve a growing suspicion that the vast majority of the “guests” PADS intends to “serve” are “imports”…for the purpose of serving a not-yet-known broader social agenda…like…affordable housing set-asides…?

Last I checked our poverty numbers against our affordable housing stock…it’s a 6% to 7% respective relationship…the State’s affordable housing coalition can go to hell, in my opinion…they are shifting the responsibility to the suburbs is what they are doing…undoubtedly to aid Chicago in its own redevelopment efforts…more contracts for the cronies…

But I digress…

The tactics being used by the PADS folks and their local supporters reminds me of the tactics used by the Build-A-New-Library folks not too long ago…the stacking of books on the floors and stairways… “See? There’s such tremendous neeeeeeeeeeeeed!”

I’m far more willing, it seems, to not give a sh*t if anyone calls me “cold hearted”… Pit my “social conscience” against what my husband and I desired in a community in which to raise our kids, and watch me go positively mercenary…

My husband and I chose to move OUT of an area with such tremendous “economic diversity” into an area with a “certain level” of economic achievement precisely because both of us are VERY familiar with the ills associated with the problems of things like homelessness…

I am also personally familiar with the contributing factors towards someone becoming homeless…and I, again, don’t give a sh*t what anybody says about “bad luck”…the VAST majority of the homeless are mentally ill and/or substance abusers.

I am unwillling to INVITE those individuals INTO my chosen communty, and risk the attendant ills and stresses…such as those on our city services like the police department…which, despite protestations to the contrary, will be tasked with “assisting” the PADS program…and why the PADS people expressly discuss things such as “training” and “close contact” with “local police departments”…

Shall we now discuss the HUD funding for PADS…?

Or the future plans the Journey from PADS to Hope program has in mind…?

Can you say 25K SF building…? Helloooooo Higgins coridoor…

Quite right…I’m a total NIMBY on this issue…

Anybody who doesn’t “like me” for my opinion and position on this matter can bite my behind.

I think if one’s gonna put a honeless shelter in such a well to do area, they need to make sure that the people aren’t walking around the area freely or they can make sure the people are dress nicely.

And of course anyone who aren’t mentally stable shouldn’t be walking around outside the church.

Don’t know how simple that will be or if they will be willing to do all I suggest which in that case I will say don’t have it if that can’t control those who are not well off or won’t do anything to streighten themselves out.

What would Jesus do? Well, I’m betting He wouldn’t have tried to sneak a PADS into the basement of the Temple after the Pharisees evicted the Hebrew School without explanation.

What would Jesus do if he met any of YOU people? That’s the question you need to ask yourselves.

Jeannie, you rock.

Anonymous 03.27.08 4:09PM very nice.

I am proud to be a contributing member of this blog.

I have asked that this matter be placed on the agenda at the next City Council meeting which is a week from Monday. I urge all on both sides of the issue to attend. The Director of Preservation and Community Development will be reporting on her March 31 meeting with the PADS applicant during which they supposedly will be disclosing their specific plan.

Jeannie and the rest of you NIMBY-I hope you never find yourself in need of a helping hand-ever. Because with your “snobby I am better than anyone else” attitude that seems to be invading this town like the plague you will never get one. What goes around comes around and you shall receive it in spades.

Jeannie and the other NIMBY’s should visit one of the other PADS shelters throughout the suburbs-suburbs with families and children-and see the types of people that are in need of the assistance offered by PADS. Having discussed this with someone I know who works at one of the shelters one night a week for part of the year it is not full of drug dealers and degenerates and low lifes. Get some better information on the PADS program and its rules before you go condemning people who are trying to find a way to make this world a better place to live in.

The hypocritical NIMBY’s are not the kind people who are an asset to this town. Your shameful comments demonstrate a snobby superiority that is disgusting. What a fine example you are setting for your children-that they should kick people when they are down. You are wrongly showing your children through your snobby attitude that you are superior to others simply because of your address.

I will never apologize for my family’s having earned a higher standard of living. You’re damn right…NIMBY to the core when it comes to protecting the investment we’ve made in a place we’ve earned and paid for the right to call home.

Quite right, the shelters aren’t full of drug dealers…drug dealers have money…money they get from selling to drug abusers…like…say…some homeless people…can’t wait for when those drug dealers figure out the “market” and “schedule” for where to come a’sellin’…

As for talking to a “friend” that “volunteers” in a shelter one night a week… Sweetie pie, actually spend some time in the areas that homeless people dwell, among actual homeless people, then we’ll talk…

pppfffttt!

Jeannie-your attitude is pathetic.

Anonymous on 03.27.08 9:08 pm,

Your do-gooder-guilty-conscience is showing. Quit trying to make any of your real or imagined self-perceived moral failings right by loading it on the backs of your neighbors.

To poster “**” on 03.27.08 4:50 PM:

From your I.P. address it appears you are employed or affiliated with the Sun Times News Group, which would explain how you were able to forward to us the entire text of a Herald-Advocate article (“Hope for the homeless – churches hope to start PADS program here,” November 8, 2007) which we were unable to access through the “Search” function of the H-A website.

We do not have sufficient space in a comment to publish the entire article but we note that it reports that, as of last November, “[t]he location of the Park Ridge shelter has not yet been finalized.” We further note that the article does not even identify any of the sites under consideration for the PADS shelter despite the fact that “St. Mary’s Carousel of Learning” had already moved to Park Ridge Presbyterian, presumably to make its former space at St. Mary’s available for the shelter.

In point of fact, that article would appear to support the contention that the PADS proponents did indeed try to keep the identity of the PADS site secret for as long as possible – thereby doing their share to extend the “Culture of Secrecy” from local government to the religious and social realms.



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