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Houston Targets the Homeless

There's a new law in Houston, banning offensive odors in libraries, that critics say target the homeless:

Library officials said people have been using the libraries as temporary shelters, restaurants and changing stations. The new ordinance prohibits sleeping on tables, eating, using restrooms for bathing and "offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others." Two council members voted against the ordinance, saying it was a direct attack on the homeless.

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  • Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:32:53 AM EST
    Why should library patrons have to put up with people eating, sleeping, snoring, bathing, stinking and generally making nuisances of themselves in a public library? What standards of public conduct are unacceptable?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:37:19 AM EST
    I'll let others debate whether civil liberties are being attacked here, but in case anyone feels like belittling such things as offensive odors from the homeless... Years ago I used to frequent the downtown library in Tucson, AZ. So did the local homeless. Here is is, 20 years later, and I can still viscerally recall the stench that emanated from a particular corner of that library. A stench with almost a physical presence. An stench that literally reached up my nose, through my sinuses, and grabbed the front of my head. A stench that you felt more than smelt. It is an issue.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#3)
    by glanton on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:40:39 AM EST
    Yeah, the real tragedy isn't that these human beings are homeless, but rather that those better off sometimes have to endure their smell.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:46:04 AM EST
    Dumb dumb dumb law....it will be a logistical nightmare. How can you legislate something as arbitrary as odor? Personally, I find most perfumes and colognes have a very offensive odor, way worse than bo. Who decides the level an odor must reach before it becomes offensive? Glanton...well said. sarc..the feeling you got in that library is probably very similar to the feeling I get walking past the Macys perfume counter. It's so harsh I find it hard to breathe.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:50:38 AM EST
    Dealing with offensive odors is one of the downsides of freedom. I think the Houston library system could survive without this law.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:50:45 AM EST
    It's a real shame that we find ourselves blaming the poor for being poor. First of all, if we would do the right thing the homeless would have a place to shower, and a place to change into clean clothes. God! These are real people who deserve a place in the sun. I'm not a Christen, but if there is any christen value for life I'm not hearing it from these folks.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:54:58 AM EST
    I have a question. If i'm in their library and someone cut's the cheese will they have the dog arrested?.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#8)
    by glanton on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:15:35 PM EST
    I'd like to hear from regs like JCH on this thread, posters whose religion, whether they like it or not, so often comes to the fore in political discourse. Why is it, do you think, that high-profile Christians are always rushing to the microphone when the agenda leans Right, but when it comes to the hopeless and the poor (read: the ones to whom Jesus himself reached out with such compassion), the microphone suddenly loses its juice. Has pure capitalism appropriated Christianity once and for all?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:23:53 PM EST
    Many homeless shelters and programs are run by churches and those nasty christians. The article posted has absolutely nothing to do with that, however. As a library patron or patron of any public facility, what should you be subjected to/do you have any responsibilities to society? I don't see enforcing some standards on patrons to be "blaming poor for being poor". Being poor is not the equivalent of being filthy or unwilling to engage in decent behavior.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:32:59 PM EST
    Ed...who decides what is borderline smelly and what is criminally smelly?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#11)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:33:05 PM EST
    Yeh, drive 'em back to the bus stations, where they belong.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:35:27 PM EST
    Glanton, I was going to leave this smelly topic alone - but I guess I won't The library is a library, not a homesless shelter - no problem with this measure. As to the other, most homeless organizations in this country (feeding, clothing, housing, etc) are christian-based. I personally work with one called Bridge of Faith which, without donations (thats out of our own pockets), feeds homeless folk and offers peer counseling for mental illness and chemical abuse. The director of the program has a scizophenic homeless man (she is a women) living in her basement while he cleans up an gets a job. I see your call and raise you one.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:38:40 PM EST
    Having worked at a store in which the local derelicts would come in to use the bathroom to bathe, sleep, hang out, and sometimes shoot up, I have very little tolerance for it. I used to have to wake them up, kick them out and/or clean up after them (and on one occasion, call an ambulance after one overdosed). There's a difference between merely being homeless, and being a pungent derelict. A library is a library, not a public bath or a homeless shelter. You can't talk loud, run around, play music, or do a variety of other disruptive things there, why should be allowed to sleep on tables and take showers in the sink and be disruptive in other ways? A library is supposed to be a safe, quiet place where people can do research and where children can do homework. Homelessness is the PROBLEM, yes. And of course the law does nothing to solve the underlying problem. But letting homeless people sleep and "shower" in the library and be generally disruptive does nothing to solve the underlying problem either, it just makes the average citizen think very poorly of the homeless in general—and that's not a step in the right direction. I don't think it's conducive to people being sympathetic to homelessness.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#14)
    by Guav on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:39:43 PM EST
    Having worked at a store in which the local derelicts would come in to use the bathroom to bathe, sleep, hang out, and sometimes shoot up, I have very little tolerance for it. I used to have to wake them up, kick them out and/or clean up after them (and on one occasion, call an ambulance after one overdosed). There's a difference between merely being homeless, and being a pungent derelict. A library is a library, not a public bath or a homeless shelter. You can't talk loud, run around, play music, or do a variety of other disruptive things there, why should be allowed to sleep on tables and take showers in the sink and be disruptive in other ways? A library is supposed to be a safe, quiet place where people can do research and where children can do homework. Homelessness is the PROBLEM, yes. And of course the law does nothing to solve the underlying problem. But letting homeless people sleep and "shower" in the library and be generally disruptive does nothing to solve the underlying problem either, it just makes the average citizen think very poorly of the homeless in general ... I don't think it's conducive to people being sympathetic to homelessness. And that's not a step in the right direction.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#15)
    by glanton on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:41:55 PM EST
    It wasn't a "call", JCH: I am well aware of the centrality of churches to what programs for the homeless that we have. My point is that, on the level of government policy, such things are ingored; the same lawmakers obsessing over homeless people in the library do nothing for those people, though it is in their power to do so. Why are Christian leaders content to work privately when it comes to helping the poor, but when it comes to broadcasting, facilitating Art, Education, etc.--then suddenly they seek to find their convictions crystallized in the lawbooks. Would not a government informed by Christian convictions recognize its most destitute members? I guess it depends on what we mean by "Christian convictions"......

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mary on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:47:45 PM EST
    Don't pretend that this isn't a major issue for libraries. Their mission is to provide books and a quiet place for study and learning for the entire community, not to be a warehouse for the mentally ill. As for the poor - what about the poor mother who wants to improve her children's reading ability, but is afraid to go into the library because of the mentally ill homeless? (And someone who refuses to bathe, even when they smell horrible enough for others to point it out to them is undoubtedly mentally ill.) And why should librarians be forced to be the ones who have to deal with these people, when they have no training for it? Yes, it is lamentable that we do not have adequate facilities for the mentally ill and that there are homeless people, however forcing libraries, which are in most towns the only public buildings which do not place restrictions on public access, to take them in is not the answer. Perhaps if the homeless were allowed to spend cold days in any public building, we wouldn't have a homeless problem.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:52:41 PM EST
    Lots of baiting on this thread. Personally, I don't respond to dishonest, shameless Trolls with no credibility (and you know who you are) :-)

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:56:32 PM EST
    I am a Republican. I am looking for the federal government to do as little as possible about local problems. I would like them to stop draining available capital through deficit spending (a REPUBLICAN CREATED PROBLEM RIGHT NOW - the other reason I voted for Kerry) and spending for programs that should be left to lower jurisdictions to deal with; and let more public funding stay at the local level rather than passing through another bureauracy. There are issues that require a broad national policy and action; and those must be federal. Why should homelessness be one of them?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#19)
    by soccerdad on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:17:29 PM EST
    The homeless are a symptom of much bigger issues. The homeless need to be helped but work has to been done to try to correct the reasons for being homeless, eg. better mental health, more jobs, more temporary help. I think both the federal, state and local govenments all have a role in this problem which is going to get worse before it gets better.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#20)
    by roy on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:20:43 PM EST
    JCH, I share your desire for a limited federal government. However, as long as federal overzealousness is contributing to the cause of homelessness, the federal government should contribute to solutions.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#21)
    by cp on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:25:27 PM EST
    read all the posts, quite interesting. there does seem to be sharp divide amongst you. honestly, it's a tough call. first off, as has been pointed out, this law does nothing constructive for the homeless, just foists the problem on someone else, most likely the police. this is me, shocked, -. that said, the rest of society, those who actually are there to use the library, or any public facility, for its stated purpose, have rights as well. they have the basic right of using the facility without fear of being assaulted, either physically or olfactorally, by others. where to draw the line? beats me. it sounds like the houston city council, instead of doing the difficult work of coming up with a real solution, chose the easy, and publicly more palatable path. shame on them.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:30:21 PM EST
    Has pure capitalism appropriated Christianity once and for all?
    yes, sometime ago actually. good one horse whose name is definitely known, i like the irony of that one. cp in easy vs. right, we know which one prevails, sadly from both spheres.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:30:35 PM EST
    Lots of new comments, and I would love an answer to this question by someone who supports this law... Who decides what is criminally smelly and what is acceptably smelly? I say again...too arbitrary. I'm fine with library rules against disorderly conduct and sleeping on tables, as well as the currently accepted rules against loud noise. Bathing? What exactly constitutes bathing? Washing more than one hands and face? Soaping up to the elbows is ok, but if you wash your upper arm you're out? It's silly. Are they going to station a security guard in every bathroom? The homeless may be a hassle to some, but this is overkill. Freedom is a hassle. Freedom means getting offended at times.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:38:37 PM EST
    I make extensive use of some of the major research libraries in N. America. Now I wonder if I've got to be even more paranoid when using my tried and true technique of repairing to some solitary and unfrequented stacks to let one rip when I can't keep it in anymore. OTOH, I wonder if this will apply as well to those who use excessive doses of cologne/perfume which I for one find offensive.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#25)
    by BigTex on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:46:04 PM EST
    This is a tough one. At first I was going to speak out against the ordinence, then I remembered that there's a public assistence shelter within easy walking distance from the public library. The holeless should go to the public assistence centers instead of the public library. Panhandling is a problem here in Houston, no two ways about it. So is theft of money you have placed in colelction canisters in privatley owned parking lots. This paragraph relates becasue the homeless who go to the library can easily either panhandle or steal the $5 needed to obtain an overnight spot in the shelters. The ordinance is harsh, but given the prevelence of panhandling and the proximity of public assistence shelters to the library, I can't say that's it crosses the line.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#26)
    by cp on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:51:18 PM EST
    "Freedom means getting offended at times." agreed kdog, it does. having been subjected to the choking, gagging, retching, "i can't believe that person is actually still alive!" sort of offensive body odor prevalent amongst the homeless, due, mostly, to lack of access to proper facilities, i do have some sympathy for the libraries on this. this is beyond merely offensive, it's potentially dangerous. this could almost be considered a public health issue. what lovely vermin are they also carting around with them? remember how the black plague got started? not suggesting a re-run of that, but someone that foul is probably also carrying and spreading disease. they aren't entitled to do that. again, i place the blame squarely where it belongs: the houston city council, for failing to do their jobs.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:53:07 PM EST
    The holeless should go to the public assistence centers instead of the public library
    Tex...what if they like to read? or surf the net? or listen to music? It's not that far fetched. They are still citizens of Houston, though they have no permanent address. I can see where this will lead...guy with shabby clothes and scraggly beard walks into the library, before any rules are broken he's out the door. Guy asks what he did wrong, librarian says "you smell". Too arbitrary, too arbitrary, too arbitrary!

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#28)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:56:25 PM EST
    LOL - If those laws were enforced at the Harvard libraries they'd be targeting the students!!

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:57:59 PM EST
    Tex...what if they like to read? or surf the net? or listen to music? It's not that far fetched.
    Then they come to Starbucks. We've even got a guy with a real foil hat!

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:58:20 PM EST
    Ba da boom...

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#31)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:04:45 PM EST
    cp: The Black Death was caused by B.O.? And here I thought it was spread by flea-infested rats. Did you find that out in The Lancet or Nature? Tex: I want to extend my personal thanks for finally abandoning your usage of Texan colloquial orthography. It really made it so difficult and annoying to read your comments that I had to stop after the first or second sentences. I'm pretty sure we differ greatly as to our politics, but you are clearly an intelligent and respectful person with some interesting viewpoints and I look forward to reading your take on various issues in the future.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#32)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:37:52 PM EST
    I live in Houston and use the public library almost every week. As a city, we starve our libraries of the funding they need to truly serve the city. A librarian friend of mine who works in the North Harris County system (a comparatively rich library system) thinks the HPL librarians are heroes to work in the conditions they do. It makes their job much much harder when the library is turned into an ad hoc flophouse. When you walk to the downtown Houston library, the plaza in front of it is always full of homeless men. A sign on the door informs people that bedrolls and camping gear are not permitted in the library. Inside the library, there are always a number of homeless people hanging out, many reading magazines or using computers. To which I say, right on. Not for nothing is the public library called the university of the poor. But my warm feeling really evaporates when I see a dude curled up sleeping in the stacks. Yes, society (funded by taxpayers like myself) should provide sufficient and safe shelter for these people, as well as places where they can clean themselves and recieve mail and social services. But the library should not be that shelter. And the worst is when you have a real stinker. The law they're proposing sounds weird and silly, but the problem of extremely maloderous homeless persons in the library in Houston is very real. It makes me feel like a bad liberal, but I support the idea of the proposed law. I think librarians need to be able to control their environment to at least a small extent, including their olfactory environment.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#33)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:46:44 PM EST
    Headline; New World Oder For many homeless the library is the only place for internet access (job searches, email) and bathrooms. Merchants don't let anybody but customers use the facilities and sometimes the only way to clean up for a job interview is a spit bath at the library. With their support network being reduced almost daily this is one of the few places they can go to climb back out of homelessness. We already have enough laws against being high in public, harassment and such. We certainly don't need an oder law.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#34)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:48:07 PM EST
    Boy this is incredible, for you folks who are so incensed by the smell and unkempt amongst us don't get mad at them. Open your homes and hearts and organize your community to find ways to provide them with viable alternatives. I promise if there was some where Better they would go.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#35)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:51:00 PM EST
    What would Jesus do about the smelly homeless people?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#36)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:56:13 PM EST
    Are any controls on anti-social behavior possible for a public facility. Reading some of the posts here, apparently not. Most folks would not open their own homes and hearts to anything goes behavior but the library should?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#37)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:05:04 PM EST
    fwiw, in my experience, in general, it is not lack of access to bathing facilities that results in the homeless stench - indeed we have Houston posters here indicateing that there are shelters very nearby to the library - rather, it is that the homeless choose not to use the available bathing facilities.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#38)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:06:01 PM EST
    "I promise if there was somewhere better, they would go" Would they, though? Are there no places in Houston with, say, a simple wash basin and shower in a small, enclosed, easy-to-clean space where a homeless person can go inside, lock it, keep their possessions safe from theft, wash their clothes and themselves, and prepare for another day of trying to find gainful employment? Aren't these called "shelters?" I think we could solve the problem of homeless people in libaries by putting a few dollars into better shelter facilities, yes, but in the meantime I think a law like this is probably a good idea.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#39)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:21:12 PM EST
    Shelters are shutting down or are way beyond capacity, no one who has ever spent anytime in one would say they are safe or secure.
    I think we could solve the problem of homeless people in libaries by putting a few dollars into better shelter facilities, yes, but in the meantime I think a law like this is probably a good idea.
    Putting the cart before the horse. It really is instructive to see all these 'compassionate conservatives' and supposed followers of jesu condemn people for the crime of poverty. Do you think joseph and mary smelled sweet in the manger?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#40)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:28:48 PM EST
    I'm not for punishing the homeless, but I think you have to acknowledge the feelings of the community in cases like these. Specifically, if a lot of people feel uncomfortable using the library because it's full of skid row types, they won't support the library anymore (same goes for the public parks).

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#41)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:06:30 PM EST
    Ahh yes, the 'feelings of the community'. So if blacks, gays, women ( hey, who taught them to read!), are blocked from using the library that's OK? Try to tell me there aren't folks in houston who aren't offended by any of those groups visiting the library. Homeless people for the most part are US citizens. The library is a PUBLIC facility. This law seeks to criminalize homelessness. There are already laws against disruptive behavior. Do you like bush's tax cuts? Bankruptcy laws? clinton's welfare 'reform'? If so, then either let the homeless into your house or your library!

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#42)
    by Johnny on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:48:59 PM EST
    Back to what kdog was saying: Who decides who is too smelly? This whole ordinance stinks. I find the odor of chinese cooking offensive, as well as diesel fumes, manure, most perfumes, and most candles. So what? Can someone please, please, please tell me how they are gonna decide? I saw on Futurerama that Professor Farnsworth invented a smellometer or something, maybe Houston has that up it's sleeve...

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#43)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:48:00 PM EST
    Ernesto queries: What would Jesus do about the smelly homeless people?
    Ahem... I think Jesus was a smelly homeless person. That's the whole point of Christianity. Nobody wanted his smelly homeless parents so Mary availed herself in a barn (which fortunately wasn't in Houston) and gave birth to a smelly homeless baby. I could be wrong about the smelly part, but I don't remember any washing going on except for feet in the bible...

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#44)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:06:45 PM EST
    I think Jesus was a smelly homeless person.
    Exactly, so as far as Christians go, issues like this separate out the wheat from the chaff... Luke 14:12-14
    "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
    I thought Houston was a predominantly Christian town. What gives?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#45)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:10:27 PM EST
    Sometimes, during rush hour, while most subway cars are wall-to-wall commuters just trying to get home, you'll see a whole car with apparently no one in it. On entering, you find that some profoundly smelly guy is lounged out on one of the benches and has managed to empty a 8' by 30' space that others have paid to use, through sheer stink. Room-clearing personal odor in a public facility is a legitimate issue --it's just that, as others have pointed out, it's not a straightforward issue. For one thing, we don't have the technology to quantify body odor. For another, if the city council really isn't just trying to keep the homeless out of public places, (and where else would they go?) don't they have to figure out a way for them to clean up? This is a tricky one.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#46)
    by cp on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:44:12 PM EST
    barry freed, do your research. [name calling deleted] the plague was brought to europe and england, by rats bearing infected fleas, on ships. the vast spread was the result of the horrific personal and public sanitation conditions in most british and european cities. in short, people didn't bathe, and the sewers were open ditches, running through the towns. not only did the average person stink, they helped spread the plague by attracting the rats and fleas, with fetid refuse spread everywhere. the fleas jumped on them, never to be washed away. [personal insult deleted] in the smithsonian museum, there is a display, containing artifacts recovered from a sunken 17th century spanish galleon. among the artifacts are very small, glass ampules. these ampules held perfume, and were placed in special pockets, sewn in the cuffs of nobles' shirts. the nobles would occasionally take a sniff, in an attempt to overcome the stench of themselves and everyone around them. failure to bathe regularly has proven to contribute to the spread of disease. otherwise, why bother with personal hygiene at all? is it all just a way to contribute to proctor & gambel's coffers? the real issue is the failure of houston's city council to do anything concrete, to help the homeless. this is analogous to d.c. city cops carting prostitutes across the 14th street bridge, and into va, several years ago. it did nothing to help solve the actual problem, it just made everyone involved look stupid and venal.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#47)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:48:30 PM EST
    cp- I guess you've never owned pets, huh? Have any kids? Did they ever have lice? Did they stink?Here's a news flash for you: One can have fleas and not stink. Now perhaps you're basing the connection between B.O. and plague-infested fleas on personal experience, I don't know but it sure sounds that way to me. In any case, I bear no ill will towards you and I hope you can figure out a way to finally get rid of those fleas. They sure can itch one something awful.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#48)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:50:18 PM EST
    I wandered into the Houston City Council site. Probably wont matter but there are 14 on the council so if everyone voted it was 12-2 (minutes arent up yet for 27th meeting). Comprised of 6 women and 8 men; party affiliations not generally available; 7 whites and 7 from other ethnicities. Do they know their city?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#49)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:56:08 PM EST
    Ernesto, you're my kind of religious. I see God in nature but have a hard time seeing God in most people. However, I have been given the gift of seeing God in those lowest among us and understand how the God that has chosen me said (exact quote, Ernesto?) that those who do for the least among us do also for me. Before you kick out the smelly people, find out if there really is another place to go. If not, do something about it. And measure the extent of the injury to you as a "victim" of bad smell with what it means for that person, that day to be hustled nastily out the door because you are deemed not fit for human interaction. What if the Library had a shower/bathroom and a few lockers to check your stuff into whilst in the Library. What if Outreach folks (c'mon all you Christians!) stopped by libraries occasionally to offer help where needed and when possible. It's worth thinking about if you are a follower of Christ in any sense. How should that guy/gal be treated in a municipal building - what next, they can't go into City Hall?

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#50)
    by scarshapedstar on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:52:24 AM EST
    How are they gonna ban bad smells in Houston?!

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#51)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:06:23 AM EST
    Scar, good point about Houston. The graffiti in Austin bathrooms used to read: flush twice, Houston needs the water. A good deal of Texas also used to refer to Houston as yankee stadium. I guess there's stinky people and then there's stinky people. Let God sort them out.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:34:46 AM EST
    I believe all of us are fine with library rules against sleeping in the stacks, harassing patrons, excessive noise...stuff like that. As much as I wish people would show more compassion, I understand the need for such rules. But when the law mentions smell, you lose me. My concern is the homeless guy who doesn't look so hot, but wants to job search on the net or read the want ads, being denied entry because of how he looks. That would be a travesty, and I think that's what this law will lead to.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#53)
    by Johnny on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:16:28 AM EST
    The more I think about this, the more I hate it. If i enter the library, will a cop come and arrest someone that I say is too stinky? what if the guy in front of me is a college professor who is allergic to soap? (Had one when i went to college). He was always clean shaven, well kempt, and had a tremendous odor about him. Colognes were all he had to mask his smell. And that is offensive as well. Back to what I wanted to say. Who makes the decision? How stinky is too stinky? If I bring a sleeping baby and it fills a diaper, will they arrest me? Have fun Houston, enforcing this wingdinger.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#54)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 10:42:22 AM EST
    The linked article doesn't mention if violation of the smell code is punishable by arrest. I am very curios to know. If it is, it goes from a travesty to a fascist travesty.

    Re: Houston Targets the Homeless (none / 0) (#55)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:06:24 AM EST
    Isn't always the city councils that come up with the stupidest laws ever. Here in NY the city council tried to ban Mr. Softee trucks from playing their jingle last summer. Luckily, public outrage shot that piece of legislative crap down quick. City councils across America make congress seem sane, and that is saying something. It again boils down to that very dangerous phrase..."somebody should do something about "insert minor nuisance or problem here". Once again, the solution is worse than the problem. At least thats my take.