Address to residents, city council members and mayor of Culver city 24/09/2019 to appeal for a homeless shelter instead of allowing a private museum to expand to serve its wealthy corporate patrons. Shortened from 3 minutes to 1 on the fly (leaving out entirely the last section and the bits that talk about social responsibility)

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Hello, I here to speak to you about the possibility of action that can address the distressing issue of a lack of shelter for over 270+ people who sleep outside in culver city. Over a hundred sleep on the pavement, in tents or makeshift shelters. This count is expected to rise. The grievousness of a social issue that subjects one to the indignities and suffering that homelessness does requires no introduction. So I will instead focus on what can be done: locally. I believe (as I'm sure many others do) that this provides the city an avenue to make a step forward in its attempt to tackle homelessness - either by using this property as a space for transitional housing, a homeless shelter, or even just "affordable" housing for extremely low income families. These spaces can help provide sanitation facilities, syringe exchanges and basic services that can act as a starting point for some to begin finding a footing from which they discover long term solutions for a roof. It can also provide a space for residents of Culver city to come together and volunteer - developing a political understanding of the causes of homelessness, and a community consciousness that makes them understand the responsibilities on which our colletive progress is contingent. No museum can provide this instruction. And no community event is as deeply a matter of community than one of its own social upliftment out of scarcity of basic material needs. Some further notes/arguments: * Feasibility: I learned the previous budget to address the issue was $1,345,000 and with the adequate outreach programs, this space can feasibly become an example for how a city like culver city (home to several corporate offices and a high income population) can use its material abundance to effectively begin addressing this disturbing problem. Instead of * Alternate proposals: Some tentative proposals for it included the expansion of the Wende museum which represents a host of patrons with private interests. Having frequented the museum regularly and noted carefully its structure, size and footfall, it appears to me that the museum has far more space than it needs to entertain the few people that visit it during weekdays at any given time and a minor temporary surge in visitors during weekends when it hosts some events - all of whom the museum has accommodated extremely easily in a fraction of its space and all of who have homes to return to. The museum already has an enormous space which I believe it can use far more efficiently for its ends or whatever ambiguous community needs it claims to serve in the future. Therefore, I do not know how one could make a reasonable, conscientious, pragmatic argument for using the space for anything other than the most critical and urgent issue of tackling homelessness. It is a matter both of addressing a crisis and addressing the community needs efficiently. Perhaps with a shelter/transitional-housing we can achieve both the alleviation of one's suffering and the desires of people to look at it in a museum painting next door, wine glasses in hand. Sources for data: 1. Census Count: https://www.culvercity.org/Home/Components/Topic/Topic/811/925 2. City budget: https://www.culvercity.org/home/showdocument?id=17768
Preliminary reflections and lessons from participation in the city council meeting on the use of public property as deliberated upon by residents of culver city on 24/09/2019. <*- focus on something other than the problems of modern democracy that dispossess the homeless as I see it I arrived 25 minutes sooner than the start time for the meeting. With the exception of the entrepreneur who intended to peddle korean shipping containers and representatives of the Wende museum, there seemed to be not many others present. I got to observe the primary participants of the supposedly democratic process filter into the giant yellow hall with seats facing a desk where the council members were supposed to sit with a screen right above. Five presentations had been selected through some process that I was apparently late to each of which would get 5 minutes. four of them turn out to be variants of support for the Wende museum which seemed determined to use the extra property for its own expansion thereby benefiting the Taschen family along with other private interests and patrons it represents. I dislike generalizing but there were some unmistakeable characteristics to the population of the hall once it was fully occupied: the predominant visitor being a white 50something person presumably from a reasonably affluent background (considering that culver city is home to an extremely high income population) a huge section of which seemed to be hostile/fearful and aggressively distrustful of the process. This surely couldn't have been a representative sample of the population of this city because the people I observe at Fox Hills mall not more than two miles away is clearly distinct: young, mostly hispanic, fitness buffs, makeup enthusiasts. The people I observed at work and at a park nearby are primarily asian/indian in descent. And the people I observe on the street (which an older person present at the venue denies having seen) are those without homes to sleep in. the last category seemed to not be available in any capacity. Before the process began, those distrustful of the process voiced their annoyance at some trivial technicalities about the time/location of the meeting and ambiguity of terminology presented in an online poll. These concerns were noted and the mayor reassured the public at the hall that they intended to listen to everybody. However I'd like to take up the demand for a transparent and democratic process a bit more rigorously. I suspect that the operating principles of democracy on which everyone operated were transparency and consideration for every individual's vote. Transparency: Over the course of the evening as everyone made their demands and suggestions clear, I realized that I stood at a significant disadvantage - that the people in whose favor I intended to speak weren't at the venue to help support my proposal. This stood in contrast with most other suggestions that were spoken about - each of which gathering significant applause and vote - most notably the Wende museum. My proposal was to use the property for a homeless shelter or transitional housing where needles and basic sanitation services may be provided to those without a roof. However those without a roof weren't present. The people who were present were active facebook users who followed the city government facebook page or older people with an evening to spare with access to the internet and printers on which a couple of them had printed out their speech in extra large font. Another form of notification was email: something that requires acess to a computer, an email account and essentially the luxury to have basic necessities sorted before one could arrive at the desire to check their email. So the fate of the dispossessed was going to be decided in this room by those who did have access to some amount of material luxury. So what transparency can one speak of, if the modes of dissemination of information about public policy meetings occurs through mediums that aren't accessible to all? Consideration for each individual's vote. What individual would find it in them the capacity to engage in a 3 hour long city hall process that ends at 9:30PM when the most pressing matter of the evening is securing dinner and a warm place to sleep? In the absence of said person, can it not be understood that the decision at which the hall arrived would be a matter of imposition of the hall's authority over him? His vote counts in theory but has been effectively made logistically impossible to secure. His absence has been assumed to be voluntary abstension. So perhaps for a truly democratic process, one's vote needs to be effectively made possible. That I suspect leads us to the only conclusion of securing basic material needs so that the individual has the bare minimal capacity to attend a city government meeting and speak. For this the person needs to be guaranteed food for energy to raise his voice, medicine to eliminate the illness that impairs his mobility to walk to the hall and a roof under which he can sleep adequately to be fresh of mind and think about the question posed to him at the hall. Now I do not know about how to speak of a democratic process that isn't at the very beginning - socialist. Or at least one that guarantees state healthcare, shelter and food. Anything lesser is a sham. The vote: Well, we have implicitly agreed on the majoritarian vote. That the party/proposal that gets the maximum number of votes will be mutually agreed by us all to be implemented. But what if the vote split is 2/2/2/2/2/3 ? the last proposition takes all even if the collective majoritarian vote is against it. Would it be fair if perhaps the vote split was 49/51? The imposition of the majority on the minority? Perhaps we need more decentralized voting- in which the 49 have more control over issues affecting them and the 51 have a say in what affects them. But that level of granularity in delineating subjective qualitative effects on the population might just be entirely infeasible and impractical. Perhaps the most decentralized form of democracy is direct individual action in their community in which action is deliberated upon not by giant city hall meetings but people directly affected by an issue coming together out of compulsion to collaborate and cooperate - a version of anarchy perhaps? There also lies the issue of choosing a voting system - condorcet? prefered order? pairwise comparison? Arrow's theorem proved that no voting system would be able to guarantee the simultaneous satisfaction of three relatively important conditions. 1. lack of dictator 2. every voter preferring option-A over option-B leading to the group outcome being option-A over option-B 3. every voter whose ordering between A and B remains the same, then the final group ordering for A and B remains the same. or the ordering of C does not determine the ordering of A,B. These seem to me important considerations for determining a group vote - but we have reached an impasse. There seems to be no objectively best way of aggregating votes! This is deeply disturbing because now it seems apparent that even if we guarantee basic material needs and get everyone to vote, the final decision will rest on an algorithm that does not guarantee optimal consideration for everyone's voice. That the aggregation of democratic voices is fundamentally a utopian and impossible ideal! So what do we do? Perhaps the prescriptive search for a method is futile: perhaps what remains is to see the descriptive unfolding of the application of power - as the wealthy residents of culver city who have residences to go home to used at the city hall, perhaps there will emerge a way for the dispossessed a way to make themselves heard. 25/09/2019