See Part I here.
The Action, continued
Comrade X began emailing Just Waiting’s publicly available, but largely hidden, information to contacts around the county. Immediately, he got pushback from the local Republican Party, which told him they thought the homeless housing could benefit the community.
“Then I realized where the problem was,” CX admits wryly. He decided that if established powers weren’t going to act, he’d have to do it on his own. Or rather, not on his own but with the help of other grassroots actors.
JW was integral, keeping CX up-to-date on the calls coming in and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering. When he relayed a rumor that someone else was trying to buy the old school building, CX and his oldest son did some research and proved the rumor unfounded.
Broadcaster Rob Taylor of Citizens Restoring Liberty, pitched in with publicity and more. On January 19, 2022, they got an unheard-of 50 people to attend a county commissioners meeting (crowding a meeting room that holds only 12). Still, not one of the three commissioners would speak against the homeless housing proposal and one was “speaking out of both sides of his mouth,” trying to persuade everyone that he was on their side.
CX knew that something much more would be needed — and he was just the guy to provide it. A longtime second-amendment activist referred him to a friendly bulk-mailing outfit in Portland. CX headed north, and together he and the mailer concocted an in-your-face flyer.
They moved fast. One week after the January 19 meeting, the flyer began winging its way to targeted households in the county.
Phones started ringing in county offices. Hundreds of calls and emails flooded the county commissioners. Four days later they’d received 200 calls to the main county line, countless more calls direct to commissioners’ voice mailboxes, and over 100 emails apiece. (Calls are still coming in as I write this. Remember, this is in a tiny county with a largely working-class population that seldom has time for politics.)
The next county commissioners’ meeting was on February 2.
Clearly realizing what was coming, one commissioner actively tried to discourage citizens from attending the meeting (“We already have your information; there’s no need to come in.”)
Nobody knows exactly how many citizens flooded the building, though attendance was estimated at 150. The meeting room was full. The hallway was full. A line formed outside. Seventy residents signed up to say their piece, nearly all opposed.
Before the public even had a chance to speak, all three commissioners promptly voted against giving any county ARP funds to the homeless coalition. One commissioner even cried as he told the tale of his own rootless drug-addicted son and how that son would tear up the family home when he was at his worst.
JW and CX, with a lot of support from their fellow citizens, had won. Decisively.
Towanda promptly took to Twitter to condemn the influence of CX’s “fear-based mass mailer.” (Not being detail oriented, she referenced the wrong @CX in her tweet, thus possibly sending a spurt of hate mail to an innocent Canadian artist.)
CX was exultant at the downvote — and rightly proud of his part in it.
JW commented, “Adding everything up, over 300 people responded to the mailer. In marketing, a 4% response to a mailer is astronomical, unheard of …”
Of the hundreds who responded, only six were in favor.
When I commented on their “small army” of small-town agitators, JW corrected me: “Lol, its not a small army, it’s a downright movement, Claire!”
Yet JW couldn’t take time to exult.
“Unfortunately this is just one of the many similarly impactful issues I spend my days trying to prevent/avoid/mitigate. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the turnout and having a whole room, hallway, foyer and sidewalk full of angry citizens seeking redress from their government warmed my heart. I listened in on about 50 of the calls and a lot of folks were plenty mad.
“But my part was minor. All I did was share public information. Yeah, they were working pretty hard to keep everything in the dark and I flipped the light switch on, but …”
CX disagrees that JW’s role was minor. “He played a more important role than I did. I was just the guy who was out front,” he says. He concurs, however, that JW’s job as a mole is hard and relentless.
And this fight is not over.
Even though Towanda and the homeless-industrial complex have been denied $300,000 in taxpayer money she still has commitments for private funding. Not enough to complete the project, but in the range of $100,000. If she does raise sufficient money, she will then have to go before the planning commission for conditional permits, which would be another opportunity to halt the project. JW and CX both note that in the past she has misinformed potential donors and supporters about the popularity of her plans, and that is yet another strike against her.
But Towanda has now filed to run for county commissioner.
CX concludes, “When my wife and I first came to Oregon in 1977, we were homeless. We lived in a Volkswagen van. But we joined a commune and my wife worked there while I got a job and saved enough in six months to put a downpayment on a house.”
Times have changed and that might not be so easy to do now. Millions of people have been hit hard by repeated, government-engineered economic and regulatory blows.
“There’s nothing wrong with helping the homeless,” CX emphasizes. “But enabling and facilitating destructive lifestyles makes you as responsible as the homeless people themselves are.”
Both Comrade X and Just Waiting agree if you’re going to be an activist you have to keep fighting the battles. “I’m not a church-going guy,” CX shrugs, “but it’s like what they say about the battle between heaven and hell. It’s ongoing. JW and I both came here to disengage, yet here we are. We looked for a new Garden of Eden, but in Eden there was a serpent.”
“I tried so hard not to get involved here because as soon as I put one toe in the water I’m swimmin’. If I had my way about it I wouldn’t. But with what’s going on in Canada and elsewhere and what’s boiling in this country, things are really beginning to boil over.”
JW agrees. “The world is changing, and I just want to make sure that in my area of operation, at least one of ‘us’ has some say in what we’ll look like on the other side of whatever is going to happen.”