Tuesday, August 16, 2005

St. Cloud City Council ... does the right thing.

This from the St. Cloud Times:
A group home for late-stage alcoholics who have nowhere else to go may not be built in St. Cloud because of concerns from neighbors and Waite Park officials.

City Council members voted 6-3 on Monday to signal their intent to deny a permit allowing Margaret Brott and her family to build a 40-bed home on property they own at 525 and 605-54th Ave. N. Council members Sonja Hayden Berg, Carolyn Garven and Lori Long voted against rejecting the permit.

Council members who opposed the permit said the home was needed but the location was wrong.

"There are alternatives that would still allow us to do the right thing," City Council member Bob Johnson said.

Waite Park Mayor Carla Schaefer sent a letter asking for the permit's denial, based on its proximity to that city's River's Edge Park and baseball facilities.

A two-thirds vote was required to overturn the permit, which the city's Zoning Board of Appeals granted in June. But another vote will be necessary Aug. 24, to give staff time to find a legal reason to justify Monday's decision.

Staff had warned council members they could not legally overturn the permit unless they could demonstrate a negative effect to the neighborhood that will be its home.

Mayor John Ellenbecker, who had strongly supported the group home, was visibly upset by the vote and wondered how staff could find legal justification for it.

Edgar Jackson testified to the need for a safe place for chronic inebriates who can't stop drinking, many of whom are estimated to be veterans.

"They're here, they're our family members," the St. Cloud resident said.

The home would make neighborhoods safer by bringing people indoors and keeping them from getting into trouble, said Julie Brott, Margaret Brott's daughter-in-law and assistant director of the three group homes the Brott family already operates.

"People commit crimes when they have nowhere else to go," Julie Brott said.

Recent studies indicate more than 60 chronic inebriates live in the St. Cloud area.

They are defined as people who have been through treatment for alcoholism and detox several times and are unlikely to stop drinking. Many have serious health problems and will likely die of alcoholism or related illnesses.
I had encountered this issue several years ago as a member of the Stearns County Human Services Advisory Committee, where I vehemently voiced opposition to such a facility. As it was presented, the facility would house chronic inebriates, and would in fact, be a "wet house" where chronic inebriates would be allowed to continue to consume alcohol while in its environs. Janet Reigstad, Community Supports Division Director, envisioned a facility whereby the "...sewer grates would be enlarged" so as to be able to better accommodate the vomitus that would likely result from the alcohol consumed by residents. She also stated that the plans were to allow the chronic inebriate a safe place to go, as well as to give each resident an $80 per week stipend to spend as he or she wishes, including to buy more booze. She went on to paint what could only be termed as a romanticized version of such a facility in the Twin Cities region, where she described same as a "spiritual place," where many chronic inebriates were allowed, in effect, to drink themselves to death. When asked about a treatment component, she replied that there was no treatment component (shades of this post by the Night Writer), since the residents, by definition, would be beyond hope of saving. In effect, it would be "Kervorkian Light", allowing drunks to commit suicide by allowing them to continue to consume their "poison of choice."

When this proposal came before the committee, I could not in good conscience support such a hopeless place, where people are allowed and/or encouraged to continue to engage in the behavior that led to their downfall, and is sure to lead to their death, with absolutely no effort made toward treating their disease. This, IMO, is just another "good-intentioned" stone in the pavement on the road to hell known as the Culture of Death.


What I have neglected to say on this post, is that one of the co-sponsors of this movement is none other than Catholic Charities. Proof positive that the Catholic Church is being taken over by the extreme left.