Olympia, WA (10-16-18) — The city teems with homeless encampments like never before, the desolation and despair palpable even at noon in broad daylight. Former Olympia Mayor Buxbaum gloated while shepherding the city’s ordinance criminalizing the homeless for being poor and destitute with nowhere else to go. Buxbaum argued he wanted to create a crisis to force surrounding jurisdictions to the table and help alleviate what he saw as Olympia’s disproportionate financial burden.
All seemed according to plan initially…until the ranks of the homeless kept growing…and growing…and growing… Then a month or so ago, the 9th Circuit ruled, in a case originating in Idaho, it was unconstitutional to cite/arrest the homeless for sleeping on public property when they had no meaningful alternative. Being poor is about lack of choices as much as lack of money. Panic gripped city officials. “Intolerable!” cried city manager Steve Hall. Mayor Buxbaum’s chickens had come home to roost…with interest!
A cursory walk near the Billy Frank jr. building and the Thurston county food bank revealed a powder keg of squalor, filth, and criminal abandonment of any effort toward public hygiene/sanitation. Public bathrooms remain on lockdown during all the wrong hours, the downtown artesian park has been walled off, and the mentally ill shout threats at passing journalists with cameras, The undertone of potential violence is scarcely veiled…the calm in the eye of the gathering storm perniciously deceptive. Downtown Olympia has become a place where only fools or the desperate tarry after dark.