About Christie Staffa

LTD... Living the Dream, or giving it a good shot anyway!

Protest @ The Palm

Each and every Friday night in downtown Denver, 12-20 protestors show up to protest the Palm Restaurant located at 1672 Lawrence Street from the hours of 5 p.m. till 9 p.m.  Therefore, each and every Friday night in downtown Denver, during that same time no less than five motorcycle police officers are taken off of the streets to keep the protest civil.

You might wonder why all of the fuss:

A.  Is the food or service terrible?

B.  Are they serving alcohol to minors?

C.  Are the owners of the restaurant funding terrorism?

D. None of the Above.

If you chose “D” you are correct.  The Palm is being protested because the manager had the audacity to show up at a City Council meeting in support of a proposed new ordinance titled:  Urban Camping Ban.  His prize: to be protested each Friday in an attempt to discourage citizens from patronizing the restaurant.

The protesters stand a few feet from the outdoor tables, shouting and heckling the patrons.  Those not wishing to dine outside are verbally acosted as they enter and leave the building.  This is all legal, mind you, as Denver does not have a “No Loitering Ordinance”, they are standing on a public sidewalk and entitled to free speech.  One protestor, who was served with a notice from the courts due to her inappropriate behavior and speech during a recent protest is not allowed within 50 feet of the restaurant.  She now stands approximately 51 feet from the building and shouts her message from a bullhorn.

Tonight, Joshua and I have a reservation for 2 adults and 2 puppies in the outdoor seating at 5 p.m.  I want to witness this spectacle firsthand while supporting this restaurant for their boldness in supporting the Urban Camping Ban.

On a sad note, Old Chicago Pizza, located in Northwest LoDo also showed up at city council in support of the Urban Camping Ban.  They were actually targeted by the protestors first and have since negated their support of the ordinance to avoid additional protests.

Public discussion over the ordinance lasted less than a month and City Council worked fast to pass the Urban Camping Ban which is a marked contrast to their normal slow, steady pace.  I have linked the ordinance to this blog under the “Educate Yourself” tab, please take a look at it and then go to the tab titled “Don’t Drink the KoolAid” and read the untruths that the ACLU would have you believe.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Lt. Kevin Edling of the Denver Police Department this past Tuesday; he explained the ordinance to me from a police standpoint and you can read in the wording that the homeless are not being arrested for being homeless.

I wonder sometimes if some of these protestors just can’t think for themselves so they have to believe whatever they are told.  Personally, before I just ran off to protest a restaurant I would definitely gather some facts… instead, they are now passing out free burritos to anyone that stops by, hoping to attract a crowd of vagrants to assist them with their harassment of people that just want to have a nice dinner a glass of wine and enjoy the nice summer weather.

On a positive note… the Palm hosts an After-Protest Party every Friday night!  I sincerely hope that they continue to ignore the protestors and that the community as a whole continues to support their business and tip the wait staff extra for all of the hassle

Thank you to Mark Lebo and Lt. Edling for educating me on the Urban Camping Ban!

But… I’m just one person…

Have you ever seen a problem and thought that you would like to do something about it and then said to yourself, but… I’m just one person?

Well, there is a park located in LoDo (Lower Downtown) called Triangle Park where vagrants are allowed to hang out all day long because the city of Denver does not have a “No Loitering” ordinance. These people wander around aimlessly awaiting their next meal from one of the neighboring missions.

Of course, wherever you have too many idle hands you may also find trouble. Prostitution, drugs and alcohol are rampant here. Nesstled right in the middle of a community of families on one of the main streets in the city, Broadway. I walk past this park everyday and although marijuana is legal in the state, it is not legal in the public park. It is impossible to walk past this site without noticing the pot or alcohol, as well as the prostitution and fighting. It is sad that this is accepted as the norm and right out in the open.

My vow is to work to close this park permanently. I’m not sure how and yes, I am only one person but I have put my mind to it.. and well, that is that. I have copied into this blog a letter I wrote to my city counsilwoman for District 9, Judy Montero asking for help. I have yet to recieve a response but I will post it when I do.

Ms. Montero,

I moved to Colorado from Texas last year when I was invited to come to work for a company in the oil & gas industry who needed to hire someone with my particular experience as a piping designer. In the meantime I have fallen in love with the state and the city of Denver and feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to become an active citizen. With that said, I am very interested in seeing Triangle Park, on Broadway closed to the public. Your aide, Amanda Sandoval told me earlier this week that this is something that you have lobbied for in the past.

I realize that closing the park would disperse the vagrants that loiter there throughout the neighborhoods in the area but we are not helping these people by allowing them to thrive there either. In many ways keeping the park open so that the homeless and sick can hang out just gives the drug dealers and prostitutes a “known mall”, so to speak to sell their products. It also sends a message out to anyone with drug and alcohol problems that they can come to Denver because there are no laws against loitering on public property and the city will even provide you with a nice concrete slab to lay your head on while you await your next free meal from the mission.

The downtown area seems to be growing around Triangle Park with numerous new apartment buildings, retail shops, businesses and offices sprouting up everywhere. How will Denver attract people to move to these new or renovated buildings with the unsightly mess that comes from Triangle Park? I have been informed that the Mission isn’t going to move, Triangle Park will never be closed and that the situation here in Denver, with the vagrancy & the homeless population will never be solved.

I have never been one to say, “I am just one person, what can I do”, instead I ask, “what can I do?” Honestly, Ms. Montero, I strongly believe in the quote by Edmund Burke that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. Of course, I’m not of the opinion that the entire vagrant population in Denver is evil but they have chosen this life through drug and alcohol abuse and many of their supporters in the city have become enablers of this behavior without even realizing it.

There was a man camping out in the grassy area near my apartment building last night so I called the police non-emergency number to have him removed. This man is an Army Veteran from 1969-71 and on 100% disability for his alcoholism and other issues. While I appreciate his service to our country and sympathize with his illness I feel if he is allowed to sleep on our property that we are encouraging him to continue to spend the $1600-$2000 that he receives from the V.A. each month to further abuse his body. While I have compassion for these people and their illnesses I believe that those who give them money or allow them to just roam around downtown do not realize how they are not really helping them but hurting them in the long run.

I certainly could have just asked you for some advice on how I might work toward having Triangle Park closed but I wanted to give you some insight on my thoughts and commitment to this endeavor. So here I am, one person, asking what I can do? Please feel free to email me or call me on my cell phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX to discuss this matter and any suggestions you may have for me. I realize that you are probably pretty busy but I am available to meet with you in person if you have the time.

Respectfully,

Christie Staffa

So, fellow bloggers… what do you think?

(NO)Vacancy

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How does one determine if a person sleeping on a park bench is just down on their luck, has emotional problems or they are strung out on drugs?  Afterall, they don’t exactly have signs around their necks that state the obvious.  And, with so many government and volunteer programs out there to help any or all of these people how does this population continue to increase rather than decrease?

Denver, Colorado seems to have put up a huge billboard stating that it is a safe haven for the homeless and they all seem to be huddled up in the same area, in LODO. They are alcoholics or drug addicts that are unable to hold down a job because of their illness or just choose not to work.

There are several missions in this area where those in need can receive three square meals a day and a clean bed in a relatively safe environment.  These missions will take in anyone, absolutely anyone, except those that have been drinking, doing drugs or are physically out of control.

It is a catch 22, so to speak, they need help because they are sick, yet they can’t get the help they need because of their illness. But that huge billboard saying, Come On In, Welcome to Denver not only brings in those less fortunate, it also brings in all of the people who would prey on those who need help the most, the drug dealers.

Herein lies the problem, we have drug addicts and alcoholics sleeping on the streets because they are too sick or weak to tell the drug peddler, “no”. And they cannot receive the assistance they need because they are drunk or high.

Please don’t confuse my blog with one that would encourage America to show up and give each one of these people a hug and throw countless dollars into a melting pot thinking this is going to solve the problem because it is not. This blog will be to help those who also need assistance, those of us whom live and work in the city and have to determine for ourselves where compassion ends and tough love begins.

Expect this blog to be a diary of my thoughts and experiences surrounding this growing epidemic. It will contain interviews of police and city counsel members, volunteers at the shelter as well as the homeless themselves and more. There will be pictures that adequately depict the situation and links that would help those in need find shelter. Additionally I will post organizations and phone numbers that will assist citizens in their quest to move the homeless out of their neighborhood in an attempt to keep their families safe.

Don’t expect that it won’t be controversial or to agree with everything that is added. Do feel free to add your honest, well thought out comments to any post.

Christie Staffa