On Tuesday, May 1st, I publicly posted an essay I've authored entitled, "An Open Letter to the Mayor of Hell." In this editorial, I outlined my plan to live on the streets of Las Vegas for a period of two weeks to gain a better understanding of the city's homelessness crisis. My comments in the essay were acerbic and short of etiquette -- I even my broken my long self-imposed rule of no name-calling when I referred to mayor Oscar B. Goodman as a "sociopath" and a "prick." Since nothing has changed my understanding of Goodman's policies towards the homeless, I can only stand by my impolite characterizations. (Click HERE to read the article).
This afternoon, I received a phone call from my father in Beaverton, OR, informing me that the Beaverton police had been contacted by Las Vegas authorities, and had apparently been asked to do some checking in on my intentions and/or background. An officer was in my home, and I spoke with him for a period of perhaps 10 minutes. He was polite and asked me to explain my intentions behind my project. He also asked if I felt there was anything in my article that might give Las Vegas authorities cause for concern. Apparently as a follow-up to this question, I was asked if I planned to attend any city council meetings, the answer to which is yes -- yesterday, I was informed that such a meeting will occur in Las Vegas on May 16th. It is an appropriate arena for the homeless to express themselves and sometimes receive the offer of assistance.
I politely informed the officer that my only motivation is to gather data and investigate the crisis experientially. I've no desire to make a spectacle of myself, and I've certainly no plans to do anything illegal, although such a goal is becoming increasingly difficult for ANY homeless person, i.e. the banning of the feeding of homeless in parks, no sleeping in parks, etc., etc. Indeed, despite my (in my opinion justifiably) impolite words toward mayor Goodman, I am approaching this endeavor in a spirit of peace and cooperation. I am EAGER to speak with city officials about the difficulties they face in trying to deal with the crisis, and I will do everything in my admittedly very limited power to help discover a unified and practical solution. But this can ONLY be done by indiscriminately shining a light of truth on every facet of the stark and disturbing reality -- a reality which some people might be more comfortable hiding from public view.
It may have been in the best interests of journalistic integrity to not "advertise" this experiment beforehand, but I am happy that everything is out in the open. I believe as a general rule that there is safety in visibility. So I intend to keep the public informed of every meaningful development as this project unfolds.
My plans are unchanged -- I leave on the date and time previously stated. I will appreciate all positive thoughts and prayers, so that this might be the most helpful and productive venture for all affected by it.
--Michael Goodspeed (aka Stuart Andrew Talbott)