Opinion

Ya got trouble, my friends – trouble right here in Kirkland City

It’s b-a-c-k! Tent City 4 is back in town in residence at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on Finn Hill.

Like Professor Harold Hill, the shady huckster in Meredith Wilson’s, The Music Man, TC4 has returned to snooker the people of Kirkland City with fables, foolishness, and follies – everybody join the band!

With a capital T that rhymes with B that stands for Baloney!

Devoid of meaningful transitional programs, a history of refusing to cooperate with public and private homeless services providers, blatant disregard for public accountability and transparency, and a general sharp-stick-in-the-eye attitude is what you get when TC4 blows into town.

The camp’s creation four and a half years ago created perhaps the biggest public firestorm ever seen on the Eastside - I dropped square into the middle of it. Initially, it was to be at the Brickyard Road Park and Ride just across the freeway from my place. When that blew up in King County Executive Ron Sims’ face, it went to St. Brendan Catholic Church in Bothell, next door to where I attended church and where my children had attended elementary and junior high school.

From there, it went to Woodinville, just over the hill from me, then to its first St. John Vianney sojourn a few blocks from my son’s house.

I opposed it at every turn, both publicly and privately. Writing, testifying, demonstrating, even playing my bagpipe at rallies – I regarded (still do) TC4 to be a latter version of an old fashioned con game.

Over the years, it has bounced around the Eastside: Kirkland proper, back to Woodinville, Bellevue, several spots in unincorporated King County, Issaquah, Redmond, and, most recently and in a way familiar to veterans of the Tent City Wars, Mercer Island, where it encamped sans permit, sans public process, and sans respect for anyone’s rights or opinion.

(Ed. Note: The City of Mercer Island and the property owner hosting TC4 held public meetings before a temporary use agreement was signed.)

Now, however, TC4 operator, Seattle hard-left activist organization, SHARE/WHEEL, has hit some bumps in the road.

A few weeks ago, an encampment of several score Pepto-Bismol-colored tents called Nickelsville, so named to dishonor Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, set up shop on a plot of state-owned land in Seattle.

The city was not amused, and told Nickelsville to cease and desist leading it to hopscotch around Seattle. However, it was met with growing city anger and sometimes squads of Seattle’s finest ready to arrest the camp’s serial scofflaws.

Why Seattle’s increasing disfavor? Because it’s the target of a shakedown so absurd and disingenuous in nature that even the bleedingist of bleeding hearts in city government have had enough.

Some years ago, SHARE/WHEEL and Seattle settled a lawsuit over illegalities surrounding Tent City 3, TC4’s sibling, by agreeing that SHARE would operate only one encampment at a time within the city limits. When Nickelsville sprang up that dark and stormy night, its leadership claimed no affiliation with SHARE.

Odd, since most Nickelsville residents were refuges from TC3, TC4 or homeless shelters operated by SHARE, and spokespersons for it were present or former SHARE officials. And Scott Morrow, the main man behind the camp, had only recently and conveniently “resigned” his paid position with SHARE, though he still receives benefits from the organization.

Considering SHARE’s “reasoning” as too clever by half and ham-fisted, Seattle officials threatened to levy increasingly stiff fines not only on SHARE, but also a lengthy list of its supporters, camp hosts, and other hangers-on. Two can play at the chicken game.

SHARE’s behavior has led several in the liberal and religious communities in Seattle to privately express contempt for both it and its tactics. Others, especially encampment hosts and true believers, unfailingly excuse TC4 since they regard it as a holy cause.

This reporter regards it as a colossal political hoax. I’ll have more to say in weeks to come.

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