Let me preface these remarks by qualifying my perspective. My name is chance martin, I work for the Coalition on Homelessness San Francisco where I edit the STREET SHEET - the oldest street newspaper on the west coast. I've been a homeless advocate/activist for about 10 years, except unlike Mr. Hayes - who maintains that he voluntarily chose to live among "the homeless" - I became homeless when I lost my small business behind disability in 1988. Perhaps the reason why Hayes can so casually objectify homeless people by labeling them as "the homeless" is because he sees them as separate from himself. And labeling, after all, is the first step in disempowering any group of people. Self-appointed leaders like Hayes invariably predicate their "leadership" on their success at disempowering their followers.
That being said, allow me to state that Ted Hayes is the most tireless, most shameless self-promoter that I've ever met in all my years of homeless advocacy. Do a search on Dogpile for "Ted Hayes" and you'll see what I mean. Hayes has carved out a niche for himself by making statements in the corporate media that pander to the "quality of life" crowd, and frequently at the direct expense of the civil rights of the same homeless people he claims to represent.
I first met Hayes at at statewide civil rights organizing conference in L.A. several years ago. Or, more correctly, I met Hayes and his entourage, including an attractive European videographer who shooting a documentary NOT about homelessness, but about Ted Hayes. It seems he was using the conference as a backdrop for his latest vehicle for self-aggrandizement.
At first I was puzzled, because Hayes' remarks were so far off-topic from the workshop's discussions that I was starting to mistake him for another drug causality. Then I realized that he wasn't even speaking with US, and that all of his comments were solely for the benefit of the camera. As this became clear, I dismissed Hayes as an aberration, paid scant attention to his theatrical posturings, and said silent thanks that homeless advocacy in San Francisco hadn't yet "gone Hollywood."
Thankfully, Hayes stayed pretty much off my radar until very recently, when we received an invitation to send a "delegation" to his "National Homeless Convention" at Dome Village. The stated purpose of this gathering was to gather input for a "National Homeless Plan." I had my reservations, but since we were sending a group to participate in the protests anyway, and especially since we spent a great deal of time last year developing an action plan to end homelessness in San Francisco
(which can be viewed at http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives/Oct99/0310.html),
we thought we'd check it out.
I spoke to some folks at Dome Village by phone, and asked for a draft of the document they were working from so we could be prepared to participate. They faxed a program and agenda, and pretty sketchy ones at that. Not to be deterred, I checked out Dome Village's url, and what I found there was disturbing, to put it mildly.
The two most clearly articulated components of Hayes' plan were: 1) the plan's basic intent was to create an even greater role for corporate interests by inviting them to become stakeholders in the creation of a domestic "Marshall Plan" (the post WWII U.S. policy that opened war-torn Europe to exploitation by corporate interests and laid the foundation for the present European economic union), and 2) installing none other than Ted Hayes as national "homeless czar," heading a Presidential Commission for "the Homeless." Can you say "grandiosity?" Can you say "lack of insight?" Seems like Mr. Hayes is one ambitious man.
Also disturbing was that the url's content changed almost daily. This presented a problem for me because I had been asked to critique Hayes' Plan for an interview with a Los Angeles micropower radio station through LA IMC. Ultimately, I decided not to take Ted Hayes to task for solidarity's sake (and since we were going to participate in his convention) and spoke instead about the plan we developed, and about the National Civil Rights Organizing Project we're working on. That is my first regret.
A couple of us stopped by Dome Village Monday (after we missed the start of the U'wa demo) to see if we should find parking and bring the other ten folks in our group to Hayes