Police Give Bus Tickets Home

Panama City – Two months ago we were the first to tell you about operation safe streets, a program designed to send willing homeless people back to their hometowns. It’s part of the on-going effort to reduce the homeless and vagrancy problem in downtown Panama City.

“Operation Safe Streets” provides one way, non-refundable bus tickets to homeless people who meet specific qualifications. 44 people have taken advantage of the offer so far. A mother and her teenage son will be numbers 45 and 46.

Dafney Harrison and her 14 year old son Drake moved to Panama City in July with her boyfriend. Harrison cleaned local condos until she split from the boyfriend, leaving her and Drake homeless. they’ve been staying at the Panama City Rescue Mission.

“It’s really really tough. Not knowing anybody, it’s scary being out on the streets with a kid especially. It would be okay if it was just me, but with my kid it makes it bad,” said Harrison.

Harrison learned about “Operation Safe Streets” at the mission. Under the program, Panama City police and Bay County Sheriff’s officials buy one way bus tickets for homeless people, as long as they have family or a business to sponsor them.

“We make sure they have no pending litigation here in the county, no warrants, not a sexual offender or predator, not on probation, there is nothing that is going to bring them back to the county itself,” said Sgt. Christopher Edmundson.

Harrison contacted officers at the downtown Panama City police sub-station, and qualified for the program. Now she and Drake are going home to Indiana.

“I’m excited. I’m really happy,” said Drake Harrison.

“I don’t know where I would go or what I would do my mom doesn’t have the money to get us, so you know without this I don’t know what I would do,” said Harrison.

Dafney and Drake will leave on a Greyhound bus Friday morning. They’re fortunate. 16 people, who applied for “Operation Safe Streets” did not qualify and were turned away.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Police_Give_Bus_Tickets_Home_135705473.html

This is our local government and police officials being smart. As movethemission has noted in several of our postings, the percentage of the general public rallies behind the rescue mission and the local churches that are doing feeding sessions in public parks with the theme of we need to “help the homeless”. They do this in a way that lumps together a whole variety of people who have  totally different personal situations. The woman in this article does not need to be in a facility of institutionalized homeless surrounded by drunkards and vagrants. This woman and her child just want to go home to their family. With this program, it has moved two more people back to a situation where they can become contributing members of society and two less people that are counted in our overwhelming numbers of area homeless. Imagine the impact the rescue mission would have on the numbers of “homeless” that include, vagrants, panhandlers, drunkards, druggies, sex offenders and bums if they took the attitude of lowering the number of homeless by sending those home who just need a way home, working with organizations that could offer job training giving people new ways of helping themselves and developing a top notch drug and alcohol rehab program getting these people in a rural farm setting away from the influences readily available alcohol and other transients and vagrants. Unfortunately for our community, the rescue mission thrives on enhancing the number of people that go in their facility. The focus is not on getting people back out, it is on “how many we have fed today”. The numbers get larger and larger because the rescue mission has become known all over the southeast as the dumping ground for vagrants. It is time to reverse those numbers. 

More vile comments from local pastor…

As many who are familiar with the issues of vagrancy downtown and the impact of the rescue mission already know, those who give the rescue mission no blame for the problem often use “Christian charity”” as their shield to deflect any scrutiny or objections by the general public of the activities of the rescue mission. This attitude is insulting to those of us who are Christians but are able to look at the reality of situations and apply reason and critical thinking to understand the problem and then form well informed opinions and answers. Even after being faced with overwhelming data from multiple sources that have documented the vagrancy problem, its effect on the community, the root source and even proven solutions, there is still a part of our community that refuse to lay any responsibility on the rescue mission. This naive perspective allows them to justify any and all behaviors or activities as long as they have been branded as “Christian based”. Since the days of Christ there have been charlatans who have hidden behind the banner of Christianity to disguise the true nature of their activities and during that same time there have been volumes of people who fall for the act. In one of the most extreme examples, Adolph Hitler claimed “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”. 

In a recent letter to the editor, local Reverend Robby Entrekin wrote comments that compared our local Mayor as Herod the Great (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great). The sheer implications of these comments are so vile that they rank to the same levels of  the most outrageous of racist comments. Rev. Robby Entrekin should publicly apologize for his remarks. Below first is a response to Rev Entrekin’s letter and the latter part of this post is Rev. Entrekin’s original letter. Is this what we should expect from our local Christian leadership?

Readers response to letter to the editor :

This is in reply to the Dec. 13 letter “Make room at the inn” authored by the Rev. Robby Entrekin, about the Panama City Rescue Mission and Mayor Brudnicki’s handling of the issue.

There are certainly two sides to every story, and the Rescue Mission is no exception. However, in his letter the Rev. Entrekin equates the mayor to Herod: “Herod sent out troops to slay all the children of Bethlehem. The mayor of Panama City, who slept in a warm bed last night as the temperatures were in the 50s, desires to send out an eviction notice to the Rescue Mission.”

Seriously, the Rev. Entrekin, do you stand by that statement? Since his election, the mayor has explored various strategies which would possibly involve the relocation of the Mission to another area of the city. Given the property ownership is privately held, the mayor has discussed the issue with the owner. To date, no resolution has been reached, and the Mission continues at its current downtown location.

Now here we are, two weeks before Christmas, and a man of the cloth comes forward and makes outlandish statements about the mayor’s actions in this issue.

Shame on you, Reverend.

FRED APPLE

Panama City

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/inn-99052-bounds-reply.html#ixzz1gei0vLfM

Letter from Rev. Robby Entrekin

As we prepare for Christmas, I think it important to mention that Christ himself was homeless and born into poverty. When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, we find recorded in the Holy Scriptures that there was no room for them in the inn.

Jesus was not only born homeless but lived much of his adult life homeless. He said, “Foxes have their holes and birds have their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His own head.” Without a doubt, were the Christ child born in Panama City today, He, along with Mary and Joseph, would not be welcomed.

Herod sent out troops to slay all the children in Bethlehem. The mayor of Panama City, who slept in a warm bed last night as the temperatures were in the 50s, desires to send out an eviction notice to the Rescue Mission. He wants Mary and Joseph to pack up and move out. He wants public feedings of the hungry to stop.

Jesus said, “Just as you do to the least of these, you do to me.” Mr. Mayor, be careful who you kick out and have no room for in your city.

REV. ROBBY ENTREKIN

Panama City Beach

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1508053955

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/city-99031-born-joseph.html#ixzz1gehdlwVP

FAQ…..

Who is behind the “movethemission” website?

We are your neighbors and your co-workers. We are teachers, office workers and shop keepers who love our downtown area. We are Christians and people who care about people who have fallen on hard times and just need a hand up to return to becoming contributing members of society. We are also people who have seen the toxic effects of the rescue mission on our downtown community. We hear it from our customers, we see it in lowered daily sales receipts and we see it in our declining property values. We want our downtown to become an incredible place for our neighbors to live, work, shop and visit. We want  to restore our downtown into something that we can feel proud of leaving as our legacy to the next generation of Panama City citizens.

Well the rescue mission is helping needy people. Isn”t it the right thing to do to help people in need?

Absolutely! It is should be part of who we are as Christians and citizens of our town to reach out to those who need a hand up. Those of us in the downtown community who are most vocally  protesting the affects of the rescue mission have been the first ones to give to help others. We have bought meals, provided transportation and offered handy man jobs to those who took our offerings to better their situation. We encourage everyone to offer donations of time and money to organizations that best serve the needs of people in need while respecting the community from which they ask donations.

So if your group SUPPORTS helping those in need, what is your “beef” with the rescue mission?

This is where the trains falls off the tracks. The rescue mission has actually been “too successful” in their mission. As a city commissioner recently said of the director of the mission, “You are quite good at marketing”. The rescue mission has such large volumes of people they serve, they have impacted the downtown community in a negative way. There are inflated numbers of crime within a close radius of the mission. There are declined property values in neighborhoods surrounding the mission. The existence of the rescue has affected the small businesses in the downtown area by driving away retail customers. The reality is that the rescue mission is BIG BUSINESS with multimillion dollar revenues! Now, we personally are offended that a group has chosen to make a money making  business on the backs of homeless and vagrants but that alone is no more offensive than someone opening a honky tonk or a strip club for profit. Where it becomes a problem is when that business, facility or organization creates a negative impact on the surrounding businesses and neighbors. One does not have the right to hurt the surrounding community by their actions. This is considered a public nuisance. The toxic affects both directly and indirectly of the rescue mission are well documents by the Sheriffs department, Panama City police department, Mayors office and many can be read about here on our website. Then to add insult to injury, the rescue mission has thumbed their nose at their neighbors when concerns were voiced. The rescue mission has been a poor community neighbor at best and has only recently shown any type of cooperation when they finally felt some pressure from our city commissioners who have heard  constant complaints from their constituents. Although the rescue mission is not the ONLY problem that needs to be addressed to turn downtown around, it is the KEY problem by which all other revolve around. Rundown building? They need investment to restore them. Who is going to invest in building, inventory and personnel in a community that is drowning with a vagrant problem? The answer is nobody. 


I still want to help the homeless, how do I do it in a way that helps those in need without hurting our community? 

First of all be an informed citizen. Attend city commissioner meetings, read our blog and talk to owners of downtown businesses about what is really happening downtown. Next we encourage our readers to do your research before sending your hard earned donation dollars to an organization. How is that money being spent? What kind of results are they getting with the people they help? Are the “homeless” being served being moved to situations where they are contributing members of society or is the organization just creating rolls of the homeless who never leave the system? Does the organizations activities create additional hardship for neighboring businesses or residence? “Movethemission” is currently researching a number of organizations that provide services to the homeless and hope to provide a “report card” very soon in a future posting.

What can I do to help the “movethemisson” website get information out on the downtown area?

In just the twenty days we have been up we have had an explosive growth in our reader volume. We are committed to presenting information on the vagrancy issue and the rescue mission that you are not seeing in local media channels. Share our website link with your friends. Send it today to three people you know that care about downtown and want to see it become a great place again. Send us your stories. If you have had a personal experience that you would like to share, please drop us a line at movethemission@yahoo.com. Contact your Mayor and city commissioners. They are eager to hear your concerns and are committed to find solutions that allow downtown to blossom while still providing services to those truly in need. Lastly, support your downtown merchants. Many of these small business persons are struggling to survive in what is already a tough economy compounded by the affects of the transient and vagrant problem. These are your friends and neighbors that need you to patronize their businesses. 

Billy Fox’s answer to the vagrancy problem?….”City commissioners stop advertising Panama City as paradise”

Tonight Panama City Commissioners voted unanimously to create an ordinance to ban panhandling in Panama City. During the segment on the agenda to discuss the ban, Commissioner John Kady delivered a well researched and well thought out presentation outlining the true problem of the vagrancy problem as well as some of the core causes. Mr. Kady’s summary of the problem was dead on correct with analytic data to prove his points. After Mr. Kady’s excellent presentation, a public discussion period was offered by the board of commissioners. The first public comment was from local attorney, Carroll McCauley. Mr. McCauley shared with the auditorium that in his opinion, those who were participating in public feeding sessions offered by local churches at downtown PUBLIC parks  were “people just down on their luck” and that by “treating them with just a little respect, it would change the behavior of those individuals” . This writer would encourage Mr. McCauley to take a quick peek at any of our “top ten” along with their posted crimes to get a better feel for those who are frequenting these feeding sessions. Then Mr. McCauley somehow wanted to insult the intelligence of  the audience, the commissioners and specifically Mr. Kady by going through a “name dropping” session listing a series of people who are intelligent, prominent people in our community who participate in theses public feedings with the added question “do you think these people are not interested in the welfare of our community” ? Mr. Kady responded by asking attorney McCauley did  he think it was wrong to allow panhandling in our community and Mr. McCauley responded with a firm “no” leading Mr. Kady to respond “then you should have no problem with a law that prohibits panhandling”. Touche’

The next public comments came directly from Mr. Billy Fox , director of the Rescue mission himself. Mr. Fox was all over the board with his commentary. He attempted to use half truths and far fetched stories to somehow make his point that the community doesnt need any new laws to help limit the effects on vagrancy. He told a story about visiting ten businesses and “ten out of ten” supported what his organization is doing and even offered money. I guess he must have left out business number eleven where I work at that told him that they were not interested in supporting his organization due to the impact of the facility on downtown businesses. Then Mr. Fox rambled on about the community not needing any new laws and we all have so many things going on (still dont understand that comment). Then as icing on the cake, he commented that the vagrancy problem was due to city commissioners promoting Panama City as “paradise” and that is why vagrants from all over come to our area.

As the public comments session came to a close, Commissioner Billy Rader made a quite accurate and telling comment about mr. Fox. Mr. Rader commented that Mr. Fox was “really good at marketing” with which Mr.Fox added that he would take any cash that was being offered. The whole meeting reminded me of the storybook tale,”the Emperor’s new clothes”………

We applaud our Mayor and commissioners for taking the bold steps to address the vagrancy problem as it affects our beautiful downtown area. Keep up the good work!

Panama City commissioner , John Kady


Panama City Commissioners to Discuss Possible Ordinance Regulating Panhandling

Panama City commissioners will consider an ordinance that will restrict panhandling. It’s the latest move in their efforts to curtail the homelessness problem in the downtown area.

For several years now, downtown business owners have complained about panhandling vagrants bothering their customers. Tuesday night city commissioners will discuss the possibility of creating an ordinance to put a stop to the problem.

This is not new. Last month Escambia county commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting anyone from standing or stopping on a median to solicit motorists. Some of the targets of any type of proposal don’t think it will work.

“The jail will be full, the jail will be full” said one homeless man.

Some people who are homeless say those who do panhandle cause problems for them.

“If they’re just out here to get some drinking money, that’s just a crock all the way around, I don’t think that’s cool” said Christopher Lash, another homeless man.

Others believe any new ordinance of this type won’t have much impact, saying some people aren’t concerned about the consequences.

“If you got good samaritans that’s willing to say, ‘here’s a dollar, go get something to eat,’ it shouldn’t be against the law” said Thomas Key, who has been homeless for eight months.

The issue will be discussed Tuesday at 5:00pm at City Hall in Panama City.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Panama_City_Commissioners_to_Discuss_Possible_Ordinance_Regulating_Panhandling_135486173.html

 This is a step in the right direction by our local government but it is still a band-aid on the real problem that is the rescue mission. If we need a new law to restrict panhandling perhaps the question needs to be asked why do we have panhandling in just the downtown area? Why is this law necessary?  We as a community should not just settle for our downtown area to be taken over by vagrants. The quote offered in this article by a vagrant is quite telling; “If you got good samaritans that’s willing to say, ‘here’s a dollar, go get something to eat,’ it shouldn’t be against the law” said Thomas Key, who has been homeless for eight months.” This guy is a vagrant. He has been “homeless” for EIGHT MONTHS! This is exactly the the institutionalization of people at the rescue mission that “movethemission” is hoping to show to our readers. They are doing a poor job of getting people off the street and a poorer job of being good community neighbors.It is time to stand up to the rescue mission management and hold them accountable to the damage they have and continuing to cause to the downtown area. 

“Vagrant insists he wants hand-out, not hand up”. ..quoted from a well know Christian news organization

Bert Granholm, who has been homeless for 12 years, doesn’t want any more offers of day employment or long-term solutions to his lifestyle. Rather, he simply wants a few dollars for beer and a hamburger.

“People have this idea that I’m waiting around to do odd jobs,” says the veteran begger. “I just wish they would pony up and let me get on with my life.”

Granholm’s frustration is echoed by other homeless men who say the trend toward offering a “hand up rather than a hand-out” misses their need.

“Nobody asked us,” says a fellow homeless man.

Granholm, who strategically begs near churches on Sunday mornings, says many Christians lately offer him “crazy work schemes” rather than the much-easier and less complicated handful of change.

“They’ll pull up in their car and say, ‘I’ll pay you fifty bucks to paint my house,’” he says. “I’m like, ‘Paint your house? What if I fall off your big ol’ ladder? No thanks. Just give me some dough and I’ll be all right.’”

Other homeless men express similar befuddlement at the jobs people push at them.

“I’ve never cleaned a pool, trimmed a hedge or repaired a door in my life,” says a man who goes by the name of Tony. “Why are people so eager to have me do their yardwork? I’m a potential hazard.”

Granholm says he hopes do-gooders realize that the “hand up” philosophy sounds clever, but is not what he and other homeless people are looking for.

“Look at me — I’m homeless. I’m in a tough place,” he says. “It’s hard enough already. Just give me something to get by.”•

http://www.larknews.com/archives/681

How many people in our local community really know who the vagrants are in our community? Many are just like the individual described in this article published in “Lark news”, a well noted Christian News website.

1000 piece jigsaw puzzle….

We all remember as children receiving a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. As younger children the puzzles we received were quite simple with few pieces and easily identifiable images making the puzzle easy to solve. As we got older the puzzles were made up of larger quantities of pieces and the image of the puzzle was subtle in its colors so as to make the puzzle more challenging to complete. So goes the finances of the rescue Mission. They have intentionally created a a giant jigsaw puzzle regarding their funding making it a challenge for someone from outside the organization to have a clear understanding of where money comes from and where it goes.

“Movethemission” has done research to attempt to complete the puzzle with many of the pieces  still missing, but we have been able to put together sections of puzzle which begin to paint the picture of the finances of the rescue Mission.

Let’s take a peek at what we know so far:

The Panama City Rescue mission operates with an annual budget of well over two million dollars (2,000,000.00). The management of the rescue claim that these funds are privately raised  and they receive “no tax payer dollars”.  This proclamation on their part allows for many in the community to give the rescue mission carte blanche to operate however they want regardless of the affects they have on surrounding businesses or property owners. But is it really the case that they receive no tax payer money?  They may be able to make the point that they do not DIRECTLY receive tax payer monies, but does that fact ring true when one factors in monies that are filtered through other non-profit organizations? With a little research, one can see that there are multiple organizations in our community that as part of their charter are there to provide resources for the homeless. The interesting thing to note is how the same names appear and create an intermixing of different organizations. Let us start of with Mr. Rick Dye. Mr. Rick Dye is a former Regions Bank president living in Lynn Haven. Mr. Dye is also a former director of the Rescue Mission:

http://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Panama-City/the-panama-city-rescue-mission-inc-5030913.aspx

After his tenure with the Panama City Rescue Mission, Mr. Dye either founded or became director of “Homeless & Hunger Corporation of Northwest Florida” (http://www.nwfloridahomeless.org/).

Under the “about ” header on the organizations website they state the purpose of their organization as “The Homeless and Hunger Coalition of Northwest Florida, Inc is an umbrella organization that provides program support to the homeless service providers in our community”. Hmmm, so the Homeless and Hunger coalition doesn’t really DO anything themselves but they offer “program support” which should be read as “money” to other organizations. A quick scroll down the members index will place you firm on the Rescue Mission listing. So the Homeless and Hunger Coalition provides “program support” to the rescue mission…fair enough but where does the Homeless Coalition get THEIR money from??

According to the home page of their own website they are “Partially funded by the Florida department of Children And Families”. This is a state run agency that is funded directly with tax payer money. (http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/index.shtml) This Florida state agency operates with an annual budget of just over one-hundred, seventy nine million dollars. ($179,000,000.00 ) with program dollars specifically for homeless programs at eight-million, four-hundred thousand dollars ($ 8,435,260.00)

http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/newsroom/docs/quickfacts.pdf

Wow! That is a lot of tax payer money going to homeless programs. But the Homeless and Hungry Coalition ‘s website says they are “partially funded” by the state agency. Partially is a quite subjective term and means something quite different in governmental double talk than it does to us in the private sector. According to the Homeless & Hungry coalitions  2009 federal 990 filing “partially” means 99.1% funded by a governmental unit.


http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2010/592/853/2010-592853138-06c74a72-Z.pdf

Since 2005, This state agency has funded over eight hundred thousand ($806,699.00) through year 2009 to the Homeless and Hungry Coalition of Northwest Florida

But the readers of this blog can fairly ask the question, “how much if any of these tax dollars are actually being funneled into the coffers of the rescue mission?” As the rescue mission refuses to publicly disclose their donor list, this information remains quite the mystery. Although actual dollar amounts cannot be determined, one can get a good feel for the relationships and dynamics of the two organizations. We have already established that Mr. Dye is a former director of the mission giving him special insight to the needs of the mission, but what we have not shared with our readers is that Mr. Billy Fox is a former director of the Homeless & Hunger Coalition! The intermixing of these individuals and organizations is not by accident. This is the systematic practice of disguising financial information from the general public in a way to mislead.

What a tangled web we weave! But “movethemission” is not quite done with Mr. Dye.  It would appear that Mr. Dye has a couple of other “homeless” advocacy non-profit organizations. Mr. Dye founded the “Fellowship of Psalms 41 : 1-4 Inc” with Ms. Cyrethia Vines being named Director/President .


Little can be found on this organization. Through a web search there are no events or programs that are mentioned in any news media articles. But with an organization that has few officers and no well known activities, it is amazing that the organization has accumulated almost six million dollars in the form of a private foundation/ Charitable trust.

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2010/421/745/2010-421745604-076879bc-F.pdfagwf

Mr Dyes goes further to establish still another homeless advocacy organization under the name of “Faithworks Interfaith ministries” (http://faithworksnetwork.com/index.html”). This organization was formed with Rick’s wife as an officer, Patti Dye along with Roland Vines, spouse of the officer of Fellowships of Psalms, Cyrethia Vines.

“Movethemission” was unable to find any financial date regarding Faithworks Interfaith Ministries.

An educated reader of this blog can conclude from this post that when it comes to the finances of the rescue mission, things are not exactly as the rescue mission would have you think. This organization is a cash cow made up of intertwined advocacy groups that shuffle money around like a shell game. Tax dollars  and public donations are being used to create huge revenues all on the back of the homeless and the naive community who donate their hard earned money to what they “think” is a an organization doing good things for the community.

Response to “Letter to the editor”……”pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”

Springfield has obligation to protect property values

I read with interest the Dec. 8 editorial “Playing by the rules.” While Bethel Village is billed as a shelter for women recovering from substance abuse and domestic violence, the Rev. Fox made it clear at the City Commission meeting that ALL of the women were to be moved to Bethel Village and that it would be the “one-stop shop for the homeless.” All services would be offered on site, with several new houses and a barracks building, and let’s not forget the 10,000-square-foot “clubhouse.”

Does that not sound like a second Rescue Mission? Is that not a different type of facility that a simple “recovery center”?

If I am not mistaken, the judge’s decision was based on events at the current location. How do you compare the problems associated with a facility of less than 30 people to one with a population of in excess of 200 from all over North Florida, South Alabama and South Georgia placed in an area of single family homes and small apartments?

However, all of the above aside, the Springfield Commission has an obligation to protect the economic integrity of the city, the property values of the citizens and the tax base for the county and state. What? How does that possibly apply here?

In the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo v. New London, local governments were given the power to expropriate private property for development for the economic gain in the community. I’m sure many remember that New London, Conn., was taking houses of private citizens to give to a company to build some type of plant. If I remember correctly, in response to this ruling Florida passed a law limiting governments from taking private property for things other than public projects.

Even so, the precedent has been set that local governments do have the power to control the use of private properties for the economic gain of the community. If you can take property for development for purely economic reasons, you can deny development for the same reasons.

Would new development in the area be encouraged or discouraged by the presence of the new Rescue Mission? Would tax receipts not decline to the county and state as a result? Would local property owners not suffer significant economic loss as a result of this project? Do you believe that property values and tax collections have gone up in the area of the downtown Mission? Have new businesses been competing to open up in the downtown Mission area. Would they open up in the area of the new Mission?

The establishment of another Rescue Mission anywhere in Bay County should be opposed. Bay County is becoming, if it is not already, the “one-stop shop for the homeless” for an entire region. Local government has the right and the obligation to protect its interest and those of its citizens from unwarranted economic loss from excessive operations of organization like the Rescue Mission.

JAMES SAVAGE

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/village-98980-bethel-women.html#ixzz1gF8sJJXm

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” is the famous quote from the wizard in the movie classic, The Wizard Of Oz. However, when it comes to the actions of the rescue, many in Panama City seem to have taken the mythical wizard’s advice. They seem oblivious to the man behind the curtain. And make no mistake about it: there is a man (or group of men) behind the curtain. Mr. Savage in his letter to the editor shows that he is paying attention and has pulled the curtain back to see the mindset that rescue mission management operates under. Mr. Billy Fox,  director the the Panama City Rescue Mission, has a well documented history of understating the intent of his facility and programs  when trying to expand his organizations empire and skirting the truth of the impact on those communities that facilities are located. Any expansion into Springfield and Port St. Joe will bring the same toxic effects into those communities that downtown Panama City has had to deal with for years. Readers of this blog need to ask their local government official, “What part of this formula do you not understand?”

Mr. Savage ask his own set of challenging questions: “Would new development in the area be encouraged or discouraged by the presence of the new Rescue Mission? Would tax receipts not decline to the county and state as a result? Would local property owners not suffer significant economic loss as a result of this project? Do you believe that property values and tax collections have gone up in the area of the downtown Mission? Have new businesses been competing to open up in the downtown Mission area. Would they open up in the area of the new Mission?”  Tough questions that need answers. Those property owners and business owners in the downtown area within striking distance of the current mission facility can answer many of those questions. 

The last comment in Mr. Savage’s piece should act as a rally call for those who see the man behind the curtain for what he is really doing, “The establishment of another Rescue Mission anywhere in Bay County should be opposed. Bay County is becoming, if it is not already, the “one-stop shop for the homeless” for an entire region. Local government has the right and the obligation to protect its interest and those of its citizens from unwarranted economic loss from excessive operations of organization like the Rescue Mission.  Dead on correct. Take control of your community by contacting your local government officials and telling them you do not want the negative impact of the rescue mission in your community. 

Man Illegally Running Business Housing Homeless

Panama City – A man who claims he’s trying to operate a flea market on fifteenth street is apparently housing homeless on the property he’s renting. Police can’t kick them out because the man is legally renting the property, but code enforcement is investigating.

The Panama City building looks abandoned but a man has been operating a flea market out of the back. According to a recent police report, there are a dozen people living on this property. One person who lived there stated in the police report that the place has no water or plumbing and people dug a hole in the backyard to go to the bathroom.

When we showed up people started loading trucks with items they were trying to sell and took off. It turns out the manager, Thomas West doesn’t have a business license. The manager applied for a business license but police say with the property’s current condition, it won’t be approved.

Bay County animal control also went to the property Friday and rescued two starved puppies.

 

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Man_Illegally_Running_Business_Housing_Homeless_135353133.html

Task Force: Says They’re “Not Another Rescue Mission”

Members of the Community Resource Task Force are making it clear the organization will not be providing food and shelter for the homeless.

During Thursday’s meeting, members agreed they want to build a Community Resource Center to provide opportunities for people in need. The Resource Center would provide development programs for the homeless. The ultimate goal will be to help them find employment and permanent housing, but they say they do not want to be thought of as just another Rescue Mission.

“We’re pleased to announced, we’re going to be a transformational facility. We call it a campus where people can come and we’re going to help people help themselves, help the poor and the homeless help themselves that’s what we’re going to be about” said Marilyn Fenimore, Resource Development Communications spokesperson.

The Task Force are also planning to meet with the Panama City Rescue Mission’s Board of Directors to discuss future opportunities.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Task_Force_Says_Theyre_Not_Another_Rescue_Mission_135298248.html