Title: Linda McGurn ( AL 162 )
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00093330/00001
 Material Information
Title: Linda McGurn ( AL 162 )
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Interviewer: Chelsea Jones
Publication Date: April 13, 1993
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Bibliographic ID: UF00093330
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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AL 162
Interviewee: Linda McGurn
Interviewer: Chelsea Jones
Date: April 13, 1993

J: My name is Chelsea Jones. I am interviewing Linda McGurn of McGurn
Investment Company at their suite in the Sun Center, downtown Gainesville.
The date is April 13, 1993, and it is 4:00 in the afternoon. Could you tell me
where you were born?

M: I was born in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. My father was a military person, and
I moved all around while I was growing up.

J: What did you mother do?

M: My mother was from Arkansas. Basically, she was a housewife.

J: What is your education? Where did you go to school?

M: I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1970. [My class was]
one of the first classes where women were actually allowed into the university in
a substantial number, which was 500 of about 3,500 freshman men. I then
transferred down to the University of Florida in 1972 when I married Ken
McGurn. I was in the business school and got a degree in accounting. I
started, and went for about a year in the master's program. I was looking toward
getting a lot of tax courses. Then I decided to transfer to the law school, or get
into the law school, because that is where the better tax program was the
program there was recognized. So I got a law degree and graduated in 1978
from law school.

J: And you have been in Gainesville ever since?

M: Yes, we stayed in Gainesville because we started investing in real estate. We
liked the city, so we stayed.

J: How did you meet Ken?

M: Ken came to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for military spy school. My father was
a spy in the Korean war, and he was a guest spy at the Fort Bragg military
intelligence school. My brother-in-law was the instructor, and Ken was flirting
with my sister. I was home for the summer, so she set up a blind date.

J: That is great! [laughter] Did you and Ken originally open this corporation

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M: While we were in school he eventually got a Ph.D. in real estate and finance,
and I was in accounting or in law we would work with businesses or companies
that were having financial trouble, just as consultants. We worked with some
bankruptcy courts and got involved in real estate that way.

J: When did the McGurn Investment Company start?

M: I got out of school in 1978, and he got his Ph.D. some time in the 1980s. We
were doing a lot of real estate business renovation of small buildings or houses
under our own names, and the downtown project came about in the early
1980s. We knew that we were going to start getting bigger, and one of the
people we hired, Steve Higgins, used to be a deputy city manager. [He] said
that we needed a company because it was difficult to say that he works for Ken
McGurn; it did not sound very professional. So we incorporated and named it
McGurn Investment Company. It officially started in 1984.

J: What was the downtown renovation project?

M: Some time before 1984 The Gainesville Sun moved out of downtown and left this
building vacant. There was a lot of interest in either renovating the building or
doing something with this property, because it was so big. They actually
decided to give it to the City of Gainesville.

J: It had closed down?

M: This property was sitting here, and it was obviously right for a redevelopment
project. I think the Downtown Redevelopment Agency had just finished, or was
in the process of sponsoring the renovation project for the Seagle Building, and
this was the obvious next place.

J: Were you involved in any way with the [renovation of] the Hippodrome? I was in
high school when this happened, and I remember that.

M: No, we were not. [We were] just watching it from the sidelines and were
amazed at what they turned it into. We love the fact that they are here now.

J: As far back as references to homelessness go in the indexing from The
Gainesville Sun, there is an article on December 5, 1990 that said, "Ken McGurn
went to court to stop the expansion of St. Francis House." I guess you said it
was a corporation.

M: The action was actually filed by Sun Circle, Inc., of which Ken is president and
generally the spokesperson quoted in the newspaper. I am also an officer, and I
own half the corporation with Ken.

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J: OK. [According to the article, action was taken] because "The expansion, which
was to expand to thirty beds and an indoor dining facility, would not comply with
city codes." From the rest of the article, it said this was an appeal to action
already taken, so I assume this was not the beginning of the story, but was kind
of a little bit into it. First of all, could you just explain the chronology of how the
incorporated group acted toward St. Francis House?

M: Do you have a lot of the history of how they came to be downtown?

J: In our [Oral History Seminar] course, we have had interviews with the founding
people, but I am not very clear on the dates.

M: Let me go with the downtown understanding of how they got to be downtown.
They were initially over by the University, and there were a lot of complaints from
the neighbors. The businesses around St. Francis House and the people who
lived in the area had people wandering around, and it was having an impact on
their business. The [businesses and residents] got together and tried to
encourage St. Francis House to leave, so they tried to find a new location.
There was a problem with the zoning requirements, and where such a facility
could be located. I may have my dates wrong, because it has been so long; I
have done this so much. I think at the time, Jean Chalmers was on the [city]
commission, and they pushed through a very quickie ordinance change to
provide a new zoning category. I believe it was residences for destitute people
which would also allow the service of meals. I think that was around 1983.

So they had a hearing on that, and they also found a little house I think it used
to be called the Violet House owned by a Mr. Maduro. They wanted it to be a
residence for destitute people. I think you had to get a special exception that
is what it was called back then. They had a public meeting, and then they had a
meeting with all the people around because the automatic response was, "Well,
this is not going to be good." Some other businesses downtown called Ken and
I because we were involved in the downtown [redevelopment]. I guess we must
have already been involved with Sun Center at that time, so it might need to be
moved up to 1984 or 1985. Ken was the only one who actually went to the
meeting with these people. He objected to it, but he did not think it was
appropriate to say they could not come there. I think it was probably still at that
time that Father Gillespie and Bob Tancig said, "We are good neighbors. We
control our people. We do this, [and] we will not be a problem to you."

At that time downtown did not vehemently object [to the St. Francis House]. I
mean, I do not think they were serving an objectionable number; they had only
fifteen beds. And they [had] promised to be good neighbors. So we did not
object very strongly or go around with petitions, and they got into downtown.

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Then it turned out they were not good neighbors. Their people were taking food
off the site, and we were told that they would not be allowed to take food off the
site. They would leave trash all around, and it was the white styrofoam cups
from St. Francis House. They would go down and pick up their lunch and sit in
Sun Center. They would panhandle as they went through Sun Center, because
Sun Center was a funnel straight to St. Francis House. People would walk from
the plaza or from University Avenue. They would be coming from different
places, but as they got closer to St. Francis House and closer to us, it became a
concentration of people. Toby's [restaurant] had probably opened by then.
Restaurants were trying to open in Sun Center, and people were trying to open
small businesses. People would panhandle and make comments, and it
became an unpleasant place for people to try and do business or go to a nice

It was not that they were hurting people or abusing them it was that they were
making it uncomfortable. And the perception of being uncomfortable is that you
do not want to be around those things. You know they are there, but you do not
want to be staring at them while you are having a nice lunch, and you do not
want to be asked for money or have [rude] things said to you. There were so
many [homeless people] that you became too cognizant of them being there.
We eventually spent $2,000 to put up a gate, and we now hire a guard to keep
them off the funnel area; we try to get them to walk around on Main Street. I
mean, we would have people at Toby's, and the [homeless people] would go
down by the fountain and bathe. You cannot run a business that way.

The problem was location, [and the fact] that their site is so small. As they
waited for St. Francis to open they would go across to the funeral home and
panhandle cars that were waiting for a funeral procession.

It was an unsavory group of people. There are just tons of stories about the
problems of watching them do drugs in the parking lot, or crawl out of the
windows and have sex with prostitutes in cars. I mean, these are true stories.
We were also building Arlington, and people were getting panhandled leaving
their cars.

So we complained to them, and Ken would talk to Bob Tancig. I think they had
a fair relationship, and Ken would tell him about the complaints. Bob would say
he would fix them, and he promised us they could not take food off the site.
[But] we would still be picking up trash.

So some time in the 1980s they decided they were going to move to a bigger
site. The first site was the warehouse up by North Main [Street], by the
Gainesville shopping center that used to be Gainesville Beauty Supply. It was a
big site with a huge parking lot. [But] residents came out of the woodwork to

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make sure they could not move.

J: It was the "not in our backyard" argument?

M: [It was the] "not in our backyard" argument. But the problem with it is that they
have valid arguments. But they came out of the woodwork. Ken and I can
remember driving in and being concerned about it and feeling sorry for those
people. However, we realized that if they did not go there, we would most likely
end up with them where we were, and we did not particularly want them. We
never realized how true that would actually turn out to be.

The [St. Francis House] needed a special exception or another variance, and the
city commission did not give it to them. They appointed a search-for-shelter task
force of about eight people, and they looked at several different sites. They had
hearings in neighborhoods. Actually, they had hearings in all neighborhoods
except downtown. They were looking at a site on Waldo Road, one that would
be donated by United Way. They were looking at a site on 4th Avenue, which
was a building that they could get renovation funds for. Those were the two
main sites. And then there was a vacant site next to their current site that they
could also expand to. They went through a series of hearings where everybody,
except the downtown area, got an official public hearing. People would come
out and say that the one on Waldo Road even though it was free was near a
church, and "God would be upset if you put St. Francis House next to our
church." Somebody actually said that. It was incredible, but this is what was
going on. Everybody was saying the same thing.

The unfortunate part of it is that it does affect the neighborhood. Every one of
those people had something valid to say, and the sad part is that people started
saying, "Put it over there so it does not go in my neighborhood. If you keep it
downtown then it will not impact anybody else." We believe that the reason it
stayed downtown was that it was the path of least resistance. They were
already here, [so they should] just let it expand. We were already upset, and it
was not impacting a new neighborhood. Now, understand that it probably was
not in the place where it should be if the city was truly dedicated to

They then actually had a ranking of sites, and the scoring system on the ranking
of sites was changed when downtown did not come in first. In fact, I believe it
was the 4th Avenue site or Waldo Road I am not sure [which one] that would
have come in first under one ranking system that they initially proposed. And
then when it did not, the method of ranking [was] changed. So they
recommended the downtown [site].
They then had to get a special exception to expand. There were seven
requirements to secure a special exception. One was that it be compatible with

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the neighborhood and (I think) not have an adverse impact. So it initially went to
the plan board, I believe, and [they] had a hearing on whether or not [St. Francis
House] should be granted the special exception. We felt, based on the
requirements of the ordinance, that they should not be granted a special
exception. There was no doubt that it was not compatible. One of the major
issues was the size. There was no way, with it being on such a small lot, that
they would not impact the neighborhood, because they had to be so close. So
there were two technical points, and I think there was another one.

It passed the plan board. All these people came out with little red St. Francis
House stickers and accused downtown and particularly, Ken and I, of being
greedy developers because we were heartless and did not want the homeless.
We put up with fifteen beds, and we put up with seventy-five people [eating

The fact is, what we did not want was an expansion. We did not ask them to
leave. We admit we would have preferred that they leave, but we did not want
them to get bigger. The larger the facility is, the worse the impact is. If you are
small, if there are one or two or fifteen homeless people, it does not have the
same impact as if you have 30 or 100 people coming each night.

I think that at some time during this period the city commission also changed the
ordinance. The original ordinance only allowed for fifteen people, and I think
they increased it to thirty beds. There was no limit on the number of meals
served. Actually, one of the things that we always said was that the problem
was not so much the shelter, the homeless people, or the fifteen or thirty beds.
The problem was the soup kitchen. The ordinance required you to have a police
check before you could check in [to the St. Francis house for the] night, and they
would send the people for police checks. They [also] had to sign in, so there
was some control on those people. [But] at lunch they serve anybody. It does
not matter if they are needy, it does not matter if they are hungry and it does not
matter if they are homeless; they serve anybody who wants to eat, and they will
not check them. So you can have people like Danny Rollins [Rolling] you can
have criminals who get out of all the prisons around Gainesville and go there for
a free meal because they are not going to be checked. A lot of the people who
eat there [do] eat there regularly. They are prostitutes, criminals, and people
with records or warrants. We have talked to the police chief, and I think he has
said that they can do checks on those people. Actually, several of the people
who checked in for an overnight stay I cannot remember what the percentage
is and I do not want to exaggerate were some people wanted for murder and
people who had outstanding warrants against them, who came to stay at night.
J: Which police chief was this?

M: Wayland Clifton. He came and spoke to the Downtown Redevelopment Agency,

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and he has spoken to the city commission. The issue of homelessness or the
picture they draw is [one of] a family with young kids and how terrible it is that
they are on the streets. Well, the people who use the soup kitchen, and a lot of
the homeless, are single men. [These are] single men who are homeless either
because they have mental problems, deficiencies, illness, or they are homeless
by choice. The people who live in the camps around Gainesville there are
camps in the southwest and some right off Williston Road are men who choose
this lifestyle. They generally have outstanding warrants, or are wanted by the
law although they may not be proven guilty. If you look at the people who eat,
or if you look at the people who walk through when we are going to close the
gate, they are undesirable people who make snide comments. And they are not
hungry; they are getting a cheap meal.

If St. Francis House really wanted to do a service and really wanted to reach the
people who need the service, they could screen them and make it so that the
people who are really needy [could be helped]. [This way, homeless] families
would not have to associate with those criminals either. If I were a family in that
situation, I would not want to be around half the people whom St. Francis House
encourages to eat there.

I was talking about the plan board and why we were upset. So we filed an
appeal to the plan board, to the Board of Adjustment, saying that they did not
make the decision on the ordinance. The first time around, the plan board
turned us down. Although, they had missed a technicality they forgot to send
the notices out, or they did something so we filed a second appeal. It was on
that second appeal that we pulled out all the stops. We had expert witnesses,
and we presented enough evidence so that the Board of Adjustment should not
have granted the special exception.

J: And this was done in 1990?

M: This would be sometime in 1990.

J: Okay.

M: We really decided to fight it because we decided that it was wrong.

J: So you were fighting the expansion.

M: We were fighting the expansion, and we were also stating that we did not think
the St. Francis House really does that good of a job of meeting the needs that it
says it is supposed to meet. There are other ways to do it. Not that we are
experts or anything, but Gainesville Harvest is collecting food. Gainesville
Harvest gives food to St. Francis House, but it also gives food to day care

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centers and to schools, for [the] parents to pick up. If there is a certain segment
of the population you want to reach, you can spread out what you do. [In so
doing, you will] have a lesser impact on the neighborhood. St. Francis House
says, "That is too much trouble for us. It makes it hard for our volunteers to
work." Well, Gainesville Harvest is taking food all around now anyway.

J: Have they not also tried to do outreach centers though, where they wanted to set
up a small soup kitchen outreach center? [Did they not] have the same problem
of people not wanting it anywhere near where they live?

M: Well, when we tried to get a settlement with St. Francis House they said, "If we
could set up outreach centers and have a small group of people, it would not
impact the neighborhood." In addition, it would take it closer to the people in
need. So they said, "Well, we always have this problem; we have to go through
a full-blown hearing." So, part of the city commission on this last go-around
changed the ordinance that churches could have a center that fed it is a soup
kitchen, but I think they changed to some less-active word, like cafeterias as
long as they did not serve more than twenty-five people. That would be a matter
of right. They would not have to go through all these hearings, so people would
not come out of the woodwork. If you do not serve more than twenty-five it is
not as visible [and] the impact is not as bad.

J: Is that twenty-five at a time or twenty-five a day?

M: It was intended to be twenty-five a day so that they could not just keep running
people in. It would keep it at a church and small enough so that maybe people
could work with the people. They said, "That is too much trouble; we would
have to coordinate volunteers." That just is not true. Even if it were, they want to
make it as easy as they can on their volunteers to do their good deed without any
concern for the neighborhood, and there needs to be a balance. When the
volunteers want to make it easy by just being in someone else's neighborhood
and going down and doing their little thing and then going back to their own
neighborhood and leaving us with these people, then I think that is wrong.

J: What happened then after the appeal in late 1990? It was successful by early in
the following year. They had not advertised correctly, so you all appealed on
that technicality to get a new hearing set.
M: Right. Well they decided between Ken, Dick Jones and Commissioner
[Courtland] Collier to try to work out a settlement. The settlement was to find a
larger parcel of land and move it to some place that would not have the impact
that it was having on us. I mean, it was within 50 feet or 100 feet of 144
brand-new apartments, and a whole redevelopment project. It was closer to
people where they left it than anyplace they had considered. So Ken agreed to
try to find some other sites, and we delayed the hearings. We put out all our

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evidence and then, in an effort to try and settle it, we said we would try to find
another site. Part of the conditions of finding another site at best got
confused between the parties. When he had initially proposed it, Ken had said
that part of his conditions was that they would not serve criminals and that they
would somehow do some kind of identification check. When it finally came out
they said, "Well, that is not what we agreed to," even though that is what he put
in. There was a dispute as to that.

Ken found them a site down by the sheriff's department, behind Stringfellow's
[Supply Company], which was an industrial area. They were looking at another
site down there in what became known as the Rime's site.

They were trying to get rezoning on the Rime site, and things were dragging out.
I guess Rime's wanted to sell the land, and we had put a contract on it to hold it.
The Rimes contacted us about that it was taking too long, and [they said,] "We
are going to cancel the contract. We have had another offer." In addition, the
neighbors around the Rime's site were complaining. The major complainant
was from a car repair company, Ahrens Z-Car Specialist, who had an eight-foot
barbed wire fence around his property who said people would not come to his
property if a soup kitchen was near it. He has a guard dog and barbed wire
around the top of his fence, and he felt it was bad. So they are going to leave it
next to Sun Center.

Ahrens bought the Rime's land, and St. Francis House came back to us saying,
"We lost the land. We acted in good faith, [so] you have to drop your appeal."
We did not feel that it was in accordance with our agreement, so we let the Board
of Adjustment rule on it. They ruled that [St. Francis House] was compatible
with the neighborhood and should be allowed to expand, and I guess they will.

It basically ends private development south of 4th Avenue, or anywhere near
them on those blocks. There are a lot of old houses on those blocks that I do
not think are of historic value or renovation value.

J: When the board settled down, is when this was settled. Were there
requirements put on St. Francis? It did not seem like they had expanded to
thirty beds when we spoke to Bob Tancig.

M: They have to raise a lot of money. My understanding is that they have to raise
around $400,000 to build a facility for thirty beds. Frankly, that is obscene.

J: It sounds like the government is involved.

M: They would not say they are building a Taj Mahal, but I guess if they are going to
build it [at all], we are glad they are building a nice facility. But it certainly is not

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what we would consider a judicious expenditure of money. They have a site that
they thank goodness hopefully would not be able to expand on. But property
values around there are dropping, so they may be able to.

But the city commission still did have the thirty-bed limit, and at that time the city
commission decided to put a limit on the soup kitchen of seventy-five meals per
day. That had a major impact on their expansion. I forget how big their dining
room is.

J: When we spoke to Bob Tancig he came to our class he said they were
working with area churches to get the churches to serve (to do the outreach), but
that still seems to be very much a matter of organization as anything else.

M: Frankly, it probably has something to do with the churches not wanting those
people around their churches; they would prefer that they stay downtown, away
from their churches.

J: Everybody has [that opinion, it seems]. Most of the editorials in the paper were
not so much pro or con one way or the other. They said, "Where are they going
to go? [This] is the question."

M: And there is no place [for them to go]. I think one of the most fascinating points
to me was [made by] a gentleman who had a construction business in an
industrial area. When they were looking at a site during the search for shelter,
[they were looking] to expand on South Main Street in an industrial area with no
residents or no real public businesses. [However,] this person signed and
apparently got a lot of his workers to sign a petition saying, "Do not put it near us.
It will destroy our businesses." This is a person that has a construction yard
company. He later became one of the great advocates for the homeless and
[wondered] why we would not let them down by us. His wife would make
comments about how bad and greedy we were and that we had to help the
homeless. Of course, when it was near them they were prominent signatories
on a petition to keep the [homeless] away from them. I think there are just a lot
of hypocrites out there in terms of helping the homeless.

I hope that one of the things you are looking at is why there is not as much of an
outcry against the Salvation Army, which serves a great number of people, as
there is against St. Francis House, in terms of the management of their facility.

J: Have any of your development or redevelopment plans and programs been
stopped, changed, or lost money as a result of the St. Francis House being
where it is? Or have you all just planned around it?

M: No, we have had tenants move out. And one of the reasons that they have

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given us is the St. Francis House that they do not like going to work each day
and finding people sitting in the hallways. We [also] have to keep the bathrooms
locked at Sun Center because otherwise people go in there and take showers,
shave, wash their hair in the sinks and do all sorts of things in the bathrooms.
So now they are all locked. And people have moved out. We have one
government agency right now that says, "We do not like the people that walk
through Sun Center West on the way to St. Francis House; it makes us uneasy."
This is one of the reasons we have a guard now. So yes, it has hurt us.

It is hurting the perception of downtown. I have a friend who came downtown for
dinner, and they got panhandled. They went to Toby's and had a nice dinner.
It was an expensive dinner (Toby's is not there anymore). And they got
panhandled when they left. The next time they go out they are not going to park
in the back of Sun Center. They are going to go eat at Capriccio [Ristorante] or
they are going to eat over in the northwest where they do not have to [be
subjected to that kind of activity]. Nothing happened to them; they were not hurt.
It [just] made what would have been a perfect evening, or a nice evening,

The Hippodrome brings people down because it is so special, but people still do
not like to be panhandled, and they do not like to see [the homeless]. It makes
them feel guilty. And if they have a choice of different places to go, they will go
someplace where they are not made to feel guilty. St. Francis House is not
meeting the needs of [the homeless by] giving people a free hamburger. It
makes their volunteers think they have done something wonderful; I am really
cynical about the St. Francis House volunteers.

J: So what the arguments that people have used really seem to come down to is
redevelopment. At one point you mentioned a problem in the area of
redevelopment, or a prime area for redevelopment. Having grown up in
Gainesville, I would say that you all have done wonders. But it really seems to
be that people are arguing redevelopment versus charity and human need, or the
greedy land owners versus the peasants.

M: Those are the arguments that they use. If we were really greedy we would go
out in the northwest and build where everybody else is building. We got into
downtown just because it was in need. It was run-down; it was determined to be
an area of slum and blight, and there was a mind-set and a goal of redeveloping
bad areas. It does not make sense just to leave your inner city and keep going
out, because your inner city keeps getting worse. The only way to have a really
vital and strong community is to have all good areas. You are not supposed to
have slums. You are not supposed to have central-city blight.

And it was kind of fun. Anybody can build in the northwest. Well, that is not

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true. But it was more of a challenge here, and it was more costly. We put a lot
of ourselves into downtown and we felt betrayed by the city commission and by
everybody else who pats us on the back, and who said, "Now we are trying to
change." We felt betrayed because we really felt that we were doing something

J: I have just a few little questions that we have been asking everybody. Have you
had to call the police often? Have there been instances of vandalism as a result
of the homeless people living on the benches around here, other than the litter
and the panhandling nuisance? Have there been instances of violence?

M: Knock on wood, no. We have been lucky, but we are fenced off now, and we
have a guard in the evenings, which costs us money. We have not had any
major crime problems directly attributable to them.

J: So the primary problem of the homeless for your group, your company, has been
the loss of business due to not to belittle it the aesthetics of having homeless
people wandering through and people coming out of Emiliano's or out of other
restaurants and being panhandled.

M: I guess it is aesthetics. It is perception [and] it is fear. That becomes the reality
of why people left downtown in the first place. The whole goal is to bring
people back. It is to get people living here. Arlington [Square Apartments] was
a major success. It brought people, and nobody thought it would happen.
Right now the Downtown Redevelopment Agency is trying to do another
residential project. It just makes it harder to redevelop.

J: I think that is pretty much the end of what I have to ask. Do you have anything
you would like to add?

M: No. I meant to take some notes. We have done nothing about the Salvation
Army, [and] I feel strongly about that.
J: Do you think that the Salvation Army does not get as much publicity because of
their [image]? It is older, and people are more used to it.

M: I think they screen. My understanding is that they screen. They say, "If you
want food from us, we want to know that you are trying to get a job." They put
some kind of requirement to be worthy of it, if that is the right word. It is just too
easy to say, "I am homeless, and I am hungry." We do not ask people to make
a commitment themselves. St. Francis House does not ask for any
responsibility from its people; I think the Salvation Army does.

J: They close people out during the day, so they have to be out looking for a job.

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M: Well, so does St. Francis House, but their [homeless] hang around Sun Center
and in Sun Center's stairwells; they are not going to go looking for a job. I do
not know whether Salvation Army grills them on, "What did you do today? Did
you do this?" But there is a difference. Personally, I think that St. Francis
House is looking for numbers, and they get more United Way money. I
understand they get a lot of direct United Way money.

What else is there? Is there anything else I want to say? I think the city
commission needs to be commended on putting the goal of dispersal in the
compensation plan. I think that people help people in small groups. When a
small group becomes a crowd, or it becomes 75, or 100, people do not care
about them. Even St. Francis House cannot care about 100 people. They can
care about twenty-five, and they can care about thirty, but there is a difference.
They are warehousing people, and they are impacting us; they could be doing a
better job. It might cost them more, but they do not care about what money it
costs us to deal with their people. They should be willing to put more in to not
impact [the neighborhood].

J: Do you think Gainesville has a problem with homelessness?

M: I think it does, because people know they can come here and get food. We are
a dumping ground to use Chief Clifton's words for the prisons that let people
out. [These are people] who commit crimes in other parts of Florida and come
here. If we are too hospitable to them without requiring any kind of responsibility
or commitment in return, [we are asking for trouble]. I mean, why should they
not come here? You and I do not want to live in a camp, but these people have
the choice of living in a camp or working at a low-paying job. People make
money panhandling, [such as] at Butler Plaza. The people who have corners
make money; people give them money.

There used to be a time when people did not approve of homelessness, [and]
they did not approve of bums. Now we have this guilt complex about them when
we should not, because a lot of those people have made choices. I mean, there
are certain people who [do] need help, [such as] the sick. If we have a problem,
it is a problem [that] everyone has helped create. And by offering them too
much hospitality, it is only going to get worse. That is not being heartless, [and]
it is not being cruel it is realizing that there is a balance. We do not think that
St. Francis House I guess you are talking about the homeless, and I keep
going back to St. Francis House has cared about the balance of the impact it
has on a neighborhood, and that is [the] downtown [area].

J: Okay. Thank you very much for your comments and time.

M: You are welcome.

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