OK, so the accommodations dotting the field at St. Bernard’s Catholic School aren’t exactly spartan. But living in squalor isn’t what the annual Kids in a Box event is about.
First, it’s about raising money for the McHenry House Family Shelter, an outfit that gives families a push toward employment and permanent housing, in addition to temporary shelter.
This year, that money’s especially important, as charitable giving is down across the board. (It’s the economy, stupid.)
Second, while relatively plush accommodations and festive decorations are the norm at Kids in a Box, it’s a reminder to both kids and adults that plenty of people don’t even have it that good.
Accomplishing those two goals — and letting the kids have some fun doing it — is far more important than going for the authentic homeless experience.
Helping our other homeless
Not soon enough for many, the city began a series of meetings to discuss improving the Tracy Animal Shelter on Thursday.
While there’s general consensus that the status quo cannot prevail — the city’s added some 60,000 people without a significant upgrade to the shelter — the possibilities for change are murky.
Expand what we’ve got? Build brand-new? Share cost and facilities with Lathrop, Manteca or the county? Who knows?
I’m making no bets as to what city officials, rescue groups, veterinarians and a paid consultant come up with. But animal lovers can at least be glad that political will for change has reached critical mass.
Slugging it out
Last week’s discussion of the Fremont NUMMI plant closure — and its domino effect on jobs in San Joaquin County — seems to have been well-timed. (Though the closure itself could not have been timed more poorly.)
The University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center this week released its economic estimates for the foreseeable future, and there’s good news and bad news. But it might be hard to distinguish between the two.
The state’s economy will keep getting worse until the end of the year, at which point we should hit the recession’s rock bottom. A time line for recovery is anyone’s guess, though the center’s director is on record saying the valley will lag behind the state, and the state will lag behind the country.
No doubt about it, the Golden State is seriously tarnished.
City Council prayer parsing
The five members of the City Council walked a fine line with their recent invocation deliberation.
The council will remind those who deliver a prayer before council meetings that invocations must abide by legal standards established by the courts, but without expressly mentioning the standards.
Unless those reverends are also constitutional scholars, chances are that the warning will mean little.
This is a situation that doesn’t call for ambiguity, especially since, according to the city attorney, those delivering invocations at council meetings are “speaking on behalf of the city,” not merely as faithful citizens.
The council had the chance to make a bold — and progressive — decision by eschewing prayer as an official part of city business. Instead, the council stuck to its guns and made a statement that prayer is not only the public prerogative of private persons, but is acceptable as a government-sanctioned event.
We’ll see what happens next. Because while Tracy residents might be fine with the council’s decision, I have a feeling the Freedom From Religion Foundation folks who threatened a lawsuit aren't going to let this go.
• Share your thoughts with associate editor and columnist Jon Mendelson at email@example.com.