Sunday, December 25, 2005


UP FRONT News February 4, 2006
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham

“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

It was not some religious whim that has won the late Catholic leftist/pacifist Dorothy Day considera- tion for sainthood by the Vatican. Although Ms. Day, the founder of the world-wide Catholic Worker movement, is very famous, there are still millions who claim they have never have hear of her. Ms. Day, who was born in Brooklyn and lived her last days in Staten Island, and her itinerant French priest Peter Maurin, created what has become a universe of social service and advocacy centers for the poor. Among the most well known are St. Joseph House and Maryhouse, located in the Manhattan’s East Village. And it is at those locations, which operate soup kitchens and residences, where a nest of violence, drug trafficking, and, it appears, racism are festering, in a setting where tolerance is the governing principle but where in fact anarchy sometimes rules.

Paul Frazierfest (spelling uncertain because this corrupt Catholic Worker shirker doesn’t like to give his last name) is an egg-shaped CW person who on occasion has the responsibility of supervising the soup kitchen at St. Joseph House at 36 East 1st Street. Unless the authority-averse Catholic Worker staff take action soon, the continued deceitfulness, occasional resort to physical aggression and general negli- gence and incompetence of the recurrently robotic Paul F. (to distinguish him for several Pope Pauls, with whom Paul F. apparently confuses himself), will convert a humanitarian institution into a crack emporium.

Paul F. presumably will profess to be unaware that there are a number of individuals who use the soup kitchen not only to eat but also to conduct drug trafficking business. The term “product”, not hard to overhear there, is not a reference to shampoo or canned peas. It means crack cocaine, which, quite evidently is what some of those who come to the kitchen both use and traffic. I have come to the soup kitchen recurrently over a number of years and am well acquainted with some very solid and dedicated Catholic Worker workers, principal among them Roger O’Neil, who is both a contemporary of and a spiritual descendant of Dorothy Day. When he is supervising the kitchen, things usually go smoothly. When Paul F. is in charge, the Gaza Strip or Fallujah might be safer.

On February 2 I was to meet an occasional soup kitchen client who is homeless and whom, as a social worker and journalist, I am trying to assist. When I arrived, at around 11:05 A.M., I asked the stone-faced Paul, who was in charge on that day, to contact Mr. O’Neil upstairs in the building, who also knows the homeless person, to advise Mr. O’Neil of my presence and ask that he come downstairs. Paul, who seems to never fail to provide the least help possible, went out to the concrete backyard and presumably called out to Mr. O’Neil upstairs. And then Paul F. returned to the kitchen, saying nothing. When I asked him what had happened (Paul generally calls O’Neil a couple of floors up, in a voice so faint that O’Neil could never hear it), he responded, “I’ll get him” - and then did and said nothing. After a minute or so I asked, “When?” Paul said, “When the soup line ends.” At the time it was about 11:20, about 10 minutes before the kitchen, which opens at 10:00 AM, closed and there was no line. Although the homeless lady did not show up for our appointment, I decided to wait until at least the 11:30 closing time when presumably I would be able to see Mr. O’Neil. I finished my soup and busied myself reading and clipping the New York Times.

As I was doing that a tall dreadlocked man came over to me and, for several minutes, spoke loudly and quite incoherently in my direction, making no attempt to sit down have some food. I said nothing. Paul F., who was maybe three feet away, did nothing. At one point, the visitor, apparently high on drugs, made a reference to my clipping the paper called me a name suggesting that I engage in incest with my mother. I got up and went over to Paul F. and asked him to ask the man to stop speaking to me. Paul did not move. I repeated my request. At that point Paul, moving in my direction, and sticking his finger in my face, said that he was putting me out of the kitchen. I reminded him that I had asked him to direct his attention to an aggressor. He repeated his order to me, threatening to call the police. Upon my reply that he should feel free to call the cops, he changed his mind. Meanwhile, the apparent crackhead, sensing protection from Paul F., became more verbally abusive towards me and was soon joined by another dreadlocked partner in crime, who dashed over and made a series of explicit physical threats against me. Paul responded like the jellyfish he is and had to be rescued by Mr. O’Neil, who had evidently heard the increasing commotion and had come downstairs.

Mr. O’Neil, who is in his seventies, but very Irish, placed himself between the aggressors and me and soon imposed order. A few minutes later, while Mr. O’Neil and I were in front of St. Joseph House, talking about the homeless person - an intelligent, attractive, and nice-but-lost lady, a native of Nebraska who, by way of Chicago, over the years, has wound up chronically homeless and abused in New York City and who appears to be well on the road to a very bad end. Without so much as an “excuse me”, Paul F. opened the door to issue an order to O’Neil, who is his superior in every conceivable way, stating that I am not welcome at the soup kitchen. Mr. O’Neil merely smiled and we went on with our conversation.

Later that day I called Catholic Worker veteran Jane Sammon, who, while she sometimes jumps to conclusions about people she doesn’t know, listened carefully to my account about someone she may think she knows but evidently does not. She agreed that it would be best if I put my complaint about Pope Paul F. in writing.

Venues that provide services to street people - e.g. drop-in centers, shelters, soup kitchens (I know I’ve experienced them all) - are notorious havens for criminal activity, much of which involves the crack market. Among the worst is a drop-in center (i.e. a homeless shelter where people sleep in chairs rather than beds) known as “Peter’s Place”, known among the widening circle of UP FRONT News readers as “Auschwitz Lite”, because of the abuse homeless people there experience at hands of certain corrupt and sadistic staff members. Staff abuse of the homeless, by the way, is an issue that has been covered up by
a number of people in the Bloomberg Administration, including outgoing Department of Homeless Ser- vices Commissioner Linda Gibbs and Public Advocate Betsy (CIA) Gotbaum. The newly elected City Council Speaker Christine Quinn knows about the abuse at Peter’s Place in the heart of her Chelsea District and has done next to nothing, no doubt because of the potent political connections (e.g. Ed Koch) of lawyer, poverty-profiteer Arnold S. Cohen, whose Partnership for the Homeless runs Peter’s Place.

Drug activity at social services venues cannot take place without “protection.” At Peter’s Place, such protections are provided by staff thugs like Desmond Ames (who also helps himself to clothing donated ror the homeless) and racists like Vincent Richardson. And at the Catholic Worker St. Joseph House, the crackheads and dealers are protected by sleazoids like Pope Paul F. And, aside from protecting criminals, he is guilty of several acts of harassment against me and so qualifies as at least a petty criminal him- elf. Paul F., an inciter of violence, is also a hypocrite who can occasionally be seen participating in CW “peace” vigils in Union Square. He is a nightmare contaminating Dorothy Day’s Dream.

Apparently imitating Pope Paul F.’s corrupt handling of matters, is an explosive character named Joe Wells, who appears to think that he is a Chinese border guard and that Maryhouse is Occupied Tibet. On February 3, I stopped in at Maryhouse, shortly before one of CW’s Friday evening open-to-the-public discussion events, this one on Quakerism. I was chatting with “Fitz”, a CW veteran acquaintance of mine, waiting for Ms. Sammon, to give her my letter about Pope Paul F., when Wells burst in, and ordered me to move my belongings using a tone that strongly resembled that used by Nazis in addressing Jews. When I didn’t move fast enough for him, he began flinging one of my bags around. I told him to keep his hands off my stuff and he responded by making a few derogatory comments about homeless folks, such as I have been, and then called me “white trash.” He the repeated that comment, accompanying it with several explicit physical threats. At that point, CW staffer Joanne Kennedy came in and Wells instantly quieted down. As I left, I told her what had happened and, for a few moments, she behaved in a very corporate way, expressing misplaced concern about the volume of my voice and ignoring the aggression that had just occurred. As Jane Sammon arrived, I left, handing her a copy of my letter about Paul a.k.a. the “papal bull.” I suggested to her that leaving a racist like Joe Wells, to use his words, “in charge” (shades of Alexander Haig), without supervision, is like inviting Adolf Hitler to a bar mitzvah. The Quaker guest, wearing one of those broad-brimmed black hats sported by Gary Cooper in “Friendly Persuasion” and by Bob Dylan on one of his album covers, just smiled.
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