Norman Moore — days after being released on his own recognizance after threatening to kill members of the Manteca City Council — sought to take out nomination papers for the Nov. 3 election to secure one of the two council seats now held by incumbents Gary Singh and Debby Moorhead.
Moore, a 74-year-old homeless man who has been battling the city after being cited for violating the city ordinance by camping in a field in the 100 block of Pacific Road off of West Yosemite Avenue on Sept. 29, 2017 requested nomination papers on Friday hours before the filing deadline.
City Clerk John Tresidder indicated after Moore was told he had to come up with 20 signatures of valid registered voters who have legal voting addresses within the city limits before 5 p.m. that day he opted not to take out nomination papers.
Moore could still qualify as a write-in candidate when that filing period opens.
Should Moore go that route and by chance get elected, serving as a council member would be a bit dicey once pandemic rules are lifted to allow in-person meetings as opposed to remote Zoom council meetings.
That’s because after his release on Aug. 5 a restraining order was issued prohibiting Moore from going within 100 feet of any council member including Mayor Ben Cantu or their vehicles, businesses, and residences. He also is prohibited from trying to make contact with them.
Moore was arrested Aug. 4 after he emailed a letter intended to be read as part of the public comment at that evening’s council meeting that was being conducted remotely.
Moore wrote that the council should be shot if they placed the one cent sales tax increase proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot. He listed various weapons that could be used including an elephant gun and suggested whoever shoots them should aim low so they could “squirm” and slowly die in “agony.”
Moore since being cited in 2017 has written a number of letters, including to the Bulletin. While many focused on his efforts to have the city’s anti-camping ordinance thrown out, he has weighed in on numerous city issues. Among them was his belief former Police Chief Jodie Estarziau, who be believed to be a friend of the homeless, was being railroaded.
He could also be witty as in one letter to the Bulletin he made a play on City Manager Miranda Lutzow’s name by saying Manteca would be governed by “Miranda’s rights.”
Thirty-five months ago Moore was cited under a city ordinance that basically made it illegal for anyone — homeless or not — to camp on private property unless certain approvals were obtained.
The city attorney’s office aggressively prosecuted the citation that can carry up to a $1,205 and/or up to six months in jail. After a year or so in the court system San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus dismissed the case “in the interest of justice.”
To understand why that was arguably the only course of action the judge could take, consider the following:
*Being homeless, per se, is not a crime based on high court rulings.
*Moore at the time was receiving just over $805 a month in Social Security retirement to live on.
*The citation was not complaint driven meaning the owner of the land did not complain although that certainly doesn’t mean they wanted anyone trespassing and camping including Moore.
*Under state moves to reduce prison population, the county jails are filled with criminals who have committed non-violent but somewhat serious crime that for public safety and punishment reasons need to occupy cell space. Even if he was convicted and sentenced by the judge the odds of Moore spending any time in jail was nil.
*The option of community service diversion program — such as cleaning up illegal homeless camps or litter under supervision of law enforcement — would be ineffective as it wouldn’t change the bottom line: Moore has to sleep somewhere.
There have been 1,318 nights that have passed since Moore got his citation for illegal camping. That means there were 1,318 nights where he had to sleep somewhere. Multiply that by 100 to 200 homeless and issuing citations is never going to do what you want it to do which is to stop the homeless from sleeping in illegal places.
Moore worked unsuccessfully on getting his beef with the City of Manteca for what he described as the effort “to outlaw poverty” before Joseph O’Neill, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Fresno for federal review and the payment of monetary damages.
Meanwhile the city’s effort in joining with other jurisdictions in a bid to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 9th District ruling that essentially says a city can’t make it illegal to sleep almost anywhere on public property if they haven’t made adequate homeless shelter available first failed
That means the city’s efforts to prevent the homeless from sleeping on public sidewalks where they are not blocking access and restricting laying down on sidewalks from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. are unenforceable unless there are available beds for the homeless. In such a case if the homeless refuse to use available beds various quality of life laws can be enforced against them.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com