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  • Arne Mortensen

Camp Alabama (June 2022) - the "rest of the story" - Part 1

It’s time to write some of the “rest of the story” behind the current thrust of the City of Longview officials’ attempt to get their hands on Document Recording Funds from Cowlitz County to solve their largely self-inflicted homeless problem. I’ll call this the Alabama Street Camp or Camp Alabama or CA (an older hospital term for meaning cancer without saying it).

This topic has many facets, and I can do only modest justice to it, and this mainly by appealing to fundamental truths. Government tends to obfuscate issues for several reasons, but, whatever the reasons, the result is the confusion and intimidation of the public. The Emperor’s new clothes should come to mind.

The proponents of the Longview Homeless camp would have you believe many things, such as that this is a new idea, hence they call it a pilot program. I hope to tackle the principal claims and to show you how their hubris, insincerity, and incompetence is behind their assertions.


The problem of homelessness in Cowlitz County, and specifically in and around Longview, has continued to grow to a point that it has become impossible to ignore it. The homelessness manifests itself in panhandling, theft, property trespass, obstruction, indecent exposure, littering, public urination, and public defecation, and just about any other impact on quality of life possible.

To some, this turn of events is perplexing because they have failed to appreciate some fundamental human behaviors, while they favor indulging their own visions, often cloaking them in sanctimonious claims of sacrifice.

What are some of those behaviors?

1. Taxing an activity causes that activity to diminish or go underground. Subsidizing an activity causes that activity to grow. It takes very little intellect but a modicum of honesty to realize that taxing income to subsidize those not working has immediate and long-term consequences. 2. Government has no resources that it does not first take, by force, from a producer. Coupled with #1 above, there is no balance to control this taking because politicians use that money to buy favors. It is well documented that democracies invariably fail by this mechanism. 3. Government likes a crisis even if it must create it itself, and it is very good at creating these crises. Just a quick example: many have heard of the gap analysis effort to find people who might not know about some government service. Just think about what it means to tax someone to give to someone else to solve an issue about which they are unaware. 4. Public policy is a disaster because it has fallen victim to politicians who, at best, play God and at worst callously feather their own bed and that of their family and friends. Public policy should be driven by facts, contracts, and measurable goals. A good public policy looks at the entire society and constructs a factual model that evaluates the integrated well-being of the entire society. One good example of a failed policy is the Covid lock-down; that policy was driven by emotion because it made no sense to kill an economy and damage the life of young people to supposedly save old people from a disease that already had a minimal death rate. It was a great opportunity for politicians and government to gain more control over the people. The money that changed hands, even across generations, was/is monumental. 5. Remove individual responsibility and hold no one accountable. Politicians love this, because they can claim good results and blame others for bad results; everything is meaningless because no one is held responsible. If they looked in the mirror, they would have to acknowledge their part in crimes against society. Government is a dismal failure at its fundamental responsibility of protecting individual rights and property. The crime rate is up; you may work hard but government takes from you directly and indirectly via currency manipulation and inflation. Politicians (and their staff) have destroyed what made America great, the individual. And most voters have had a part in this destruction of quality of life by voting in such politicians and voting for the free lunches that the politicians promise. 6. Throwing money at a social problem NEVER works well or as intended, and almost always is destructive in the short term, and always in the long term.

But to others, this is an opportunity to press for their own interests, in much the same manner as vandals plundering a village. The beneficiaries of this program will be the “service” providers, who have turned Cowlitz County into a sanctuary for welfare. Here is just one example: Columbia Wellness in 1995 had ~27 employees, while today it has more than 120 employees, far outpacing the population growth of the county.

Other beneficiaries will be the government employees who write the contracts and administer them.

Finally, some people will be helped. But is it really helping to let people become dependent on the government? How is that working in every other instance, such as public schools?


Camp Alabama is the result of a City of Longview policy it enacted nearly two years ago. The scenario is that “homeless” people were camping on the city hall, making a mess and giving Longview bad optics.

BTW, one night I walked by myself through the camp out at city hall, and it was like a party, not a morose gathering of downtrodden as you might have expected or been led to believe. I even knew one of the people there. She was what I can call a ringleader. Some weeks before, she came to the County Administration offices and declared that she was homeless, so we set her up with one of the shelters around here (probably CHOB). I followed up on that, and she had refused the housing because she wanted to take care of her other homeless friends. And that was what she was doing at the camp on the city hall grounds. She was gathering people to press the city for concessions.

The city decided to create a temporary camp, Camp Alabama, as a place for people to camp until something could be figure out.

While the City of Longview received around $10 million in CARES and COVID money, they did nothing at Camp Alabama. Longview also received Document recording fees of their own. The occupants of the camp lived in self-generated squalor and a large degree of lawlessness. The businesses in the neighborhood were abused and damaged, yet Longview did nothing.

Then Longview, with the help of their former mayor, Dennis Weber, now a county commissioner of several years, decided to go for the brass ring and demand that the county fund a new Camp Alabama. Because Dennis has friends in the welfare and homeless industrial complex, he has supported this “pilot” program for one year at a cost of $1.14 million to provide a hosted camp with 24-hour security and rules. The County is to pick up the tab, while Longview “operates,” the camp.

Let me say that while I have been to Camp Alabama, Dennis has not. Later I’ll publish my take on that. Dennis continues to make several claims about the homeless while providing NO insight of the numbers and no evidence. It is all a part of the narrative that has sapped the public and enabled the abusers.

Also, I have been out to other camps around the area. To understand what is going on, more than an armchair and a willingness to spend taxpayer money is required. It should be simple to see how administration after administration at the hands of Dennis Weber has not worked for the people.

Enough for now. In subsequent write-ups I hope the continue to give the people the truth about this Camp Alabama proposal.

Reminder: follow the money!!! See who testifies and understand how they benefit from using taxpayer money. Do not succumb to extortion: “If you don’t spend this money the problem will get worse.”

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