Editorials

Editorial: Don’t forget others’ help for homeless

Don’t look now, but the Dan De Vaul Show may soon be playing on a television set near you. And we aren’t just talking local TV news. Dan has been in contact with The Bigs — more specifically “Good Morning America” and “Larry King Live.”

To which we say, “What, No Oprah?”

But hey, good for Dan. Maybe not so good, though, for SLO County officialdom, which is bound to come off looking like the big, bad bureaucrats from Snooty Town, USA.

Or maybe not, because “Good Morning America” at least had the professionalism to contact Board of Supervisors Chairman Bruce Gibson and assure him that, if the story is picked up, the production crew will come talk to the “other side.”

Gibson is willing to oblige: “We need to get a little more balanced view out there.”

Indeed.

The county worked with De Vaul for years, giving him numerous chances to comply with the law before taking the last resort of bringing him to trial on criminal misdemeanor charges.

Yet the county’s dogged efforts can’t compete with Dan De Vaul being led away in handcuffs or with the drama of Dan being bailed out by one of the jurors who voted to convict him.

Now — if De Vaul isn’t bumped off by Tiger Woods and the infamous presidential party crashers — the entire nation may soon be in on Dan’s plight. And why not? A lone man’s fight against City Hall — or in this case, county code enforcement — is always a compelling story, especially when his cause is as righteous as helping the homeless.

It’s just too bad Jimmy Stewart isn’t alive. He’d make the perfect De Vaul when this is made into a Lifetime movie.

But wait, here’s a better idea. Let’s get Ty Pennington and his “Extreme Makeover” crew on the case. They should have the entire place ship shape in — what? — a day? Two days, tops?

And how’s this for a final shot? Ty invites Christine Mulholland over for the Big Reveal and a group hug!

OK, enough cynicism.

As we’ve said many times before, we believe Dan De Vaul’s heart is in the right place, and we don’t doubt that he has made a huge improvement in many, many lives. But in the rush to canonize St. Dan of Sunny Acres, the work of many, many other selfless people toiling behind the scenes to help the homeless — within the confines of the law — is often overshadowed.

For example, a South County coalition has been quietly working for the past couple of years to form an official, nonprofit organization that is trying to find a bigger location for the Peoples Kitchen in Grover Beach, as well as find a site for a more comprehensive homeless services center. And that effort involved some of the very officials — county supervisors Adam Hill and Katcho Achadjian — who reluctantly took action against De Vaul.

So whether or not it shows up on TV, here’s the reality: There are no villains here. Just a lot of well-meaning people struggling to do the right thing. Now, let’s see how well that plays on the national stage.

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