Last updated on August 31, 2021
I ran across this article from The World Newspaper yesterday and couldn’t help but laugh at how lazy and one-sided it was. This article is what one might call a “puff piece”.
noun informal•North American1. an article or story in the media that is excessively complimentary about a person, product, event, etc.
(courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary)
You expect to find things like this in travel magazines and publications from the local Chamber of Commerce, yet this was written by our only local newspaper. Let’s talk a little bit about what John Topits Park in Coos Bay is really like.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 2002 (minus 3 years in the military). Like the article says, Topits Park used to be one of the most beautiful places in town. It still is if you only look at it in the right light, and from certain angles. Unfortunately, if you do any real research, you’ll find it’s been mostly destroyed by homeless bums and drug addicts. I’m sure some will take exception to my use of the word “bum”. Transient or vagrant would be more politically correct. No, I will stick with bum. The old words used for the homeless were bum, tramp and hobo. Each had (and still has) a specific definition.
A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike a “tramp”, who works only when forced to, and a “bum”, who does not work at all, a “hobo” is a traveling worker.(courtesy of Wikipedia)
Hobos and tramps do not trash the places in which they camp. Bums do. This is what has happened to Topits Park. I have to be honest though, being homeless is not a crime, and I have absolutely no problem with someone pitching a tent on public property as long as they clean up after themselves and don’t interfere with other people’s use of public spaces.
David Rupkalvis, the Executive Editor of The World, claims in the article above:
“I have heard a lot about John Topits Park since I moved to Coos Bay, especially since the city council decided to build a new library in the park. And to be honest, most of it wasn’t flattering. Based on what I’ve heard and some letter writers have said, I assumed the park was crawling with homeless people and was somewhere that was not safe to be.”
“One thing I didn’t see was a large number of homeless people. I saw not tents, no camps, no debris, and I certainly felt safe while out there with my kids. Having said that, if I was homeless, Topits Park is the exact kind of place I would want to be, so it wouldn’t suprise me if some did find a way to sneak into the park at night.”
That second quote is where the article really goes off the rails. A few weeks ago (way before the article was published), a few friends and I went to Topits Park because we heard how bad it was getting. I don’t think I had walked its trails in several years. If you stick to the parking lots or the paved trails, you may only see a few signs of distress. Unfortunately the beauty is only skin deep. You would expect a “journalist” to actually do some investigation. Well, David Rupkalvis is no journalist. If he had simply walked 10 feet off the trail he would have found the same things I did.
I will end this article with a slideshow of photos taken by yours truly. Around half are from three weeks ago, the other half were taken just today. I’ll let you be the judge. Compare my photos to the nice ones from the article. If you see the problem, give David a call at 541-266-6035.