"Our attitude is [that] homelessness is something nobody likes, so why would we basically want to celebrate it?" asked Council Member Dan Denno, who along with Scott Lawrence voted against the resolution.
"It would be like recognizing Pothole Awareness Month," Denno said. "Is this just more recognition so government can get some money from somewhere?"
Denno's complaints aren't with the homeless. He just doesn't think it is the responsibility of Anoka County and its cities to pour taxpayer dollars into programs for the homeless. He would prefer that funding come through private donations.
"I appreciate places like Mary's Place in Minneapolis that take care of the homeless without public funding," Denno said.
Denno also questions the accuracy of recent homeless counts. Counts throughout the metro area last winter indicated that homelessness had quadrupled over the past four years in Washington County and grew 20 percent over last year's count in Dakota County. The waiting list at Anoka County's only homeless facility hit an all-time high of 80.
Unemployment, rising costs and mental illness have contributed to rising homeless numbers. Particularly alarming in Anoka County was the increase in the number of homeless youth 12 to 18. In 2011, 108 were counted; in January, the count reached 150 -- a 40 percent increase.
Wylie, who missed the Oak Grove council meeting so he could tend to his cancer-stricken father, said he was disgusted by the council's vote.
"They're anti-everything," he said. "They voted against giving money to Alexandra House," which provides domestic-violence and sexual-violence services in Anoka County.
They voted against giving money to Alexandra House. That says a lot. Wylie seems perhaps frustrated with his colleagues; some of them, perhaps. Denno, you may recall, ran for County Commisioner as more legitimate a right-winger, in his mind, than Matt Look. We live in interesting times. My analysis, Dan Denno is a pothole. He should be fixed, and we should not celebrate him.