From Letters to the Editor, Grass Valley Union, January 25th Edition:
The unfortunate death of “transient” Mark Rye during our arctic blast is a sad commentary on the state of our nation, our state and our city. Misspent revenues and intense infighting have created a condition of lifeboat ethics where you are either on the boat or under it.
Those of us still afloat or clinging to the sides simply have no room for people like Mark Rye who likely wandered into oblivion in the 1980s when Governor Reagan closed all the mental health facilities in California.
Calling them a superfluous drain on our economy, this single heartless act created a perpetual tsunami of misery and fear. Millions of Mark Ryes, who in a civilized society would be given basic health care and shelter, are left to battle their demons alone, hunkered inside dumpsters, curled up in makeshift tents pieced together from found plastic or shivering in skimpy sleeping bags worthless against sub-freezing weather.
Armed with nothing but a pint of rot gut whiskey and shards of memories both real and imagined, they challenge our humanity with a simple imperative scribbled on crumpled cardboard: Please help me! It is a very sad commentary on a very sad time in America.