After writing an opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat about City Walk Urban Mission, several of our members contact the writer, Barney Bishop, to object to a statement he made in his article.
The article was about the City Walk homeless shelter and whether it had obtained the proper permitting. Instead of focusing on the issue, Barney Bishop, in an effort to get his way, disparaged the shelter because they accept ALL people, including those required to register as sexual offenders. Instead of commenting on an administrative matter, he turned it into a scare piece, writing; “women and children have every right to fear for their safety.”
Who is this guy and what’s with his venomous attitude towards this population that he would rather see people homeless than trying to rehabilitate themselves through City Walk’s program, which “works with the homeless and ex-offenders providing basic human needs and transitional and supportive housing focused on re-entry.“?
Bishop… and we can’t make this up… is the CEO of the “Florida Smart Justice Alliance”, which is ironic because kicking these people to the curb is neither “smart” nor “just”. Trying to find out who this “alliance” is comprised of is confusing because their site lists nobody other than Barney Bishop. It also hasn’t been updated since 2013. What we do know about the “alliance” since then is that it had a mass exodus of it’s board, who tried to fire Mr. Bishop.
A Tallahassee-based advocacy group led by veteran lobbyist Barney Bishop has had a mass exodus of board members in recent weeks, including one who accused Bishop of being motivated by “self-aggrandizement and personal gain.”
As of Monday, group founder and former chairwoman Lori Costantino-Brown and members Pamela Alvarez, Catherine Craig-Myers, Jim DeBeaugrine and Mary Lynn Ulrey had all turned in resignation letters to the Florida Smart Justice Alliance. Copies were provided to FloridaPolitics.com.
Craig-Myers said the resignations were from those who supported a motion to fire Bishop and lost.
And last month, the Internal Revenue Service posted a notice it had “automatically revoked” the alliance’s tax-exempt status. The group is formed as a 501(c)(6), a category for “business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, etc.,” according to the IRS website.[SOURCE]
We asked around and it turned out the only person with anything positive to say about Barney Bishop… was Barney Bishop.
Based on his responses to our members, Bishop (who is registered as a lobbyist), seems to be just a political hack who cares very little about justice reform advocacy. He also has a personal vendetta against anyone with the “sex offender” label, which anyone claiming to be involved in criminal justice reform should not have. In one response he wrote, “I’m working right now [ ]with Sen. Lauren Book and we’re going to make it even more difficult for a homeless shelter that take in registered sex offenders without properly notifying the surrounding community to do so.”. That seems deeply at odds with the Alliance’s statement that “Any serious attempt to create meaningful change in Florida’s approach to criminal justice must be comprehensive and include all stakeholders.” I guess some stakeholders he just doesn’t want to hear from.
UPDATED: Barney Bishop is the lobbyist for The Wakulla County Sheriffs Department. Last year Wakulla County had to pay City Walk $160,000 to settle a lawsuit. Think Barney should have mentioned this in his opinion piece. Sketchy!