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Cheers and Jeers

December 13, 1987

Cheers to The Times San Diego County Edition for its generous gift of $75,000 to construct a ticket center for the performing arts downtown.

Jeers to Ernest Hahn, a megamillionaire whose gratuitous bashing of the homeless ("Four years ago, most of the occupants (of Horton Plaza) were horizontal and more vocal.") betrays a continuing insensitivity to the plight of the inner city.

Many of those "horizontal" people were booted out of state mental hospitals or are brain-damaged victims of alcoholism. They're ugly, they're obnoxious, and they don't wear designer clothes. But, what the heck, they're human beings too.

Ernie's "solution" was to have local government spend well into eight figures to subsidize a shopping center. As an office tenant in the Gaslamp Quarter, who also patronizes Horton Plaza, I've got news for him. The homeless are still here. They sometimes even sneak into his mall, where they linger until being given the boot by security guards.

Come on, Ernie. It's time we all recognize we have a chronic problem. The broom of downtown redevelopment has swept the transient problem exactly two blocks east of its previous focus.

Ticket booths and cultural events are fine additions to our city, but don't use them as a self-congratulatory excuse to ignore a fundamental flaw in our social fabric.

MATT POTTER

San Diego

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