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Gaffes by O'Connor

August 21, 1988

Mayor Maureen O'Connor would do well to smile and say nothing when it comes to addressing the homeless, as she invariably ends up with her foot in her mouth.

In January, 1987, Mayor O'Connor asked homeless people who entered City Council chambers asking for jobs to leave their names and addresses and she would get back to them. Her comments were met by "boos," as these people were homeless.

This month, the mayor made another "frozen" statement when two members of the Coalition for the Homeless, after a 24-hour vigil outside City Hall, led a small group of homeless into council chambers, then presented her with 5,330 petition signatures. The petitions asked that the council make the old Navy Hospital in Balboa Park available as temporary shelter for the homeless. Her Honor was heard saying to others present, "Some people like to do this sort of thing, and we must be tolerant."

Tolerant to men, women and children who search for safe shelter? Surely San Diego can be more than tolerant, Mayor O'Connor.

To say the city cannot use the hospital buildings for temporary shelter is ridiculous. The buildings can be used for shelter and still turned into parkland, depending on how rapidly the mayor and council come up with permanent alternatives for housing our homeless.

Talk about the buildings not being earthquake-proof or that a vote is needed to redesignate the buildings is just all so much rhetoric. It's time the citizens of San Diego take a firm stand. Did we not elect our city officials to represent "all" the people and not just to enhance their own self-esteem?

NORMA ROSSI

Coalition for the Homeless

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