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Queen Mary Shipshape Since Disney Boarded : Homeless Ouster Was Heartless

April 25, 1991

As a resident of Long Beach for 37 years, I was not surprised at the coldness with which the homeless were ousted from their poor quarters under the (Long Beach) 710 Freeway (Times, April 4).

However, I was genuinely taken by the sheer fatuousness shown by Long Beach's homeless-services coordinator, Sheila Pagnani, in her remarks rationalizing the act.

When she refers to herding out the homeless, she says the city is "cleaning house" before the arrival of "invited friends," because "they want to look good." It sounds like some Valley housewife sending her inconvenient mother away before a party.

She says that the people forced to live under the bridge are "a small group choosing (!) to live an (alternative) lifestyle." I find it frankly difficult to control my stomach in the face of such a statement. However, more temperate remarks are appropriate here.

It would be nice to be so untroubled by one's environment as Pagnani. It is not nice, however, when she is responsible for a part of that environment but still finds it unnecessary to give it any more thought than she has. She is manifestly untroubled by either the heartlessness of the act, or the fate of those homeless.

To be fair, this city's government historically has run itself, not for the benefit of the governed, but for the benefit of the government, and we all put up with it. If Pagnani is a part of that government, then perhaps we should be grateful to see the true colors of the self-seeking few who run this city for their own purposes and not, at least, for mine.

DONALD C. COOK

Long Beach

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