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New Times / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on July 3rd, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 49

Let's be honest about who has the power

San Luis Obispo

Jim Griffin

Not many months ago, the SLO City Council made the resolution of homeless issues its No. 1 priority for the next two years. The council, and police chief Stephen Gesell, seemed more mature and enlightened about homeless problems. When the Downtown Association made an hysterical and exaggerated pitch for the assignment of two full-time police officers to basically go after the “transient” street homeless downtown, the council and the chief resisted, saying that it was too expensive and was unwise without careful selection of the officers to be assigned, along with the provision of social services people to help the police deal in a humane manner with the homeless.

Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. The hiring of these officers was a foregone conclusion, and the only question was “one or two cops?” Nothing about careful selection, special training, or providing social services professionals. Somebody got to somebody. This followed the county supervisors jettisoning their long-term plans for a county homeless services center because of similar hysteria from wealthy, propertied interests along the South Higuera corridor.

Government representatives must be open to the concerns of all. But to give virtual veto power to conservative, wealthy business interests and to buckle under their pressure every time they get antsy about necessary social change is a betrayal of the idea of independent, objective government. Why not just give political power directly to groups like the Downtown Association and the Chamber of Commerce and skip the pretensions?