Compassionate crackdown

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By Steven T. Jones
Mayor Gavin Newsom has been flailing this year, so apparently he's going back to what's worked politically for him before: cracking down on the homeless. This week, he ordered police and other city staffers to place notices around Golden Gate Park warning the homeless to move on or have their stuff confiscated. His flack Peter Ragone yesterday bristled when I used the word "crackdown" and insisted that this was simply a social service outreach. "We will not ask a person to leave the park without offering then a place to go," he told me. But when I pointed out that the city doesn't have nearly enough social service or shelter spots for the hundreds of homeless in the park -- and that the posted notices seem to be more of a threat than an offer -- he said that he'd have to check with Trent Rhorer (the architect of the mayor's get-tough homeless policies) and get back to me. He never did. Yet homeless advocates and civil rights groups (including the ACLU and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights) sent the city a letter calling the crackdown illegal, unconstitutional, and counterproductive. (Download a copy of the letter here. Hit the back button to return to this blog entry.)

And it isn't just happening in Golden Gate Park. As we've been hearing and the Chron reported today, city cops are also apparently rousting the poor and homeless from around the newly opened Westfield Mall. And this stuff certainly isn't new, but more like the MO of this administration: act like you care deeply about the homeless while quieting forcing them from the city.
Compassion there too? When will Newsom, Ragone, and the rest of this disingenuous administration realize that their actions speak far louder than their words?