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Katz Sets Record Straight

September 21, 2004

Dear Editor,

In the article “Police Officers Endorse Three SMRR Candidates, One Rival,” (Sept. 20, 2004) the police union questioned my proposal to deal with the homeless and my commitment as a Council member. I would like to set the record straight.

Let me emphasize -- as I did when I spoke to the Santa Monica Police Officers Association -- that I believe the long-term solution to the regional problem of homelessness requires involvement of Los Angeles County plus all cities in the area. Otherwise, the problem simply gets shuffled from one city to another, with no one committed to a real, long-term solution.

That said, I do believe there are shorter-term approaches Santa Monica can take in the interim to make our local residents feel more secure, while providing clean and safe facilities for the homeless in designated areas at night -- conditioned on their contributions of responsible public service to our city during the day.

By providing these specific locations, we can assure cost-effective hygiene controls, including portable toilets and showers, that protect the health of our entire community. And by making sure we have specific areas designated for the homeless to sleep, we reduce the scope and budget of the law enforcement task now required to address the homeless problem, as well as a reduction in the time and investment in paramedic services we currently spend on the homeless.

At the same time, this approach can provide far more peace of mind for older residents, women and others who have the right to feel safe at any time of the day or night as they walk through their neighborhoods -- without being forced to worry about potential threats from unknown people who are sleeping in doorways, on benches, under bushes, etc. Contrast this approach with the program advocated by the current Council majority -- an approach even THEY admit has not been successful.

On the issue of my energy level, let me say that having served four years under a 5 to 2 Council majority has proven to me that working with a majority pushing a narrow political agenda on behalf of a political machine takes far more dedication and energy than having a diverse Council of independent thinkers interested in real solutions to our city’s problems.

I am delighted and excited that I continue to maintain the high level of energy necessary to perform this job. I will admit that it would be more fun to serve on a Council where I was not often on the short end of a string of 5 to 2 votes. But the voters of Santa Monica can easily remedy that situation in November by electing a new and independent majority to serve with me on the Council – rather than the current majority that represents the single-minded agenda of a long-standing political machine.

That would certainly be a step in the direction of creating workable answers to our homeless problem as well as other challenges facing the city. We need to change the Council majority, and I will focus my energies on making this happen so we can work together to realize the full potential and safety of this great city.

Sincerely,

Herb Katz
Santa Monica Council member

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