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The Merc Still Can't Get It Right

Here is an earlier unpublished letter to the Mercury News regarding a repeated mis-statement of fact found in this article.

Dear Editor,

In the Mercury News article "Santa Cruz Groups Pick candidates" by Ken McLaughlin it is falsely stated that the City Council imposed "tough new ordinances on aggressive panhandling and harassment of women and gay people downtown."

There is in fact nothing in these new ordinances that targets stopping the harassment of women or gays. Nothing.
Nor do the new laws prohibit aggressive panhandling, although there already is a law prohibiting such activity.

The laws do however prohibit blowing bubbles and playing hackysack downtown and in other parts of the City. In addition the new laws make playing music and any other performance for donations, along with political tabling with donation cans, and panhandling in any manner (including with a silent sign) illegal in most of the downtown area as well as in some other parts of the City.

Not only do these laws not protect women and gays, they will be used by the police against any woman or gay that the police choose to deem in violation of these new laws. In fact the laws were drafted, not out of concern for these groups, but out of concern for a few downtown merchants who complain that certain groups of people that they consider riff-raff scare away their customers.

Ken Mclaughlin did correctly quote me in saying the new ordinances were "passed for selective enforcement against the poor, activists, and street musicians." Opposing these new laws are an important part of my campaign for City Council.

Steve Argue,
Santa Cruz
 


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