These kind of people?
At the Reno City Council meeting on Dec. 1, immediately before voting unanimously to redefine the boundaries of downtown in order to force homeless people off the sidewalks near the homeless services, thus denying Reno’s least powerful people a measure of safety in numbers, Reno City Councilman David Aiazzi castigated this newspaper for having the temerity to suggest that it’s immoral to attack less fortunate members of the public for using public sidewalks.
“I’ve been reading some of the comments about how cruel we are, and I want people to know that this is not a new ordinance; we’re expanding the boundaries of an ordinance, and this is the City Council who established the homeless shelter to try to keep some rationalization and give people safety over there for that,” said the councilman. “I really take a little bit of affront to people who don’t understand the history of what’s going on and how much the city of Reno and this Council has gone out to try to help these kind of people, and we do everything that we can, and I invite particularly the News & Review, they can set up their lawn anytime they want, it’s private property, and people can go over there and camp all day. Right now, there’s people who drive down Fourth Street see what they’re doing to businesses over there. That’s also unconscionable and unkind to those businesses that are trying to operate.”
OK, Councilman Aiazzi, we will stipulate that it’s true that it was this City Council that finally managed to open a homeless center after years of dragging its feet on the issue. In fact, we editorialized about it, congratulating the Council and mayor.
However, this Council, in its shortsighted wisdom, set up the shelter during one of the greatest economies this state and this country has ever seen to deal with a miniscule homeless problem. They moved the homeless services among existing businesses. Then, they moved new businesses, particularly a tax-subsidized sporting stadium, directly across the train tracks from those services. People, this newspaper included, questioned the wisdom of the services’ placement even then.
And now we’re looking straight down the throat of a depression in the state of Nevada. We have little hope that our economy will recover in the next several years. We don’t expect that the city of Reno will enhance its homeless services, despite the much greater need, because of the mismanagement of public tax dollars during the flush years.
So, we’re not asking whether it’s wrong to question the morals of people who would attack the least of our brethren in our community by depriving them of their Constitutional rights to gather on the public property they own.
Our question is why the City Council would feel it’s above asking the same question of itself.
We offered some reasonable, affordable, viable options. The Council chose not to consider them.