Lei Ann Larson — one of three candidates for mayor in the Nov. 8 election — contends the City of Manteca made the homeless suffer during the 10-day heat wave when temperatures peaked at 115 degrees.
In a Sept 12 email sent to Interim City Manager Toni Lundgren and copied to all council members as well as the Bulletin, Larson claims:
*The city left the homeless to sleep on the streets during the heat wave due to insurance issues involving using the emergency shelter tent for overnight sleeping at 555 Industrial Park Drive and “made no effort to keep them safe from extreme heat.”
*A homeless woman was forced to give birth in a Manteca park on Sept. 8 “and her baby was life-flighted because of the city’s leadership failure all the while you and other city officials slept well, in your nicely outrageous air conditioned homes and comfy bed. This is outrageous.”
*Was the lack of transparency on this issue leading citizens” to believe it was business as usual at the (homeless) shelter, when clearly it is not.:
Larson ended her Sept. 12 email by stating, “Further, since you are aware there was no overnight sleeping, why haven't you taken any action to find these displaced individuals shelter? The lack of concern by you and other city officials is appalling.”
The same day Lundgren attempted to call Larson twice at one number and once at another number the mayoral candidate had provided but the phone calls were not answered.
Lundgren sent her back an email the same day explaining she tried to reach her by phone three times “to discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have, however your mail box (was) full. Please feel free to give me a call at (XXX-XXX-XXXX). The transition with Inner City was an unfortunate transition and the City is working through the issues. I am more than happy to discuss any concerns you have and we take pride in the services we are working on with His Way to help our unsheltered population.”
That prompted Larson to send an email back on Sept. 13 to Larson to thank her “for reaching out to me. Given the fact that you and the City Council have authorized a lawsuit against me, I do not think it is appropriate for you to have a telephone conversation with me. However, the community would also very much like to know the answers that you intend to provide and therefore, it is best that you reduce your response in writing so everyone has the opportunity to read first hand why the homeless were forced to sleep in extreme dangerous heat, and why you and not one of the council members attempted to help them find refuge.”
Larson added, “This isn't the first time on your and this council's watch that you have abandoned the homeless. In fact, at the installation dinner of the Chamber of Commerce you and the City Council (minus Mr. Breitenbucher) dined at a $600 a table event, as a man laid in the heat under a shopping cart at the entrance of the facility. Not one single leader of this city stopped to assist this man . . .)”
Lungren, in a response Sept. 14 noted:
*”No homeless was forced to sleep in extreme heat as you state. In fact, not only was the tent open to provide navigational center services daily until 6 p.m., but we also have a cooling center open all night and open to the entire city and its residents.”
*”No city staff are aware of a baby being born at Library Park as you state . . . so I cannot speak to your statement.”
*”City staff and City Council are committed to helping “our most vulnerable population, and if you look into this further you will see we do much more than other communities. Our record speaks for itself. I would be happy to speak with you further on this should you change your mind. The City has not abandoned the homeless as you state.”
*”I have no idea what Chamber Dinner you are referring too. Many of us at the City volunteer on the board and support our local chamber, and I am not sure what this has to do with homeless matters.”
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