“This is how a Hepatitis A breakout happens.”

Fourth Estate’s prophetic email

Greg Block shifted blame for the hepatitis outbreak to the county when he came onboard as spokesman for mayor Kevin Faulconer.
  • Greg Block shifted blame for the hepatitis outbreak to the county when he came onboard as spokesman for mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Last May 11, local journalist Megan Burks sent an email of complaint to Stephen Puetz, then chief of staff for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“I’m the education reporter at KPBS but I’m wearing my constituent hat right now. I live in District 8, at the border of District 3 and at ground zero of this city’s atrocious homelessness problem. As somebody who works with disenfranchised communities regularly, I have never been scared or bothered by my homeless neighbors — until now. The rate of incidences we experience is growing at an alarming rate and today takes the cake. Somebody entered our yard and smeared feces all over our dog’s face. Just yesterday, I had to step over a human shit to get into my car and drive to work. Last week, on a walk to the park downtown and within the same block, I stepped over a hypodermic needle and walked within 5 feet of a man who stretched his arm out of his car window to toss urine from a coffee mug into the gutter.” Burks added prophetically, “This is how a Hepatitis A breakout happens.”

She noted, “You have an incredible liability on your hands when it comes to public health right now. Let’s hope I don’t have the Hepatitis A virus on my hands the next time I go into a school to interview children for work.” Concluded Burks, “Vigorously washing my hands.”

A month later Puetz left the mayor’s staff. In September Faulconer retained the services of spinmeister Greg Block, who cast blame for the burgeoning hepatitis disaster on county health officials. “We never had any issues with the installation of hand washing stations, except they had to be self-contained and in compliance with (permits),” he told the Union-Tribune.

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Isn’t this ALWAYS the case with our feckless Mayor and his staff. Rather than addressing the problem and DOING something positive, they choose to do the blame game. Blame the County, blame the State, blame the feds just blame anyone to distract from their total lack of leadership.

We just suffered through eight years of leading from behind at the federal level with the result of worldwide chaos and economic malaise. Learn from it, we need real leaders locally ...cause we don’t have them now.

Ms. Burks used to rip me on Nextdoor for being heartless and mean about the homeless on our street (I live a block away, and was here long before she arrived). I'm glad to see she woke up back in May. It was an absolute, dangerous, disgusting hell on the bridges over the 5. In fact, we're starting to see a little trickle back. We're on guard. And that dog is very nice and whoever smeared poop on his face better not still be around...

I'm not surprised the city took so long. We do have leadership that likes to wish away problems until they can't wish them away anymore. Still, once put into action, the city and county finally got those camps off our bridges, kept the violent and threatening homeless from setting up on our properties (Me and my neighbors: "You can't leave that here!" Transient: "FLUCKING MUTHERFLUCKER I'M GOING TO BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!"), and gave us a few peaceful months. Arson, burglaries, public intoxication, prostitution, violent threats, assaults, attacking dogs, people jumping fences, people using spigots on private property, people taking poops on private property... None of that got the city to act. It took a disease. I love that disease.

A belated "Welcome to the fight" to you, Ms. Burks.

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