His wife said it on Facebook four years ago. She added some comments about educating the panhandlers and putting them to work as well, though worded in a way that expressed more frustration than good intent.
Somebody recently dredged it up, and there has been a flurry local chatter, calling him every brand of *ism that one can associate with such a comment. People have been demanding that he apologize, and issue statements outlining how he is not racist. Apologize for what? I may not like the man, nor his politics, but he is literally innocent in all this. His wife has already issued a statement of apology.
I acknowledge that he could have handled this better from a PR standpoint, though his "ignore it until it goes away" smacks very much of our current mayor's way of dealing with controversy. The difference is that our current mayor has usually had the press on his side for some reason, while this guy is obviously dealing with a hostile media.
On the other hand, I applaud him for refusing to even dignify the whole thing with a response. This is a non-story that the local press are chewing and re-spewing over and over, not because it is true, but because it is titillating. Every time I think I have reached peak cynicism, something like this comes along.