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Archive for Sunday, November 16, 2008

A crime?

November 16, 2008

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To the editor:

I was disgusted when I read about the Lawrence City Commission's plans for a city ordinance designed to prohibit verbal solicitation by the homeless, while still allowing for such "tolerant" groups such as the Scouts or the church to do so.

The Nov. 12 article immediately raised several questions in my mind. First, how will this be enforced? Will we soon have suspiciously well-dressed undercover officers roaming the streets waiting for some less fortunate person to ask for change, then slap the cuffs on? Second, what are the possible penalties for such a grave social violation? Are we to expect impoverished street people to pay a fine when they don't have enough money for shelter and food? Incarceration? Well, that sounds like a rather costly option for a city that had to raise sales taxes in order to maintain the public transportation system. Death penalty, maybe? That would surely put an end to such a menace.

But most importantly, do we really think these people want to be begging for money on the street? The majority of the homeless and transient population suffer from mental illness, chemical dependency problems, or both. If this is a real concern of the City Commission and the citizens of Lawrence, I suggest that they expend their time and energy in creating social and rehabilitation programs that could work towards solving the problem of homelessness, not just silence the victims of the uncaring American class-system.

Charles S. McVey,
Lawrence

Comments

mwwag 5 years, 5 months ago

I do not see where someone can compare panhandlers to scouts. Scouts don't just go around asking for hand outs. When they are out selling cookies or popcorn or things like that they are offering something in return for the money. Occasionally Scouts will ask for donations but they do not beg for them.

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RedwoodCoast 5 years, 5 months ago

So let me see, they're looking at an ordinance against verbal solicitation. Let's say they pass it and it becomes a municipal ordinance. How are they going to punish violators? Do we send them to prison for the night, feed them, cart them back and forth between jail and their post on Mass Street?I don't know how they intend to punish violators, but would the money spent enforcing it be better spent in other ways? Just a thought.

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FMT6488 5 years, 5 months ago

Anonymous userXD40 (Anonymous) says:Have the pan handlers apply for a city license to beg. Flat rate of $150. That way, if you choose to give them money you can get their license number and report it with the deduction for charity on your income taxes. Then, the beggar can file and pay taxes making him/her a productive citizen. If they do not get a license, fine them or put them in jail. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Not such a bad idea! When I do give to panhandlers, it is almost NEVER money - I will not assist them in a drug, alcohol, or smoking habit! I tend to give food (a sandwich or something) - this is not something they could easily attempt to sell off to someone else, unlike gift certificates to a restaurant. I also only give to those that are polite about asking for help. "Hey buddy - gimme some money or change." - doesn't cut it. This a demand, and I don't respond to demands. "Hey man, can you give me some help?" - would though, this is a simple question. Even better yet - a "street musician" playing with an instrument case open (or a hat, can, etc.) would also get something. At least (in my view anyway) this is someone doing something besides sitting on the sidewalk.

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Liberty_One 5 years, 5 months ago

The problem is that the streets and sidewalks are public property, and so the beggers have a right to be there. To control them we have to create laws to criminalize their behavior, taking us yet another step towards a police state and totalitarianism. As always, the best answer is to let the private sector fix the problem. If the property were not public property, the private owners could kick the panhandlers off their property without having to come up with more laws for the poice to enforce. They would be motivated to keep the streets and sidewalks clean and safe to encourage shoppers to come to Lawrence's downtown instead of going to Topeka or Kansas City.

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leadstone 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with xbusguy, Once, we pulled in front of the drop-in where there were easily 15 sturdy guys just hanging out. We offered work for the day and promised to take care of their lunch and within 8 seconds we were looking at only 2 people who eventually declined our offer. Maybe they were the ones with the weed. If so, good luck. I know it's not legal and all, but at least it's 2 less people out begging.

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XD40 5 years, 5 months ago

Have the pan handlers apply for a city license to beg. Flat rate of $150. That way, if you choose to give them money you can get their license number and report it with the deduction for charity on your income taxes. Then, the beggar can file and pay taxes making him/her a productive citizen. If they do not get a license, fine them or put them in jail.

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Das_Ubermime 5 years, 5 months ago

"victims of the uncaring American class-system"Oh give me a break. You want to see the 'American class-system'? Go to the urban center of a major eastern city. Maybe if you survive a night on the streets there you can talk to me about the effects of the 'American class-system' on the mean streets of Lawrence. Believe me, there are a lot more opportunities to lift yourself off the streets in Lawrence.All of this boils down to one simple truth that many seem to fail to grasp: the majority of the gainfully employed do not like beggars. They are dirty, they smell, they don't work and are frequently rude. Beggars can come up with all of the excuses they want, but those four reasons are plenty enough for the average employed person to not like them and not want to be around them. Consumers don't want to be harassed by them and businesses don't want their customers scared off by them. It may sound harsh, but the simple fact is that this has nothing to do with soliciting and everything to do with the fact that people don't like beggars.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 5 months ago

If you want a panhandler to move on, simply offer them a JOB! I did just that, and held my promise to provide transportation the next morning.... You guessed it, he was no longer "at the spot", he moved on.

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Andrew Stahmer 5 years, 5 months ago

When obama sets up his socialist utopia this will be a non-issue.Do you have an 'average' to 'large' size residence? You will be required to personally feed, clothe and shelter the number of 'homeless' that the obamian government specifies. If you refuse, the government siezes all of your property and assets.Hey, you liked the concept of 'spread the wealth'.

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Whip101 5 years, 5 months ago

"Selective moochism", I guess this could be called. The commission is for begging Boy Scouts and churches to promote their finances, but totally against homeless people eating, (or getting drunk, on getting their weed, or whatever). This reminds me of Las Vegas, Nev., when I was out there. Homeless people were not allowed in certain areas of the city, (such as the strip). Instead of dealing with the problem head-on, Vegas and Lawrence choose to criminalize it. It's funny they, (the city commission, as well as other law makers) tend to create crimes that affect the poor. Most municipalities in Kansas at one time had a law that punished "vagrants" - if a person had less than X number of dollars on their person they were jailed and fined. They rotted in jail at X number dollars a day until their fine was "paid by incarceration". Today that wouldn't work as most jails now charge the jailed rent - Lawrence is probably one of them. Jailing people for being poor; to deny the public the right to say "yes" or "no" to a beggar, is an act of communist. Lawrence might not want poor within the city thinking that there presents is unfitting for such a wonderful place, (sarcasm), but by denying the homeless the same begging rights as Boy Scouts, the commission is saying that they are willing to bring back vagrancy laws that have been ruled illegal."The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." - Anatole France

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Donnuts 5 years, 5 months ago

I would suggest a Scarlet A for Adultery. We need to round them up and keep them in one place most all the time. That way we can keep them contained and they can pester each other about it.No, just kidding. Sorry for my tainted sarcasms. I do need to be more honest about how I feel instead of showing you drastic analogies of wrong thinking.Homelessness is a problem. I think it has become overburdensome in the news and politics of Lawrence though. Do we really have so little to do that we discuss this much. I used to be homeless in Lawrence, but I think my situation was a bit out of normalcy. I did not want a handout. What I wanted was a friend and a hand up. So if you really want to help them out and they are not frauds trying to scam on someone else keep that in mind. Most people wanted to take advantage of me, so I stayed away from the other homeless masses and hordes and kept to myself.I don't like people I don't really know around me all the time either.

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Ragingbear 5 years, 5 months ago

All homeless need to wear a star in public. That way we will know who they are.

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 5 months ago

If you read the opinions of this rag, you will notice that a majority of those who respond don't believe that there is a problem and a vocal few have reacted with fear and hate, as they have been trained to do.(parents,GOP?)Someone at LJWorld has propagated this non-issue because, like the city commision, a few conservatives will still tapdance for money.Like the T debate,a majority of Lawrencians know what is right and what is ridiculous,but LJWorld has become a gathering place for shivering,cold right-wingers who need a little warm up, away from their cold and darkening (pun intended) world.But,bless them.It makes for an entertaining read with my morning coffee.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

" I suggest that they expend their time and energy in creating social and rehabilitation programs that could work towards solving the problem of homelessness, not just silence the victims of the uncaring American class-system."Don't you know that acknowledging the existence of class stratification is an act of class warfare? Why do you hate America?

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