Archive for Monday, October 26, 2009

Lawrence city commissioner seeks outright ban on panhandling downtown

City commissioner wants to prohibit panhandling in downtown area

Damian Scott, 19, panhandles for change from the downtown lunch crowd Nov. 6, 2008, on Massachusetts Street near the Ninth Street intersection.

Damian Scott, 19, panhandles for change from the downtown lunch crowd Nov. 6, 2008, on Massachusetts Street near the Ninth Street intersection.

October 26, 2009


Lawrence city commissioner seeks outright ban on panhandling downtown

City commissioners will hear a pitch from one of their own on Tuesday to adopt a new set of regulations that would ban panhandling in the downtown area. Enlarge video

City commissioners will hear a pitch from one of their own on Tuesday to adopt a new set of regulations that would ban panhandling in the downtown area.

City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said he planned to ask commissioners to consider an outright ban on panhandling in the area from Sixth Street to 14th Street and from Vermont to New Hampshire streets.

“The only way I see to address this is to say that this activity isn’t allowed at all in our downtown,” said Cromwell, who thinks panhandling is turning off downtown visitors. “We just have to say no to this completely.”

The ban would prohibit people from either verbally asking for money or holding a sign, can or other device used to collect money in the downtown, Cromwell said. He said the city likely would need to look at a licensing process to allow street musicians and legitimate nonprofit agencies to solicit in the downtown area.

Commissioners at their meeting are not expected to take action on any specific ordinance. Instead, commissioners have put on their agenda an item to discuss a variety of issues related to downtown.

Cromwell said panhandling has to be near the top of the list of issues to fix.

“We had a really, really difficult summer with panhandling,” said Cromwell, who estimated there were as many as 30 different panhandlers at one time on Massachusetts Street during parts of the summer.

About a year ago, city commissioners considered a similar ban but failed to approve it after becoming concerned the ordinance could get the city sued over First Amendment concerns.

At that time, leaders with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told commissioners they believed the proposed ban was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.

A city attorney at that time told the commission that the ban would put the city in relatively untested legal waters.

“Until it is tested in court, there are no guarantees,” Scott Miller, a staff attorney, said last December. “The ACLU probably has some pretty valid arguments it can advance in court about why it is not lawful. We have arguments we can advance in court to respond to those.”

Cromwell’s proposal is more restrictive than what the city was contemplating last year. Last year’s proposal would have allowed passive panhandling — such as using a sign to ask for a donation — to continue. Cromwell’s idea would ban such solicitations.

But it is unclear whether Cromwell’s proposal will draw an objection from the ACLU or other groups. The local chapter of the ACLU has dissolved, its former president Phil Minkin said. Minkin, who previously objected to a ban, said he likely won’t actively oppose the ban.

“I don’t plan to go and speak on it,” Minkin said. “It is a hard balance. The panhandling does seem to be getting worse, but I don’t think it is anywhere nearly aggressive as it used to be.”

Attempts to reach a representative for the statewide chapter of the ACLU weren’t immediately successful.

The city previously passed an ordinance that makes “aggressive panhandling” illegal. That prohibits people from repeatedly asking for a donation, from touching a person while asking for a donation, or asking for donations near ATM machines.

Several merchants, though, have said that ordinance has not been well enforced, and Cromwell said it is flawed because it is too easy for panhandlers to get around.

Cromwell said he believes public support for a panhandling ban would be strong, especially if residents don’t view it as an attempt to hurt the homeless population.

“This is not a homeless issue,” Cromwell said. “We have a number of panhandlers up and down Mass Street. Some of them are homeless, but some of them aren’t. This is just a particular behavior we’re trying prevent. To think that allowing people to panhandle downtown is an answer to their plight, it is just not.”

Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


booyalab 8 years, 7 months ago


I wish I knew about the aggressive panhandling ordinance. Having lived downtown, it would have saved me a lot of grief.

parrothead8 8 years, 7 months ago

I would love it if I could hang around downtown without repeatedly being accosted and asked for money (with the various lame excuses that follow), but I have concerns.

What will the penalties be? If they are panhandling, they probably can't afford a fine, so do they spend time in jail instead...on MY taxpayer dollars?

How will this law be enforced? Will we need to take police away from tracking down more dangerous criminals to stop Willie the Hobo from asking for a buck?

I don't know what the answer is, but if the City Commissioners are going to spend time on this, they darn well better think it through. I don't have a lot of patience with politicians these days...from either party.

ferrislives 8 years, 7 months ago

Very good news! I hope that they take you seriously Aron!

50YearResident 8 years, 7 months ago

Thank You, Aron Cromwell. This is what downtown needs to get people to return. On the plus side it may also get rid of some undesirables!

Evan Ridenour 8 years, 7 months ago

It does make people uncomfortable. The last thing I want while strolling down Mass St on a date is to get asked by a couple dozen people for money. It is foolhardy to believe that doesn't eventually have an affect on how people view downtown.

I think it was like 4 weeks ago but this article made me think of it... there were almost 50 different people who had been bumming for money all summer out with signs that day saying they needed money to get home to family in the south. Riiiiiiigggghhhhhttttt. If they wanted to be with family in the south why didn't they head down there until it started dropping below freezing?

Lawrence is attracting professional bums, its time to make them know they are unwanted. Then we can concentrate on the local homeless population and hopefully take decent care of them.

mae 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm alright with them having a sign or rattling a cup, definitely ok with any musicians.

But how will police waste time and be taken off the streets writing tickets that won't be paid or taking them in to jail out of town?

How do we notify homeless passing through town? A giant sign on the bridge?

I'd pass a lenient bill that gives police a lot of leeway. They know who's up to aggravating instead of panhandling.

Emily Campbell 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm kind of new to Lawrence, and have never enjoyed walking Mass St. let alone shopping on it, but the few times I have been forced (hardy har har) The people on the street are what I found to be most unique, and appreciated the respect I saw other people showing them. Musicians, and homeless alike... we are ALL just trying to live... besides "No one will make it out alive". I hated Lawrence when I first moved here, but again seeing the respect and kindness of other people made me grow to love it... but those icky feelings are creeping back in!!!

mommyoffour 8 years, 7 months ago

My daughter had to call me to pick her up from downtown because a couple of guys kept following her and asking for money. Scary she is 13 and should be able to go downtown shopping with her friends. But we don't let her any more because of this. I don't go downtown any more because of this as well. I don't mind the guy playing music. I kind of enjoy hearing that while we are down there. But to me he is working for his money. We always listen for a while and give a few bucks. We just don't like the ones that hang in little gangs harrasing people till you give them money. It also seems like they try to intimidate people by waiting outside of the business's for you.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 7 months ago

Just ban it anywhere inside the city limits. I don't believe what the ACLU says. Other cities have done this and it works.

ferrislives 8 years, 7 months ago

Lets just ban cardboard and sharpie markers. That should take care of it;-)

Clark Coan 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm fairly confident that those homeless downtown with dogs are letting them defecate on the sidewalk and leaving the piles for passersby to step in. That is another good reason to ban panhandling. They are scaring away the turistas.

cato_the_elder 8 years, 7 months ago

What's news is that a Lawrence City Commissioner has actually found the common sense and guts to propose this. Given Mr. Cromwell's stated positions generally when he ran, this is a pleasant surprise. Under these circumstances, perhaps he was to best one to come forth, and let's hope that his colleagues will unanimously support him. The blatant, unbridled panhandling that goes on downtown is a disgrace, and reflects very poorly on our community.

Kawatchi 8 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe how much panhandling is going on in downtown Lawrence these days. I started wondering if there were some sort of sociology experiment or candid camera episode. It's absolutely possible you could now be hit up a couple dozen times in one day.

Evan Ridenour 8 years, 7 months ago


mae (Anonymous) says…

I'm alright with them having a sign or rattling a cup, definitely ok with any musicians.

But how will police waste time and be taken off the streets writing tickets that won't be paid or taking them in to jail out of town?

How do we notify homeless passing through town? A giant sign on the bridge? "

I think the biggest problem is all of the professional hobos that come here during the nice weather and head out when the season turns. Those people would rather not be in jail. Being arrested and hauled to jail every day and never pulling in a dime would be a real quick way to get the idea that their behavior isn't welcome here.

tiredoflawrence 8 years, 7 months ago

Why aren't they making this city wide? I know they want to protect downtown, but it happens all over lawrence and this ban should include the entire city.

Dayna Lee 8 years, 7 months ago

It's hard to get blood from a turnip. The idea that you can punish people that are begging for money is funny to me. You are either going to give them a fine, or put them in jail (a warm place, with free meals). This is going to lead to a whole slew of lawsuits against our town for discrimination. Maybe we need to spend a little more time figuring out how to take care of the homeless and/or needy, and a little less time acting like they are these scary monsters that spook tourists.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 7 months ago

Why only downtown? What about the rest of the community? I know from many years listening to it, that there are those who idolize and deify "Beautiful Downtown Lawrence".. I don't buy it much, in fact I rarely ever go downtown and never to shop. Not much there but overpriced resturants and joe college stores. But I have been panhandled on 23rd street in front of Hobby Lobby. And in the Malls. If the city commission is elected "at large" in this burg, why do they concentrate on one small area of town? Do the rest of us who rarely go "downtown" not matter??

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

Ban panhandling everywhere in the city except in front of any store larger than 50,000 square feet.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

Ban panhandling with an exception for performing musicians.
Then we'll hand out pan flutes, kazoos, and maracas to all the drunks and crusty punks.

Phil Minkin 8 years, 7 months ago

Does this mean an end to Busketfest? How about Salvation army bell ringers?

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

Ban churches as well. Or at the least forbid them from having signs or promoting their events. They openly ask for money all the time. Everyone's a charity case these days and I just want to shop for calf-skin boots in peace.

kansanbygrace 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm downtown with my work at least two days every week. I say "hi" to the standarounders, put a little change in the musicians' case or hat if they're playing. I have not been chased around or even asked more than about 4 times since last March. The ACLU isn't the deciding line, it's the Constitution of the United States. The Courts make the decisions. The ACLU points them out for folks too busy to learn for themselves. Don't want to give? Say no, with a tiny modicum of courtesy. That'd be a good lesson to learn yourselves and teach to your kids.

honestone 8 years, 7 months ago

Put two downtown business men on the commission and it is amazing what can be done. 1st the wet shelter move to Don's Steakhouse and now this. Make this a citywide ban and I will believe they want what is best for the community

hujiko 8 years, 7 months ago

"The ban would prohibit people from either verbally asking for money or holding a sign, can or other device used to collect money in the downtown"

If devices used to collect money are outlawed, then are hands and pockets banned too? Wait a minute... what about the parking meters?!?!

lawrencechick 8 years, 7 months ago

Finally someone who isn't afraid of being politically incorrect and is representing the citizens.

Noweigh 8 years, 7 months ago

Way to step up Cromwell! Get this done. Tackle the homeless issue next. This will help. As for Salvation Army and other "legitimate" sources of charitable collections in public places; Easy to create "exception" or "temporary charitable license" to solicit in public for them. Hopefully even our City Commission will know the difference.

parrothead8 8 years, 7 months ago

The panhandling does seem to be getting worse, but I don’t think it is anywhere nearly aggressive as it used to be.”


nobody1793 8 years, 7 months ago

My guess is that panhandlers don't report their income to the IRS, so why don't they just turn them in for tax evasion? IRS lawyers are way badder than ACLU lawyers!

Daniel Davidson 8 years, 7 months ago

There are several towns in the U.S. that take people like this and give them a oneway ticket out of town. This could be a short time fix for lawrence possible a long term if the word gets out to the national media that we as a community do not want nor need this in our town.

kansanbygrace 8 years, 7 months ago

What's wrong with Live and Let Live?
Those people are citizens just like you. Free to speak in public, free to associate. Something wrong with that? Don't be afraid of your neighbor, even if they dress differently. I don't agree with making Lawrence more whitebread than it already is.

H_Lecter 8 years, 7 months ago

AreUNorml Have you ever tasted them? They taste terrible; they're tough & stringy too.

Frightwig 8 years, 7 months ago

"Don't be afraid of your neighbor, even if they dress differently."

You're missing the point entirely. Most of us have no problem with the way people dress. I love the unique people of Lawrence. The peace sign hippy guy and the honk for hemp guy are great. I enjoy saying hi to Dennis the doll-carrying gent and to the girl with pink hair who plays the accordian. On the other hand, I hate the guy who called me a f**g aole when I didn't give him a dollar. I also hate the bum who asked my ten year old visiting niece for money as she was counting change in her Hello Kitty purse outside the Toy Store. This isn't about peoples' right to be unique, it's about panhandling. I'm all for licensing the street musicians; they are an asset to the city. Eliminating panhandlers creates greater economic opportunity for our talented street musicians.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

Panhandling is a rather successful operation and has been for decades. We just need to learn more about how many ways are wallets are being tapped nickle and dime at a time. The new Wal-Mart charges its' shoppers an extra penny sales tax.... what a deal.

another view:

"We pay billions of dollars in taxes that never get to the government." Much of the sales tax we pay at big box stores and shopping centers is diverted to the large companies that own the stores. It's just one of the many swindles these chains have learned to perpetrate against city and county governments. This is so effective that the Cabela family, which owns a chain of big-box sporting goods stores, receives 137% of its profits from taxpayer subsidies. If they couldn't work this scam, they wouldn't be in business at all.

The heart of the wealth transfer is tax increment financing (TIF). Store owners come to town leaders and offer to build a new store that, they promise, will "create jobs." In exchange, the city gives them the land, builds the store to their specifications, and finances it all with tax-free municipal bonds (which are usually held by associates of the store owners). To cap it all, the store keeps the sales tax generated in the store to pay off the bond holders. If the store is built on government land, it's also exempt from paying any property taxes.

Why do city governments take such a blatantly bad deal? Many of them are struggling, and believe that a new Wal-Mart will bring in shoppers from all over—shoppers who will stick around and shop in their town. It never works out that way. Under stiff competition the small shops go out of business, taking the town's tax base with them. Schools, parks, recreation programs, and libraries are starved. Almost always, these city councils would be far better served putting the money in upgrades to local Main Street businesses, rather than financing the competitor that will kill them.

Johnston also noted that as a result, the nation is losing mom-and-pop businesses that are often more efficient in real terms than the big box stores, which carry tremendous overhead in management and distribution. He suggested that audience members do an experiment: first, eat at a chain restaurant like TGIF—and then go the next night to a local family-owned place. Not only will you spend half as much in the family place—the people working there are probably making more money. That's what real efficiency looks like."

Other scams Johnston noted:

kansanbygrace 8 years, 7 months ago

Like I say, my experience is different from yours. I've been asked for money a couple times and said "No." I asked a trio of smelly youngsters to go somewhere else when they were hanging in front of my friend's restaurant. They asked for a cup of water and left. That's that. I also wish a return to "smalltown Lawrence" circa 1960, but am not holding my breath. When I'm with my kids, I am responsible to protect them, and learning that there are bums in the world is part of the protection I'm obligated to provide, and to teach them to share or say No as they choose. I do not like being sworn at, either, but that's that, too, and nothing more.
Sorry, don't have time for the dance-around, and Kumbaya is not a favorite of mine. And if I want to associate with Craig or Sean or Dave or Tommy on Massachusetts Street while I pass by, I will. You don't have to like it. That's your freedom, to be cranky and get your buttons pushed. I would prefer you learn to relax.
As for the rest you may someday learn to appreciate liberty, and that it entails different things for different people. I really don't care if the "majority" like what I wear or sing, or where I do it. Liberty is not limited to adherents to a "majority" thought scheme. The biggest problem with staying in business in downtown Larry is the very high rent and taxes.
Fix that, Commission and I'll buy you all a cappuccino, or a rootbeer if you'd prefer.

Mandie Eutsler 8 years, 7 months ago

"At that time, leaders with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told commissioners they believed the proposed ban was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech."

Banning the "HONK FOR HEMP" guy would be a restriction of free speech. Then there is the saxaphone guy who donates his bucket to charity. Those guys can stay. But the smelly drunk who asked me for change, wouldn't take visa, then tried to make small talk, he can go...

boothillbilly 8 years, 7 months ago

While we're at it, can we ban White Owl too?

headdoctor 8 years, 7 months ago

If they get this passed I wonder if that means the Chamber of Commerce will have to seek a license to beg businesses for hand outs?

geekin_topekan 8 years, 7 months ago

An all-wino kazoo band!! I can't wait.

Now all the panhandlers will HAVE to go out west and on campus. Does KUPD really want to deal with this?How bout HyVee?

Nope. Try again. Spreading the problem around will not fix anything. Short sighted and cowardly.

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 7 months ago

can we get an ignore feature on this site, please.

thewayitis 8 years, 7 months ago

One sure fire way to stop panhandlers...........Do not give them any money and they will move on. Same goes for illegal workers, don't give them work and they will move on. We do not need government to pass another law. I won't give them a penny. Everyone on here that doesn't like it shouldn't either. Government is not the answer, they are the problem.

Meatwad 8 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Aron, if it works. I would like to know why New York City can ban agressive pan handling but the ACLU won't let Lawrence? That makes no sense. NYC also has a licensing program for street musicians and street performers. The panhandling (I have no complaint about the musicians) is way out of hand and ruining downtown.

Hoots 8 years, 7 months ago

I just loved feeling like I was going to get into a fight almost every time I was downtown in the past 6 months. It made me all warm and fuzzy. The police can tell you it was way out of hand...that is if you would take the time to ask. I'm sick of it and have curbed my trips there so I don't have to deal with all the incredible CRAP!!! Downtown isn't getting my dollars right now. WAY TOO much hastle.

fallingwhilereading 8 years, 7 months ago

I am not saying it is right, or wrong to panhandle. although to make it illegal to ask anything that isn't going to harm anyone is a violation of freedom of speech. That would mean the city could prevent someone from asking, or even speaking of anything the city didn't want you to say. This idea would never make it threw the courts. If it is passed somebody will take it far enough in the courts, and the law will be deemed unconstitutional.

fallingwhilereading 8 years, 7 months ago

thewayitis I thought this was about panhandling? So you brought up illegal worker. I also am not saying it is right to have illegals work in the U.S. Do you believe the jobs that are given to illegal aliens would be filled by American citizens? I would bet most Americans are not going to pick crops for a few cents a basket. Have you ever gone out to get a job illegal aliens are know to work at? Have you ever tried to get a job working for an elected Republican as a maid? I am just trying to say who would do the jobs illegals normally work at?

Kyle Chandler 8 years, 7 months ago

It seems the bums mirror the condition of real estate in downtown now. Sad and depleted but appropriate.

But, i have to say, id rather deal with a guy asking for a quarter than have to wait at Free State behind 20 west lawrence yuppie families that terrorize the restaurant and Tip like its a Applebees. Thats the only thing that 'bums' me out, lame yuppie scum.

If you hate the bums....let face it, you probably live in West Lawrence. Stay There!! No have everything there (and south). Especially since all you wonderful 'Developers' have choked downtown, let it die and be reborn.

Your kids will be fine, trust me, they all have Iphones now.

Starness34 8 years, 7 months ago

Something has to be done, the pan handling is out of control. Born and raised in Lawrence, I have spent a lot of time downtown and have watched the pan handling get worse every year. There are two sides to the pan handlers downtown. I will agree that there are some who are truly homeless or have mental illness and need some attention. But a large number are people who do have a home, or have chosen this lifestyle. It might be hard to believe but the younger generation who are pan handling have chosen this and are proud to lead this life. If you go out you will meet them at the bar and hear their real stories that differ from their signs. Please do not be fooled.

I have worked at two business downtown and on Saturday and Sundays I had visitors always complaining about the pan handlers, our downtown is unique and we need to keep it a place people want to be.

Oh and for some of the pervious posts, if you feel soo bad for the pan handlers then let them live in your house. Take them in and take care of them. If they are such great people let them live with your family.

Also I know for a fact that a contractor during the summer stopped at the homeless shelter numerous times asking for help and was offering generous pay. He did not get very many volunteers. Why? Because its too easy to just sit and be lazy and take money then go work for it like everyone else. We are making it too easy for these people. Lets take downtown back!!

Starness34 8 years, 7 months ago

I do agree that a licensing program for street musicians and street performers would be great and would keep the unique aspect to downtown. If your playing an instrument or are a street performer than you are working for your dollar.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

It would be nice if down town problems were as simple as panhandlers. Face it while they might be annoying the larger facts are being ignored. Filling up downtown with more alcohol establishments will certainly not alleviate a panhandler situation. Nor will it be family friendly.

A few years of asking city commissions to perform a Cost of Community Services study fell on deaf ears. The reason concerned citizens were requesting such is because such would have provided data on which growth is paying back and which is not. After which our community could have developed direction that was in the best interest of all citizens aka the community.

Developer and friends are now wanting to convince all taxpayers that downtown Lawrence is done. Because keeping downtown alive has never been in their back door plans nor the Chambers I would speculate.

Remember this nonsense has taken place under the guidance of our Chamber of Commerce/real estate community who had absolute control for at least two decades, and do now, of the city and planning commissions.

So if the Lawrence economy is screwed history can easily document who has led the charge for the greater part of the last 25 years.

Why does the development community want downtown to die? They develop land out around the community to pull business away from downtown and create their heaven aka very expensive not smart growth regardless of the consequences. The taxpayers get stuck with the bills.

What these developers have never done, obviously, is the proper research aka economic impact studies to determine whether or not the Lawrence economic base could support their wild unsubstantiated plans. Now Lawrence is over built by around a million and a half square feet which could take 20 years to soak up which might allow Lawrence a return to a fiscally responsible managed community.

All citizen need to do is look at the large sewage treatment increase on our water bills, other increased fees and older existing infrastructure being left to rot. After the older neighborhoods have been contributing to a maintenance fund for at least 50 years or more so they thought. It is plain as day new over built Lawrence is not paying back the taxpayers. The 25 year expansion of the tax base has failed = wrong decisions.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

Building and building and building without researching for what the results might be has yet to pay back. This could be known as irresponsible management or pure unadulterated speculation

Now that the "housing boom economy" has come to a halt, as do all boom town economies, these back door folks still want to carry on as if the economy is still the same. It may never return to an unsustainable " boom town economy"ever again... one can only hope.

Communities/cities are spending big bucks to bring their downtowns back alive because growing out is killing downtown economies plus this outer type of growth does nothing but increase taxes and fees.

igby 8 years, 7 months ago

Same photo the LJW ran one year ago. I wonder if the guy could sue them? Lol.

The panning downtown has been reduced a little and with winter coming on, there will even be less of a problem with pan-too-handers.

This CC is just off the mark on timing, this is a Spring issue to tap dance about, not a Fall, here comes the Grinch butt reaming CC to pinch the penny-less and quelch the street musicians who'll get cold fingers playing in the bitter cold wind. What a bored idiot we have here.

I'd rather see this elected bum blasting about the snow and ice on the sidewalk and getting the slippery leaves raked up off the sidewalk.

This CC's on his way out, and he don't even know it yet.

What a moron!

Did you vote for this guy?

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

This should nip the panhandling in the bud. We'll just have to wait and see if there are any rich panhandlers out there that will challenge it, if it becomes law - then again, I guess there is always the ACLU, they always seem to be looking for a fight to justify their cause - like when they backed the North American Man/Boy Love Association.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

Smooth transitions into your normal rants, merrill! (not)

sustainabilitysister 8 years, 7 months ago

What about looking into preventive measures? "Licensing process to allow street musicians and legitimate nonprofit agencies to solicit downtown" I don't agree with this part at all.

muddfoot55 8 years, 7 months ago

One Saturday morning I witnessed a "turf war" between 2 street musicians. Like 2 little kids..."I was there first..." blah blah blah. It left a bitter taste in my mouth and spoiled my enjoyment of going to Farmer's Market. Some how, some way the city of Lawrence needs to come together and figure out how to deal with and inforce this problem. Used to be loitering was illegal. I'm not sure what the particulars are. LPD foot patrols! Then law inforcement would come to recognize the "problem" panhandlers. I also agree that these individuals aren't claiming their income. I am fairly positive they do not have a tax exempt status.

skinny 8 years, 7 months ago

Well it is about time.

I am sick and tired of being asked for money everytime I go downtown.

Getter done!~!

frogtoad 8 years, 7 months ago

"nobody1793 (Anonymous) says…

My guess is that panhandlers don't report their income to the IRS, so why don't they just turn them in for tax evasion? IRS lawyers are way badder than ACLU lawyers!"

Just in reference to the comment, do you think those people that hold signs up stating that others can park here for a certain amount during game days report that income to the IRS? I see those signs all the time each time there's a game. $20 bucks, $10 bucks for a parking space. That's got to add up. Do those people need to register somewhere to do that? Report that income?

cowboy 8 years, 7 months ago

The demise of the downtown bubble can be squarely placed on the city's willingness to have a family / tourist / entertainment destination overrun by bums combined with the smoking ban a few years back. I think another reason is the general lackadaisical service in many of the food establishments. you only get one chance at a first impression

compmd 8 years, 7 months ago

If the city is willing to spend money to defend an ordinance like this in court, then why don't they just give the money to the panhandlers to get them off the street? I'd rather see them have the money than lawyers.

Oh, and is it April 1st? Because Marion is being insightful and sympathetic and most of the rest of the people here are a lynch mob. Yeah, Lawrence, such a bastion of compassion and understanding.

Cromwell, I have an even better idea. Ban unemployment and hard times. Prevent any business from firing people. Kansas' labor laws are a joke, putting us in line with third-world countries when it comes to workers' rights. Step in front of the BS that companies can fire anyone anytime for any reason leaving people on the street.

And Cromwell, its hard to believe you're from around here. Register street musicians? How many years has the saxophonist played at 7th and Mass? Are you familiar with the term "political suicide?"

Joseph Jarvis 8 years, 7 months ago

Some of these commenters are as nasty, uneducated, and unproductive as the panhandlers. Good thing the constitution protects both.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

dennis is not retarded-he just acts silly. He doesn't panhandle, but he did steal my pizza one time, after he touched it, he offered it back to me. no thanks.(icky) there are some good posts here, as expected: Ban panhandling everywhere in the city except in front of any store larger than 50,000 square feet.

my favorite.

thankyou cromwell for trying to do something. I don't really mind a musician on a corner-but too many times, I have been directly confronted and it is so uncomfortable to me and my family and many times, I wish I could counter street bums' aggression with my own physical aggression. a good flamethrower would do the trick.

onetime97 8 years, 7 months ago

The ills of american society isn't something people want on display but instead of finding a real solution lets put people somewhere else so we don't have to look at them and hope for the best.

But then again, some years ago 60 minutes did a show about some panhandlers in Cali who were making up to $60k a year panhandling.

Take your pick or pick up a sign I should say.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

I was in Hot Springs recently & noticed that the Bath House Row tourist area was devoid of panhandlers. Lawrence should call the folks in Hot Spings & find out how they manage that feat.

yankeevet 8 years, 7 months ago

It would be nice too walk Mass and not have all these people beggin for money.........

TheOriginalCA 8 years, 7 months ago

If they are going to ban panhandling downtown, then they need to ban it in the entire city and not just protect the good ole boys in downtown Lawrence.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 7 months ago

"The local chapter of the ACLU has dissolved..."

This is the best part of the story.

Adrienne Sanders 8 years, 7 months ago

Who keeps giving these people money? If they weren't making any money, they wouldn't be sticking around.

I would like it if there were no panhandlers downtown, but I worry about the city wasting money trying to enforce this, or worse yet in a lawsuit.

Kat Christian 8 years, 7 months ago

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Glenda Susie Breese 8 years, 7 months ago

Ban city wide and give beggers ticket to topeka.....I don:t shop there.

Shane Garrett 8 years, 7 months ago

Humphrey Bogart;"say, can you help a fellow American down on his luck?"

Buggs Bunny;"EEhh!, Get a Job!"

thewayitis 8 years, 7 months ago

Fallingwhilereading, You're right I'll save my response for an immigration article. real quick... I compete with illegals every day in my business and the only one benefiting from illegal workers are the companies who hire them.

sourpuss 8 years, 7 months ago

All panhandling should definitely be banned. Downtown was nice before the panhandlers showed up. If it is a "free speech" issue, then the city should just put up BIG signs that say, "DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO PANHANDLERS". If their income dries up, they will leave.

ilovelucy 8 years, 7 months ago

Merrill: don't you get tired of using every thread to promote your tired old worn out agenda. YAWN

platypus 8 years, 7 months ago

Saying "no" is not as easy as some of you make it. I have been chewed out and harrassed for not giving money (I don't look mean). I have been approached at a gas station and asked for gas. It happens all over town, especially over by the Wal-Mart area. I have inquired as to why this younger-than-me, able-bodied person does not find work and been told "because this is easier". I donate to the food banks, I have prepared meals, served Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes I just want to enjoy a stroll downtown (or elsewhere) and not be begged for money. I enjoy the musicians, although there are a great number of "so-called musicians" just out to haggle a buck.

Something some of you miss is the destruction some of the homeless cause. There has been feces in the park trash cans, in the train at the park across from the post office, and you can smell urine and see dog feces all over downtown. Many businesses will tell you they have had to pay to have things fixed repeatedly due to just plain, senseless vandalism. Why do we continue to support the people willing to take our money and in turn destroy our city?

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

Aren't there already loitering ordinances on the books?

Why not simply enforce them?

No ACLU or free speech issues that way.

jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

"We Hate Government Intervention!"

Wait, did you say you'll get rid of panhandlers?

"We Love Government Intervention!"

platypus 8 years, 7 months ago

Ripper - not against you there, but that's a whole different bag o tricks.

justthefacts 8 years, 7 months ago

kansanbygrace (Anonymous) says…

"Like I say, my experience is different from yours. I've been asked for money a couple times and said “No.” I asked a trio of smelly youngsters to go somewhere else when they were hanging in front of my friend's restaurant. They asked for a cup of water and left. That's that."

Grace, I hear you. Because I have a soft heart (some would say head) and believe in being kind to others, I have often volunteered to feed someone who was begging. I didn't want to hand over cash (to be spent on drugs or booze), but was willing to help in other ways. Like taking them to a local place and paying for meals, or getting them in touch with local or state assistance programs who could get them the job, home, health care, transportation etc. they say they are collecting for. Only once, and it was in Washington DC, did the person(s) in question actually take me up on it and eat a full meal. The rest of the time, they say "no thank you" (Only not so politely). It has convinced me that the begging for money folks regard that as their "job." They don't want you to tell them how to spend "their money." Nor do they really intend to spend the money on the thing(s) they tell you. I'd probably be more inclined to give $ to someone who was honest "HEY, I'M A DRUNK AND WANT SOME MORE BEER!" I actually witnessed one guy collecting $ outside Replay, go in, drink it up, then go sit outside to collect more.

nuby 8 years, 7 months ago

What are they begging for money for anyway? The good citizens of Lawrence give them food to eat and a place to sleep. Now we're supposed to finance their alcohol, nicotine, and drug habits. I would like to see the majority of them gone from the community. They are dragging this community down. I was approached for gas as I was leaving Walmart with my two small children. Let's not forget that many of these people have violent histories. Lawrence just isn't safe anymore. I will not set foot downtown.

This ordinence will not solve anything. They will be issued a $50 ticket. They won't pay it. A warrant will be issued for their arrest. They will be arrested and we will pay $75/day for them to be housed at the jail.

There has to be a fundamental change in the way the homeless are being handled. If we continue to give them services they will continue to come. STOP wasting our money on people who choose not to help themselves.

Jim Fisher 8 years, 7 months ago

I guess we can tell which comissioner owns a downtown business. NIMBY Mr. Environmental?

Glenda Susie Breese 8 years, 7 months ago

I am with you nuby! I was accosted for money for (gas) outside of walmart and the women was talking to someone on a bluetooth head phone, Really needed that money? did"nt they? ,so ban them in city limits also. I would"nt mind feeling safe. At least if they say their robbing you you can file a police report.That is if you dont get hurt badly.

kansanbygrace 8 years, 7 months ago

Different experience here, too. I've offered people a seat at my table (or on the bench) and to buy them food. I've been turned down once or twice, my offer accepted dozens of times. I will never give a nickel for booze. Never. This problem is a direct result of the failure to provide the comprehensive community "safety net" that everybody acknowledged was needed when state institutions were closed and/or privatized. It never materialized. Bert Nash manages most of the resource but only has services for about 40% of the needs presented.
In 1994 or '95, Salvation Army sent a new couple here with the specific assignment (and resources) to construct a comprehensive shelter/service center. City and organizational efforts went into neutral and nothing materialized. NIMBY was the response of the day. The current situation is the direct result of the decision to do nothing in the face of known and growing needs.
A city commissioner who imagines he or his commission can change concrete reality by saying they prohibit it is seriously lacking understanding of the real world.

hawkfan_05 8 years, 7 months ago

How about "Homeless Jail" for a punishment? They get banned from staying in the homelss shelter. Not by the city, but by the shelter itself for their behavior. Just like pro sports and the personal conduct clause. If the person violates the law, their room/food privileges get taken away. The city is not so dumb as to impose a fine on someone that has no money. (I hope)

hawkfan_05 8 years, 7 months ago

And how about if the person is asked to leave the area and they don't, then they are handcuffed and removed and all their belongings then become trash and thrown away! That would stop most of them in a heartbeat.

couldBmeorU 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree with a previous comment. Why now? It,s winter.If your on Mass in the cold begging for money you probaly really need it. But, hey the spring and summer of this year were really swamped with panhandlers.I,ve lived here 15 years and I noticed some aggressive sorts everyday out there intoxicated and pushy.It,s just a certain group.I personally know quite a few of the people that live "on the streets" they have been there for years.The police can adjust the way they monitor them.Lets try to weed out the ones that are the problem and help the ones that need a solution

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

There are a lot of things in the world that make people uncomfortable. There are gaps and double standards in every aspect of our humanity.

When you want to lock someone in a freaking cage for asking you to help them, I think you need to reexamine yourself years before you need consider judging them.

If you wish the world were a better place, do something to make that so rather than imprison and banish the proof that it isn't.

couldBmeorU 8 years, 7 months ago

I moved to Lawrence in 1997.I started playing Music on Mass with some wonderfull Muscians.Yes, I agree the panhandling is getting out of hand but, that is all.The key word here is hand. We as a society will be faced with many different hands dealt to us.How we react to our own hands will be different. I am not political . I am a artist. I will continue to go down to Mass.I will play my key-board.I will give a dollar.I will laugh with a merchant.I will sit with veteran .But, above all else I will be grateful to live in Lawrence Kansas United States Of America with my two son,s. Peace Love and Harmony can be achieved.

notyourmom 8 years, 7 months ago

Gosh, that's scary Sunshine. It is the reason I don't go downtown. I have three kids, and the oldest has been repeatedly harassed by homeless, and in a very inappropriate manner - and she was only 15!! She was shopping with friends one day and heard that the police were looking for a predator she has seen around downtown. And a very drunk homeless man started talking to my 6 year old as we walked down Mass one day. I don't feel safe down there, and I don't want my kids down there. This isn’t just about the fact that they are a nuisance, their dirty, rude and looking for money. I’m sorry they have fallen on hard times (I’m one paycheck away from very hard times myself) but I won’t go back to Mass until its safe again.

Jillster 8 years, 7 months ago

It's not just downtown that is having this issue. I've been approached by panhandlers in the parking lots of both Wal Mart on Iowa and Walgreens on 23rd St. I've even been asked for money while waiting in the checkout line at Walgreens, actually. It's not just a "downtown" can be approached by panhandlers any place people are shopping.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

I grew up here and I have never felt unsafe on Mass. St. It's as safe as any place can be. Lawrence is an extremely safe city, period.

Maybe my upbringing made me not afraid of those who look different, as well as a more assertive person that understands that I am responsible for my own safety when alone. A 15-year old girl who can't tell a panhandler to buzz off or walk into a shop and ask for assistance would make an easy target for an aggressive 15-year old boy.

Kids need the tools to respond to and survive their environment. Parents need to accept the dangers and help prepare them rather than pretend they can toddler-proof the world.

Speaking of kids, not to draw attention from our local paper, but a NYT story that touches on panhandling and youth homelessness reinforces that this is not getting better in light of our economy.

"RUNNING IN THE SHADOWS: Recession Drives Surge in Youth Runaways"

lounger 8 years, 7 months ago

Nobody gets a free ride. In the past a lot of homeless Down and out people would have to work for some cash-Wash a car, pick up brush- just do anything! Even playing music is something (and, Unfortunately this doesnt include you shaker girl) Ive got native american blood and you trade, you just dont give. The homeless shelters are silly. They let drunk people come in and just stay with no work involved sometimes. What is this teaching? Nothing!! How is this improving peoples lives-its not! I think helping people on the down and out is a good thing-but they have to want to improve their lives, not just get a few bucks to get smashed. This is a hard thing to drive home when Our own welfare system is as broken as it gets. All this said I think we are becoming an elitist town in regards to a high priced school (K.U.), high priced concert tickets, high price rent, high priced everything. I can see how you would fail in the initial stages of coming to a place like Lawrence. Fortunately Lawrence also has a lot of cool peeps who do help out and understand unfortunate times (mainly on the east side, but really all over).

50YearResident 8 years, 7 months ago

Why do I get the feeling that some of the posters on this subject are the panhandlers?

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

I am sickened and saddened by both the lack of compassion and willingness to criminalize poverty by some members of this forum.

If all you whitebread whiners need so badly to feel 'safe' then maybe you should stay home, so you won't have the terrifying experience of seeing a poor person.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

Larry native, you are correct about that mental capacity; however, that in itself does not qualify one to be retarded. there is a difference

Jimo 8 years, 7 months ago

“Until it is tested in court, there are no guarantees,” Scott Miller, a staff attorney.

Actually, if, as this article implies, the attempt will be to forbid all solicitation without a permit, then there's no need to go to court as the courts would almost certainly hold this to be unconstitutional.

An easier approach for the ACLU would be to apply for a permit with no reason or not a very good reason (that is, the precise type of solicitation the City wants to stamp out) and wait for it to be denied. "Reason: raising money for dinner at McDonalds tomorrow." Denial based on the content of the solicitation activity, short of criminality, is absolutely forbidden by the first amendment. It also has the merit of not waiting for the police to try to enforce the ban.

Bottom line: I or anyone else can ask anyone they run across for money, or to pray to Jesus, or join in a cheer, or jeer, for the Jayhawks.

julz 8 years, 7 months ago

Don't stop at downtown...the problem will only spread.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

No Christian could support this ban. I dare each person who does, and calls himself a Christian, to read the book of Matthew, then justify their stance in the eyes of God.

If you support this legislation, you literally deny Christ himself.

Book of Matthew, Chapter 25, Passages 41-46:

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

(Here Christ is referred to as the King: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory")

Sheep and Goats, y'all. Love and keep one another or burn in Hell.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

Again, why not simply enforce existing loitering statutes?

And, Lawrence is a much less safe place than it was 10-15 years ago when I moved here.

Almost every day there are stories in the paper about traffic fatalities.

A rape occurs in Lawrence at the rate of 1 every 4 days.

Fights/stabbings/shootings are common occurences every week.

And, bernardo, that's exactly why downtown merchants would like to eliminate the panhandling - they're losing business.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

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Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

hey jafs, are all these panhandlers the reason for the alleged increase in violence and danger in the streets? Your suggestion to enforce existing loitering laws, is the best alternative I've heard.

When you outlaw panhandling, only the outlaws will panhandle! Seriously, people won't stop needing money whether it be for tobacco, booze, drugs, whatever, so what do you think they will do when you outlaw panhandling? You really think this will make downtown safer? I have my doubts.

I can understand the concern from downtown business owners losing business, but what happens if you only outlaw begging downtown? That just spreads the problem to the surrounding area. Its pandering unfairly to the downtown special interests.

Those dirty bums you are all so afraid of are pretty damn harmless. Don't declare a War on the Poor just because mommy is afraid that little billy will see a stinky poor person.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Informed (Anonymous) says…

"It's … it took me all of two seconds to find it after getting the bad link.

"Your Google-Fu is weak, KansasPerson."

It may well be, but I'm still not finding a Damian Scott at

monkey_c 8 years, 7 months ago

This is a fine idea. Although why limit it to downtown? If you pass any type of ordinance make it city wide. No sense in just pushing the problem onto another neighborhood.

GardenMomma 8 years, 7 months ago

It's the panhandlers that continue to ask for your money after you've stated you don't have any to spare. Those are the ones that need to go elsewhere.

Harassing people who say "No, I haven't got any spare change. Sorry." is really annoying and that's why people don't like to go downtown.

I don't like going downtown because when I say I don't have any money, I am either called a liar or selfish. THAT'S what bothers people and creates a negative experience.

ferrislives 8 years, 7 months ago

sunshine_noise, I looked on that site and the KBI site to no avail. Where do you see his photo? I think you might be mistaken.

Satirical 8 years, 7 months ago

Emily Hadley…

So based on your interpretation of Matthew, Jesus Christ encouraged panhandling over other forms of requesting assistance, and wouldn’t allow a representative government to place any restriction on the location and manner of someone requesting aid?

And when Christ said “…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me,” the word “you” wasn’t referring to each of us individually for our salvation; but instead He was referring to the government, and specifically its ability to regulate the time, place, and manner of panhandling?

So by your logic if you don’t support allowing panhandling at city pools or inside the city library then you “deny Christ?”

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Mistaken, or worse.

Pretty serious stuff to accuse someone of being a sex offender if they're not.

Satirical 8 years, 7 months ago

Seamus... "Satirical— I know you'd just prefer that these people just stay hidden. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Where's the famed Lawrencian liberal compassion now?"

When did I say I want them hidden? When did I say I was a liberal?

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

GardenMomma says… "It's the panhandlers that continue to ask for your money after you've stated you don't have any to spare. Those are the ones that need to go elsewhere."

And an ordinance was already passed that prohibits aggressive panhandling. It is one thing to enforce that ordinance, but do we really need another unenforced ordinance to persecute these people?

I am frequently downtown, and frequently I tell the panhandlers that I have nothing to spare. Never has any one of them taken a hostile attitude towards me. Try looking the person in the eye, when you tell them you don't have a dollar to spare. Try sharing a kind word, like "good luck", and see if the reactions you get are any different. I think all of you who are afraid of these bogey-men would be surprised to see reactions change when you offer the tiniest bit of sincere courtesy and compassion when you tell a panhandler, "No, sorry."

For all of you that want a whitebread Disney-clean utopian shopping paradise with all of the undesirables swept under the rug, go build a mall out west or in Johnson County where private security can handle "the problem." Don't spend my tax dollars for your War on the Poor.

GardenMomma 8 years, 7 months ago

Bernardo, perhaps the group I ran into were the exception because when I was asked for money and I said "No, I don't have any, sorry." The response I got was "You're lying [expletive]." And when I said, "no, I really don't have any, sorry." I then got "You're a selfish [expletive]."

So excuse me if I don't take too kindly to those aggressive panhandlers.

GardenMomma 8 years, 7 months ago

And yes, before you ask, I DID have "sincere courtesy and compassion" in my voice, in fact a lot more than the "tiniest bit."

Having had my share of hard times, I understand.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

GardenMomma, **it happens, and I won't deny it. A friend of mine was physically assaulted because the 'gutter punks' he gave his spare change to didn't like the way he did it. I still support their right to panhandle, but they can be prosecuted for any crimes they commit. There is already an ordinance against aggressive panhandling. If you want to "clean up" downtown, you could have reported the incident to law enforcement.

One time, I didn't run a yellow light, and the driver behind me honked, yelled expletives, and gave me the bird. I still obey traffic laws, and I still drive on the road.

Rudeness is a part of everyday life. Sometimes you see the worst side of people. One anecdotal experience does not give you or City Council the right to marginalize the freedoms of our lowest class. Freedom of speech allows people to be total [expletive]s, these forums are a often glaring example, but that freedom is not worth trading away.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 7 months ago

While I applaud for Emily pointing out that much of the cruelty and lack of compassion espoused by commenters to this article is un-Christian, I would like to point out that it is also un-Jewish, un-Buddhist, unhumanistic, and unatheistic--anyone with a highly developed moral code, within an established religion or outside of it, would recognize the viciousness of several commenters as unacceptable.

I lived downtown for many years, and while I am repulsed by many of the panhandling regulars, I still acknowledge that they are human.

I have been irritated to exasperation by the knot of alcoholic panhandlers who park themselves at the the bus stops at Ninth and Mass. They have adjusted--and perhaps prefer--a lifestyle that is killing them. They have tried panhandling and hectoring me as well, but I ignore them or glare dangerously enough at them, and they leave me alone.

I have also called the police when they are moaning in drunken pain on my lawn in freezing, snowy weather, only to be told by the police that they--the police--can't do anything. More like the police choose to do nothing. Just like so many commenters who would rather villify them, and just like so many business owners that want the problem to go away without their being inconvenienced. And I am saddened that Aron would try his hand at a heartless, not to mention ineffectual, policy.

Attempts to ban panhandling will not get rid of them, or their behavior, or how very uncomfortable and angry they make us.

alicenevada 8 years, 7 months ago

Just this afternoon, after picking up a few grocery items at Dillons on 6th street (the Dillons at the corner of Lawrence avenue and 6th), this dude on a bike comes up to me after approaching other patrons and asks me for money. I told him to get lost and if he didn't, I would be calling the store. He quickly took off. Seriously!??? I am a single mom, working and going to school full time. This guy is obviously an able-bodied young man capable of working, he has transportation either through his bike or the transit system, and he is asking me for my money?!? I am disgusted at these people. If you are mentally ill or physically disabled, I am more apt to give you some sympathy. But it is guys like the one who approached me today that are absolutely a disgrace. Please Please Please City Commission...pass the ban!! No more!!

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

LarryNative, Great post.

"Most of these bums are not poor..." - Really? You believe that?

"These people are lazy." - Quite possibly. In truth, how many would take a decent job if offered?

"dog... scam" - I'm familiar with the tactic. Transients will also use it to deter arrest. Its a much bigger pain in the *** to arrest a homeless person with a dog. However, I've known some female transients who absolutely depend on their dog for protection.

"Bernardo, I am not afraid to look these dirtballs in the eye and if one of them ever threatened me or my family, I would not be afraid to kick in the few teeth the pr*ck has left."

Wow, that is a lot of hate. Have you ever been threatened by a panhandler? What's your beef?

"You are in the minority" I don't know about that, does the majority of Lawrence disregard the 1st Amendment? Shall we vote for or against a War on the Poor in the next election?

"bum filled shopping district under the bridge down by the river" In fact, there used to be a small community down there. What happened to that?

As for downtown smelling like a urinal, downtown business owners might consider installing more restrooms if the smell is driving business away. 1) Its mostly the college/townie drunks who are unwilling to wait in line at the bar restroom who pee in the alley. (If you've ever been in the courtroom for a traffic violation, you'll see all the kids with public urination charges) 2) There are only a handful of downtown businesses who will allow a 'bum' to use their restroom. So few that Change of Heart publishes a list of businesses that are compassionate

I understand people's concern for downtown business, I really do. But no ordinance will make the homeless stop needing money. What will happen when you outlaw panhandling? I suspect mugging and theft will grow proportionally. If your breaking the law, you might as well break the law, right?

Prometheus 8 years, 7 months ago

I am against this proposal as I see it as criminalizing the poor and discriminating against those in poverty.

There are things in this world that annoy me, but I don’t feel the need to ban these things or deny their existence.

Denying the existence of the poor in a place of shopping and commerce will not make it go away. Life isn’t television and we can’t change the channel. Those who panhandle are part of our community and are human beings the same as us all. The culture of elitism directed at the homeless is no different than any other discriminatory event in human history.

There have been 2 high profile mental health hospitals closed in Topeka in recent years. Not everyone who was discharged from these hospitals was fortunate enough to become financially stable.

While those who panhandle and abuse substances can be more volatile, why do we only stop blame with the panhandler? The tobacco and alcohol industries are businesses that use advertising and marketing to entice persons to use their products and make money. They have every right to sell their toxins to the people, but their right to sale should not absolve them of being included in the full analysis of the overall problem.

It has been suggested that this summer the panhandlers were worse. The economy in this country is also in a worse state than recent summers. It is difficult for those with true desire and skill to find work.

I recognize that some panhandlers have been overly rude to person’s downtown. This behavior is unacceptable, but there will always be inconsiderate, disrespectful jerks in this world. And the majority of them aren’t panhandlers.

Instead of analyzing this problem to better understand why it is happening and how to decrease it this proposal is taking a cowardly approach by trying to sweep it under the rug.

As human beings we are capable of more than this.

nuby 8 years, 7 months ago

As a life long Lawrence resident, all I can say is this town has been invaded by bleeding heart hippies. Well, I say go back to where you came from. This incompassionate person that busts my tail 40 hrs a week, has two small children, and manages to pay my bills without handouts is sick of your of your whining. I think I pay enough of my hard EARNED money in taxes to walk the streets of Lawrence and take my children to play in the parks without being harassed.

BTW I do support the people who are making an effort to help themselves.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

well spoken Gilly,

A panhandling ban will not change the behavior of our homeless population. Some, perhaps many, choose the lifestyle. Denying basic rights is not a solution, however popular it might be to some of you.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

"this town has been invaded by bleeding heart hippies" If I recall my history correctly, this town was founded by bleeding heart abolitionists. Get used to it, we're not going anywhere.

This compassionate person also busts his tail 40 hours a week and pays his share of taxes. That does not give you the right to criminalize poverty. Just because a person is unable or even unwilling to work, you would deny them a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech, so that you don't have to be 'harassed' in a public space?

I'm sorry, but we all get harassed in public, by advertisers, by proselytizers, by road-rage maniacs, by posters on Would you deny their rights too?

Since when was 'having a job' a condition for basic human rights? Why are all of you so angry at the poor? Does it cost you anything to say, "no, sorry."

I do know that enforcing your unconstitutional ordinance will cost we, the taxpayers, more of our hard EARNED money.

nuby 8 years, 7 months ago

I think John Stossel says it best "give me a break".

Bernardo- you bet your a* I'm angry. I go to work everyday manage to not have daily run-ins with the police, yet no one is giving me free hand outs. I'm not trying deny the lazy their constitutional right to be a deadbeat, but I think the rest of us that work for a living and pay to maintain those streets, sidewalk and parks that they pss in and on have a few rights of our own.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

Interesting point nuby. Here is a question for ya. When and if you become unemployed, is it fair to restrict your access to the streets, sidewalk, and parks that you use? Is your access proportional to your tax contribution? Does the highest tax bracket have preferred access to our public services and utilities because they pay more? Are you willing to be evicted from a public park or public roadway because some billionaire playboy that pays 10x as much tax as you and I do wants to enjoy the benefits of his taxes without eyesores like middle class working Americans?

Bottom line, if a resource is public, it is public. Being a taxpayer does not grant you rights above and beyond the basic rights afforded by our constitution.

alicenevada 8 years, 7 months ago

Nuby, Thank you for your honesty, I agree completely. For those who do not agree, please, feel free to open your homes to these bums. I am sure you would get no complaints from the rest of us.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm not familiar with John Stossel or his "give me a break" slogan. Cursory research tells me he he believes the free market forces out perform government service. That assertion is correct in some cases, and I'd be interesting in hearing more of his ideas. Any recommendations?

But if the free market is truly the solution to our homeless panhandling problem, wouldn't stifling the homeless' right to free speech and solicitation be counter to free market principles? If there is a market for beggars, and beggars can make a living through their 'profession.' lol, isn't an ordinance like the one proposed just more unnecessary government intervention?

Additionally, if there is a market for a 'beggar-free' commercial district, where whitebread yuppies can pay top dollar for the privilege of avoiding poor people, wouldn't private enterprise (mall cops) be the most appropriate way of providing that service?

Instead, you would spend my tax dollars to enforce an unconstitutional war on the poor? And then you spend my tax dollars defending it in court and paying penalties when it is declared unconstitutional? I just don't get you bootstrap sickos.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

I love the "open your home to these bums" argument. Thank you Alice.

Unfortunately, I'm not yet a homeowner and additional tenants would be a violation of my rental agreement. I would be evicted and no better off than the person I'm trying to help.

My family, despite borderline poverty, has been very generous to the unfortunate and displaced, taking in Katrina victims, foreign refugees, and teenagers who were "kicked out" until they were able to re-establish themselves.

To some of us, our homes are open. And we are still getting complaints from the 'rest of you.'

I ask you, why do you hate the poor? I just don't get it.

Prometheus 8 years, 7 months ago


Your suggestion to take the homeless into our homes is a good idea, but it simply won't work.

I am sure that some of us would like to do this, however almost all landlords have a clause against boarders and lodgers and would evict us all.

This would result in mass evictions. This would stain our rental records making it increasingly difficult for any of us to rent from a future landlord.

Thus we would all be homeless and the overall situation would only be worse. This won't solve anything.

Prometheus 8 years, 7 months ago

There are a few posts here being critical of taking a handout.

There is something seriously wrong in our culture when we are afraid to ask for help.

None of us are all wise or all knowing and often in life we need assistance to succeed.

To get out of homelessness one often needs the money to pay for a full security deposit and a first month’s rent.

I have seen numerous persons who were homeless get financial assistance to help with paying this double monetary expense to obtain housing and then maintain their housing.

Considering we all pay into numerous public assistance funds with our own tax dollars, the money we often take out came from our own pockets anyway.

Bill Getz 8 years, 7 months ago

Even though I presently have a sufficient retirement income, I try to spend a couple hours a month with a cardboard sign panhandling on Mass. To keep my hand in. Never know when the skill will come in handy, and one doesnt want to lose the knack. When I am exercising my solid citizen role as a shopper or stroller on Mass and am confronted by some aggressive nitwit, I know how to shake my head knowingly and walk on. Once in a great while I will give a buck to a woman with a baby, even if I suspect it is a scam. Charity, even in misplaced, is a virtue. .

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

Developers and some commissioners are constantly panhandling which is why we have less expendable cash.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 7 months ago

I've talked to three panhandlers downtown over the years...two wanted money for food, but when I told them I'd go get them something to eat they weren't interested anymore.

The one other time the guy wanted 'bus money' and when I volunteered to go get him a PASS he swore at me and walked off.

90% of these people want $$ for one thing, and you know what that is......

(gulp, gulp!)

Meatwad 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm sick of homeless people from other cities moving to Lawrence to take advantage of our city. Go home. Why should we have to take them all in? This needs to stop.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 7 months ago

Meatwad, you speak as if you know that hordes of homeless people have moved to Lawrence. So cough up your evidence: how do you know that? You also seem to think that they have been "taken in." Would that that were so; then they wouldn't be homeless.

The scuzzy rainbow childen float through twice a year. Most of them don't stay. They get me particularly riled because they are ablebodied and yet beg, often with the expectation that they will get for doing nothing. They are also more with-it than the drunks, and being more aware and mostly not yet possessed by internal demons, they are more capable of worthwhile contribution to society. So they tick me off.

Bernardo and Prometheus have done excellent work at pointing out holes in various contentions in the arguments against compassion here, but I'd like to mention one more thing, Meatwad, and it concerns you, and Alice, and everyone else who thinks that they are above such behavior and need:

The drunks, panhandlers, and mentally ill who patrol our streets are us; they hold the mirror up to us as we walk by, and we don't like what we see. None of us are free of our internal demons or external stressors, and but for the grace of God or luck, there go we. You might be paying all your taxes and bills now, your drinking might be in check, your psychotic break might not have happened yet, your depression might not yet have driven you to lethargy. But every unfortunate in Downtown Lawrence is still a possible you, which is why your hatred is so unrelenting.

Boosh 8 years, 7 months ago

Meatwad (Anonymous) says… "I'm sick of homeless people..."

Then says "Go home."


Amy Heeter 8 years, 7 months ago

This is not about homelessness. This is about wet shelter that invests all of it's resources into catering to cons and degenerate drunks. The Lawrence community has never had a problem helping those in need. Churches and other fellowships within the community have gone above and beyond. I saw someone posted about a contracor who went by the shelter to offer work and was turned down. At least one local plumber does this too. The takers don't want to work they want to take. This is not a homeless issue it is a vagrant issue. The two are light years apart.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 7 months ago

The only reason this is coming up now is that the commission is trying to get the South East Lawrence neighborhood to accept the proposed shelter location. Downtown is hardly the only place for panhandlers to frequent. I have been approached as far south as Walmart and as far west as Wakarusa. I'v been approached as multiple gas stations and grocery stores. This proposed downtown ban is just another form of sticking heads in the sand.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

Just a thought:

I believe the emphasis on free speech in our Constitution was designed to protect the rights of individuals to engage in political speech, particularly political speech that criticizes the government.

I'm pretty sure they didn't intend for it to be used to protect anyone's "right" to panhandle.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

And, when one person's expression of their rights infringes on others, we have to sort it out.

When speech becomes "incitement to violence" it is not protected speech.

I wonder where the line is between simply asking for money and harassment/criminal threat.

If people are on your property and you don't want them there, you should be able to charge them with trespassing, gilly. Didn't the police tell you that?


Your suggestion that business owners should install more restrooms/offer them for non-customers to use is strange.

It is not their responsibility to provide services to anyone - they're in business to make money.

If panhandlers are chasing customers off and making downtown unpleasant, businesses have a legitimate interest in getting rid of them.

And, if students routinely do the same thing, it's just as bad if not worse.

Kat Christian 8 years, 7 months ago

Artichokeheart you are on the mark. Though I haven't been approached much, the folks I've seen and have spoken to don't want to work they just want to party and receive free handouts. I've heard some brag how they come here in the winter because they know Lawrence will handout to them. What I have been saying the whole time - Lawrence has been taking the easy way out - just hand them a piece of bread and they won't bother you today. Why not require of them? If they don't want to put out then they can get out of town. Most are frightened, uneducated in self-care and responsibility, some are lazy for this reason because it is just too easy to give into what is familiar to them. Some have drug & alcohol problems. It doesn't take a lot of funding to form an AA/NA group does it? Just takes someone willing to donate their time to officiate it. Homeless folks should be required to attend these if need be and/or work even P/T to show some faith in trying before they are offered assistance. It is called 'TUFF LOVE', but I guess there just isn't enough love to go around these days. The government cracked down on welfare users by cutting off funding after 2 years if they have not found employment and so far it is working (for the most part). We have women out there cranking out babies they have no business having, standing in welfare lines, or looking for handouts using their kids to gain pity. Just the other day there was a gal working on #3 talking about how her medical health causes problem in her having babies. So I asked why not get your tubed tied after this one? She didn't believe in it - said it was unethical, but its okay to keep cranking out kids even though she can't afford them. I don't get it? But Lawrence will hand out so she and other's who think this way are pretty much covered. I love Lawrence for their thoughful ways and it means well, but when are people going to just get it? Never, as long as it is FREE! I know this may sound cold, but I'm not looking at it as one person or one small group of people I see it in terms of the big picture. Now I would be the first to help someone hungry by buying them a gift card but I won't hand out money. I make scarves and hand out a cup of coffee to the homeless in the winter. I'm not well to do either and live check to check but I try to do my part. Lawrence just needs to toughen up some and teach these people to take responsiblity for their own lives or show them the road out of town.

woodenfleaeater 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't think they need to ban all panhandlers, only the violent ones. I've told, and am not going to retell, the story of the guy downtown who I almost came to blows with after he threw his shoe at me and then urniated on my tire. Those are the kind of folks that need to go, the mean ones.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

sunshine_noise, I understand the need for tough love. As a community we need to find a way to enable people to climb their way out of poverty. We do not want to be enabling self-destructive behavior. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the drunks will still be here if you close the wet shelter. Your kids might find one dead in the park after a cold winter night, and half of the people on these forums will cheer.

I'd love to find a way to change the behavior of the drunks, but realistically, they aren't going away if we pass this ordinance.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

All of the former addicts/experts in addiction I've ever seen or heard have stated unequivocally that addicts need to hit bottom before they get better.

Anything that we do to interfere with that process (like allowing them into wet shelters, etc.) is "enabling" not helping.

I'm very much in favor of helping people who want/need help and are willing to participate in improving their lives.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

"Your suggestion that business owners should install more restrooms/offer them for non-customers to use is strange." Yea, a strange tangent, I admit. That was mostly in response to blaming the homeless for the urine smell downtown. Trust me, the homeless aren't doing the majority of that.

"It is not their responsibility to provide services to anyone - they're in business to make money." And if downtown business owners blame the urine smell for driving away business, it is their option to take responsibility for fixing the problem. Don't shift it on the city.

"If panhandlers are chasing customers off and making downtown unpleasant, businesses have a legitimate interest in getting rid of them." Agreed. Why do I have to pay for it? Can they hire some Pinkerton's to go beat up and chase off the bums instead of doing it through our representative government?

"And, if students routinely do the same thing, it's just as bad if not worse." I'm not condoning it, but the urine smell is definitely stronger in the allies behind the bars with the fewest and crappiest restrooms.

Should a business owner accept some responsibility for the behavior of their clientele? We have a history of shutting down businesses that didn't take responsibility and try to prevent the criminal behavior of their patrons. I'm just saying.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 8 years, 7 months ago

"All of the former addicts/experts in addiction I've ever seen or heard have stated unequivocally that addicts need to hit bottom before they get better.

Anything that we do to interfere with that process (like allowing them into wet shelters, etc.) is “enabling” not helping." -jafs

Interesting. Should we then be encouraging these people to hit rock bottom, so that they can get better? Let's see someone champion that cause.

"I'm very much in favor of helping people who want/need help and are willing to participate in improving their lives." -jafs

Awesome, there are great volunteer opportunities where you can do just that. I hope I see you around.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago


So the homeless vagrants bear no responsibility for their actions, and the businesses should deal with their bad behavior?

If businesses take care of it, they will probably have to pass the cost on to their customers. This would probably be difficult for the businesses to manage in this economic climate.

If the city takes care of it, the costs can be spread among a much larger pool.

I will absolutely champion letting people suffer the consequences of their own bad behavior until it becomes so difficult they're forced to change, especially if we're talking about addicts.

In my own volunteer experiences, I found most places were enabling, not helping, and most recipients could have lived differently and were not making efforts to improve their own lives.

It seems to me that we would need to require some actions on the part of individuals being helped, which most helpful organizations seem to resist.

Kat Christian 8 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Sunshine, first of all, you have the site's address wrong. That's been corrected by another poster, several pages ago.

Secondly, I did go to the correct website and typed in the name of the man in the photo (according to the caption). No results.

I don't have time to click on every single red square just to see if some photo looks a little bit like this guy! Does he have an alias, or what? If you're so sure that he's in there, then please provide more information. If you're not willing to do that, then you're just throwing around unsubstantiated accusations, which is a very serious thing.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago


There is, of course, a meaningful distinction between allowing people to make choices and trying to protect them from the consequences of their choices.

fallingwhilereading 8 years, 7 months ago

What is the City going to do when they ticket the wrong person? If the City tickets someone with an interstate commerce license the find from the feds. are ridicules. I know several panhandlers have them. If they all were to be ticketed the Cities budget would be minus 1.24 million. The City doesn't think before they act. Plus the ACLU isn't going to allow this. They will wait until the first ticket, and jump all over it. Say the City is stupid enough to fight a suit of freedom of speech. That is the rest of the Cities budget. This is all fluff the city is pouring up your a**

Meatwad 8 years, 7 months ago

Jafs is right on regarding the fact that the city's wet shelter is only enabling the problem. Other cities don't provide 3 meals and a bed every night to anyone and everyone who needs one, yet they manage to take care of their own hometown people and families who run into serious financial problems. There are absolutely people who 'hear' about Lawrence's generosity and come here, usually by train, to join their friends who came before them. The local meth dealers like this because it means more customers for them.

Meatwad 8 years, 7 months ago

A partial solution along with banning aggressive panhandling and loitering, is to stop adding more and more beds and making bigger shelters, give priority to homeless families, and stop the shelter from being a 'wet' shelter. The ones who moved to Lawrence to take advantage, will move on, or perhaps decide to get help and change their situation. The ones who really need help can get in because they will be sober and have a genuine desire to get back on their feet.

fallingwhilereading 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow most of you speak about things you have no understanding of. When is the last time any of you donated time at the shelter? How many of you had any personal, or professional experience with dually diagnosed individuals? How many homeless by drugs on a regular occasion? Most of the drugs here are sold where? What shelter has not run out of room? You all talk sht ( speaking of things you do not understand), and in other parts of the country. You would at the very least be slapped up side the head. For talking sht. Yet we are in redneck hick ville (why did I come here). All I have found here is the opposite of what Kansas play themselves off as. I have found Kansas to be bigoted, suede Christians, rednecks. Free State my *ss. Anything but free ideas. Well enough of my diatribe.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 7 months ago

Falling: About a year ago when I got fed up with the policies.

Yes I do.

At lease 4-6 every day.

Your arguments are flawed. There is a difference between homelessness and vagrancy. A drunk shelter is not good and never will be. People will not change their lives as long as irresposibilty is accepted.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Oh come on folks, this article isn't even about homelessness -- it's about panhandling. Yeah, some of the panhandlers are homeless, but some are kids like one of my household members knew in high school -- perfectly well-off kids who would go downtown some evenings and panhandle enough money to do something over the weekend. Yep, that's right -- perfectly able-bodied kids from LHS who just wanted a little extry and who had the idea that it was easier than a real job.

Unfortunately (for those who wish to help the homeless and leave the others alone) there is no foolproof way of telling the difference, unless you are actually personally acquainted with the panhandler!

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps we don't need to make anything happen.

If retail and residential are overbuilt, it would be a good idea to stop building.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 7 months ago

ksperson actually makes a good point: panhandlers aren't necessarily synonymous w/ homeless people.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

One problem with our current system is that there are tax benefits to those who have retail spaces that are empty, for example.

If the system worked the way it ought to, then supply and demand would work - property owners who had difficulty renting their property would simply lower the price until it rented.

And if there weren't tax benefits for empty properties, they might think a little more before building more when there are currently empty ones.

You'd have to make them feel the consequences of poor decisions in order for the feedback loop to operate properly.

And, I disagree that only those who have started businesses themselves have valid opinions about our economy.

They would, however, have valuable information about what it's like to start a business.

bethosaurus 8 years, 6 months ago

These people are just another part of what makes Lawrence the great town that it is! If you don't agree with what they do, then ignore them! But this ban will just cause complication to something they think is already complicated. Do we really want to have to go through a permit process just to share the gift of music on the street? And what about the people who are just passing through? And what exactly do we do to the people who refuse to leave... fine them? Their only chance of even paying that fine is to keep panhandling! haha

lgreen17 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm sorry that I supported Aron now. He's obviously forgotten about the bill of rights. We have an ordinance, now enforce it!

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