Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

City vows action on begging problem

City commissioners discussed Tuesday the possibility of enacting laws to restrict panhandling in downtown Lawrence.

October 28, 2009

Advertisement

Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday vowed to do more than just talk about ways to curb what merchants say is a growing panhandling problem downtown.

Commissioners ordered City Manager David Corliss to come up with ideas for immediately increasing the frequency of police foot patrols in the downtown area, and also told city staff to thoroughly research just how tough the city could be in writing a panhandling ban without violating the Constitution.

“But we have to remember an ordinance is only as good as the paper it is written on,” Amyx said. “The truth of the matter is, we have to have enforcement.”

Commissioners heard from about six downtown merchants who said customers are becoming increasingly frustrated, or in some cases frightened, by people who beg for money. Peter Zacharias, a longtime jewelry merchant downtown, said that two women on Tuesday morning took refuge in his shop after a panhandler became aggressive. Aggressive panhandling already is illegal in the city, but by the time police were able to arrive on the scene, the panhandler was gone.

“The ladies didn’t end up going to the store,” Zacharias said. “They said they were going back to Johnson County and never coming back. We deal with that every day.”

But commissioners also were warned to tread cautiously with creating an outright ban on all types of panhandling downtown. The executive director of the Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said he called some city commissioners before the meeting to warn them that any ban that prohibits all types of panhandling would draw a sharp response from the ACLU on the grounds that it was an illegal restriction of free speech.

City Commissioner Aron Cromwell has advocated for an ordinance that would ban active and passive panhandling, such as holding up a sign to ask for money.

“To have freedom of speech, sometimes you have to put up with speech you really don’t want to hear,” said Dan Winter, the ACLU’s executive director for Kansas and western Missouri.

Comments

commuter 5 years, 3 months ago

Free speech- Come on. The problem is the ACLU wants to make headlines. If Kansas was really progressive, they would increase the cost of filing alawsuits so stupid lawsuits from the ACLU would be reduced.

If the ACLU thinks the beggars are having their speech infringed upon, then let the beggars stand in front of their office or homes and ask for money.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 3 months ago

"Zacharias said. “They said they were going back to Johnson County and never coming back. ++++ If we could get more jocos to follow suit,Lawrence could begin to rebuild. Why stop with panhandlers? This sets a very dangerous precedents. Our government is attempting to regulate who can occupy our city streets.Will there be an application process in the near future? People who are acceptable can wear bright green check marks on their clothing. Why not set a dollar amount that peole must spend if they visit a downtown merchant?That'd keep the merchants happy(maybe).

gilly 5 years, 3 months ago

LJW editor:

Busking is not begging--the photograph accompanying this article is inappropriate.

brian1981 5 years, 3 months ago

Is anyone else tired of the ACLU's incessant lecturing to our entire country about liberty and freedom? It's arrogant and condescending as hell. I am firmly convinced they consider the entire American nation a bunch of mindless goose-stepping Nazis who would happily shred the Constitution and start building gas chambers if the ACLU ever turned its back for five minutes.

It makes me want to puke.

gilly 5 years, 3 months ago

Instead of passing the work on to David Corliss, perhaps the city commissioners could put their well-educated heads together and come up with a policy themselves.

Hint no. 1: any policy that impinges on free speech will draw a lawsuit.

Hint no. 2: any policy that tries to sweep beggars out of sight will not work--you'll actually have to try to solve the problem, not cover it up.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

" I am firmly convinced they consider the entire American nation a bunch of mindless goose-stepping Nazis who would happily shred the Constitution"

Not the entire nation-- probably only about 20%, apparently including you.

conservative 5 years, 3 months ago

I won't take my kids downtown anymore because of the problems with the beggars making them feel unsafe and the mentally ill walking around down there (think the guy in a sheet we use to see). And since 90 percent of the time I only went downtown to do things with my kids it is definately affecting the merchants.

Moderateguy 5 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, the ACLU. Same organization that defends NAMBLA and sues the Boy Scouts. Thank you City Commissioners for recognizing a real problem in Lawrence and deciding to do something about it. Who is going to determine the fate of our downtown? Is it going to be the ACLU, the bums and their enablers, or the contributing members of our community?

bluerain 5 years, 3 months ago

People in need asking for help downtown should not be prohibited. People are called up by solicitors and asked to donate to a cause or asked to buy cookies or other things to raise money for schools or organizations more than from people downtown. Yes, telephone solicitors, the schools, and non profits are more organized and presentable with their "begging" techniques than the downtowners, but does that put them above the downtowners when it comes to asking for donations? Banning or restricting persons in need from requesting donations downtown is discriminative. Deal with it!

Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

To begin with there is a difference between free speech and assault. There are already ordinances on the books that if enforced allow the police to arrest and detain violators. Take for example protests. Any citizen may protest so long as the conduct of the individual or group is within the confines of the laws that govern the city. The hemp guy holds a sign. Sometimes people honk. If the police wanted to they could ticket everyone that honks. Why? Because there is currently a noise ordinance within the city limits of Lawrence that says any noise is a disurbance if a complaint is filed.( I used this example because feww are bothered by this) This is just one example of application within legal limits. This whole ACLU threat is just a bunch of hype. The little city of Excelsior Springs MO has a vagrancy ordinance that has been in effect forever. If a person lingers too long they get a ticket or go to jail. Passing a panhandleing ban for only downtown simply passes the buck to the surrounding community. A full city ban needs to be implemented and enforced. A consistet arrest rate for violations would send these professional cons on the road somewhere else. Then the city would not have to worry about funding Loring Henderson's wet shelter. There would be no need. The current location would be big enough to serve those in need.

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the City can create an "Amendment Zone" in one of the side lots for a few hours one day per week. The panhandlers will be free to ask for change or hold up signs within the zone during the prescribed period, and people who wish to donate can walk among them, choosing the recipient of their largesse. Think of it as a sort of Farmer's Market for panhandling. That should take care of the problem without running afoul of the Constitution. (Hey, it worked for Bush!)

januarygirl 5 years, 3 months ago

THE ONLY REASON FOR A PERSON OR PERSONS TO PANHANDLE IN DOWNTOWN LAWRENCE IS THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE HANDING OUT MONEY FOR FREE!! WHY NOT STOP THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ENABELING THIS BEHAVIOR. PEOPLE IF YOU DON'T WANT PANHANDLERS , THEN STOP HANDING OUT MONEY.

ferrislives 5 years, 3 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus, the ACLU lost my respect when they defended NAMBLA (aka pedophiles)!

And I'm sure that a lot of other good Americans, liberal and conservative, feel the exact same way!

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 3 months ago

Good point january.

I get asked for money almost every time I go downtown, be it day or night...and I say NO every time!

I would be nice to see the behavior outlawed though IMO.

Having beggars is kinda like when your neighbor has car parts scattered all over their front lawn to me...maybe not illegal, but damned annoying and makes your neighborhood look trashy.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

As I commented on another thread on this topic, if there are loitering ordinances already on the books, they could simply enforce them.

No free speech/ACLU problem and no need to create more ordinances.

zettapixel 5 years, 3 months ago

I've got leftover pepper spray from a personal safety website business I used to run. If it's against the 1st amendment to ban panhandling, you can damn well use your 2nd amendment rights to protect yourself when one of those beggars comes after you!

Moderateguy 5 years, 3 months ago

From my perspective, it comes down to this. If a 250 lb. 40 something male transient with a crazed look in his eye asks a 90 lb. 16 year old girl for money, it's not so much free speech as it is robbery by intimidation. I'm a big guy; I tell them no and look them in the eye. My tiny wife, when she has our young daughter in tow is a different situation entirely. Free speech my keester.

acg 5 years, 3 months ago

Man I'm so torn on this issue. It is annoying to have the drunken, crazy beggars harrass you, but at the same time I think to myself, many of us are not too far away from poverty ourselves and it's sad to see them in such a bad situation. I never know if giving them $$ is good or bad. Will they use it for food or booze or what? Are they really down on their luck or just lazy and addicted? What a condundrum. I understand the businesses and merchants are having a problem but doesn't it bother anyone else to sweep these folks under the rug like so much garbage?

Steve Jacob 5 years, 3 months ago

Busking is panhandling, in my book. You get rid of the homeless and allow that you will set yourself up to problems. I just avoid downtown, and never give anyone money. You have to get a licence to sell door-to-door, why not panhandling?

Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

Know what would be a hoot? If a group of citizens file suit against the city for failure the ensure a reasonable expectation of safety. The city has ordinances that if enforced would solve the problem. The liabilty issues are on both sides of this situation.

redfred 5 years, 3 months ago

jafs - I believe the way the loitering ordinance is written you have to be blocking or standing in the entry way to the business. Most of the panhandlers are aware of that and you don't see them actually at the entrance to the business but off to the side.

krisell 5 years, 3 months ago

Since when does the right to free speech make it acceptable for the beggars downtown to grab my arm, step in front of me and impede my walk, intimidate myself and other women into giving them the last of our change, and to punch men who don't give them money? It's ridiculous that in order to get to work, I have to deal with situations such as these on an almost daily basis. Those of you who say that the panhandling is not a big deal obviously don't have to deal with this crap on a daily basis. I've been followed and harrassed to the point I had to take refuge in a bar, for cryin' out loud! It's punishing downtown business people by taking away customers from the businesses they've poured their whole lives into. And we're supposed to worry about the beggar's rights? How about my right to walk down the street without feeling intimidated??

alicenevada 5 years, 3 months ago

krisell, I agree. I posted yesterday about how one of the schmucks approached me...and this was in the parking lot of Dillons on 6th street!!! And..when I would not give him my money, he got angry!!! What?!?

Jonathan Kealing 5 years, 3 months ago

gilly--

Agreed in principle, but the ordinance would include those who busk as well. So while the two are separate, the ordinance would treat them the same.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

alicenevada 5 years, 3 months ago

Artichoke, O.K..I am on board with this. Anyone else? Can we actually do something instead of just posting about it?

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 3 months ago

acg (Anonymous) says…

"many of us are not too far away from poverty ourselves and it's sad to see them in such a bad situation...doesn't it bother anyone else to sweep these folks under the rug like so much garbage?"

You may be right about being close to the poor house, but if I lost my job, my first course of action would NOT be to find a nook on Mass and start begging. It's not like these people ever make enough money begging and actually get off the streets. Some of them have nicknames they've been begging so long!

It doesn't bother me one bit to keep them from panhandling. They have other means of community support such as shelters, welfare, unemployment, etc. They also have the freedom to look for a job! Plenty of restaurant-type jobs in this town. If stoners can work in the service industry, why not the homeless? Are they even homeless?

My guess is that they beg long enough to buy a McDouble or two and bottle of Barton's and call it a day.

emptymind 5 years, 3 months ago

Anyone who wants to throw the first stone.....go ahead Let's see how many of us will

justthefacts 5 years, 3 months ago

Like it or not, the courts have taken a dim view on panhandling restrictions that are too broad. The last thing we need is another law suit that takes time and money to defend.

As was pointed out, even with a perfectly worded and legally sound policy adopted, it won't work if there aren't enough foot patrols around to enforce it! Hiring and retaining more police officers costs money.

Has anyone every thought about banning giving money to beggars in a specific area - why not attack the problem from the other end? The people giving the money might be grateful for an excuse, "Sorry man. Against the law for me to give you money in this area of town." If enough people refuse to give them $$, for any reason, it might move the beggars along to some other town! Negative reinforcement works better than intermittent postive enforcement (which I am told is the BEST way to get someone to keep doing something!).

jimmyjms 5 years, 3 months ago

There are about 100 problems in Lawrence that deserve attention before this.

Jesus, commissioners. Get your heads out of your asses.

LA_Ex 5 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence doesn't have a begging problem. I'm downtown a lot and I have never been asked for money. I have no problem taking my kids downtown, but I also don't take them out after 9pm. I also think that the problems that happen after dark aren't caused by the homeless, they are caused by drunk kids with poor judgment and criminals. Maybe the people that complain about the begging should get out of Lawrence and see what a real problem is. Ever been downtown KC or any other mid to large city? Those are cities with problems.

alicenevada 5 years, 3 months ago

Empty Mind, I really don't feel this is a matter of throwing stones. As I posted yesterday: I am a single mother, working and going to school full time. I have worked in less than desireable positions, such as McDonalds, third shift at Packer Plastics stacking cups, etc., because my integrity demanded it of me. I find it offensive that a majority of these transients are in reality able-bodied young people who choose to live as lazy bums, and who actually think they have a right to ask me for the money I make to perpetuate their "lifestyle". And what is worse, is when I choose NOT to give them my money, many of them respond in an aggressive and threatening manner. I have young children and I will be damned if I am going to take food out of their mouths so the ACLU can maintain their political correctness. I have lived in Lawrence for almost 20 years now and I have never seen the downtown conditions as bad as they have gotten. What makes me sick is that these people know what they are doing, and they get a kick out of the fact that they can get away with it. And I would like to furthermore clarify that I am not talking about those who are actually mentally ill or disabled. I know which of those in our transient community are harmless, such as Simon and Joe, and FYI, I have given them food and money at times. The ones I am talking about are the actual bums that choose to slum around downtown instead of work and pay their way like the rest of us. I have a truckload of stones, and I am ready to start throwing.

Kristine Bailey 5 years, 3 months ago

I am downtown every day. No one approaches me. I must not look like a mark. But if they did, I would pull out my cell phone and call 911. If the perp walked away at that point, I would follow them while staying connected to dispatch(they always keep you on the line). Stay tuned, I think the LPD will be coming out with public guide lines.

ferrislives 5 years, 3 months ago

artichokeheart, you're absolutely right. Enforcing already-existing laws would make a BIG difference. This is what I'd propose:

1) Always have a certain amount of LPD officers doing a walking patrol downtown. 2) Those officers would tell loiterers to move on, and arrest them if they refused. 3) Those officers would arrest people for aggressive panhandling on the spot, especially when they approach children. 4) Make the shelter into a dry shelter, and they have to start a program immediately to get them off of the streets permanently (e.g. AA, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) 5) Create safe areas in the shelter for families. They should be the focus of any help. 6) Make shelter residents responsible for keeping the shelter clean. 7) Create jobs in the community for them. (e.g. cleaning trash from streets, landscaping, recycling, etc.) 8) Continue to keep the "tent city" by the river clear and free.

After awhile, out-of-town transients and homeless people would get the hint and move on to a community that would cater to them, while the local homeless population would be helped out of homelessness. And this could all happen now with our current laws, as opposed to waiting for a ban to pass to get into action.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 3 months ago

being tolerant of homeless people ends when they badger someone for money. do any of you stand on the street and ask or imply to passers by that you would like them to give you money? Where does this idea come from that hard working people should give non-working people their money? and it's not bad enough that many look completely healthy and able to work, there are also those that are aggressive and make demands by intimidation. whether it be 2 to 5 individuals standing in your way or following behind you. this is unacceptable behavior and intimidation should not be tolerated.

jessanddaron 5 years, 3 months ago

I lived in Dallas when they passed a law banning panhandling and the only thing to come of it was watching people of unfortunate circumstances arrested and sent to jail. The frequency of begging for money at the same street corners never decreased and I only found myself feeling more sorry for them after they were being shackled and thrown in jail like criminals. No one chooses to be in that situation and instead of "masking" the problem, the city needs to find a real comprehensive plan that will help the residents feel safer and the less fortunate feel like they have some tools to better themselves and they haven't been disarded as trash on the side of Mass.

nuby 5 years, 3 months ago

If the police have to spend their time doing walking patroles downtown, guess what? That means they aren't able to patrol our streets to prevent crime. BTW it's costing us $75/day to house the homeless at the jail. And for all you people that say they just give out tickets- quit breaking the law and you wouldn't have anything to complain about. Do you really think that's what these people go into law enforcement for? To write you tickets and babysit the drunken homeless. Everyone would be complaining if they didn't write tickets. It's easy to complain about the police officers but I don't see any of you out there volunteering to do it. It's not a job I would want. I personally like to go to a job everyday that does not require me to wear a bullet proof vest and carry a gun to protect myself. I like to spend evening, weekends and holidays with my family.

The homeless not only affect the safety of our town by the crimes they commit but they are also taking law enforcements time away from preventing of other crimes. I for one, am horrified that nearly everyday some violent crime has occured overnight. This is becoming a community I don't fee safe raising my children in. Every single day I read the paper I say I want to move. It's so sad because I have lived here all my life besides going away to college and always imagined my kids going to school here. Not anymore.

d_prowess 5 years, 3 months ago

I am shocked by those that say they are downtown all the time and are never asked for money by anyone! However, I am also shocked by those that say they are continually harassed by people. I think both are probably exaggerating things toward their end of the spectrum. And as with all articles on this topic, most people that are angry with panhandling are describing behaviors that are already in violation of current laws. So I agree with others that have said that to really address some of the problems, we need greater police presence to enforce the current laws.

alicenevada 5 years, 3 months ago

Nuby, I never thought I would say this...but JoCo is looking very appealing due to it's being safer for my family. My partner lives there and I always said there was not way I would ever trade my Lawrence for a neighborhood surrounded by big box stores and corporate cafes. But..you can bet this begging crap would not be tolerated there, not for one second.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 3 months ago

I would like everyone to be alert. I have heard that on Saturday night, there will be a concerted effort by beggars to invade every neighborhood in the city. These people will stop at nothing to get what they have come for. The only way to try and avoid them is to turn out your porch light and pretend that you are not home.

ferrislives 5 years, 3 months ago

nuby (Anonymous) says…

"If the police have to spend their time doing walking patroles downtown, guess what? That means they aren't able to patrol our streets to prevent crime. BTW it's costing us $75/day to house the homeless at the jail. "

No duh nuby! But that is the police officer's job. I have family in law enforcement, and they say that unless existing and/r new laws are enforced, they won't work. So that's what needs to be done, as that IS law enforcement's job!

And yes it costs money to house homeless people, but you should also know that we are already housing several homeless people daily because of crazy incidents.

The biggest goal should be to get rid of out-of-town transients who are only here to drain our resources, and help those that really need help to get their lives back on track.

DoNotCare 5 years, 3 months ago

No one is going to do anything because the people in this town consider begging (and round-a-bouts) in vogue. Another misguided (stupid) attempt to change this backwoods hillbilly ghost town into a trendy, European discotech. Might as well let the dirty street begging youth run this town because hey, you can't polish a turd...

nuby 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm seeing lots of excuses about why all the compassionate people in this town can not let the homeless move in with them. Put that tent city in your backyard.

I live on the east side of town and am horrified by the fact that they want to put the new shelter a mile from my house. My number one concern is not the crime it will bring, although it is my second concern. It's that my property value is going to be next to nothing.

City Commission please think about what you are going to do financially to the residents of the neighboring neighborhoods. If they put this in I won't be able to sell my house for what I paid for it 7 years ago. You are going to kill the east side of town.

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't mind the musicians like Maraca girl and the guy who plays the saxophone. They've never bothered me for money. Even the old school panhandlers were polite and not a problem. It seems to be a new crop that is just nasty. Unfortunately, they have ruined it for everyone and I have to be honest, I would be happy to see them go.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

Lol, Norml.

For all of you that find the homeless so offensive, consider that many people find your smelly children equally if not more offensive.

If the city wide ban on panhandling passes, we'll have to report every one of these trick or treating criminals who trying to intimidate us by dressing up as ghosts and Harry Potter. Plus they are taking business away from local candy stores.

Emily Hampton 5 years, 3 months ago

i am so tired of living in such a whiny society. Get over yourselves and learn to deal with feeling uncomfortable here and there. The city/government can't protect you from FEELIING uneasy (not sure what people think the panhandlers are actually going to do to them). Meanwhile my kid's school is sending off the number of "bully" incidents to the state, which includes being excluded. I find it hilarious that people think their government can protect them from getting their feelings hurt and feeling like there might be danger out there. Welcome to life-grow up!

Satirical 5 years, 3 months ago

For those who criticize people who support a ban on panhandling on Mass St., ask yourself these questions:

(1) Does the city have the authority to regulate and or restrict the time, place, or manner of panhandling?

(2) Would I oppose or support a ban on panhandling in the city pool, inside the city library, inside city hall, or inside or around our schools?

If so, then you support limiting which public areas beggars can panhandle. Does that mean you aren't sympathetic? No.

This isn't an issue of compassion, it is an issue of location and manner. Even if this law were enacted, beggars could still panhandle in every other part of the city. Why do beggars absolutely need Mass St. when they can still have the rest of the city?

nuby 5 years, 3 months ago

hmm- wait until one of those people that makes me feel uncomfortable pulls a knife on you or threatens your children because you won't give them money. It's not about feeling uncomfortable its about being safe. Being that I have toddler children it is my duty to protect them and keep them safe. That is why I do not take them downtown. I believe I should also have a right to go downtown and not be harassed. I also believe that I should be able to take them to the parks downtown without having urine all over the playground equipment. Yes, everyone has rights and those of us who work for a living have rights also.

ferrislives 5 years, 3 months ago

Satirical, and ban panhandling to children as well!

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

nuby says... "My number one concern is not the crime it will bring, although it is my second concern. It's that my property value is going to be next to nothing."

The guests of the shelter and all of the ones that are turned away each night are downtown now. Last I checked, those downtown property values are pretty high.

I hope people realize that a panhandling ban will not work the way you hope it will. If criminalize panhandling, why wouldn't they turn to more severe crimes? An addict won't stop needing their fix because you took away their means of getting money. Think it through.

justthefacts proposed an interesting idea. Outlaw charitable giving city wide. That will really put us on the map. I don't think the KU Endowment Association would appreciate it though.

dprowess, I think you are spot on about everyone exaggerating their experiences with panhandlers. The experiences expressed on this forum do not mesh with reality as I've experienced it. I get asked for money all the time, the panhandlers are almost never rude or intimidating.

KawHawk 5 years, 3 months ago

I've been panhandled downtown at least a half-dozen times...and usually NOT by someone down on their luck, but by ratty-looking twenty-somethings. Never been punched or assaulted, but bet your bippy, if I ever am, then I'll be packin' a piece the next time I go downtown.....

KawHawk 5 years, 3 months ago

If the City DOESN't act to controll panhandling...then you'll likely start to see citizen responses to this; a), people will avoid downtown, especially families; and b), there may be an increase in citizen-originated actions, i.e., panhandler beatings, merchants hosing down people begging on their doorsteps, general increases in rudeness - NOT, repeat, NOT that I'm advocating this - just suggesting that these informal repsonses COULD occur in the absence of a formal response.......

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

I criticize the proposed ban on panhandling on Mass St., and I will attempt to answer your questions, Satirical.

(1) Does the city have the authority to regulate and or restrict the time, place, or manner of panhandling?

Good question, the courts would ultimately decide in this case. I favor the first amendment over the rights of the city.

I have to rephrase your question to answer it honestly. "Does the city have the authority to regulate, restrict the time, place, and manner of civil protest?" Yes, but to a limited extent. An outright ban on civil protest, would be unconstitutional. I remember "Free Speech Zones", yuck! I feel the same way about "Panhandling Zones"

(2) Would I oppose or support a ban on panhandling in the city pool, inside the city library, inside city hall, or inside or around our schools?

I'm ambivalent, but I guess my answer is No. I wouldn't support any measures that target our most unfortunate. Panhandling is not a crime. yet.

jimmyjms 5 years, 3 months ago

"I am downtown every day. No one approaches me. I must not look like a mark. But if they did, I would pull out my cell phone and call 911."

You'd call 911 because someone spoke to you?

Howsabout you just keep on walking?

lawrencechick 5 years, 3 months ago

Agreed....these people are about as "homeless" as the Taliban is religious. The key is to stop the dopes who are giving them money and they will move on.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

KCMO/JOCO metro do have panhandlers. Westport and The Plaza have panhandlers. It is not illegal to be homeless and broke.

The best way to deal with homelessness and panhandling is to stop listening to congress and demand new USA industry that will put 20 million americans back to work. Bring back jobs that pay 17.50 per hour or more so people can support themselves.

Then they should put in jail all of those who participated in the Reagan-Bush home loan scandal and the Bush-Cheney home loan scandal. AND the ENRON executives.

The problem with downtown business is too much retail space in Lawrence,Kansas. This is unfriendly to long time downtown business owners. The fingers should be pointed at city government to pretend that there can never be too much of anything..... even though there only so many dollars available in Lawrence,Kansas.

Tell me how will filling downtown with more and more bars be family and visitor friendly?

What kind of message will that send to all of those public school children on Wednesday afternoon or any day for that matter?

How can parents teach their children when parents are up against a bar on every corner? Daddy and Mommy if you don't want me to drink why are there so many drinking establishments everywhere I look?

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

nuby says "I believe I should also have a right to go downtown and not be harassed. I also believe that I should be able to take them to the parks downtown without having urine all over the playground equipment. Yes, everyone has rights and those of us who work for a living have rights also."

Are your rights greater because you are currently employed and working? Do your rights as a taxpayer trump the rights of the retired and unemployed?

I'd too would love to see the problem go away, but sweeping it under the rug won't have the effect your looking for. Take an honest look at the proposed solution. I believe it will either do nothing, or make the problem worse.

Kris_H 5 years, 3 months ago

If there is already a city ordinance prohibiting aggressive panhandling, would a citizen be within their rights to take their own aggressive action back at the panhandler? Or at least call 911 and insist the police come get the offender?

If you see someone harrassing someone more defenseless than you, why don't you jump in and help them and tell the @$$40L3 to step off, or call the police on them yourselves?

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

What if there were a way to make panhandlers accountable? What if all panhandlers and buskers were required to carry a license that must be clearly displayed? All of you that are terrified of these so called dangerous poor people can report the aggressive panhandling and any actual criminal activity you witness.

How do you all of you haters feel about this middle of the road solution?

Satirical 5 years, 3 months ago

Bernardo_de_la_Paz…

First, thank you for your non-emotional response. While I disagree with you, I appreciate your ability to argue rather than attack me or my motivations.

“Good question, the courts would ultimately decide in this case. I favor the first amendment over the rights of the city.” – Bernardo

Cities do have the ability to regulate time, place, and manner in regards to freedom of speech. Whether this particular ban (or any law ever passed) is Constitutional is always up to the courts.

You have created a fallacy of false alternatives. This issue isn’t about favoring the first amendment. If the ban is Constitutional (which I suspect it would be), the first amendment is still “favored” (because it was never violated) and the right of the city are supported as well. I think your statement would be more accurate if you stated “I favor the absolute freedom of speech.” However, no right is absolute. You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and you can’t say you want to kill the POTUS.

“I remember “Free Speech Zones”, yuck! I feel the same way about “Panhandling Zones”” – Bernardo

I don’t think protesters should be able to go into the White House, do you? This law wouldn’t create “Panhandling Zones” it would carve out a small area of the city for a “Non-Panhandling Zone.” Again, the rest of the city is still their oyster.

“I wouldn't support any measures that target our most unfortunate. Panhandling is not a crime. Yet” – Bernardo

You would seriously support allowing panhandling into our schools? Could you please explain how that is rational? In a society no one has complete freedom, not the most fortunate or the least fortunate. While you have the freedom to support whatever you want, many Lawrence citizens see restricting the location of panhandling from certain areas as reasonable.

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe there are people who feel sorry for these money grubbers!

Some of you sound like you'd miss them! Being poor is one thing. Hanging out on a busy street and begging for money is another.

Satirical says: Why do beggars absolutely need Mass St. when they can still have the rest of the city?

They target Mass because they know most people are on foot. Where else do you see them begging?

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

"You would seriously support allowing panhandling into our schools? Could you please explain how that is rational?"

I'd be happy to explain. I see no problem with a student asking his peers for change in the lunchroom because he forgot his lunch. This happened all the time when I was in high school, especially among the 'meal ticket' kids. Usually they could scrounge up enough for a slice of pizza or another 'luxury' item.

People are generally not allowed in schools unless they have a good reason to be there. You don't have to specifically prohibit panhandling to keep out 'dangerous' types.

"many Lawrence citizens see restricting the location of panhandling from certain areas as reasonable. " Unfortunately, if you simply restrict the location, you spread the problem from one business to another. The 'problem' doesn't go away. If you ban panhandling city wide, you'll simply have more people in jail or with tickets they never pay. I wouldn't call that a solution.

Satirical, do you believe a city, state or nation wide panhandling ban would violate the 1st amendment?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

locking up panhandlers will cost big tax dollars.

putting more officers out there will also not present a friendly ambiance to visitors ...lots of law enforcement means trouble in the area.

more LPD presence = more tax dollars

Panhandlers are not just in downtown....

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

Ricky_Vaughn says…

"I can't believe there are people who feel sorry for these money grubbers! Some of you sound like you'd miss them! "

I can't believe there are sickos who want to persecute these people! Some of you sound like you'd eat them!

soylent green!

ferrislives 5 years, 3 months ago

Bernardo_de_la_Paz (Anonymous) says…

"What if there were a way to make panhandlers accountable? What if all panhandlers and buskers were required to carry a license that must be clearly displayed? All of you that are terrified of these so called dangerous poor people can report the aggressive panhandling and any actual criminal activity you witness.

How do you all of you haters feel about this middle of the road solution?"

That licensing thing is a great idea, and it was a great idea when Aron Cromwell just proposed it a few days ago. See: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/oct...

puddleglum 5 years, 3 months ago

don't be bitter, tom. we all have posts removed every once in awhile. Even though we don't intend on breaking the rules, I think sometimes it turns out that there are reasons unlisted or at least reasons that we don't comprehend in advance.

but anyway.

enough with these bums. I can go downtown and not be bothered alone, but when i am with my wife or child, I have been acosted with drunks jumping in front of me, being obnoxious, and so forth. I only can wish that one of them lays a finger on me or my spouse. Then you will see me defend myself concealed-carry-style. In the meantime, I don't spend money downtown, and I have stopped going to downtown restaurants as well. I spend my money at Wal-mart, er-just kidding-I mean everywhere except walmart and downtown. Both are icky experiences. do something about it, and maybe me and my dollars will return.

Satirical 5 years, 3 months ago

Bernardo_de_la_Paz…. “I see no problem with a student asking his peers for change in the lunchroom because he forgot his lunch.”

That doesn’t fall within the definition of panhandling.

“People are generally not allowed in schools unless they have a good reason to be there. You don't have to specifically prohibit panhandling to keep out 'dangerous' types.” - Bernardo

They do have a “good reason,” their reason is to obtain enough money to survive. Isn’t survival a good reason?


“Unfortunately, if you simply restrict the location, you spread the problem from one business to another.” – Bernardo

So? No one is claiming this ban is a solution to solving the homeless or panhandling problem. Some people simply don’t want Mass St to be the destination of all homeless people.

Let’s assume the city could restrict where people are allowed to proselyte. Let’s also assume Mass St. had dozens of religious fanatics proselyting. While you may not be bothered, some people may see this as a reason not to go downtown. Because these fanatics often shout that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is going to hell, many people want to prohibit them from being downtown in such large numbers. While these activities certainly don’t bother you, would you understand there are those who don’t want the proselyting and would support a ban because they want their local economy to do well to support their neighbors, and understand the city and the people have the right to restrict this activity?

“Satirical, do you believe a city, state or nation wide panhandling ban would violate the 1st amendment?” - Bernardo

Since the SCOTUS has never ruled on this, I would have to say a total ban would likely violate the 1st amendment.

However, I think since a person is attempting to solicit charity for their private economic interest, it could be classified as commercial speech and if so, any ban in a particular area would survive a court challenge.

I think you understand that there is no absolute right to panhandling, and some restrictions are reasonable. I wanted to throw those questions out there to counter the attack that people who support this ban hate beggars. Since some restrictions on panhandling are reasonable, the real question is whether this particular restriction is reasonable.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I was homeless and lived in the Salvation Army shelter for eight months. Never once, not one time did I beg. Didn't have too because I had the soup kitchen for food and the shelter to sleep. They also gave me hygeine supplies for which I was most grateful. It took that long to get out but out I am. I pray for those who are homeless but I don't know what the answer is. I know that some of the panhandlers had been homeless and staying at Sallies for a long time before I got there and that was five years ago now. I know of one man who is getting two checks each month from the government and has chosen to remain homeless rather than pay 30% of his income to live at one of the senior housing units, which he could do. He has a camper and does not beg. Maybe their needs to be a more focused way of helping those who can and will better their lives and find a way to deal with those who just won't. I also think some who won't have brains soaked in booze or fried by drugs. I don't know what it would take for them.

Meatwad 5 years, 3 months ago

I have no issue with street musicians, not even the maraca playing girl. What needs to be banned is agressive panhandling and loitering. Drunken, homeless beggars on every single block and now often in the middle of the blocks too is out of control now. New York City has a program called M.U.N.Y. "Music Under New York" whereby they license specific areas to people who perform or play music.

Meatwad 5 years, 3 months ago

I consider myself liberal and used to be supportive of the ACLU. But now I really see the problem with them. No one should have the right to take over and ruin a downtown and hurt business by making the environment so unappealing to patrons who want to spend money and time there. I will no longer support the ACLU.

Janet Lowther 5 years, 3 months ago

Busking is not panhandling.

I have to agree with ModerateGuy: A guy who looks crazy and outweighs me by 50+ pounds, is engaging in intimidation, not free speech when he gets in my face, asking for money. Only the overt threat is lacking to keep it from qualifying as robbery.

Mel Briscoe 5 years, 3 months ago

irish, great comment. :) glad you are doing better now. god bless you, my dear. :)

i agree w/ what you said about each homeless person having a different set of circumstances and, therefore, a different set of needs. here in salina we have a rather large homeless shelter that is just for men (we also have a separate shelter for families/women). i know someone who used to hire some of the residents at the men's shelter to do odd jobs at their business. some of the guys were good workers and some weren't. a couple of them were superb workers, and when offered a permanent job, declined. they had a certain lifestyle and didn't want to give it up... for whatever reasons they actually preferred to have no "permanence" and literally kept that "hobo" lifestyle going by choice.

so there is no easy answer... but after reading all of the controversy re: panhandlers and/or homeless folk in lawrence, makes me appreciate even more the services we have here in my hometown. i hope things get ironed out in larryville.

oh, and i do agree w/ what some people have said about street performers. i really enjoy them and hope that they are not driven away from the downtown area.

kneejerkreaction 5 years, 3 months ago

“To have freedom of speech, sometimes you have to put up with speech you really don’t want to hear,” said Dan Winter, the ACLU’s executive director for Kansas and western Missouri.


Whhhaaatttt??? Dan Winter's logic is this shallow and he's director of something??? What on earth does harrassing taxpaying citizens have to do with free speech???

So in the name of free speech, can one feel threatened and punch the mooks in the nose?

justthefacts 5 years, 3 months ago

I repeat. It is my OPINION that if the panhandlers were not given ANY money, by anyone, they would soon disappear.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

Satirical,

If a child is asking other students for their spare change in a school lunchroom, how is that not panhandling? "Begging (or panhandling) is to request a donation in a supplicating manner." Where do you see the distinction?

You've made some good arguments, and some that aren't really worth addressing. I really appreciate the manner you present your point of view. You are correct, I do understand that there is no absolute right to panhandling, and some restrictions are reasonable.

"I wanted to throw those questions out there to counter the attack that people who support this ban hate beggars." - Supporting the ban doesn't mean you hate beggars, but there is plenty of hate for them on this board.

"Since some restrictions on panhandling are reasonable, the real question is whether this particular restriction is reasonable." - I still argue that it is not, and for many reasons. Where will the beggars go? down 6th Street, 9th street, and Mass St toward 23rd. Next those businesses will push for similar protections until they get special protection. Enforcement is also an issue. Lastly, it is unfair to buskers who appear to be a popular feature of downtown. If you outlaw begging, but allow busking, the same beggars will learn to whistle.

Prometheus 5 years, 3 months ago

I disagree with many opinions expressed, yet I respect them all.

However I find disturbing and cannot respect the repeated threats of violence, aggression, and hatred directed toward the homeless population. A civil discourse of ideas goes nowhere when violent threats are involved.

Bullying, threatening, name calling, and joking about hurting others are not amusing topics.

Why are we so quick to be hostile?

There is a fine line between passion for an issue and outright aggressive behavior. Many persons posting here have crossed that line.

That so many give in to their bottled up anger, quickness to hate, and endorse suggestions of acts of violent retaliation to be committed upon the homeless is much more a cause for concern in this community than panhandling.

Bernardo_de_la_Paz 5 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if the business community could come together and try to find a compassionate solution for this 'problem' rather than asking the city to intervene with resources it doesn't have.

What if the downtown businesses start a campaign asking customers not to give money to panhandlers. The panhandlers and buskers won't be breaking the law. Downtown businesses can foot the bill for licensing or outright hiring legitimate buskers, and provide magazines like Change of Heart for the beggars to sell.

The other idea, which I find mildly less offensive than an outright ban, is licensing. Yes, Lawrence can have licensed beggars. If anyone gets too aggressive or has received too many complaints, we revoke your membership in the panhandler's union.

just brainstorming here.

krisell 5 years, 3 months ago

In the light of day, when people are around, I've started coming back at those who ask me for money with, "No, I don't have any change on me ... in fact, do you have a quarter? I need it for the parking meter." I've only done it a couple of times, but it seems to work, as the beggars just don't seem to know how to respond.

Mike Wagner 5 years, 3 months ago

Carry mace, if they (bums) get aggressive light 'em up!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey I would not want any type of aggressive person(s) hanging around in front of my business aggressively bothering potential customers. There have been rowdy small groups downtown, not panhandling, that could also fall into this category as a menace.

Seems to me there are plenty of ordinances on the books that could be applied and enforced. Don't narrow the focus to panhandlers. Disturbing the peace could be applied to many rowdy behavior situations that do take place downtown.

Long term enforcement will be the issue. LPD cannot be everywhere 24/7.

All homeless people simply are not necessarily problems.

For those who are quiet,only have signs or street musicians leave them alone.

death_by_ferret 5 years, 2 months ago

That's why I've started harassing the panhandlers. A lot of them seem to thrive on trying to intimidate people. That attitude changes real quick when someone stands up to a harassing panhandler and makes it clear that they're not going to be a victim of any sort.

brian1981 5 years, 2 months ago

” I am firmly convinced they consider the entire American nation a bunch of mindless goose-stepping Nazis who would happily shred the Constitution”

Not the entire nation— probably only about 20%, apparently including you.<<

Bozo, thanks for making my point. Apparently because I think the ACLU is a bunch of mindless zealots who care more about stroking their own radicalism than actually helping make America a better country, I too am a Nazi.

Practicality 5 years, 2 months ago

The majority of the homeless are like the hippies of the 1970's. They stand around downtown, live in tents, smell, have sex in public places, drink and do drugs, believe others should support their lifestyle, drive away legitimate business because they make people uncomfortable, and believe everyone should be tolerant of their lifestyle. What I find really ironic is half of the city commision and downtown business owners used to be these hippies. Twenty years from now there will probably be some of these homeless as mayor of Lawrence.

We should not repeat the same mistake we did with the hippies in the 70's. Lets get rid of them now so they are not running Lawrence in the future.

scrapgirl8125 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't go downtown and walk Mass St. because I get asked for money all the time-several times. I applaude the Commissioners for recognizing the problem and doing something about it. The beggars sometimes follow you in restaurants or shops and follow you around.

blackwalnut 5 years, 2 months ago

The panhandling downtown is not that bad. Aggressive panhandling ought to be controlled but I have hardly ever seen that downtown.

gyroduck 5 years, 2 months ago

I get asked by at least one person everyday for money and I never give them any...I just say, "I ain't got it bro", smile keep waking and then every now and again add a "God bless ya' big daddy" as I walk away and they usually say something nice. I like those people that ask for money they're funny sometimes, its everybody else who annoys me (especially the people who drive PT cruisers). I'd be fine with me Lawrence was the panhandle capital of the world. By the way... Do you happen to have an extra dollar on you by chance or some change? Anything will help? I can't believe I'm asking for money and I'm ashamed, I really am desperate. Just kidding, that is my imitation of your bank. Ha ha who isn't a beggar?

Eileen Jones 5 years, 2 months ago

I would really miss it if they ban people who play music and accept tips.

Really, this seems selfish and small and mean-spirited on the face of it. If you don't want to give somebody money just ignore them, walk on buy.

Oh, you don't want to see the faces of poverty? That's too bad. This is America, and it is only getting worse.

nuby 5 years, 2 months ago

lawrenceguy40- my guess is that somebody complained and that is why they asked grandma to move along. Don't be fooled, the homeless in this town know the laws and ordinances very well.

So awhile back I'm driving down Mass with my three year old and I see a guy in a sheet. To my horror he stands up only to expose his junk to me and my son. I don't care if he is mentally ill my children don't need to see that. This is why I don't take them downtown.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

City vows action on begging problem

what about the cities Vow for action on the police department for the Yellow house witch hunt which is still going on 5 years later ?

beerdrinkingfool 5 years, 2 months ago

i dont mind the ones that are singing or doing something , anything . if they have talent fine i MIGHT give some money up . Those that come up the the car and ask before i get out no or the ones that ask for money counting it and then i see them having more than me and curse me for not giving a dime no.

all I have to say is this let them clean up them selves first , lets see if they will chase off the beggers if not then all street entertainment should be stopped . that mean singing reading miming and buskeruskia too.

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

Tired of the CC's begging problem?

More taxes?

More underhanded private deals with the crooks?

Giving away valuable tax breaks and at the same time loading the rich builders and real estate puru's in town with sweet heart deals.

Lets just "hack" away a bit at the history of this commission, aside from the newbee's.

Did I just hear some butt crack hitting the frying pan?

headdoctor 5 years, 2 months ago

jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says… gilly— Agreed in principle, but the ordinance would include those who busk as well. So while the two are separate, the ordinance would treat them the same. Jonathan Kealing Online editor


I don't think the City will be able to hide behind their usual arguments on this one(those pesky civil rights laws). There are way to many court cases in favor of busking. Just a small sample toward the end of the page on this link.

death_by_ferret 5 years, 2 months ago

Lawrenceguy40, if LPD wanted to encourage the notion that downtown is unsafe, they wouldn't be walking around and patrolling down there. Then there would be more problems downtown, but that would give them more time to focus on harassing elderly women elsewhere in the city limits.

The city is definitely a safer place since you had the moxy to demand to know why the officers were singling out the elderly woman. If she was black, it would be even better. Because then you could claim that not only were the officers harassing her because she's elderly, but they were doing it because she's black. Oh well, there's always next time.

honestone 5 years, 2 months ago

Move the wet shelter out of town and send the beggers with it. Spend some money on those people really what to change thier lives.

awesomelaurence 5 years, 2 months ago

i was catching the bus 11 from 9th in mass when a homeless man ask where im from. i said im an asian he started talking and even followed me inside the bus. he was so persistent that it makes me scared, thanks to the bus driver who called the police when we reached k union. as the man noticed that police is coming he stopped and went off the bus. i hope the city will do something about them. salamat.

UlyssesPro 5 years, 2 months ago

Lawrencechick said: "Agreed….these people are about as “homeless” as the Taliban is religious"

Um, the Taliban is religious.

Reuben Turner 5 years, 2 months ago

i didn't think it was that big of a problem. most of the time i go and mess with the panhandler, asking "why he/she is in the situation they are in?" not saying that i have not been harrassed by the folks before, i just have learned to say no. i had a cousin that would beg me when i would go downtown sometimes and i would just find a police and report him and his friends. y'all need to do the same thing. and giving them money doesn't do nothing but make them find you when you come downtown next time. most of these folks are liars and lazy. holding up signs that they can't find work; well duh, you ain't been looking for work. you have been sitting on that concrete slab holding that sign all day.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.