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Archive for Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lawrence City Commission sold on trying donation meter plan

July 19, 2011

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When it comes to “donation meters,” sign Lawrence city commissioners up.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting unanimously agreed to move ahead with a plan aimed at discouraging panhandlers by giving pedestrians a new way to donate spare change.

“I think it might redirect people’s charitable instincts to institutions where the money can be better used than giving it to somebody on the streets,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell.

The program centers on the idea of “donation meters.” City crews would install old parking meters that the city currently has in inventory. The meters would carry a different color scheme than ordinary parking meters and also would include signs that urge people to place their spare change in the meter rather than giving to a panhandler.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners directed staff members to come back with a detailed implementation plan. Cromwell suggested the city install anywhere from eight to 16 meters along Massachusetts Street in downtown. But commissioners did not discuss exact location for any of the meters.

Staff members were told to explore the possibility of a sponsorship program for the meters. Some cities have allowed businesses to sponsor the cost of installing the meter. The city currently is estimating it will cost about $300 to prepare the meters and to install them.

Commissioners said they also would need to designate a social service agency to receive the money. Cromwell said he would lobby for the money to go to the Lawrence Community Shelter.

The city does not have an estimate on how much money the meters may generate. Commissioners, though, said they thought the presence of the meters would serve as a good reminder to people that there are better ways to help the homeless than to give to panhandlers.

“I think it is a great idea because it is a visible effort to combat a problem in downtown,” Commissioner Hugh Carter said.

Commissioners should receive an implementation report in the next several weeks.

Comments

panzermike007 2 years, 9 months ago

I wouldn't give the bums, nor the stupid meter a damned penny!

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 9 months ago

Why spend so much money using old meters when some of the present meters can be painted a certain color and left where they are.

Who is going to empty the Panhandling Meters? I wish certain stores around town in other parts of the city had a meter instead of some group panhandling tootsie rolls or donations for Ronald McDonald.

Where will the Panhandle Meter be for Downtown Lawrence INC? They surely need money as they keep going to the city commission for a handout.

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felixiscariot 2 years, 9 months ago

God forbid someone asks you for money while you're shopping for junk you don't really need anyway. Just let them beg. Then again, I guess we wouldn't want lawrence to look trashy when the johnson county parents bring their kids to KU....

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 9 months ago

The meters are nothing more than a band aid and do not address the root problem.

You get rid of roaches by cutting off their water and food supply.

You don't get rid of a stray dog by feeding it.

The bums will quickly learn that if they stand very close to the meters, people will not use them. This would validate that the whole thing, from the beginning is a waste of city resources.

The meters are just another example of something that "Feels good", and never solves the problem.

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felixiscariot 2 years, 9 months ago

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

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50YearResident 2 years, 9 months ago

My ESP says each meter placed on Mass. St. will have at least 4 bums sitting close by, 2 on each side, and the potential depositers will be approched just before they drop the coins by 1 or 2 of these bums with this speach: Sir/Mam, I can take that money you are depositing and take it to the office because I am going there anyway because I work there. It will help the collectors out with less trips to empty the meter. Thank You, oh! by the way, can you spare any more, maybe a dollar or two, they sure need the donations? Bla, Bla, Bla.......

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Joe Hyde 2 years, 9 months ago

Installing these donation meters is a creative idea that in theory will reduce a downtown social hassle that everyone acknowledges is real. It's certainly worth a try.

Downtown shoppers will soon have a ready-made generic answer when politely refusing a panhandler's solicitation: "I give my loose change to the donation meters."

Panhandlers in general, and aggressive panhandlers in particular, may object to these donation meters going up, as their attempts at receiving a portion of shopper donations will entail interacting with an organized relief system...as opposed to continuing as an independent party making panhandling a career.

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jmadison 2 years, 9 months ago

The ACLU has indicated that panhandling is a freedom of speech issue that should not be restricted by law. http://www.acluohio.org/pressreleases/2009pr/2009.07.16.asp

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Amy Heeter 2 years, 9 months ago

I still say this meter program won't stop beggers.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm surprised at how many people don't seem to understand the idea here.

If people stop giving money to panhandlers, that will discourage the practice.

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Matt Needham 2 years, 9 months ago

People give to panhandlers because there is a human being in front of them. Those people are going to continue to give change to the panhandlers. No one is going to use the meters. At least not enough to make it worth putting them in. People hate putting money into parking meters.

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Kyle Chandler 2 years, 9 months ago

Its nice to see the Conservatives of Douglas County using their pea brains....aren't they cute!? NEXT

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autie 2 years, 9 months ago

What they need to do is get down to the river and buy a bunch of boats. Because after all, these homeless people begging downtown are nothing more than pirates...pirates without a ship. Give them enough ships and your problems will be solved.

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Gandalf 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't have a problem with the meters themselves. It's just another way to give to a charity. However it's not going to stop panandling.

I do have a problem with it going to the Community Center only. My crystal ball shows me the city reducing the budget line item from the general fund by a matching amount.

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beatrice 2 years, 9 months ago

Is it me, or does the meter look like a guy sitting in a cardboard box?

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beatrice 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm picturing the Halloween costume already. Donations of candy only.

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felixiscariot 2 years, 9 months ago

One major problem I see with this is the two types of people that are approached for money by panhandlers. Those that give money, and those that don't. The people that don't give money usually think "this person is going to buy drugs and booze with it." So they don't give money. It's highly unlikely that they would be anymore motivated to give change to a machine that is government property because we know how the government is with our money anyway. Those that do give money usually do so because they feel some sort of compassion for the worn out old men asking for their help. It is just as unlikely that they would give their money to a mystery-machine over a pathetic looking man with a cardboard sign. Having said that, I never give change to anyone because I myself am in poverty and I work to save. However, if I did give money I hope they would spend it on booze and drugs because that's what I would do if I was in that situation.

Also, a smart panhandler would just prop themselves up beside of one of these machines in an attempt to convince the donar to reconsider their options.

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snitty 2 years, 9 months ago

Why not make the parking meters accept donations?

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Keith Richards 2 years, 9 months ago

The real issue...

Update the parking meters to include credit card payments. I struggle every time to find the change.

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Newell_Post 2 years, 9 months ago

If I owned a downtown retail business, I would pay the $300 "sponsorship" fee only if the city then designated the sidewalk in front of my place of business as a "bum free zone" and empowered the LPD to give the old fashioned "bum's rush" to any violators. Heck, I'd even plug the meter for that!

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Robert Rauktis 2 years, 9 months ago

Did someone spike the city water?

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consumer1 2 years, 9 months ago

The bums who make 100+ dollars a day are not going to be happy with this change.
I agree with what Fred mertz said. This money need to be accounted for. NO drugs/alcohol/cigarettes.

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radicool12 2 years, 9 months ago

ok i think it isd a good idea but heres the thing you want the panhandlers to stop asking for money. i think they would stop asking for it if the govenment would stop sending all our jobs overseas to be made cheaper it is hard to get a job in this economy even with a college education so before everyone goes and gives to these machines remeber one thing all the money you put in there will just help the government pay for their salerys and all of their expenses. also remeber this country was supposed to be the land of the free we are not free to do what we want or say what we want i dare on normal citizen to walk up to a cop and say to him your a pig or im gonna hit you i gurantee you will get arrested

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moot 2 years, 9 months ago

If this goes through, everyone put pennies in the meters!

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moot 2 years, 9 months ago

bums begging for money will always happen regardless of these meters. even if you make it illegal to panhandle, it will still happen. also to the people who are complaining that they want to give paper bills to donate instead of just change, go to the lawrence shelter web site and donate there.

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achtung 2 years, 9 months ago

"When it comes to “donation meters,” sign Lawrence city commissioners up." Nice way to start a story UP.

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heygary 2 years, 9 months ago

Taser Metter! Sure cure for Panhandlers!

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heyheymama 2 years, 9 months ago

meters don't panhandle, people panhandle.

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budwhysir 2 years, 9 months ago

And I am sure that research has been done to ensure that this money is not redirected to any other funds???

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sr80 2 years, 9 months ago

Now the donors will be blamed for donating to a panhandler instead of the machine,nothing will be solved by this assinine solution!

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parrothead8 2 years, 9 months ago

Why not set up the meters to have the donations go towards different charities, instead of having them all go towards the same one? Maybe have one for the Humane Society, one for the Community Shelter, one for the City Commissioners...oops, I guess they're not "technically" a charity. Anyway, I'd like to choose who gets my donation, and I'm much less likely to donate at all if I don't have a choice.

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Tensacks 2 years, 9 months ago

Government wisdom at its finest. Why not make it mandatory to use the meter before you can shop downtown? Donate your quarter to receive a sticker to attach to your sleeve to shop. Like expired parking meters, the meter lady can level fines for shoppers not displaying their sticker.

If the sleeve sticker doesn't work, stick it to your forehead.

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bobberboy 2 years, 9 months ago

I here all the donation meters are going to be out of town.

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bobberboy 2 years, 9 months ago

that's it - i'll just camp by a donation meter and look sad.

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droppinplates 2 years, 9 months ago

I'd like someone to explain how this combats panhandling. The people on the streets asking for money have no more access to this money than they do the money in the parking meters. How does this stop the guy who wants a cup of coffee, or a 40oz., or a pack of cigs from asking people for money? Now it looks like the city is panhandling. And who/how do they decide who gets the "donations"?

And BTW, last time I checked, Lawrence is not Denver, Salt Lake City or Virginia Beach. What a dumb comparison.

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hipper_than_hip 2 years, 9 months ago

Will the money be spent by an agency on goods & services, or will it be handed out to individuals to be spent on whatever? Is there a vetting process to get a share of the donations, like attending job training, talking to mental health professionals, etc?

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Brock Masters 2 years, 9 months ago

Once we put money into the meters it becomes public dollars. Like any other public dollars disbusrse to private organizations, there should be specifications for whom the money can go to, for what purpose and an audit/evaluation of the use of those funds.

I am assuming the city will have their workers collect the money from the meters. Will this increase their work necessitating more workers? If so, how will these workers be funded?

Just like bears that hang out at dumps, I am sure the panhandlers will know to hang near the meters to do their panhandling. Why wait for the change to come to you, go where the change is.

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50YearResident 2 years, 9 months ago

"Commissioners said they also would need to designate a social service agency to receive the money. Cromwell said he would lobby for the money to go to the Lawrence Community Shelter"

Put the fox in charge of watching over the "hen house", Great Idea!

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 9 months ago

Now various city commissions have given us a lot to laugh about but this one takes the cake!

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BruceWayne 2 years, 9 months ago

This is a terrible idea that will end up costing more than it makes. NOT why I voted for these clowns.

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Noweigh 2 years, 9 months ago

"Donation meters"? Only in Lawrence of course. I'll support them provided there is also a strongly worded ordinance that prohibits direct panhandling across the city, not just downtown. Panhandling will not go away without such an ordinance and strict enforcement. Why we can't ever hit real problems head on continues to amaze me.

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JJE007 2 years, 9 months ago

Panhandling is BAD, so we're installing automated, metal pole panhandlers! YAY!

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John Yocum 2 years, 9 months ago

I agree with cheeseburger on this. When I read the first article, I thought to myself "So is each of the guys who always asks me for money when I walk downtown going to get his own meter? Where are they going to put them all?" This is a great idea for ORGANIZED groups who are in need of money, but the guy who jumps out in front of me and chases my son because he doesn't like the t-shirt he's wearing is not going to be replaced by a meter.

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cheeseburger 2 years, 9 months ago

Panhandlers are seeking immediate 'contributions' to finance their vices, and this plan does nothing toward that. Expect the panhandling to continue ad nauseum.

SInce the commissioners seem to believe these donation meters are a magical solution to the panhandling problem, I suggest a zero tolerance for panhandlers once the meters go up.

I was once of the opinion that city commissioners were among the brightest and best minds of the community. Their decisions over the years have caused me to rethink that.

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sad_lawrencian 2 years, 9 months ago

I think this is a very good idea. I hope the city moves forward with the donation meters. In my opinion it's one of the best ideas put forth by city commission in some time.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 9 months ago

Please look at my comments from the original article. I thought I had a very good idea, but Cromwell isn't even interested enough to see it. It doesn't surprise me at this point.

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