Sunday, November 26, 2006

Panhandling Back in the News

Cleveland City Council Debates Extending Limits on Speech

The 2005 panhandling ordinance expired in October 2006 because of sunset provision. NEOCH has not raised the issue with anyone because the law is so troubling and why disturb sleeping dogs? After the Emmy award winning fake news channel reported that the ordinance had expired, Councilman Cimperman got to work. That's right, the major banks have illegally ignored Cleveland for years and we are bleeding jobs forcing people to beg for money and food, but when word comes down the panhandling ordinance expired we saddle up for an immediate posse to correct the problem. Only three days after the story aired they had a hearing on extending the panhandling policy. The new proposal is a law that expires in three years, and still curtails speech in Cleveland.

The hearing was the day before Thanksgiving and the Council called at 10:30 a.m. that day to ask about my thoughts. I could not get over for the hearing having already scheduled a bunch of meetings and not being told ahead of time. I told the Councilman that called the same thing that I said last year, "NEOCH has no issue with an aggressive solicitation ordinance, but limiting where people can ask for money is wrong." I explained that the 20 feet from an ATM, telephone, a pedestrian standing in a line or at an outdoor restaurant was a preemption on speech. If the courts say that asking for money is a constitutionally protected form of speech then there should not be restriction on where that freedom can be exercised.

I have only heard from a Plain Dealer reporter who reported that there will be one more hearing, but the proposal is the same and extended for three years. This is a bad law, and allows Police to threaten panhandlers. After there is a realization that this law will do little to help the panhandling problem, the backers will have only two choices. The popular approach in other cities is to make the panhandling laws more severe (see Akron, Cincinnati, or Dayton) . The smart approach is to find alternatives for those who turn to begging for money.

If any panhandlers need help in challenging this feel good law, NEOCH would be happy to help find legal assistance.

Brian

2 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

My hat tips to NEOCH for sticking up for the rights of panhandlers. I myself recently spent a few moments of panhandling for items I was in need of. I'm very thankful that in Salt Lake City there are no laws preventing panhandling.

Scott
Turning It Over

2:42 AM  
Blogger Clevehomeless said...

Scott:

It is great that you are reading. Thanks. Good luck in one of the meanest cities toward homeless people--Las Vegas. Regarding your post--Las Vegas did try to make the sidewalks private on the strip, but the courts struck that down.

Brian

6:20 PM  

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