Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kansas City is for People - No on Ordinance 070180

When I posted my piece a few days ago about the moral depravity of rich people's representatives calling fellow human beings "visual blight", I didn't really take a position on the underlying ordinance. I am now. Please take a couple moments to contact the members of the committee and tell them that you don't want them enact Proposed Ordinance 070180 - I'll even make it easy for you by providing you with email links to the committee members.

Proposed Ordinance 070180 enacts a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail for seeking donations in areas where rich people would prefer not to be bothered, defined in this ordinance as "the Country Club Plaza, Westport Shopping District, South Loop Area of the Downtown, and the Zona Rosa Shopping District."

The definition of panhandling is so broad as to ban the Salvation Army bell ringers, the people who sell newspapers on Kansas City Day, and even little Johnny in his Hollister t-shirt asking mommy for money for an ice cream cone at Murray's on a hot summer day. It is a bad idea to enact poorly-drafted legislation that prohibits activities we don't want prohibited. Even though we're assured that it won't be enforced against us, I don't want to hand over to an over-zealous police the legal right to toss me or anyone else in jail for asking a friend for a dollar.

But, we all know that's not who they're really after. They are out to clear the fashionable areas of panhandlers and street performers. The guitarist with the open case. Jerry, asking for his downpayment on a cheeseburger. "Visual blight" rattling a change cup when you leave Barnes & Noble after buying a $4 coffee drink. It makes us uncomfortable. And I can't stand mimes, either.

But, in this instance, the solution is not to bleach our public spaces of any and all character or characters. The solution is to grow up and stop whining. Really, it is okay to walk past a beggar without giving money. We already have laws that make it illegal for them to rob you or beat you up. 070180 won't do anything more to protect you. All it will do is give special breaks to the developers who have made large campaign donations to John Fairfield.

*As promised, here are the email addresses of the members of the committee which will be revisiting this proposal on February 28.
Troy Nash: troy_nash@kcmo.org
John Fairfield: amy_dahlstrom@kcmo.org
Bonnie Sue Cooper: jackie_burton@kcmo.org
Mayor Kay Barnes: mayor@kcmo.org
Saundra McFadden-Weaver: saundra_mcfadden-weaver@kcmo.org

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7 Comments:

Blogger Stacey K said...

I would also like to remind people that the council meetings are public forums. I encourage anyone who has time to show up at the meeting on Feb. 28th and voice their opinion in person. The meeting is on the 26th floor of City Hall and starts at 2pm.

2/20/2007 9:09 AM  
Blogger emawkc said...

I wonder if they would pass an ordinance banning the "visual blight" of steel plates on the roads, or broken water mains, or backed-up sewers?

2/20/2007 9:25 AM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Let me get this straight. First they want $500 from people who probably don't have $500 to their name. Next, they will incarcerate them for 6 months and spend God knows how much housing and feeding them during that time. Makes sense to me ... not

This is all about the greed of the high end businesses in the area. I have an idea. Why not charge THEM for the additional costs of law enforcement that their businesses require!

Too bad I'm not a Missouri resident as I'd be writing to the officials.

2/20/2007 12:41 PM  
Blogger les said...

I was with ya, Dan, all the way, 'til you said it would stop the MIMES! Now I gotta think about it.

2/20/2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

I'm in favor of the concept, but I object to the law being limited to "fashionable areas" like the Plaza and Zona Rosa. It should be applicable everywhere, or nowhere.

If your goal is to eliminate annoying beggars, then get rid of TIFF. That will remove 90% of panhandling in "fashionable areas".

2/21/2007 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Brooksider said...

LOL @ XO!!

PS I agree comPLETEly.

2/22/2007 9:59 AM  
Blogger Standstill said...

Thanks so much. I just got finished writing to them. I am a part time statue (NOT a mime, thanks), and it wouldn't necessarily "put me out" financially to not be able to do it... that's not even why I statue. I do it because I have a weird artistic itch that has to be scratched. And you're absolutely right; if you don't want to give (hell, I don't even give to beggars), just walk on. I'm not offended if someone passes by me without donating.
But I would be offended if they pass this so that the character of street performances of many kinds would be stifled.

3/06/2007 10:05 PM  

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