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home : opinion : editorials February 5, 2016


6/15/2014 6:00:00 AM
Editorial: A problem begging for a solution
ALAN CHOATE/Miner
Volunteers repair the Spring Summit ranger station in Utah’s Ashley National Forest.
ALAN CHOATE/Miner
Volunteers repair the Spring Summit ranger station in Utah’s Ashley National Forest.

Alan Choate
News Editor


Brother, can you spare a dime?

More like a dollar, actually - I doubt that panhandlers these days ask for dimes. Dollar bills, please, fives and tens preferred, most assuredly, and thank you so much. Every bit helps. Bless your kind heart.

But not mine. I'm one of the Scrooges who almost never gives to the beggars, and part of me hopes there's a special punishment reserved for people who drag their dogs, or their kids - or at least somebody's kids - to hot street corners and parking lots, hoping to lay down a guilt trip.

But for now, a flock of panhandlers has descended on Kingman's commercial avenues. Nobody really likes this development, but the city should heed the lessons learned by other communities that have grappled with this issue. Success - and not being sued - involves no small amount of finesse and legal tact.

The First Amendment and free speech are involved, which makes it important beyond our annoyance with people who think it's OK to stand on a corner and ask for handouts. The recent federal lawsuit that sprang from Flagstaff's overly aggressive treatment of panhandlers nullified Arizona's anti-panhandling law. It was the right decision, but it's not the end of the debate.

Being overly aggressive is where cities tend to err with this issue. That was certainly the case in Las Vegas, where the City Council tried to outlaw the charitable feeding of homeless people in city parks and also mounted a lengthy, expensive and losing fight to make the Fremont Street Experience a no-free-speech zone.

Las Vegas finally reached the constitutional solution, known to the lawyerly as "time, place and manner" restrictions. People can solicit donations on Fremont Street, whether they're dressed in rags or as showgirls who'll pose for pictures with tourists, but they can't block pedestrian traffic, bother people at ATMs or cash registers, stand too close to entrances or exits, or badger people who turn them down.

The Fremont Street Experience isn't a perfect analogue to Kingman's commercial areas, since it's considered a "public forum" and also has a private force of security guards in addition to police patrols. But if Kingman wants to address this issue ahead of the Route 66 Festival, that's the way to go. You can't ban it outright, but you can constrain it so that it's as non-obtrusive as possible.

•••

On a personal note, I recently spent two weeks at Summit Springs in Utah's Ashley National Forest, where I volunteered to be a roofer.

We added weather protection and then cut and nailed fresh cedar shingles on a 1930s-era ranger station that's being remodeled and will someday soon be a nice rental amenity for the U.S. Forest Service.

I admit it - the project kicked my butt. I was sore and limping by the third day, and by the final day I could barely stand, so they put me to work sealing storm window glass, which I could do sitting down. (Not to worry; an ice pack and two Aleve had me ambulatory by lunch, so I at least was able to carry the windows to where they needed to be. Shred of dignity, preserved.)

The project is part of Passport in Time, which connects volunteers to a wide variety of activities - historic restoration, archaeology, trail reconstruction, fossil collection, etc. The thing is, the PIT veterans on this trip were worried about the program, as it apparently is having a harder and harder time attracting volunteers.

It's not a luxury experience. Participants are expected to work, usually you're camping (RV spots are often available), and in many cases you bring your own food and water.

But it's a trip that adds some meaning to your time off. If you're looking to come back from your next vacation with more than a T-shirt and some photographs, check it out.

If nothing else, there won't be any panhandlers.

Related Links:
• Original lawsuit against panhandling law
• Arizona panhandling law ruling
• Passport in Time program


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Sherry Howard

Still keeping in touch with the news in Arizona although I moved back to Illinois. A lot of the homeless you are talking about are Veterans-I met several while working at the library in Lake Havasu City. I bet half of the people writing here complaining have support our troops bumper stickers on their cars or trucks. So take a minute and actually talk to some of these people (yes they are humans) before you judge. Patriotism doesn't end when they take off their uniforms and I agree with the principal of Christian charity. "There by the grace of God go I."

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@L J

A simple search......living wage calculator"

V Stokes is right about that, it is indeed silly.

If it calculates what a living wage is based on number of persons in the family it is worthless. Do you think employers are going to pay 2 people doing the same thing different wages based on how many people they must support?

The really scary thing is that I am willing to bet some think that is exactly what employers should be ordered to do by law.

"From each, according to their ability. To each, according to their need."

Right, comrades?

LOL


Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"And upon reflection, that is not outside the realm of possibility."

More likely than not, however, nothing that putting in place a college educated editor couldn't fix.


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

@LJ
Of course there are "calculators" like that. I found one by a Prof at MIT. Unfortunately, they make silly assumptions.

I love the "living wage" required of one adult with one child. According to the MIT chart, they should be making almost $19. Pop out another kid...it goes up to $24.50. So everyone that wants to earn a living wage, sure better have some mad skills when they graduate HS.

Oddly a single person only needs $9 an hour. Why do housing and transportation costs jump so much when you have a kid? They need their own room no matter what?

Well, if wages were based on wants, everyone would be the owner of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, I guess.


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"If they didn't exist a month ago...."

If the problem was as bad, or anywhere near as bad, a month ago as it appears to be now and the KDM is JUST NOW getting around to discovering and reporting on it, they would have to be the most inept, unprofessional, "podunk penny saver" caliber of a local paper that there is to be found anywhere. Especially considering the "begger central" area in question is 5 minute or less walk from the KDM's building.

And upon reflection, that is not outside the realm of possibility.


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@oh ya

A person wrote about seeing some of them exiting a motorhome to begin begging. I can believe that. Drive here from vegas in crappy car, van, or motorhome, go begging, then the whole bunch can all stay in one room at a cheap fleabag motel...... The problem could be twice what t it was just a few weeks or a month ago.

As to the problem existing during the Bush years, check the archives like i did. No articles on large numbers of beggers can be gound from back then.


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: L J

Re: V Stokes, Frank Lee Speaking
A simple search on the internet you will find a " Living Wage Calculator" for Kingman, Mohave County.


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Nancy Rodriguez

I am really tired of hearing that there is no work in Kingman. We own a construction company here. It is becoming increasing hard to find workers. They show up when they please, virtually never have transportation and brag about all the freebies that Obama has provided. Free cell phones, insurance, food stamps, etc. They are well paid, and can work 7 days a week if they please, but they don't want to work. It is a constant worry. My husband has even offered work to some of the beggars, not one has ever shown up to work.

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"And funny, but there were no stories in the KDM about hoards of beggers.....ooooops...."income challanged" people infesting the area during the Bush years, that i can recall."

I find it very interesting FLS because just a little over a month or so ago, you denied there were even any out there so it brings your latest statement into question. If they didn't exist a month or so ago, then how would you know what was out there during the Bush regime?


Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: annonymous annonymous

After reading most of the comments here on the begging issue, its no surprise Jesus wrote of these folks and how when they ignored the least of these on judgment day he will tell them they ignored him hence he knows them not, eternity is a long time to pay for ones arrogance, being a blind biblical goat!

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Highly Amused

@Jim Byrne

Wal Mart Parking lot is private property. Wal Mart would have to call a tow truck and the police to enforce the no parking zone. And since Wal Mart (Manager Sharon Hamm, Regional Manager Paul Perkins) does not do this, nothing happens. I hate carrying cash for two reasons: I always seem to lose cash when I have it on me and all the beggers. I won't give money to people at all. If they actually look hungry I'll buy them something to eat, but that's it. Personally, I find it repugnant that people do not have a shred of dignity, self-respect or pride and will stoop to fooling people to get money. And yes, many of these panhandlers DO in fact have local homes and jobs. They just get more money pandhandling instead of actually working. Sad, but true.


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

LJ..please define "that pay a living wage.".

I've asked and asked...and no one can answer.

Should an unskilled 18 y/o living with his parents make the same as a 10 yr experienced welder? Should a waitress at Dennys make as much as a trained police officer?

I want a boat, ATV, and RV...my living wage will be more than most.

Just define it for me...PLEASE? Living wage is a buzz word. Seatac raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour...wanna bet prices don't go up?


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"At least ones that pay a living wage"

Define a "living wage" please.

Single woman, no kids, working as a cashier.
Single woman, two kids, working as a cashier.

What is the "living wage" for them both? And who decides?

Trick question. The boss decides. And he decides to invest in technology and install self checkout registers. Why? Because low-skilled cashiers are extremely easy to replace with technology.






Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: pl .....

re: my posted comments here - I made nearly-identical comments this morning at the Las Vegas Review Journal's online article about the two cops' funerals (I mentioned "the crimes which law enforcement has committed surrounding funerals.....no tears shed here."). You should note the number of favourable responses. There wasn't one unfavourable response. (the link is on the Review Journal's site and my comments are posted under the moniker "mecca wrecka" approximately a dozen entries below the end of the story)

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: L J

As I see it , this is due in part to the local economy while others are referencing national stats the problem is here
where we live.
Our local elected leaders have yet to take a stand and become a voice for the realities we all who live in this community face daily.
One reason for this problem as we all know is there no jobs at least one's that pay a living wage.The City of Kingman solution create a property tax. The County raise
Taxes.While our local politicans are of the few,by the few,
and for the few people have to eat & survive and this problem will not only continue but I fear increase.


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@center left

So you are saying it is not if, but just a matter of when that democrats are no longer in charge. Thanks for agreeing that change is coming. It gives one hope.

And funny, but there were no stories in the KDM about hoards of beggers.....ooooops...."income challanged" people infesting the area during the Bush years, that i can recall.

So, since obama took office GDP growth has stalled, fewer people are in the workforce, and millions more are on foodstamps, and we have the visible result of the obama economy right here, begging, in Kingman. Want to argue any of those are not true?

I for one welcome the Tea Party. I seriously doubt they could make things any worse than they are right now.

LOL


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Calling All Creative Lawmakers

Now Alan you're not giving enough credit to Republicans in charge of everything here. Our little red coats need to take a lesson from their fellow red coats handling abortion clinics. They have done a marvelous job of requiring so many ridiculous restrictions that it bypasses the law of the land. A suggestion to our Republican leaders the following ordinance that regulating pan handlers:
The City of Kingman recognized the God given right for individuals to request money or goods. The use of the term panhandler(s) will be used in this ordinance for the sake of efficiency yet infers no judgment. In order to protect these individuals from harm while assuring the public their God given right not to be approached, harassed, or impeded in anyway the following must be met:
1. in order to assure public health, panhandlers must not emit an offensive odor which can be detected by the average person standing no closer than 8',
2. in order to guarantee the safety of all children and/or pets, all individuals pan handling in the pubic roadways are restricted to adults exceeding 17 years of age,
3. all signs must not exceed 2 sq ft and only standard print letters no larger than 6" are permitted and most importantly
4. all panhandlers must have admitting rights at the local hospital!


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: KDM online reader

Anyone remember back in November, 2012 the famous national news story of a photo taken by a tourist (Jennifer Foster) of NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo who saw a barefooted man (Jeffrey Hillman) in Times Square who was pretending to be homeless and the officer felt sorry for him by buying that scammer a $100 boots that were never seen again.

I rest my case. It is long passed time for all those scammers to move on, including the gas can-carrying woman.


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"I'm one of the Scrooges who almost never gives to the beggars"

I have my solution and it doesn't involve a guilt trip when I say no, I don't carry cash! So when I say I have no change, I simply have no money at all on my person. If people would follow this rule, or just quit giving in to these people, they will go elsewhere.

"If the City would enforce it's ordinance about no overnight RV parking in the Walmart lot it might help."

This doesn't fall on the City, I believe it's Walmart parking lot, not the city's parking lot or their problem.


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Justa Citizen

Wouldn't hanging out on a street corner for hours on end be considered "loitering"?

If, as some comments have indicated, some of these people actually have homes they rent or own, would they not be taking money under false pretenses?

Wouldn't keeping a pet out in the hot sun, with or without a leash, for hours on end be considered abuse of animals?

Wouldn't endangering your child by putting them out in the hot sun in heavy traffic for hours on end be considered child abuse or child endangerment or something??

I would think that with a little effort law enforcement could make it uncomfortable enough for these people for them to decide to move on.


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: pl .....

My concern has been the general law enforcement view towards the poor and homeless. It is a de facto crime in America to be poor and/or homeless. It doesn't matter whether factors include unavoidable job loss, physical or other handicap, or any other factor(s). The simple fact is that when cops drive or walk up to a poor or homeless person with those dreaded words, "How's it goin'?", all the YouTube videos in the world from lawyers and wannabe lawyers regarding your rights, and a dime, won't get you a cup of respect for those rights. After several police contact cards are on file - which may only reflect the violation of your rights - and you are arrested, you are a person "with prior contacts". And it's so easy to get arrested, once your understanding of their crimes has been aroused and you exercise that understanding. And there's so much more to say. Now, some unprincipled panhandlers have "joined" the poor and homeless, and you have to weed them out in your minds when approached. But know that there has been a genuine class of poor and homeless victims of American "justice", whose rights and needs have been trampled. It is in that light - whether you like it or not - that I viewed (online) the funerals of those two Las Vegas cops killed a few days ago.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Byrne

I have been told that some of the panhandlers arrive in a group in a motorhome, park in Walmart's parking lot then go to work begging for the day. If the City would enforce it's ordinance about no overnight RV parking in the Walmart lot it might help. Also the animal regulation people could do something about all the dogs used by the panhandlers to get sympathy. They are mistreated by standing on hot pavement, no shade and lack of water as well as no dog license in most cases.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Block them out

We need people to surround the sign holders with other signs encouraging the public to give to organizations that help those in need. This would discourage folks from giving to them and fuse the deranged into arrestable acts thus removing them from the street by police. I guarantee those results.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: center left

I wish I had the resources to take off to Utah to volunteer for a few days. Living on a limited fixed income isn't easy. Also, organizers don't want 60 year old disabled people or for that matter disabled of any age. The same goes for volunteer organizers locally.

If you think the panhandlers are bad now, just wait until the privatization pirates with the support of their lap dog tea party free marketeers take hold of the levers of political power. As they say, "you ain't seen nothing yet."


Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Lake Mead City

Sounds a lot like the southern solution, "Jim Crow Laws". I would rather the Panhandlers did not exist, but they do and are Americans (of sorts). Just don't facilitate them and they will move to greener pastures.


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