Monday, October 15, 2007

Prevent Crime: Give to Beggars (Update with meeting notes)

Funny, isn't it... some people in local government and politics believe the hold a possition of leadership and should lead instead of follow when it comes to taking care of the city they represent.

I suspect some folks might call that old fashioned... and in a derogatory way. I, on the contrary, appreciate and respect that kind of attitude.

A few weeks ago I saw a beggar who apparently hopes he doesn't need to steal. At least that is what he scribbled on his sign.

I reported the man to the local police, although I suspected they would do nothing. Then I e-mailed a link to my post to the city council. Apparently, they discussed it briefly.
Council Meeting Minutes -3- September 25, 2007

Council Member Wroge asked how the City handles beggars standing along the highway,
specifically referring to the person holding the sign “I’d rather beg than rob”.

Public Safety Director Scott stated the City of Minneapolis recently amended their ordinance on this issue and it only addresses verbal encounters not signage because of potential conflicts with the First Amendment.

City Attorney [Corrine] Thomson said she was not giving an opinion because she has not studied the issue but it appears conduct deemed harassing and disorderly is trying to be addressed not signage which needs close review for First Amendment rights. She said she did not believe the sign constituted a threat.

Council Member Wroge stated he disagreed, he did take it as a threat and it should not be tolerated. Richfield needs to be a leader not a follower to regulate behavior.

Thank you Councilman Wroge. I'll try to keep my eyes open for future developments or related incidents.

Anyone have an opinion for the council or for Richfield's attorney?

Richfield City Hall
6700 Portland Avenue
Richfield, MN 55423
(612) 861-9700
(612) 861-9749 (fax)

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