Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Proposed panhandling ban bogs down at Tampa City Council

TAMPA — City Council Chairman Thomas Scott's proposal to take the first step toward banning panhandling on Tampa's busiest streets bogged down Thursday night.

Scott hoped to schedule a public hearing next week on a yet-to-be drafted ordinance banning panhandling on "arterial" roads such as Dale Mabry Highway, Kennedy Boulevard, and Hills­borough, Fowler and Fletcher avenues.

But Scott's colleagues balked. Some said the proposal didn't go far enough. Others said they have not received even basic information they ought to have before taking up such a measure. And several said the city should wait for the report of a countywide committee studying the issue.

They did ask City Attorney Chip Fletcher to come to their Jan. 20 meeting to report on and answer questions about the possibility of banning panhandling on arterial roads.

They also scheduled a Feb. 24 council workshop to discuss the larger issue of homelessness and unemployment with police, county officials, the Homeless Coalition, Metropolitan Ministries and other social service groups.

Thursday is not the first time the council has struggled to find consensus on panhandling. Three times since October, neighborhood groups have asked the council either to adopt a St. Petersburg-style ban on panhandling or give voters a chance to consider enacting such a ban in the city's March 1 elections.

As in the past, council member Charlie Miranda said proposals to ban panhandling are not looking at the bigger picture.

"We have no answer to how do we solve this problem," Miranda said. Driving panhandlers off major roads would send them into neighborhoods, he said. It also would hurt people who earn a living by selling newspapers on major streets, he said.

Most panhandlers don't vote, so "politically, I don't think I'm doing the right thing," Miranda said. "But in my own mind and my heart, I really believe that there's got to be an answer, and the answer should not be just, 'Ban.' "

Council member Mary Mulhern agreed.

"Really, there's a lot of pressure for us to do this," Mulhern said. "It would be a popular thing to do if we did it right now tonight. But, really, I think we're better than that. We take our job more seriously."

Scott, who is running for mayor, said that's not what's driving his efforts on the issue.

"I feel no pressure," Scott said. "I've been an elected official for 14 years. I don't vote on something because it's popular or not popular. I vote on my beliefs, my principles and my convictions."

Richard Danielson can be reached at

Proposed panhandling ban bogs down at Tampa City Council 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights


    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises


    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]