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Voting by phone, Charlie Miranda could break deadlock to pass Tampa panhandling ban

TAMPA — Chairman Charlie Miranda won't be back for next week's Tampa City Council meeting, but for the first time in two months, his vote will.

And Miranda said Wednesday he plans to cast a vote by phone in favor of three proposed ordinances that would scale back panhandling and other forms of roadside solicitation on city streets.

If he sticks to that — and no other council members change their votes from last week's 3-3 tie on the issue — the council would pass a partial ban on panhandling that has eluded supporters for a year or more.

"It's time that we settled this issue once and for all," Miranda said. "It's been around too long."

Miranda has consistently said that he does not support a full ban on all roadside solicitation, but would be open to a partial ban, and said he will support what's before the council now.

As proposed, most roadside solicitations would be banned six days a week. Newspaper vendors could work the medians every day, and panhandling and charity drives also would be allowed on Sundays. But none of those activities would be allowed on any day at the 10 most crash-prone intersections in the city.

"It's a balance of everything," Miranda said, calling the proposal a "good middle-of-the-road thing" that the city can keep records on and revise if necessary.

Miranda, who is at home recovering from several serious surgeries this summer, told colleagues in a memo that he plans to vote at the Oct. 6 council meeting on two issues.

The first is the proposed six-day ban on panhandling, with exceptions for newspaper sales. The second is a contract to hire a private company to read half the water meters in the city.

As the council chairman, Miranda has the authority under the city charter to decide matters of procedure, unless a majority of the council votes to overrule him, according to City Attorney Jim Shimberg Jr. and City Council Attorney Martin Shelby.

Moreover, several Florida attorney general opinions establish that participating in a meeting by telephone does not violate the Sunshine Law as long as there is a quorum of members physically present at the meeting, Shimberg said.

Miranda, 70, went into the hospital in mid July for the repair of a hernia. That led to two more surgeries and about three weeks in intensive care at Tampa General Hospital.

Now recovering at home, Miranda said Wednesday that he expects to be able to resume a regular City Council schedule in mid to late October.

Voting by phone, Charlie Miranda could break deadlock to pass Tampa panhandling ban 09/28/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 11:36pm]
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