Pasco ban on panhandling
Put the focus on homelessness
I cannot help but feel that the focus is misdirected. The community at large, via elected county commissioners, voted in 2011 to pass an ordinance allowing panhandlers only one day a week to hold up signs and ask for money. This is not a one-day-a week problem. The scope of this problem should have been much broader, concentrating on the larger picture, which is homelessness.
Freedom of speech and the right to express ourselves is being infringed upon when we hamstring our citizens' ability to hold up signs in order to accumulate funds and procure their next meal. Businesses are turning more and more to paying individuals a minimum wage to stand on the side of the road and hold a sign with their company's message, often times, in a ridiculous costume. What makes this more acceptable than a panhandler holding up a sign in order to eat?
The money utilized to arrest and prosecute individuals in violation of this county ordinance could be better allocated to a campaign that addresses the needs of the homeless. This is an uphill struggle and this we can all agree upon. When we deprive an individual the right to ask for help in order to feed themselves, we are increasing the risk of individuals committing crimes to fulfill their basic needs.
We have an enormous homeless population that have the same rights and freedoms that others do. Panhandling is not the best solution for these individuals, but it most certainly should not be banned or limited to one day a week.
Phillip Cole, Spring Hill