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St. Petersburg should license panhandlers like vendors

A woman panhandles in St. Petersburg in 2009 as a deputy drives by. As city officials wrestle with the issue, a reader offers a novel idea.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2009)

A woman panhandles in St. Petersburg in 2009 as a deputy drives by. As city officials wrestle with the issue, a reader offers a novel idea.

St. Petersburg pursuing ban on road panhandling | May 14, story

Make panhandlers obtain licenses

I was glad to see that St. Petersburg's City Council is taking up the issue of banning panhandlers. There is a need to do so, as there is hardly an intersection or an exit ramp with a traffic light that is not infested with panhandlers holding cardboard signs.

It's a shame that the newspaper vendors and firefighters will no longer be able to use the intersections if this proposal passes, but both the St. Petersburg Times and the firefighters are smart, energetic and willing to work, and should be able to figure out alternative methods to replace the street sales or street collections.

However, I wonder why the problem couldn't be solved by just requiring panhandlers to be licensed as we do for hot dog vendors. Each specific location could be allotted by the city for a certain individual for a specified amount of money if the applicant meets criteria spelled out by the city that would include insurance and bond requirements. Just as hot dog vendors must dress appropriately, require the same for panhandlers. Those who choose panhandling for an occupation should also be required to take continuing education courses on a yearly basis, at their expense as required of many occupations that receive licenses to work here in Florida.

Exempt the firefighters and newspapers from the requirements in the same manner that the firefighters and newspapers were exempted from the telemarketing rules and regulations that were passed by the Legislature years ago.

Jeff Reckson, St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg pursuing ban on road panhandling | May 14, story

Proposed rules can solve problem

We drivers love the convenience of giving from our cars. That's why we have an increasing number of panhandlers looking for a handout from the side of the road.

We can stop this daily nuisance behavior from the driver and the panhandler with the proposed ordinance. The firefighters' yearly boot drive can be conducted successfully away from the road with some creative fundraising effort.

Glenda Pittman, St. Petersburg

Mailbox food drive delivers for needy

There's a new equation in town: Add one jar of peanut butter or can of soup left at a mailbox to one letter carrier, add many volunteers, and multiply many times over and over, and the result is close to 160,000 pounds of food donated by the community to help other individuals and families in need. It's a successful equation that worked across the country on Saturday, May 8.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster joined letter carrier Joe Henschen, executive vice president, Branch 1477 NALC, AFL/CIO, and Pamelin Wildly, food drive coordinator, Branch 1477 NALC, collecting donations from mailboxes in the Village Green neighborhood. State Rep. Bill Heller and friends worked at the collection point at the Free Clinic sorting food as it came in from the letter carriers. City Council member Wengay Newton brought his family to sort food. Postmaster Russ Racine checked the progress at various sites. They joined 312 letter carriers, 400 hard-working volunteers, and 60 drivers and their trucks. The staff and volunteers at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Bank ultimately weighed and stored the food so that it could be distributed efficiently to people in need. Those who participated in this volunteer effort ranged in age from 4 to 80-plus!

This is a caring community, a community that can be proud of being aware of the hunger that exists, and can be equally proud of the generous response to this need. On behalf of everyone who will benefit from your donations, thank you for being a part of a very important drive. We can assure you that your donation left by your mailbox will be on the table of someone in need in the near future.

Jane Egbert, executive director, St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Enough talk; it's time to recycle May 9, editorial

What's an oil spill in a sea of garbage?

I have to agree with the Neighborhood Times editorial. I read in the "At a Glance — St. Petersburg" pamphlet distributed by that this fair city is the only one in the state of Florida to be designated a "Green City" by the Florida Green Building Coalition for its renowned environmental initiatives, some of which include a "recycling program."

As I look out my apartment window today, I see three garbage containers that were dumped Tuesday and are now on Thursday full with tree branches. I am amazed at the amount of drink cans and bottles I see littering the streets during my daily walks.

Why should we care about the oil spill when there seems to be no concern about what washes from under our feet into the bay and gulf?

David Colby, St. Petersburg

Cyclists need to set example on sharing

We have all heard over and over how the bike riders want to be able to ride on the streets safely. And they have bike lanes on many roads.

Along with that right comes responsibility. They are to follow the same rules as the drivers of cars.

Recently I was driving on 102nd Avenue in Seminole, and at the Pinellas Trail crossing, where there is a traffic signal, a spandex-wearing bike rider ran through his red light right in front of me.

As I braked I beeped my horn. What do you think that fine man did? He flipped me off. If he drives a car the way he rides that bike, we are all in grave danger. Bicyclists don't want to share the road, they want to own it!

Lee Wilkes, Pinellas Park

A patriot's patch | April 18

Thief of emblem should show honor

I was appalled at the lack of concern for the incident that happened to Coast Guard Lt. Brian Boland. He is in the military, protecting our country and each of us. What type of individual would be so callous and insensitive to take the flag that represents the country Lt. Boland serves, a flag that came off one of his father's old flight shirts? What type of people are we to accept such behavior?

I hope whoever is responsible for this will reconsider and return the flag patch to Lt. Boland. I'm sure he would be very grateful. I'm wishing Lt. Boland and his father, retired Capt. James "Bookie" Boland, good luck and a prosperous life.

Mary Callen, Tierra Verde and Morgantown, W.Va.

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St. Petersburg should license panhandlers like vendors 05/17/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 17, 2010 6:51pm]
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