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Fundraising on streets may be limited

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

The City Council is set to restrict how often groups can solicit money along streets and medians.

Facing 50 fez-wearing Shriners in the audience, council members on Thursday set a vote next week on an ordinance restricting organizations to two solicitation permits a year, each good for no more than two days.

Shriners officials backed the restriction and argued against an alternate ordinance that would have prohibited any fundraising in city rights of way.

Edmund Bidoul, potentate of the Egypt Shrine Temple in Tampa, said the group's twice-annual drives raise between $200,000 and $300,000 for air travel for local children treated for free at Shriner's hospitals across the country.

"We are careful, we do not impede traffic flow, we don't knock on windows or intimidate people," he said.

Council member Bob Buckhorn said the restrictions are aimed at groups that frequently raise money in the streets and harass motorists.

"I don't think our citizens should be subjected to the churches of perpetual begging that are out there every weekend," he said.