Pan­han­dling not al­lowed in city

The Covington News - - Front page - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

City of Cov­ing­ton coun­cil mem­bers were split on mak­ing a de­ci­sion to amend an or­di­nance that would make it un­law­ful to en­gage in pan­han­dling at their coun­cil meet­ing Mon­day night.

Coun­cil voted 3 to 3 on ap­prov­ing the first read­ing of an amended or­di­nance that would pro­hibit peo­ple from so­lic­it­ing in pub­lic places in the city.

Ac­cord­ing to the amend­ment, pan­han­dling in­cludes a per­son re­quest­ing an im­me­di­ate do­na­tion of money or other gra­tu­ity from an­other per­son.

Coun­cil mem­bers Chris Smith, Keith Dal­ton and Michael What­ley voted to ap­prove the amend­ment but coun­cil mem­bers Janet Good­man, Hawnethia Wil­liams and Ocie Franklin voted against the mea­sure.

“I’m not for any of our res­i­dents be­ing pan­han­dled,” Dal­ton said. “I have two daugh­ters. I’m not con­cerned for my safety, but for my daugh­ters. I have a 16 year old and one who’s in her early 20s,” he said. “I don’t want any of our cit­i­zens ha­rassed.”

Wil­liams op­posed say­ing that there were peo­ple who were le­git­i­mately in need and the or­di­nance would make it

il­le­gal for them to ask for money.

“I can’t judge all of them based on the fact that they are do­ing some­thing il­le­gal,” she said. “I feel that there are def­i­nitely those who are pan­han­dling be­cause they’ve not been able to find any other re­sources.”

“I think that we need to con­sider that there are those who are des­per­ate. Just be­cause we are not in that po­si­tion, I don’t think we should judge those who find them­selves in that po­si­tion and just turn our backs on them,” she said.

Smith dis­agreed with Wil­liams’ state­ment.

“I do feel that it is our po­si­tion that we make sure our pub­lic and our city is safe,” Smith said. “I think this is one way we can keep them safe.”

Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Chief Stacey Cot­ton ad­dressed some of the is­sues the po­lice depart­ment has seen with peo­ple pan­han­dling in the city.

“We have got­ten calls of peo­ple ha­rass­ing folks,” Cot­ton said. “I don’t think any­one minds help­ing a per­son out, but it’s the per­son who keeps on and keeps on. It’s a tool for us to be able to use for the en­force­ment for those peo­ple who are ha­rass­ing,” he said.

“One of the prob­lems I run into on the night shift in the mid­dle of the night is that peo­ple are com­ing down off their drugs or off their al­co­hol or what ever are try­ing to get money to go back and get some­thing else.”

Mayor Ron­nie John­ston made the fi­nal de­cid­ing vote to ap­prove the amend­ment.

“I do have a com­pas­sion for folks out there and I do think a lot of peo­ple are hav­ing a hard time. How­ever, I also be­lieve there is an ap­pro­pri­ate place for that and I think that’s where we need to kind of ex­pect our churches to step up and our civic or­ga­ni­za­tions,” he said.

“Ev­ery­body is hav­ing a hard time right now but I also think I would much rather have those folks who are out there right now who are pan­han­dling to feed their chil­dren and to feed them­selves, we need to en­cour­age them and make the state­ment that that’s not the best way to do it and let’s en­cour­age our churches to step up be­cause I think that’s ac­tu­ally more of an ap­pro­pri­ate way to han­dle that.”

In other coun­cil busi­ness, coun­cil mem­bers ap­proved for the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton Cham­ber’s Tourism com­mit­tee to start the process of adding pavers to the down­town area through the Walk of Fame Tile Pro­gram. Clara Deemer, di­rec­tor of tourism, told the coun­cil that pavers would be placed around the square down­town to mark where scenes of movies were filmed. Deemer said the cost of each paver would be be­tween $175 and $200 de­pend­ing on what word­ing was placed on the paver. She said the money would come out of the Tourism bud­get.

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