Friday, January 08, 2010

Or perhaps our sidewalks are themselves an effort to dissuade panhandlers.

Mayor Reed has wasted no time addressing the most important issue facing Atlanta: panhandling. From Fresh Loaf:

At Kasim Reed's first press conference as mayor yesterday, he announced — after introducing interim Police Chief George Turner and the new APD structure — that he plans to vigorously enforce the city's existing panhandling laws. The ATL's many panhandlers, he says, are the number two complaint among visitors and a serious drag on downtown's convention-based economy. . . .

Then he delivered a tough sound bite: "Walking up and asking people for money in the city of Atlanta is not OK."

Says the person who's spent a good amount of his career raising money for his political campaigns, which is "walking up and asking people for money," albeit in a much nicer suit.

I am no longer the bleeding heart that I once was with respect to panhandlers, no longer following the command that we "give to those who beg from you", but the approach our city has taken - treating them as criminals - well, contrary what you might have heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, it's that attitude what will get you smote.

Reed's willingness to incur God's wrath notwithstanding, I walk Atlanta often, and I rarely encounter a panhandler who is as much of a problem as, say, the dangerous crosswalks or the patchwork sidewalks. You know, if Reed wanted to make the city more friendly to visitors, he'd work to make the city more friendly to pedestrians - at least then, not everyone who uses the sidewalk would do so because he has to work there.