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Councilor: ACLU settlement won't deter panhandling proposal

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The city of Indianapolis reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union over enforcement of its panhandling ordinance, but that won't deter a City-County Council effort to pass a more restrictive law, a councilor said Wednesday morning.

“Ultimately, I see that this helps more than hinders,” Republican City-County Councilor Jeff Miller said of the ACLU settlement, in which the city agreed to drop citations against four people who were holding signs outside Circle Centre last August. The agreement was filed Friday and reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Police told them to stop their activity, which was legal under current ordinances and protected by the First Amendment, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said.

The city can keep enforcing an ordinance against panhandlers who beg from people in their cars, Falk said, because the existing ordinance applies to all forms of solicitation in roadways and 50 feet from intersections. He said the city misapplied the code when it tried to crack down on people whose signs were aimed at downtown pedestrians.

Miller and Democrat Vop Osili have been working for the past year on a proposal that would apply to begging from pedestrians, and Miller believes it will stand muster in court because it's similar to the existing ordinance on soliciting in roads.

“It’s focused on public safety," Miller said.

Under the proposal, all forms of solicitation, including holding signs, shaking cups and performing for tips, would be banned within 50 feet of financial transactions, as well as pedestrian intersections. Using that criteria, it would affect a large chunk of downtown.

The ordinance would apply to ATMs, banks, parking-meter pay boxes and outdoor cafes.

Miller thinks a court would uphold the new ordinance because it doesn’t try to regulate a form of speech.

“It doesn’t matter how you solicit,” Miller said. “If you’re soliciting, you need to be a safe distance from a financial transaction.”

A proposal was pending before a council committee last year, but Miller withdrew it in January to allow time for more feedback from stakeholders and to start from scratch with cleaner language. He said Osili will sponsor the new proposal, which could be introduced to the council as early as May.

“There were a lot of First Amendment problems with the ordinance that was being considered late last year,” Falk said. “We were prepared to sue if it had passed.”

Miller said he sought but didn't receive feedback from the ACLU.

Falk said one specific problem with the last proposal is that it would have banned solicitations anywhere in the city between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Miller said the time-of-day language won’t be in the next proposal.
 

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  1. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

  2. As an adoptive parent, I have to say this situation was as shameful as it gets. While the state government opens its wallet to the Simons and their friends, it denied payments to the most vulnerable in our state. Thanks Mitch!

  3. We as lawyers who have given up the range of First amendment freedom that other people possess, so that we can have a license to practice in the courts of the state and make gobs of money, that we agree to combat the hateful and bigoted discrimination enshrined in the law by democratic majorities, that Law Lord Posner has graciously explained for us....... We must now unhesitatingly condemn the sincerely held religious beliefs of religiously observant Catholics, Muslims, Christians, and Jewish persons alike who yet adhere to Scriptural exhortations concerning sodomites and catamites..... No tolerance will be extended to intolerance, and we must hate the haters most zealously! And in our public explanations of this constitutional garbledygook, when doing the balancing act, we must remember that the state always pushes its finger down on the individualism side of the scale at every turn and at every juncture no matter what the cost to society.....to elevate the values of a minority over the values of the majority is now the defining feature of American "Democracy..." we must remember our role in tricking Americans to think that this is desirable in spite of their own democratically expressed values being trashed. As a secular republic the United States might as well be officially atheist, religious people are now all bigots and will soon be treated with the same contempt that kluckers were in recent times..... The most important thing is that any source of moral authority besides the state be absolutely crushed.

  4. In my recent article in Indiana Lawyer, I noted that grass roots marketing -- reaching out and touching people -- is still one of the best forms of advertising today. It's often forgotten in the midst of all of today's "newer wave" marketing techniques. Shaking hands and kissing babies is what politicians have done for year and it still works. These are perfect examples of building goodwill. Kudos to these firms. Make "grass roots" an essential part of your marketing plan. Jon Quick QPRmarketing.com

  5. Hi, Who can I speak to regarding advertising today? Thanks, Gary

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