Full circle on panhandlers

March 31, 2008
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Does the political party of Indianapolis mayors influence how they deal with panhandlers, or is it just coincidence?

Steve Goldsmith, a Republican, used the police to crack down on panhandlers, pushing many of them out of downtown.

In his eight years, Bart Peterson, a Democrat, was more tolerant of people on the streets and directed police resources elsewhere.

Now Republican Greg Ballard is considering ideas to follow up on a campaign promise to deal with panhandlers.

Ballard wants to enforce existing laws and try to persuade people to give to not-for-profits rather than panhandlers. He also might propose an ordinance like those in other cities that charge a hefty fee in order to allow panhandling.

Like prior administrations, Ballard distinguishes between panhandlers, who usually have homes, and the homeless.

Are downtown panhandlers a problem? Should something be done, and if so, what?
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  • Move Wheeler Mission to a less trafficked area, such as south of Methodist Hospital. We should move the jails up there too, while we're at it.
  • One of the first things friends of mine noticed from tennessee attending a convention downtown in August 2007 was the obvious panhandling going on around them. I do not recall if there impression was negative or positive, but I do know they noticed it instantly.
  • Geez! You'd think the Republicans would be a little nicer about the free enterprise system. Just supply and demand in action. Stop givi9ng and they'll go away. In the meantime, these guys are just trying to run their small businesses in this Great (Republican) economy.
  • Apparently panhandling must be fruitful considering the people regularly positioned at high traffic areas around Keystone at the Crossing and Castleton intersections with the same sign reading Will work for food.
  • Perhaps this is a result of the convention center courting all the religious conventions with generous out-of-towners that attend ? Maybe redirecting that strategy to a differnet convention attendee demographic?
    Or is it the result of the republican business community looking for a scapegoat for their loss in revenue lately? Instead of believing it is George and Mitch’s economy that is actually at fault?
  • I agree with the actions that Mayor Ballard is taking. Panhandling is not particulary threatening to a man; but women often feel at risk.

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