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August 10, 2007

Panhandling law

Jerry Fridel (8/7, Voices) appears to be upset that Kansas City Police Chief Jim Corwin is refusing to enforce the city’s new panhandling laws.

I applaud the chief for recognizing an inevitable class-action lawsuit against the city. This should only be proof that holding a job on the City Council requires little intelligence about enacting such laws and that maybe we should give the chief a break for exercising his common sense.

Greg Hand
Lee’s Summit

Comments

Engineer

Just Thinking
If all panhandlers had been "respectfully asking questions of other such as, 'Can you spare some change" it is very probable the law in question would never have been passed. The conduct of some, at times, would legally qualify as assult. Technically, if you make a reasonable person feel you intend to harm him, you have commited assult. In any event, the question here is to whether or not the Police Department should be making rulings on the Constitutionality of laws. It just is not their function.

Kate

Where I live, before a resolution goes to a Standing Committee, it passes legal review. Then, once it is placed on the agenda, there is an agenda review meeting attended by department heads, including Police and Fire, where all agenda items are “hashed over”. Then, if they are still on the agenda, the items are reviewed by the Committee. This ordinance was tabled by the Committee several times before it was passed and turned over to the City Council. It seems like there would have been plenty of opportunity for Police to have their legal people review it, and raise objections as to its Constitutionality prior to it being passed by the Council.

Regarding the Chastain issue - What kind of prior legal review goes into a ballot initiative?

Just Thinking

Engineer, would you need a court decision to tell you that you can't murder someone by throwing them off the Western Auto Building just because that particular thing has never happened before?

Then you should know that you can't ban people from respectfully asking questions of other such as, "Can you spare some change." You also can't ban them from asking if they can borrow your pen, even though that may not have been in some court decision.

Engineer

CRD
My post states there has been no court decision, You come back whith the comment "jeeze" and give a link. It seems to me that the obvious conclusion as to your meaning is that you are linking a court decision anyone should have known about. As to the light rail matter, it is still viable until and unless it is overturned. The review does not change its legal status.

CRD

"Your link did not cite a court decision."

But you knew there wasn't a court decision -- simply a poorly enacted law.

Hey, that reminds me, whatever became of Chastain's light rail plan? Oh, that's right -- it was subjected to legal review and found somewhat wanting.

Hmmm.

Just Thinking

Anyone with half a brain should know that you cannot ban someone from respectfully asking you for change, except perhaps in the Red Square Plaza of Kansas City. What other questions can you ban from being asked in the Plaza?

Kate

Just Thinking, the issue isn’t whether we think the law is fair or not. The issue is whether the Chief of Police has the right to pick and choose the laws his department will enforce.

I think the most interesting part of the story is the line, “the department has decided — without telling the council — that the law won’t pass a legal test” which makes me wonder what kind of power struggles are going on over there. KCMO has video of their Committee and Board meetings available on line. I didn’t see the Chief of Police addressing the Committee at the meeting in which the ordinance was passed on to the Council. I’m wondering if he expressed his concerns either to the Committee or to the Council prior to their passing the ordinance. As a department head, surely he was given Committee / Council packets beforehand.

Just Thinking

Apparently some people think that others should not be able to ask someone for some change when it is done politely and respectfully. It has always been against the law to do so agressively or with harassment.

If they raise their hand first to ask permission in your Department of Inhumanity at KCFU, then will you allow them to ask for money then?

Engineer

CRD
jeeze
Your link did not cite a court decision. It did state the opinion of the Police Department's Attorneys, but it also stated the opinion of a City Attorney: "City Attorney Galen Beaufort, who said he thought the law could pass a court challenge, said he could not recall another example of the Police Department deciding, on its own, to not enforce a law." In the past I have noticed a tendency of legal opinions to support the actions of the employers of the opinion givers.

jack

Yep, they need a test case. Make an agreement with the ACLU, pick a person and arrest them. Then let the coursts do their job.

Or, we could just have a chicken hearted Congress pass another law saying "we don't need no oversight".

BTW: THis has been done many times in the past. Dredd Scott and Scopes werre both pre-arranged. They are just the obvious ones.

Engineer

CRD
Just when was the law declared unconstitutional? You have an inside line on what the courts will decide?

Lost_In_Ambivalence

Maybe the police shouldn't be chasing after shop lifters either. Afterall, they aren't going anywhere. People will continue to steal small items and we should leave it the employers to prosecute them. And if Walmart can't stand the idea of someone who needs fingernail polish just taking it from them, they should go to hell.

Kate

The Police Chief and all officers are sworn to uphold the law. I don’t believe there are any asterisks in their oaths.

That aside, my question is if it is even be possible to test the constitutionality of the law if the police refuse to enforce it. Has the Police Department created its own little “Catch-22” with this?

Just Thinking

The Police Chief should not waste his resources going after panhandlers when it won't go anywhere. You don't have to be a genius to know that when such laws are deemed unenforceable that it's a waste of time.

There must be serious problems in Kansas City that the Chief can go after instead of become a private rent-a-cop for the owner of the Plaza. If people can't stand someone asking them for change in a polite and non-agressive way, then they shouldn't go to the Plaza. They should go to hell instead.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Constitutionality. What a joke.
We have debtors prisons which are forbidden but exist. people that stay on welfare by choice instead of getting a job should be considered panhandlers. (My ex-wife fpor example).

CRD

See, now you're just being silly.

CRD

See, now you're just being silly.

Lost_In_Ambivalence

It is a waste to spend money on a judiciary if the police chief is an expert in constitutional law.

By the way, when the president presumed to know more about the constitution than everyone else, people on the left freaked out about it.

CRD

The legislature can pass whatever it wants, but it's a waste of law enforcement resources to be arresting people on a law that won't pass constitutional scrutiny.

 
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