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August 17, 2007

Public begging

I would imagine there are several lawyers at City Hall. Aren’t any of these professionals capable of writing a city ordinance prohibiting beggars (some who seem to take pride in the appellation) from plying their “trade?”

Today I noticed three at one intersection attempting to stop traffic with their appeals. Last weekend I saw four maintaining their usual places at one heavily trafficked corner on the Country Club Plaza. Periodically they would surrender their posts to allow others to beg. Such activity really does not do much for that area or for the city as a whole.

A few short weeks ago I was escorting visitors from overseas when a panhandler started screaming “racist” at me because I failed to make a contribution. I guess it was a good tactic, as people following behind me made certain to cough up money rather than being screamed at.

T. Allen Lesley



You are onto something, CRD. Practically every weekend, there is some church group or youth sports team that sends very young kids out at the intersection of 63rd Street and Swope Parkway in all kinds of weather to soliticit donations. I never give on the theory that I don't want them to succeed that way.

I have never in my life, however, turned down a kid standing in front of a store, or going door-to-door selling whatever they are selling for a school or sports fundraiser.

But if we ban soliciting at intersections, we've got to ban all those Rotarians and their volunteers selling Kansas City Stars on the day of the Royals home opener, and we've got to stop firefighters from collecting for "Jerry's Kids" every Labor Day weekend.

I say, go for it.


Why isn't there a law prohibiting begging at intersections? You think perhaps because it'd also outlaw those folks who engage in the very unsafe practice of collecting cash for charities on street corners and in the median on SW Trafficway?


It is important to discriminate between people who are asking for money to help themselves and people who are asking (scamming) for money to support a drug habit. It takes street smarts and instinct to tell the difference. If you don't have that instinct, then you can (perhaps) in good conscience say no. Otherwise, if you have even 50 cents to spare, it might make a difference in the life of a person who really needs help that day. They might really need bus fare, they might really need something to eat, they might really need some money to help pay a utility bill. You don't know, of course. But look into that person's eyes and try to decide if you are dealing with a con person or a person in real need. And when you go home at night, ask yourself if you have done the right thing and done it the best you can. Perhaps you have given money to a drug addict, or perhaps you have given money to someone who really just needed bus fare to get to a job interview or needed to buy some food for her children. You will probably never know. But if you are comfortable with what you have done this day, if you feel right with what you have given to someone who was in need, whatever that need was, then you are ahead of the game. You are right with your conscience and your Higher Power. God bless.


sometimes in these quick post we make statements that are incomplete...letter writers don't get a second chance. this letter writer though seems by his words to expose his racial views(blacks somehow more prominent as beggars to him)


thank you engineer, i feel the same


My post wasn't about the question. It was to point out that in making blanket criticisms of others we are apt to be commmitting the error we are decrying. As to people, I try to evaluate those with whom I come in contact by their actions.


wow engineer..your post begs the question; do you judge people by race, and if not do you somehow deem it acceptable for persons of your race (based on their interactions with other) who would? and engineer, i don't care what race we(you) (I) are as long as its all "human".


Just Thinking
"Or maybe T. Allen is accustomed to such bigotry, the process of attributing an attribute to all members of an arbitrary group." Hummmm.... and just what are you doing?

Just Thinking

What it really comes down to is that many people are troubled when their conscience is tweaked. It is a serious tug-of-war for some people when faced with giving up a little spare change. They want to keep their money so badly, but their conscience pulls. That's what really tweaks someone like T. Allen so much. It's not the person who might get out of line here or there; it's their own conscience that's yelling much more loudly. Their conscience yells loudly enough that even a single instance of perceived sin gives them enough justification to hate every single person in that position so much that they want all of them to disappear from public view.

Or maybe T. Allen is accustomed to such bigotry, the process of attributing an attribute to all members of an arbitrary group. Let's see, T. Allen could have chosen to hate a racial group instead for what was yelled, but he chose street people this time. I wonder what group he will choose next time.

Bigotry is an emotional response of trying to blame everyone in some random group for something a member did. In this case, the emotion was most likely provoked by a conscience telling T. Allen to give up a little change because they are a privileged and selfish person.


Oh, absolutely, and the level of competence to acquire and hold a job good enough to keep a roof over your head, buy a car (to get to and from work) and keep gas in it, and feed yourself these days -- not to mention a family -- is quite high.

You know what has become the warehouse for the mentally ill and developmentally challenged? The prison system. Local ordinances against begging will also turn county jails into such warehouses, and that is a pretty expensive solution.


ig, i think the number of people who barely hold it together in this society, given their upbringing and education level, coupled with the vast difference of living off $7.50 an hour and $15.00 an hour, makes a very fine line for people to fall below and become homeless. unfortunatly there are some people who are going to become that segment of any society. (that would be the legitimate MI) now i'm not saying all beggars are homeless. (but by rights they should be i guess. you'd hate to think the $1 their asking for goes to rent) i am saying that there is a level of competency that if you, as an individual fall below, you're on the streets.


No, in my experience, the "beggars" I've encountered look pretty much like a cross-section of America.

The one thing that does strike this layman, however, is that they seem to have some sort of mental impairment -- be it a treatable mental illness, or a developmental disability -- that would make it difficult to get a decent job in the first place, and nearly impossible to hold it.


great thought ig.....do you see a racial component to begging?


You want to get beggars off the street? Then find a way to take care of the mentally ill indigent rather than dump them on the streets.


nmmng/////i hope you don't think i am for beggars. i can't stand for them to ask me for money. i raised all of my children to sternly say "NO" when approached by anyone asking for money. i don't understand why race is an issue though, unless you think white beggars are more tolerable than black ones.. i seem to be asked for money by people of all colors and i tell them all no. the westport one hearne crissy has made famous knows me on sight and knows not to appraoch me. i had a hat on one day and he approached me from behind, when he saw it was me he said "oh ,i'm sorry " and quickly retreated cause he knew he had a cussin" coming

but the fact remains there have always been and always be beggars, everywhere.


The icing on the cake was a man and a woman actually inside mcDonalds at linch time asking "you got fiddy cent so can gets me a cheeseburga".
They did this and continued to receive from what I could calculate at least $10 each within about 10 minutes, they continued and the McDonalds management said nothing. They could have simply filled out a job application. After they got their money, they bolted. After I finished my lunch I saw them down the block coming out of a liquor store. How grand that is. So go ahead bleeding hearts, feel sorry for the lazy, victimized bums.
I would imagine if someone had offered to buy them a meal they would have called them a racist as well.


I had one call me an "asshole" once, i wonder if mr Lesley would have preferred that. he also didn't mention where his "oversea" visitor was from. has anyone ever travelled to any country on earth and not been confronted by beggars? and a final thought....i seem to remember them mentioned prominently in a very good book

Tom K

It's like giving to PETA. When people realized that they were a bunch of rude, screaming jerks, they should have stopped giving them money.

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