Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is not surprised that there’s some negative feedback to his proposal to ban streetside panhandling. He says says “the usual suspects” with “excessive compassion” are taking issue with his proposal to ban the practice.
Recent court decisions have raised issues with Madison’s existing ordinance, so Soglin and others want to rewrite it to prohibit approaching an operating vehicle on a street, regardless of the purpose. Soglin tells WIBA that it’s a matter of public safety, and says a Google search will find multiple instances of panhandlers who are killed, and motorists who are injured around the country.
The numbers of panhandlers on traffic medians have been on the rise. Soglin says in many cases, the panhandlers are what he calls professionals.”That doesn’t mean that they’re homeless,” he said. “These are professionals who came to Madison, and they’ve got a story for every occasion.”
The proposal – which is still in the drafting process – would call for a $100 citation. It’s been opposed by the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County. Soglin says his office has seen an increase in complaints about panhandlers in traffic medians on busy thoroughfares like East Washington and University Avenues. “I don’t know what we’ll do to get the city council on board, but I would suggest all the people who are calling me call their alders and ask what the hells going on here?”