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Panhandling banned in Covington

COVINGTON -- The City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would prohibit panhandling at any time in the city.

In a work session discussion Monday evening, the council was divided over whether to ban panhandling altogether or limit it to certain hours in the day. The proposed ordinance would have made it a misdemeanor to panhandle between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

However, Councilmen Chris Smith and Keith Dalton said they preferred to ban the practice completely, citing potential dangers to citizens. Smith and Dalton both said they and their children had been approached by panhandlers during the day at local gas stations and businesses.

Councilwoman Janet Goodman said she is more concerned with being approached by panhandlers at night than during the day.

"I think if it's in the daytime we can get rid of them ourselves basically," she said. "At night it's scary."

During the regular council meeting, Smith made a motion to approve the amendment with the time stipulation removed. Dalton seconded the motion.

During discussion, Dalton said he's been approached by panhandlers numerous times at gas stations and outside restaurants.

"I'm not concerned for my safety as much as I am for my daughters," he said.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams argued on the side of allowing panhandling at certain times, noting that many people are in financial constraints.

"I feel that there are definitely those that are panhandling because they have not been able to find any other resources," Williams said.

"We need to consider that there are those who are desperate and just because we are not in that position, we should not judge those who are in that position and turn our backs on them," she added.

The council vote was tied on the issue with Mike Whatley, Smith and Dalton in favor and Williams, Goodman and Ocie Franklin opposed.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston broke the tie in favor of banning panhandling altogether, saying that there are other resources to help the needy.

"I do have compassion for folks out there, and I do think people are having a hard time," Johnston said. "However, I do think there is an appropriate place for that."

Johnston said the community should work with churches and other organizations to provide help for those in need.

Comments

will 2 years, 3 months ago

Mayor Johnston, Thanks you for doing what is right in this case. These people have other resources and you were dead on it with your vote. These three women will try to make it a race thing but panhandlers come in all races. Keep up the good work Mr. Mayor im glad we have a mayor that will stand up to these girls. Next these women will want an area designated to panhandle in and we should make it the Walkers Bend/Washington street area or maybe Settlers Grove.

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billyp66 2 years, 3 months ago

I am too very glad about this. I have been approached by people asking for money around the square are when I was going for a walk around the square. I hope this is enforced. I have been thru some very hard economic times but I have never went to the streets and beg for money. This is not Atlanta and I pray and hope Covington will never get that bad. The crime in Covington is already getting worse and I do believe panhandling cause more crime. I thank you Mayor for your courage to make this illegal.

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John 2 years, 3 months ago

I really don't buy into that we have pan handlers because of the economic times. Panhandlers are "always" around in good times, bad times & every time in between. Panhandling has been a career choice by some (and like getting in the pros only a few make it to the big time) or a way to "fund" a habit or a way to actually get out of having to break a sweat - the downtown pros only work about 4 hours a day (2 in the AM rush hour & 2 in the PM 7 sometimes the lunch hour). No matter where they are they are a nuisance.

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KimberlyD 2 years, 2 months ago

I have been to the gas station at the corner of Emory/Hwy 81/Hwy 278 and there's a blonde haired lady that has been run off from there and other businesses for begging. She cries and tries to use sympathy, blah blah blah. It's annoying bug off~Get a job like the rest of us do. The economy is picking up, there ARE jobs out there!!! If you can't find one, use the brain God gave you and start your own business!! I have the upmost respect for our city council, I know a few of them quite well. It's not good for a business to have some1 standing out there begging that we the community have to keep running off!!!

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Billy 2 years, 2 months ago

When I worked at Delta some years back, a lady there told me that her cousin panhandled for a living at a grocery story in Riverdale, not because he was down and out but as a way to make a living. The gas station mentioned above and the one closer to I-20 are the worst places for it. Working a job is hard but it's your calling in life; step up to it...

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