Panhandlers have become a regular presence in downtown Rochester in the past few years. Just about every day, you can expect to see people sitting on the planters near the Peace Plaza with cardboard signs, asking for money.
Five years ago, when the city last took a hard look at the problem, officials said there was little to be done about it. That appears to have changed, as the Rochester City Council is now considering an ordinance to limit "aggressive" begging. Among other things, it would prohibit panhandling within 15 feet of an ATM, public restroom or sidewalk cafe, or on public transportation, including at bus stops.
Does that infringe on a person's First Amendment rights? Does it go far enough to address begging by people who, some people feel, are freeloaders?
You're invited to join city leaders and Post-Bulletin Managing Editor Jay Furst to talk about the issue at a Post-Bulletin Dialogues meeting on Monday. Rochester City Council Members Ed Hruska, Michael Wojcik and Mark Hickey, as well as City Attorney Terry Adkins and Salvation Army Major Jim Frye, will talk about the issue and answer your questions during the informal, hour-long event.
Join us at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the public library auditorium to learn more about this important community issue.