The Law that Targets "Strange" People on the Street

How Homeless People Became Pawns in City Council Member Tim Burgess's Fight for Power, Money, and Control of City Hall

Comments

2
He claims that what happened when Tacoma passed a similar law would happen in Seattle. "Tacoma, they passed their ordinance, and they have never used it once. The problem has resolved itself," he said.


WRONG. This is the biggest lie of them all. I might not be a lawyer, but this sounds like such BS.

Search for City of Tacoma City Ordinance No. 27600

Their ordinance makes the crimes misdemeanors and in some instances gross misdemeanors.

The ordinance also amends Title 8 of their municipal code and includes these sections:
8.13A.050 Evidence
8.13B.040 Evidence

Burgess' ordinance makes it a civil infraction, as stated numerous times before, which requires only the cops statement that he has reason to believe that a civil infraction occurred (via RCW 7.80.05). So, uh, where's the need for evidence?

That's right, there is none.
3
I hope you realize that their more legitimate needs that homeless people have. Not only that, please consider that homeless people are at odds with another. Some of us feel that that the visible homeless are taking priority over those who are. Who cares about this tiny issue when their are hundreds of people in Seattle everyday who are languishing in sub-standard shelters and not getting the help we need to better ourselves, when it is actually cheaper and more humane to house people than to provide shelters. This is the kind of thing that should be talked more often. For instance, how many people realize that church attendance is mandatory in missions throughout America, or that for three weeks several shelters were shut down in Seattle because of a lack of funding?
4
Thank you for this article. Well done.
5
"Conservative" Seattle City Council? Only in Seattle would a center-left council be called "conservative." Now, Dominic, you may be right that Tim Burgess is the "most conservative" member of the council, but your suggestion that:

"...he used to work for the anti-gay and anti-woman organization Concerned Women for America..."

is a little extreme. This makes it sound like he was employed by them. In reality his firm did PR consulting for them, as The Stranger well knows. That's a pretty big difference. He also did PR work for other, much more liberal firms. Might be more honest to mention them, too.

I guess I'd have to interpret this as an anti-Tim Burgess article, perhaps a sign of The Stranger continuing to carry the torch for Mike McGinn, who's been shown up time and again by Burgess and other council stalwarts as a pretty ho-hum leader with no policy achievements to date. The panhandling law is in reality much more tame than Tacoma or San Francisco. Hardly a worthy example to make the case that Seattle's anti-McGinn city council is careening to the right. To call Plymouth Housing Group "a church group" is pretty ridiculous -- yep it was started by a church, but it's now one of the largest local housing orgs for formerly homeless people in Seattle. The panhandling ordinance was also supported by other anti-homeless giants, namely DESC, YWCA and others.

A question for Dominic and other McGinn supporters to ponder: where was McGinn in this issue? In fact, where is McGinn on the Chihuly museum give-away? Where is McGinn on anything except the tunnel and 520? At least in Burgess we're getting some leadership, because we sure aren't getting any from the mayor's office.
6
"Conservative" Seattle City Council? Only in Seattle would a center-left council be called "conservative." Now, Dominic, you may be right that Tim Burgess is the "most conservative" member of the council, but your suggestion that:

"...he used to work for the anti-gay and anti-woman organization Concerned Women for America..."

is a little extreme. This makes it sound like he was employed by them. In reality his firm did PR consulting for them, as The Stranger well knows. That's a pretty big difference. He also did PR work for other, much more liberal firms. Might be more honest to mention them, too.

I guess I'd have to interpret this as an anti-Tim Burgess article, perhaps a sign of The Stranger continuing to carry the torch for Mike McGinn, who's been shown up time and again by Burgess and other council stalwarts as a pretty ho-hum leader with no policy achievements to date. The panhandling law is in reality much more tame than Tacoma or San Francisco. Hardly a worthy example to make the case that Seattle's anti-McGinn city council is careening to the right. To call Plymouth Housing Group "a church group" is pretty ridiculous -- yep it was started by a church, but it's now one of the largest local housing orgs for formerly homeless people in Seattle. The panhandling ordinance was also supported by other anti-homeless giants, namely DESC, YWCA and others.

A question for Dominic and other McGinn supporters to ponder: where was McGinn in this issue? In fact, where is McGinn on the Chihuly museum give-away? Where is McGinn on anything except the tunnel and 520? At least in Burgess we're getting some leadership, because we sure aren't getting any from the mayor's office.
7
I wonder if the YWCA supports it because their location downtown is plagued by aggressive panhandlers.
8
@6: It's been suggested that those groups are on-board for the other promised services which are otherwise unfunded, but then again, they're all members of the DSA: http://www.downtownseattle.com/content/a…

You also have to look at the board for these groups, like the YMCA, in which case, the chair is at the top of the Pine Street Group which is also a member of the DSA. Similarly, most of the YWCA's board works for companies that have membership in the DSA. And Seattle Union Gospel Mission. And DESC.

Even more telling is Plymouth Housing Group, which charges rent to the formerly homeless at competitive rates ("WHO WANTS IT MORE?!"). Their board is a who's who of the DSA.

The boards are staffed with business people under the umbrella of the DSA, and it's coincidental that this is the only similarity between all of the "supporters" you check off.
10
Why is the city council ignoring it's own priorities?
On their web site, #8/17 is RACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE.

At a time when public confidence in our law enforcement is weak (videos of police beatings and security forces observing beatings come to mind), a new law that would allow police officer to use their own discretion (or prejudices) to issue a citation without a complaint makes discrimination so much more likely.

Not to mention the fact that public confidence in our elected officials is at an all-time low. What are they thinking?
13
Um.....is it me or is the United States starting to feel a little like something out of Les Miserables?

Just wondering...
14
@13: My thoughts exactly!
16
I'm not going to say I support this proposed law. I really don't know what the solution is, but I just want to say, Dominic I appreciate your acknowledgement of how some people (women, tourists, seemingly easy targets) are targeted more by street harassers. You acknowledged it, but your little "survey" with which you imply that you proved fears of violence to be misguided was insulting to me as a woman. As a woman, I am never able to forget the reality that many men could overpower me. As a woman, I have to live with the knowledge that would be aggressors know that I have this fear, and that they can use it against me. And as a woman, I know that I can't relax and buy into your theory of "violence is almost non existent" because all it takes is one scare, to have my freedom to walk fearlessly down the street at night taken from me for a long time. Even if the scare only happens once, that one experience robs me of the freedom before I felt that fear.

I don't want to live in a police state, I really don't, and just to let you know, I'm not even from Seattle, but as a woman, I find it's almost always men who claim that laws to prevent violence are over reactions.
17
Dominic,
I loved your writing style in this piece, except for starting a sentence with the interrogative pronoun "which".

This story is such an important topic, with especially disappointing results from some city council members (not mentioned) who should know better.
18
If "Please Sir" would just quit grabbing people all the time, my issues with the homeless would be rid of. I think energy would be better spent enforcing against the open crack dealing that goes on when I get off work at 2:30am and not a single cop is in sight. Really? In Pioneer Square? C'mon now.
19
"Everyone hates those people, but the Constitution is clear that people have a right to be annoying and to swear and to ask for money."

JEESSSUS! The staff on this paper are about as Fair and Unbalanced as Fox News. EVERYONE hates these people? Come on! Hello, living on the streets is stressful, why do you need to vilify these people further?

Stranger = Bourgeoisie
20
Godzilla - so let the lovely bums come live at your house and mooch off of your paycheck.
21
I don't generally mind buskers, but I don't like encountering panhandlers or homeless sleeping in doorways or smelling of their own waste on the bus any more than the next guy. And there are a lot of them in Seattle. But this isn't the way to cut down on that.
22
You characterize "Downtown Business Interests", and presumably the DSA, BBA, etc... ominously, if their interests are the interests of big evil overlords. Ask ANY restaurant owner or manager in that area if they think aggressive panhandling, thugish behavior, and menacing is adequately addressed by current law, or if those behaviors are damaging their and their employees incomes. These are employers; additionally these are the folks who help fund much of the charities that help the homeless. Ask any retail proprietor in Belltown if this is a legit problem or the artificial creation of some people with evil agendas. You will find how false your premise is. Then ignore everything they have to say and quote "real change" spokespeople instead.

Why do you think the homeless, mentally ill, and disadvantaged are better served by allowing predatory and lawless behavior on our downtown streets?

Why is okay to stand at an ATM saying "give me some money" in a menacing stance/posture, but it's not okay to do that within the bank? Who's interests are you protecting?

I speak with lots and lots of Belltown residents, businesses, and tourists daily, and there is no lack of overwhelming concensus that non-vigilante tough guys feel unsafe on our streets, especially after dark. Our streets need to be safe for women to walk, or retirees; we need to be able to walk to and from shopping, restaurants, our jobs, and visiting friends. This is legitimately a problem.

Please don't say as we all too often do, "this won't fix EVERYTHING, this isn't a panacea", and instead let's do nothing again. Perfect is the unwavering enemy of "Better". It does not follow that something that won't fix EVERYTHING is not right unless it fixes everything. If it reduces menacing behavior, especially where people are most vulnerable, it's better. If it gives society one more tool to target thugs and menacers, it's better.

You imply that a hidden goal of this ordinance is to target the homeless who are gently asking for money, or the mentally ill making noise. The city doesn't have the resources for that, even IF they had the desire. This is a tool to target the thugs and hoodlems that USE the homeless and indigent as cover for their crime and their menacing behavior, and that up to now have their unfettered run of our streets.

When someone or some organization supports this ordinance, it's attributed to you as either they are doing it on a quid pro quo basis, or they are ignorant/misinformed, or they are following a nefarious agenda. You are generous in your attributions.

No one is being encouraged to support an ordinance they don't believe in, nor to write or speak on it's behalf.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument why menacing someone for money on the street, including at an ATM or a parking kiosk when you have to have your wallet exposed, should be so vigorously defended as a "right". How did we ever come to believe this?

Shame.
23
Meth addicts and drunk bums are freakin cool! Just look at those groovie sepia-toned photos! We can learn so much from a meth bum! Making money and running a business are terrible things! Everyone should be a meth bum instead! Look at how fucking cool and "stick-it-to-the-man" they all look!!!!
24
Reading this article was pretty much an affirmation of what I already suspected about the city council, a bunch of people that aren't really in touch the reality of this city. I hate being asked for change I really do, but I have yet to see any real alternatives for people that are homeless.

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

On a side note I couldn't help but chuckle as I kept thinking of that South Park episode that had the bums saying "Spare Change"
26
I liked your post Strikeforcemorituri. That south park episode is a great depiction.

What everyone is forgetting to take into account that most of the homeless population who are clinically proven insane, have been discharged from NAVOS or Western state mental institution, transplanted in pioneer square and receive SSI or SSDI government checks from their appointed case management agency. Followed by spending it on recreational drugs and booze within the same week, because that is the lifestyle they desire. Resulting in having to panhandle & most of the time aggressively, because the week long crack binge is wearing off! There are still many more options available to the aforementioned homeless population of Seattle than any impoverished third world country resident.
Everybody is responsible, everybody suffers, so does your paycheck from the taxes used for delivering people to detox centers! Some people are just more sophisticated in hustling society or implementing laws to improve their living conditions. - just a thought.
28
@22: Nobody is defending menacing people, but let's not be foolish here: there's a myopia involved in assessing what is menacing and what isn't. Being annoying is not menacing, it's annoying. Looking menacing is NOT menacing. There has to be deliberate action.

I work and live Downtown. There are luxury condos and food banks dotted around me. I have yet to have a problem with anyone here, and this is after years in which I was regularly targeted when I lived in Texas, all of it to the point that I always carried a knife on my person. I no longer do that.

I can fumble around with my nice phone and my iPod or a friend's iPad or carry home stacks of books or DVDs and still not get hassled more than someone trying to say "hey, you got any money", and even then, I still usually give folks cash. Hell, if I find a $10 on the ground I'll give it to the next indigent person I see.

As far as outside vs. inside a bank, that should be obvious. A public right of way is exactly that: public. ATMs are structured such that they use the benefit of a public right of way. If downtown interests believe that they attract problems, then they should use restricted-access doors or remove them altogether.

That being said, if an ATM creates problems on a public right of way, it should be removed.
29
I'm not very articulate; I'll warn all of you this right now... but I am however, currently homeless & have been for some time now.

I know how it feels to walk down the street, & not necessarily feel "bombarded"- but having to shift your gaze from the scruffy man on the corner whom you more or less by now know for a fact will ask for you the innermost contents of your pocket. It's more awkward than anything. But I also know how it feels to be on the other side of the street. The one holding a sign, the one who's avidly asking for HELP; & getting shrugged off by people who could truthfully care less for my well being & have become immune to my silent cries. Yes there are feeds, for food. Yes, there are drop in centers for clothes & showers. Yes there are shelters to spend my evenings in. But feeds & drop in centers have certain limits to where you eventually age out, strict rules that can get you barred for life, & in shelters? Hahaa; you're lucky if you get to stay there one night a week because there are so many people you're damn near always lotted out.

This is bullshit, quite truthfully. On a good day I make twenty dollars. That's enough for toilet paper, candles, & a knock off brand of hydrocortozone.

Truth be told, if I had the ability to get out of the position I'm in... I would, hands down. I romanticize the bourgeois lifestyle, with a house, no... a HOME, warmth, food, job... hell even children maybe.

But with more & more laws, bills, & closed-minded ideas being thrown into place... it makes things exceedingly difficult.

Who will hire a young woman who's been houseless for the past five years, with no prior job experience to speak of & facial tattoos? Just a psychical appearance alone is enough for you to put me off, & to help you perceive me as something less than human.

I just got my GED, that's a step in the right direction... correct? But even catching a 50$ ticket on minimum wage while starting to pay my bills & survive would still put me in the hole.

THERE'S ALREADY A DAMN LAW AGAINST THIS; this "updated" version does nothing but abuse your fellow man.. & yes, they/we/us... we're all fucking people.

So in conclusion; thanks guys for making my life just a bit more difficult.
30
Oh, & by the way- Vash is fucking dead. "Is verbally aggressive". Well no shit, when someone tells you to "fuck off" after standing on your feet all day attempting to make some money so you can feed your damn dog... how the hell would you feel? He was one of most ridiculous bad ass kids I know. Ahhh, this makes me aggravated.
31
@24
I agree I thought that at least the majority of the Seattle City Council would be in agfreement wit hme that this is a bad idea and unfairly targets a single group. If this was targeting gay people, or women, they might vote differently, but alas it is time to prepare for the next election and some one wants to make a point to the voters that they can be tough on the nuisance of aggressive panhandling. Tim Burgess = Mark Sidran
32
Brilliant. Give a homeless person a fine that they can't pay... so they can be sent to jail... Last I checked, it cost money to hold someone in jail. Brilliant.
33
This ordinance addresses behavior, uncivil and unnecessary behavior. It does not address a home or the lack thereof, and it aims to protect the homeless as well as the homed from the ne'er-do-wells who menace those that live, work, and play downtown.

You're defending a group that isn't being attacked, and at the same time in actuality defending a group that preys on the homeless and helpless as well as those with jobs. No one should be given a pass on abhorrent behavior. This miscreants are the same who beat Ed McMichael (Tuba Man) to death for the "mistake" of walking from the Seattle Center towards downtown after dark. One of them was just released, and savagely beat another kid (to take his ipod).
34
It is a cycle that you cannot get out of easily - and many of us are only a paycheck or two away from financial disaster. That being said, as a woman, I do get a little skeeved out by some of the panhandlers. I cannot give money, but I do give them the dignity of looking them in the eye and smiling. When you are on the streets - like I was in the early 90s - you begin to feel invisible. Granted many homeless have mental health and/or drug problems (you would have to be crazy to live on the streets, right?) But some are also unregistered sex offenders and minor criminals. The only solution is a little bit of socialism mixed with compassion. Treat them like human beings, then get them treatment and get them back into society (if possible.) I'd pay for that!
35
Staralar - maybe you should not have got those facial tattoos. Facial tattoos are like wearing a big sign on your face that screams "LOOK WHAT A TOTAL FUCKING DUMBASS I AM".
36
Since someone brought up the tuba man's murder, this seems like an appropriate time to point out the fact that blacks make up only 8% of seattle, but 14 of the 28 murders in Seattle in 2008 and 12 of the 21 murders in Seattle in 2009 were committed by blacks. Black thugs cause far worse civility problems than begging bums.
37
@33: Stop conflating the actions of those kids with panhandling, aggressive or otherwise. If your only defense of this ordinance is that it addresses behavior rather than actual acts then you are certainly without any legitimate argument.

Arguing that anyone is giving violent people "a pass" is without merit. I, nor Dominic, nor anyone else for that matter, would dispute the need for addressing actual violent actions. Trying to say otherwise is just reusing that "you must hate freedom" saw that got bounced around throughout the past decade.

Besides, the absolute best way to regulate behavior? Eyes on the street. More cop patrols, more sidewalk establishments (cafes, etc.), more eyes on the street. Costs a lot less than you think.
38
The pictures of the homeless folks featured here are demonstrative of why improving social services for the indigent is not going to solve the homeless problem in Seattle: because it is our comparatively tolerant environment that draws bums from around the country. EVERYONE featured in those pictures is from some other state. The problems of the mentally ill and drug addicted must be solved at a state or national level to avoid making cities like Seattle a magnet for these types and ultimately destroying their livability.

Do we want policies that will draw affluent folks who can pay for more parks, light rail, and beat police, or do we want more indigents crapping their pants on the bus next to us? Think about it...
39
Just want to add that just last night me and my girlfriend walked down 1st Ave from Lenora to Pike, walked up Pike all the way to seventh, and weren't even asked for money once!! What's up with that? I feel like I'm missing out on all this aggressive pan-handling. When we walked back, it was even night-time, and no one even asked us for a cent! We even stood for a long time in front of a large group of loud people who were making the environment very threatening indeed, and I walked away with all of the cash in my pockets. WTF, homeless people, WTF?
40
great article, thanks much.
41
Where do you get your info on which DSA (or not) agencies support this and which don't? Supporting one cause does not automatically mean you support the other. I am 100% against this, as many readers here are, but what you list as facts are in 'reality' NOT FACTS and it pisses me off that you take your position of power, tear down people and business that are important to this community AND THAT ACTUALLY TAKE CARE OF THIS COMMUNITY- and make them villains and yourself martyrs! The Stranger supports a lot of local and LGBT causes- which i appreciate- but you have NO business commenting or judging on homeless issues. You are totally ignorant and should keep your ignorant opinions to yourself. Seattle has one of the best social service communities on this side of the country. If you don't understand why an agency you are associated with with or respect is involved in something you don't agree with- it is your job to educate yourself before you go slandering them.
42
Where do you get your info on which DSA (or not) agencies support this and which don't? Supporting one cause does not automatically mean you support the other. I am 100% against this, as many readers here are, but what you list as facts are in 'reality' NOT FACTS and it pisses me off that you take your position of power, tear down people and business that are important to this community AND THAT ACTUALLY TAKE CARE OF THIS COMMUNITY- and make them villains and yourself martyrs! The Stranger supports a lot of local and LGBT causes- which i appreciate- but you have NO business commenting or judging on homeless issues. You are totally ignorant and should keep your ignorant opinions to yourself. Seattle has one of the best social service communities on this side of the country. If you don't understand why an agency you are associated with with or respect is involved in something you don't agree with- it is your job to educate yourself before you go slandering them.
43
how the hell do you delete if you posted twice by accident? Sorry Folks...
44
Where does the meth choad in the main photo get the $$$ for the gel to maintain his douchechoad hairstyle???
45
Honestly P. Square isn't where I get hit up for money by people "aggressively" - that happens (at least to me) in front of the Starbucks by the Westlake Shopping Center. These people with there clipboards try to intercept my path, grab my hand, and then follow me to the corner while I continually brush them off.

I'd like to see the city do something about them as they - are the real annoyance.
46
interesting spreadsheets for this article, Dominic.

Obviously, given the felonious nature of many such "target" populations, we should be very suspicious of Tim Burgess and his supporter's behavior.

Just look at what happened at Goldman Sachs today.

Maybe we should relocate them to some place like, say, Florida?
47
A good article, but one suspects its advocacy is on behalf not of panhandlers, civil rights, voters, or loyal readers, but the newspaper itself. Seems on local issues the Stranger musters all its strength anymore only in service of its mayoral alliance. Nothing new about newspapers taking such a stance, but it does rob reporters of the chance to make their stories really sing.

But I sure won't quit reading enthusiastically. Practically the only game in town, right?
48
@47 ... um, there are other papers in Seattle reporting on local issues?

where?
49
dear kelly o -- i love your photos. please say no to the hipstamatic.
50
Baconcat @8, if you are now suggesting that Plymouth, DESC, etc. are just tools of the downtown business establishment, you're crazy. These are the agencies that are doing the work on homelessness in Seattle. You make it sound like their whole purpose is making money off the backs of the homeless at the direction of big business, which is just so thoroughly upside-down I can't even begin to process it. Your characterization of Plymouth in particular is just plain offensive.

THIS IS WHAT REAL HOMELESS ADVOCACY LOOKS LIKE. The only alternative, which articles like this one seem to be advocating, is just deciding that hey, panhandling is a job, they're cool, just let 'em live that way, they like being homeless. Real homeless measures attempt to move people OFF the street. That's difficult, but a lot of people are working really hard to achieve it. You're shitting on them. I wish you wouldn't.

Please note that I am not supporting this ordinance. But I think it's purpose has been rather misstated. A lot of the more visible homeless, the angry, the drunk, the aggressive, mentally ill, are themselves are at odds with treatment; they want to be given places to live without any concomitant responsibility to try to manage their lives better -- to continue to be aggressive and mentally ill. That's not going to work. I think the agencies in question are looking for ways to get people into case management who perhaps don't want to be. Myself, I think it's a waste of time, and won't accomplish anything either way. But that doesn't make attacking the DESC a good idea.

One thing the article makes clear is that the Downtown Seattle Association actually knows who these people are, and Dominic doesn't. But another thing to consider is that the people in that spreadsheet are a tiny, tiny portion of the homeless. They're just the ones you see.
51
@36

This is what we call a "statistical interpretation".

Is it really just BLACK thugs that are a problem? What about the white/latino/asian thugs? They aren't a problem, or they just aren't the ones committing murder? How many of those murders were by hard substance abusers/pushers? How many of those murders were from a specific socioeconomic environment? You don't have any numbers on that, eh? That's because someone was trying to create an impression from the numbers they had OR didn't think or care to look deeper. Call me crazy, but I think even THAT is a bigger civility problem than homeless people begging.

Think about it and get back to me.
52
I say that everytime someone expresses an opinion or does something that we don't like, that we just shoot them right there and ask questions later. You could even start with yourself if you're that unhappy about the world. What's the difference? Start thinning out the herd and maybe some of these problems will start to subside. Either that or shut the fuck up and face reality the way it is, not the way you'd like it to be... Spoiled brat little pampered yuppie bourgeoisie babies...
53
@26 e.suede, I'm pretty sure you'd take or drink anything to make the pain/voices/fear stop too. And if you were crazy, I'm thinking your budgeting skills would be pretty shitty as well. Just a guess. And I'm pretty sure treating people for addiction, if that is their primary problem, and helping them to regain self-sufficiency, is a hell of a lot cheaper long term than the all the aid, the SSI, SSDI and ER visits they'd otherwise have. Also, as this is a free country, even for people with severe mental illness living on the streets, you can't force them into treatment if they refuse it. If that were possible in the US I would not have the intellectual wherewithal to type this message, go to school, learn a job or remember my telephone number or address, not after the e-shock they wanted to do to me (healthy and completely recovered now, thanks for asking).
54
Every time the DSA gets it's hat handed to it, an angel gets it's wings.
55
We have a new low for the Stranger:
Studies show that tourists, heterosexual couples on dates, and women are more likely to be panhandled. So I walk under the pergola at the corner of First and Yesler, attempting to look docile and approachable.
Are you FUCKING kidding me?

Attempting to look docile and approachable? That is how you learned what it's like to be a woman alone on the street with a mentally ill panhandler? Trying to look docile and approachable? Trying to look generous? What the fuck, Dominic?

Next you should get a car and try to drive around "looking black" to find out what getting busted for DWB feels like. Are you high? Are you huffing something?

I happen to know women have told you what the real problem is with aggressive panhandlers. To see you belittle and mock their complaints like this is just shitty. Where the fuck do you get off?

Of lesser magnitude, and per usual at the Stranger, is the ad hominem attack on Tim Burgess. It's notable how the entire argument that Burgess is the "most conservative member" of the Council is based on who you imagine his friends are and what you imagine he did in the years before he was elected. It's based on your lazy stereotypes of police officers.

Burgess was elected in 2007. It is 2010. You have three years of city council votes to judge Burgess by, and with that you offer nothing to support your lazy judgement that he is conservative or that he is somehow a "marionette" of big business.

Other than the fact that he disagrees with your opinions about this bill.

Dominic, did you ever stop to think maybe people can have different opinions than you without being corrupted by the forces of evil? Without some kind of big conspiracy? No big business bribes, no conspiracy of the Trilateral Commission and Opus Dei. No Pope Benedict XVI out to crush the little people.

Not everybody who judges the merits of a bill differently than you is a sell out. Maybe the the Union Gospel Mission and Downtown Emergency Services and the YWCA and YMCA just see things differently. Maybe they just disagree with you, Dominic. People are allowed to disagree about a bill without being called names and having their character attacked and their motives questioned.

Oh, and the artsy fartsy b&w closeups of street people? Fucking original, kids. Good work on that.
56
Just once, could you run a homeless article with accompanying pictures of homeless people originally from Seattle? Do those people even exist? Or are they all from somewhere else?
57
Since when do local downtown businesses = evil elitists? Are cities possible without business?
58
Increased police presence, the solution you offer, may serve the goals of increasing intimidation and fear among people on the streets, thereby lessening "street disorder" through a show of force, but it may be harmful in other ways. Police do not seem to understand how to respond to the desperation of poverty and mental illness some people on the streets face. When police feel intimidated, they may respond with violence instead of care and support. Consider the homeless, mentally ill man shot in Portland recently (http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/ho…). Alternatives to the police state exist. Especially when it comes to addressing issues of poverty. What about mutual aid and reducing the distance you speak of between classes? Intimidation from police is not a long term solution.
59
But I also know how it feels to be on the other side of the street. The one holding a sign, the one who's avidly asking for HELP; & getting shrugged off by people who could truthfully care less for my well being & have become immune to my silent cries.


"Is verbally aggressive". Well no shit, when someone tells you to "fuck off" after standing on your feet all day attempting to make some money so you can feed your damn dog... how the hell would you feel?


Your verbally aggressive friend is exactly why I stopped giving money to beggars several years ago. I used to try to be generous and acknowledge the humanity of beggars on the street by giving them money. After a lifetime of being treated like shit by them -- even as I gave them something, I gave up giving money and switched to at least acknowledging their humanity by smiling and politely declining to give them money. Now that I've been insulted for that about 90 percent of the time, I'm fucking done. I will now be the person who doesn't even acknowledge your existence.

No individual person owes you anything. You are *begging*. If you and your friends don't have the common sense and self-respect to be gracious to the people you are BEGGING for help, you really have no hope.
60
the link i posted that got cut off is this:
http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/ho…
Here is an anarchist response to this shooting:
http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10962
61
@58, 60: by far the greatest amount of intimidation and fear among people on the streets is perpetrated not by cops but by other people on the streets.

The man who was shot by police in Portland was violent and crazy, and was threatening people in a park with a knife. Now imagine you're homeless and living in that same park: who's going to protect you from people like that?
62
@36

This is what we call a "statistical interpretation".

------------------------

WRONG. It is not a "statistical interpretation". It is a recounting of the fucking fact that at least 14 of the 28 murders in Seattle in 2008 and at least 12 of the 21 murders in Seattle in 2009 were committed by blacks. Therefore blacks are committing at least half the murders in Seattle. There is no other way to "interpret" that. And I don't give a flying fuck if they are "poor". No excuses for murder and rape!

If you want some actual "statistical interpretation", here it is:

Blacks make up only 8% of Seattle, which means that "crime age" teen and adult black males make up only about 3% of Seattle. Therefore a group that makes up less than 3 percent of Seattle commits at least half the murders in Seattle every year.
63
There are 460 members of the DSA, including most, if not all, of the organizations in downtown that assist the homeless, including: Building Changes, Downtown Emergency Service Center, FareStart, Goodwill Seattle, Low Income Housing Institute, Plymouth Housing Group, Recovery Cafe, The Millionair Club Charity, United Way of King County, YMCA of Greater Seattle and the YWCA. I wonder what these organizations think of the proposed ordinance? These are some of the key organizations working on homelessness and poverty in Seattle. They are also members of the DSA. But I guess Dominic didn't see fit to get their opinions? With all the time he apparently spent wandering around looking demure, he might have done some additional research and actually talked with people who are working on the issue. Seems a little strange - all those words in the article, and yet nothing from the experts. Zip. NADA. If all the actual experts working on this issue were against the ordinance, I would expect to see them front-and-center in Dominic's article. Instead, they're not even MENTIONED. How odd.
64
This issue has nothing to do with the tunnel, 520 or Chihuly. I'm as liberal as anyone - I'm not a member of the DSA - and I support this ordinance.

You forgot to link to the Seattle Human Rights Commission Report, which states:

"Every individual is entitled to feel safe and be safe in his or her person, home, and community. This right includes the right of every individual to live, work, and visit in downtown Seattle."

This is not the case today in downtown Seattle for older people, women, the disabled and minorities, because a small group of street predators is making our lives miserable. We have rights too, but they have been overlooked in your article. Did you try and speak to any of us?

I read the Commission Report, and it is pathetic. Their sole relevant statistical challenge to the Burgess ordinance is that people living downtown are also concerned about drug dealers and drunks! The overall plan presented by Burgess puts more SPD feet on the street to tackle these problems, so this is an irrelevant criticism. In terms of business dollars, I don't care how many conventions Seattle or the DSA loses. I care about being able to leave between my apartment without feeling like I need a chaperone. Do I call Tim Harris, The Stranger, the SHRC or the ACLU for help next week? I'm so sick of Tim Harris on this issue that I am ready to stop supporting Real Change (which I've done since the beginning).

It's not Real Change vendors that this ordinance is about. It's the crack addled predator on Third who harasses me for the entire block every time he sees me coming. Dominic, your 'survey' is insulting. You are a capable looking young man and so you won't get harassed. I imagine some of the other commenters are also young people like yourself. I can assure you that you would be on the opposite side of this issue if you were an older retired person trying to get home from the store on pension day. Try walking in my shoes for a day and you might have some compassion for our side.

The situation has gotten noticeably worse since the economic downturn and this approach worked in Tacoma. I can only hope that McGinn gets out of his Prius or off his bike long enough to support us.
65
@39
Take a walk down University Ave. sometime...
66
Seattle is full of liberal dipshits who talk out both sides of their necks. They wine and cry over the dumbest shit from the safety and confines of their dead-tech dumb ass condos or quaint craftsman houses in Freemont/Ballard/Greenlake. I'd guess almost none of these so-called "homeless supporters" work downtown or near UAve. If they did, they'd probably shut the fuck up and support police foot patrols like they USED to have. Weak-ass liberal crackers thought that cops in leather jackets projected an "aggressive" image - try walking up to an ATM on 2nd/Cherry sometime. Thank God I am licensed to carry a piece.
Lastly, ..."when someone tells you to "fuck off" after standing on your feet all day attempting to make some money so you can feed your damn dog... how the hell would you feel?" What kind of a homeless dickhead has a fucking dog!?! I thought you people were begging money for food to feed YOURSELF! This ranks right up there with "homeless" shitbags in Ballard laying on the sidewalk outside the library watching a portable DVD player!
Solution: send the aggressive shitsacks all to Tegucigalpa in Honduras - they'd be chopped up by MS13 and feed to THEIR dogs!
67
"The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA)—which sounds community-minded but is essentially a business and property-owners association"

DSA only represent the downtown interests.
They do not represent other business groups
in Seattle.

DSA and GSCC have been lead poorly over the last
decade or so and honestly, I feel that they
have no idea what to do next. The situation
downtown is beyond bad and they are really
grasping at straws. The outer regional cities
are eating their lunch and they really have
no recourse to stop it. Why so much effort
on panhandling? Broken window theory? Come on.

Couple of reasons:

1. Overbuilt office space and no jobs to fill them. We are talking about 7+ million or about
7 skyscrappers worth of empty office space.

2. Retail is down about 15%-20% empty. U Village, Bellevue, Northgate, and other malls
are kicking their butts with updated malls and free parking. No reason to go downtown.

3. Parking truly stinks and is very expensive.
See #2.

4. The wet dream of retirees and empty nesters
coming from a Single family home with a yard
to live in tiny condos downtown was a crack
pipe dream.

5. You want the real reason why there are so
many poor people? ALL OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES
ARE LOCATED IN THE ID AND PIONEER SQ.
Sorry for the all caps, but duh.

6. The publicity of showing downtown as dangerous and scary really doesn't help the PR
of the area. Come on, the logic is like:
Hey, we passed a law to keep the panhandlers away! Come on down and shop, live, and have fun.
Tough sell.

7. There was NO JOB growth in Seattle. All of the job growth was outside of Seattle.

Funny thing is that the city council is still
denial that we are in a major recession and all
of the extra money for the general fund was
from construction. Da city is broke, folks.
Strangely, McGinn is the only city official
who truly understands the magnitude of the
financial hole Seattle is in.
68
Nice article. I think it is fascinating that some people feel so shit on, threatened, annoyed, etc. by homeless people on the street, such as @59, while others feel almost completely opposite, such as @28. I think this says more about the people experiencing these things than about the safety of our city.

Bottom line is that we've already got laws for this stuff. We can talk all day about what we think about homelessness, how we feel about panhandling, but what is this bill going to do, other than make it easier to give panhandlers a ticket/misdemeanor? Will it change anything for good? It seems like some people are arguing against Holden's argument against this, but almost no one is arguing FOR it. Regardless of women's feelings of safety, what % of crime is committed by what races, etc. etc. does anyone think this bill will help anything?
69
What happened to Seattle's plan to eradicate homelessness within ten years?

This is typical Seattle problem-unsolving. A law to punish one group for potentially making another group feel uncomfortable. Still, good riddance to that god-awful adult-contemporary Jesus band you can hear for blocks outside of Westlake. That's aggressive panhandling. Invasive and annoying too.

How do you regulate common behavior? Slippery slope, or dead in the water- those are the only outcomes. Anyone remember Mark Sidron's failed attempt to make it illegal to sit down on public sidewalks? How'd that go anyway? Fines? Jail? I wouldn't worry about enforcing this if it passed. Cops can't even get street robberies under control at the moment.

Also- Everyone hates people who have mental disorders? Really? I don't think that's true... Unless everyone in your world is an asshole.

70
I must say I very much agree with Councilman Burgess that the state of downtown and the homeless there is disconcerting at best.

I recently was in the Pioneer Square/Third Ave area on a Monday around 9pm after attending 'Winky,' the play advertised in this very paper.
It was the most frightening experience I have had in Seattle.
A man followed me for three blocks attempting to solicit $20 (and then increasingly smaller amounts) from me.
To say he was aggressive would be an understatement.
He only left me alone after he spotted another person to presumably hunt.
Immediately following this, a middle-aged prostitute asked me if I "want[ed] a date."

Then I reached the bus stop where I waited half an hour, cold and very frightened.
The few other people there looked as paranoid of me as I was of them.
A tourist couple waiting for a bus even took refuge in a doorway so that they, and their expensive looking luggage, would be less visible.

During this experience there was not a single police officer to ask for help. There were no open businesses for me to take refuge in.

I'm from Portland. I'm only here going to college.
In the worst neighborhood of downtown Portland, Burnside, where there are scores more homeless people than I encountered that night, I have never felt unsafe.
And I have been in Burnside at four in the morning, when the only other people were garbage men, the Voodoo Doughnuts cashier, and many homeless.
Why? There are police.
Police!
Even at four in the morning. Especially at 9pm on a weeknight.
I would have to intentionally walk through the least inhabited alleys of Burnside to go three blocks without seeing a police car up close or in the distance. Apparently the Seattle Police can not be bothered to send a single patrol down a major thoroughfare.

Before Councilman Burgess gives the police another tool to crack down on the people who make downtown psychically insecure after dark, he needs to encourage the police to actually patrol.
There will be no revitalization of downtown Seattle until that happens.
I know I will consciously avoid downtown after dark from now on, even if there is an excellent play being performed.

Michael Hoselton
Seattle Pacific University
71
There are a number of grievous lies espoused by this article, but that appears to becoming a way of life for what passes for a staff today.

Firstly, that panhandlers are "homeless people."

Secondly, by implication, that "homeless people panhandle."

Let's be very clear (speaking as a local and volunteer for quite a few decades), the vast majority of panhandlers, be it today, or over the past twenty years, ARE NOT HOMELESS!

Get that?? Or is that to complex for your teeny weeny minds?

That is a false supposition. Period. Most panhandlers may very likely happen to live in LIHI housing, but that is not being homeless. (But may be a bias in the types that LIHI accepts into their very selective and biased housing programs.)

Occasionally one finds out-of-towners staying in the shelters who are professional panhandlers, and who live outside the city limits (say in Duvall or Diamond) who have come into town on a temporary basis specifically to aggressively panhandle.

One also experiences the same thugs, year after year after year (going back at least twenty years now), on the same spots in the University District (U-District), and downtown Seattle, who also live indoors, but panhandle aggressively and antisocially until that time they are arrested (which accounts for their disappearance from their usual spots -- but then they always manage to return to bother the citizenry, as usual).

No, a panhandling law would be great for the vast majority as the populations most affected, besides tourists and students, are the homeless, the working homeless, the poor and working poor; but somehow these factors always seem to be missing from such drivel as this article is.

What disturbs me the most about these types of articles is they always ignore the real homeless, working homeless and working poor who are most negatively affected and impacted by these aggressively panhandling thugs.

That, in itself, suggests some very strong prejudices at work among The Stranger's staff......
72
#33 and #22 sound intelligent and know whereof they speak, while many other posters sound like they just relocated here from LA-LA land (why do people from there always believe they can find a job in Seattle?????).

It's reminiscent of demonstrations in favor of meth addict/thugs who kill themselves falling off a bridge fighting over their crack pipes.

Thugs are thugs, and please don't keep referring to them as homeless people, nor to homeless people as thugs.

Again, I repeat, thugs are thugs. Let them only socialize and aggravate the staff of The Stranger.
73
Actually, posters 36 and 62, the demographic breakdown for black people in Seattle is 13% not 8%. If you're going to be a racist douchebag at least get your numbers right. Maybe one of the 15.4% of Seattle's population that are of Asian heritage can help you with that. Dicks.
74
@ 63

"There are 460 members of the DSA, including most, if not all, of the organizations in downtown that assist the homeless,"

Ok Kari Kedi or Kate Joncas or her admin.

I call bullshit. Who are on the board of
directors and executive committee? Oh, all of the major property and business owners in
the downtown core. Who were all past chairperson
? I didn't see any of those non-profits you
mentioned become they do not generate any income
or tax revenue. DSA has a paid staff of 30
folks and resources you could not believe.
If you are going spin, please do your fucking
homework. And, I am glad that Bellevue
and Kemper are going to kick your lazy asses in
Seattle. Oh the panhandling ordinance?
As if that will change anyone from coming
to downtown and shop. Go to U Village. It's
nice, clean, and free parking. Hot UW girls
really help too.
75
@74, screw your tin hat on a little tighter. Kate Joncas or her admin? Yeah, good one.

Do you have even the slightest idea about how a membership organization runs? Obviously not. You apparently subscribe to the Dominic Holden-DSA-Illumninati-running-government-through-marionettes scheme. How about this - you do YOUR fucking homework before you post bullshit on the Internet, you sad twat.
76

Press Release
Date: 04/17/2010

From: United African Public Affairs Committee of Washington State
Regarding: Panhandling Ordinance in the city of Seattle

After thoughtful consideration of the Panhandling Ordinance, United African Public Affairs Committee of Washington State(UAPAC) is calling for the Seattle City council no to Pass this ordinance. We strongly believe this ordinance has little chance if any to deal with the safety issue in Down Town Seattle. It will give a broader power to the law enforcement authority, and this could lead to some abuses. This ordinance will also target many law abiding panhandlers who are peaceful, and genuinely trying to survive by asking help. We already have laws in the books to punish those who are intentionally trying to harass people on the streets, and we don’t see the need to duplicate it.
We have a big respect for Tim Burges; he has been a great and effective council member. We also believe that he means well, and he cares about the safety of the people of the city of Seattle. However, we (UAPAC) respectfully disagree with him on the Panhandling Ordinance.
We are calling for all city council members to listen to the people of Seattle, and not to vote for this Ordinance

M.SH. Hassan (UAPAC Public Relation Director)
Email: info@auapac.org
Website: UAPAC.ORG
Thank you.
77
@73 you are just plain wrong. Blacks make up 13% of the USA but only 8% of Seattle.
78
It always stuns me, reading comments on the Stranger articles, that even among the liberal leaning readership of the Stranger that there are so many racists.

No, I'm not saying "liberals are racists"--I am a liberal...it's obv conservatives trolling. And I'm not referring to the "you spoke carelessly and stereotyped" kind of racism. I'm talking about folks like 36 above.

Here's what that tells me...there are more racists--the old school kind--than we know among us.
79
I realize that some subjects are too complicated for many Americans -- such as arithmetic and economics -- so please allow me to explain the corporate media; both nationally and locally.

The other week the national media reported the testimony of Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the US Treasury, who walked away from Citigroup with hundreds of millions of dollars after having sold DEBT to various investors.

This DEBT that Rubin sold was structured such that if it lost value, the buyers could sell it back to Citigroup at its original price.

Amazing!

Of course, the federal government (the taxpayers) had to rush in and buy it back, since Citigroup didn't have the money.

Why would they? After all, they were selling DEBT.

The national media would have us believe that all was proper.

This past week it was reported that the S.E.C. has FINALLY filed a legal action against Goldman Sachs. Now Goldman Sachs, together with one of the largest hedge funds, John Paulson & Co. (the hedge fund which employed the former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan), created financial instruments (they sold DEBT) which were designed to make them a colossal fortune while destroying a large segment of the American economy.

In other words, they sold DEBT to destroy the economy!

There were many, many such deals of this nature which the national media would have us believe were proper.

This was why the federal government (the taxpayers) rescued AIG, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and General Electric (GE).

It was also reported this past week by the national media that GE paid no federal taxes for 2009. GE was rescued - by the taxpayers - for selling DEBT, but of course, GE isn't one of those taxpayers.

The national media would have us believe this was proper.

Now the local corporate media, The Stranger, would have us believe it is proper for the thugs at the bottom to bother us, while the national corporate media claims it is proper for the thugs at the top to bother us. Please note the similarities.

In 2009, the top 25 hedge fund managers averaged $1 billion in salary. Now these hedge funds are normally registered offshore, so they pay no taxes.

And these hedge fund managers can defer their incomes -- so they pay no taxes. (They draw humongous living expenses through their hedge fund as business expenses -- so no need to worry about their survival. The tax laws do not allow us bottomfeeders to defer our incomes, of course!)

These hedge funds principally peddle....DEBT.

I have now explained why the national debt is so large, and why there is so much deficit spending. The US government sells DEBT, to pay for all the other DEBT, sold by all those DEBT-financed billionaires.

Understand now?????

[Disclaimer: I am thoroughly against the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the anti-worker, anti-citizen total douchebag outfit, as well as the DNA -- ditto for them. The GSCC has helped create unemployment over the years, most notably when they ran those seminars back in the early '00s, to advise local companies on the easiest and quickest way to lay off their local employees and offshore their jobs. (News story originally broken by Brier Dudley in the Seattle Times.]
80
Downright scary when you think about it.

Lou
www.cops-r-watching.es.tc
81
I would like the city council to pass an ordinance saying that i can kick anybody who asks me for money in the nuts and or vag.
82
Show me some pictures of homeless people in Seattle who are FROM SEATTLE, and I might start giving a shit.

Support your local homeless, not these out-of-state homeless.
83
If this law covers those little pricks who stand in your way and harass you to donate to their bullshit charity on every freaking corner on broadway, then I fully endorse it.
84
Aggressive pan-handling? This being Seattle I would think that an ordinance against PASSIVE-aggressive pan-handling would be the issue. Like when you're walking up the street and you see someone that you know needs money but they just ignore you.
85
I wish we had Brazilian Death Squads that would clear downtown of the tweakers, alcoholics, and thugs that harass people for change on a monthly basis. That is beautification I can live with.
86
@ #80 - zinqyoo

I would recommend, if you've yet to read it, Christian Parenti's book, The Soft Cage

Most pertinent to your remark.
87
Hm. I have to say that I do not go downtown unless I have to because of the difficulties with parking rather than panhandling. I do feel a bit vigilant in my approach to panhandlers, IE no eye contact,
But I often talk to myself to keep people from approaching me as a safety mechanism.

Pretending to be a crazy person helps hold off the actual crazy people. I hope no one considers my talking to myself as intimidating, as I would getfined by this ordinance
88
Timmeh, My My.
I am a conservative too but this thing is ridiculous. There is an error in the spread sheet. Tim, David Dillman, Eric Lacitis, Louie Peterson (yup. that Louie Peterson) and I are all Lincoln High '67 making Tim 61 not 50's. Oh! Wait! Is that a conflict with DSA. Maybe not. Just cuz Dave and Tim are members of the same graduating class probably means nothing. you don't have to take my word for it. Check Classmates.com.
89
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90
Something to think about - beggars are not always homeless.

Many years ago (2005? 2007? something like that) in Gainesville, Florida there was an investigation into stoplight beggars. (People who beg while you are in your car trapped at a red light.) Although many of them held up signs claiming to be homeless (or veterans), they all had homes and were just trying to support their drug habits while paying their rents or mortgages. To be sure, there were/are homeless people in Gainesville but they lived on the opposite side of town and did not venture over to the middle class neighborhoods where the beggars were.
91
A lot of people moving here to be homeless....couldn't you guys actually find bums from Seattle?
92
"In reality his firm did PR consulting for them, as The Stranger well knows. That's a pretty big difference. He also did PR work for other, much more liberal firms. Might be more honest to mention them, too."

Oh! So he's a PR flack with no convictions at all. That's good to know!
93
Not all panhandlers are drug addicts. I do some panhandling and have never smoked, drinked, or do drugs. I went threw a divorce I didn't want but theres no protection from no-fault and a wife who isn't happy financially and at the same time I was downsized from a job I held for 8 years and to make matters worse my unemployment ran out and social services doesn't want to give me any foodstamps which some men only get because m not disabled, or have any children, or don't have a substance abuse. The law doesn't protect the Godly man so here I am forced to panhandle. O another thing women need to stop stealing jobs from men when the economy is this bad.