I'll post a full report in the morning about today's lengthy hearing on City Council Member Tim Burgess's bill to fine people $50 for aggressive solicitation (which we've covered at length). But in the meantime, the ACLU of Washington has sent a stern letter to all of the members of the City Council's Public Safety & Education Committee telling them to kill the measure.

"This is an unnecessary proposal that will be an ineffective tool to address the problems of homelessness and poverty on Seattle streets and is not the proper approach to address concerns about downtown safety," writes ACLU of Washington deputy director Jennifer Shaw (full letter: .pdf). "Seattle already has an aggressive panhandling ordinance; we don't need another one."

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Shaw says the bill would do little to stop aggressive panhandling but "could be misused to target 'undesirable' people who who panhandle to support themselves yet make others feel uncomfortable due to their appearance, manner of speaking, or physical attributes."

The bill has created the false impression that the city is trying to solve crime problems by "blaming panhandling," she adds, and instead should increase downtown foot patrols and augment social services. "Unfortunately, those positive proposals have been lost in the controversy about the purpose and intent behind the unnecessary panhandling legislation."