City Council Member Mike O'Brien said today he will vote for Tim Burgess's aggressive solicitation bill, which the Seattle Human Rights Commission says will result in people being arrested and wind up with a criminal conviction.
But when O'Brien ran for office, he told PubliCola that he opposed the measure:
PubliCola: Mike, do you support City Council member Tim Burgess’ proposed restrictions on panhandlers?
O’Brien: I think the police have rules in place to address panhandling as it is.
If the alternative is to simply arrest those people and we take that person and put them in a jail at a big cost to [society], I don’t think that’s a good option. The police can come and tell anyone to move along already. …
I don’t like being panhandled either. But we need to know who these people are, why they’re doing this. If someone’s making a good career out of this, that’s not acceptable. But every law we write is going to have some broad strokes and we need to be attentive to that.
O'Brien doesn't understand the issue very well, he admits, but now that he's in office, he's for it—because O'Brien is a pushover.