Ain’t got no home in this world anymore, and it’s Monday Mail.
Here’s a hard-copy letter apparently in reference to Columbus Councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes’ proposal to change the city’s “tramp” law to an ordinance outlawing aggressive panhandling. His proposition’s up for a public hearing at Tuesday’s council meeting:
No one is covering the other side of the “homeless problem,” and I think it is past time for an investigative reporter to ask a few questions. A reporter needs to start at the homeless camps at 23rd Street between the railroad and Third Avenue. Here goes:
1. How can the homeless afford cell phones?
2. How can they afford lap tops?
3. How can they afford alcohol?
4. How can they afford tobacco?
5. How can they afford lottery tickets?
6. Why don’t the homeless pick up their own garbage?
7. Why don’t they recycle their beer cans?
8. Why don’t they cover their own fecal waste?
9. Why are so many of them fat?
10. Why do they pick through the food given them and feed the stray cats with it?
11. Do the people who donate dollars, time, and food to feed “the needy” realize that some of the food is thrown away and fed to animals?
12. Does the Homeless Resource Network have a stronger interest in a growing “homeless problem” or a shrinking “homeless problem”?
13. Why are we afraid to call a tramp a tramp?
14. Has anyone interviewed the police or crime prevention director about the connections between the tramps and downtown crime?
15. Have business owners been interviewed about the impact of tramps on Broadway and downtown?
16. Why haven’t the users of the Riverwalk been interviewed about safety concerns, trash, and the general depressed impact of the tramps along the river?
Because of my position, I can’t use my real name. I will be calling you.
I thought some panhandlers could afford alcohol because they bum money off me. They’re not really spending that on food or a bus ticket home, are they?
The issue here is that Columbus has an unconstitutional ordinance that makes homelessness alone a crime. This is not the first time we’ve let that kind of thing ride.
Back in 2004 when the school district compelled pregnant students to attend its teen parenting center, I reported the policy was sex discrimination, under federal law. I got responses like “Yeah, but this is what’s best for them,” and “Well, we’ll see if anyone sues us.”
If you want to stick with that attitude, good luck persuading outsiders this is a progressive community, despite such Podunk public policy.