Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fort Lauderdale FL

No home, no food law:
More than meets the eye


The headline: Fort Lauderdale passes law to prevent feeding the hungry

The tv report, titled Fort Lauderdale passes law outlawing many from feeding homeless starts off The city of Fort Lauderdale last week passed an ordinance that effectively outlaws several humanitarian groups from feeding the homeless in public with a penalty of up to 60 days in jail. The law kicked in Friday, setting up a potential showdown between those groups and police.

It then interviews Micah Harris is co-founder of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Project, which feeds the homeless of Fort Lauderdale. "A dollar a meal -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, water, pretzels and a banana," said Harris.

"Literally, they are literally starving on the streets," said Harris.

Not one word in the tv report as to WHY the Fort Lauderdale nasties passed the law.

Now, as the late Paul Harvey would intone, "the rest of the story."

When I first heard the report on the tv "news" I was both angered and embarrassed.

It's bad enough to be homeless, but to prevent do-gooders from giving these people food . . . cruel but, sadly, not unusual. We are a nation that does not take care of its poor.

Why did Fort Lauderdale pass yet another law against the homeless?

According to a Fort Lauderdale (nee Hollywood) Sun-Sentinel article headed Homeless advocates say new Fort Lauderdale laws won't silence them, Commissioners had heard years of complaints about homeless people hitting up drivers for money, defecating on sidewalks in front of stores, camping out in city parks and giving the downtown a bad image.

Mayor Jack Seiler said many of the advocates come in from western suburbs and go back to homes where they don't have to deal with the issues caused by a large homeless population. The city has supported a variety of homeless programs, but also has a duty to its residents, he said.

NBC - not affiliated with the tv station previously cited - notes in an article headlined Fort Lauderdale Latest City to Restrict Feeding Homeless actually gives a pretty fair report, although it omits some of the complaints expressed by the Fort Lauderdale commissioners.

Panhandlers are a plague on every city, but the sunshine cities get more than there fair share. It's nicer to be down and out where it's warm, like Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy:

I'm goin' where the sun keeps shinin',
Through the pourin' rain.
Goin' where the weather suits my clothes.
Bankin' off of the northeast winds,
Sailin' on summer breeze.
An' skippin' over the ocean like a stone.

(Theme from Midnight Cowboy)

The problem is, as I see it, that we - as a nation - don't care for the people who NEED care and we tolerate the people who don't need the care, the people too lazy to care for themselves.

There are people who, for one reason or another, simply cannot care for themselves.

Sometimes it's simply a matter of lacking skills for available jobs; sometime there simply are no available jobs.

Sometimes people are unable to work due to injuries - physical and mental - incurred while serving their country often in conflicts they don't comprehend.

People lacking job skills can be trained and with help, relocated to places where there are jobs. It may mean giving up life "where the sun keeps shinin'," but it’s a small price for dignity. (For the record, I have "spent time" where 0 F is all too common. I didn't like it, but it had to be done.)

I have no problem helping people who want to help themselves, but I have to agree with the city commissioners: I don't want people defecating on the city sidewalks or panhandling every passerby.

I suppose it is "unconstitutional" and "inhumane" to jail those too lazy to work and put them to work for the county in exchange for meals, clothing, and healthcare; a true "work for food" arrangement.

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