Lewiston studying ordinance; Auburn says panhandling not allowed

Police have seen a few instances of individuals panhandling near the Auburn Walmart and in front of the Lewiston post office downtown.

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“I wouldn't say we don't have panhandling here. We do get complaints,” Lewiston Chief Michael Bussiere said, mentioning the elderly being targeted at the post office. “But Portland has a way bigger problem.”

Despite that, Lewiston is considering an ordinance that would prevent aggressive panhandling or panhandling on medians, Bussiere said. The request came from City Council President Mark Cayer, who saw elderly people approached for money by a large man who was “in your face.”

The council is expected to talk about a panhandling ordinance this fall after getting a recommendation from Lewiston police, Cayer said.

Under the U.S. Constitution, “there's nothing that prevents panhandling here or anywhere else,” Bussiere said. “It's widely considered protected by the First Amendment. People can ask people for money.”

That behavior crosses the line, he said, when there's panhandling from a median, which brings up public safety concerns, and when panhandlers continue to ask for money after a person has said no or ignored the request. “That's where we get into aggressive panhandling,” Bussiere said.

In Auburn, panhandling is not allowed on public property, Deputy Chief Jason Moen said.

A city ordinance makes it unlawful to solicit on public streets and sidewalks, Moen said. Begging for money is included in Auburn's definition of soliciting. “We used to get quite a few calls by Walmart,” Moen said. “Now we send them on their way. Because of the city ordinance, we ask them to leave.”

They've been cooperative, he said.

The city ordinance says no one can solicit on a public street, sidewalk or other public place without a license.

Lewiston's Bussiere said no one would panhandle if people didn't give them money. If someone is struggling with what to do when confronted by someone asking for money, Bussiere suggested donating to reputable organizations that help the poor.

“When you give out cash to individuals, you don't know how that money's being spent," Bussiere said. "But you know these nonprofits have a long-standing track record of providing resources to folks who need help.”

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Comments

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

Bussiere said. "But you know

Bussiere said. "But you know these nonprofits have a long-standing track record of providing resources to folks who need help.” HA HA some have been shown to give as low as 3 percent to the people in need even the united way was shown to be skimming at the top. In the end A person should give his money to whoever the person wants, and if a person is standing on a sidewalk holding a sign causing no problem by confronting people then it is just part of being American you know the phrase LAND OF THE FREE though our council says it is alright to carry a sign of protest as long as it is their view.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

How about an interview............

Maybe the SJ could send someone to interview the individual up at Walmart. They don't seem to be very elusive, and I would be curious to hear their side of the story. Who knows maybe I could be doing a little better than this SSDI.
When I was driving truck, I used to run into all sorts of intersection interference. In New Your City it was the squeegee patrol, one swipe of the squeegee across the windshield, and they charge you five bucks to finish the job. This all happened in a second or two upon stopping at a red light, and there are a lot of red lights in NYC. We also had the direction givers, they would jump onto my running boards of our trucks, and beg for five bucks, in exchange for directions. I won't mention the other red light distraction in the Big Apple, all I'll say is, it got worse the closer you got to 42nd St.
In Massachusetts it was the "paper boys, or gals. They would stand at major intersections and see how many "Boston Herald's" they could sell thru one light cycle. They weren't to bad except, that the front hood or my truck is six and a half feet high, anyone running back and forth in front of it, was totally invisible to me. Many close calls.
I don't really care to much about the pan handlers, I pretty much ignore them. I do wonder if the indignity of standing around holding a sign all day is worth it. They could just as easily take one of an array of jobs, such as a flagger or some similar job to earn an income. I wonder if lack of ambition has anything to do with it. Or is it that they are making a lot more money begging, than they could working...............

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