Hillsborough commissioner says motorists who give money to panhandlers should be fined

December 15th, 2010 by Staff

TAMPA – The debate over how to deal with panhandlers along Bay Area streets has so far focused on the panhandlers. Now a Hillsborough County Commissioner is proposing an approach that would penalize the soft-hearted motorist handing out the money.

In a letter to the Tampa Tribune, Republican commissioner Mark Sharpe suggests ticketing motorists would be an effective way to clear our intersections of orange-vested panhandlers.

Sharpe writes,

“This ban should be enforced by a fine and could be easily administered with officers at the main intersections. After a few fines, drivers will quickly learn to stop encouraging the panhandling with handouts.”

Sharpe and his co-author in the letter, Tony DeSisto, say such enforcement would be an incentive for the homeless and needy to use established social services and would alleviate a situation they consider to be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. Allowances in the law would be made for drive-through windows at businesses.

So what do you think? Is this a common-sense solution to a chronic problem or a misguided policy that punishes generosity?

Let us know where you stand by leaving a comment below.

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