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Here come the panhandlersPosted Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 6:38 AM
Nashville's begun fining panhandlers $50 for doing "business" at illegal times and/or illegal areas.
I guess those fines are symbolic, since the panhandlers would have to beg for money to pay their fines.
But what about panhandlers in Shelbyville?
A woman who police say doesn't need the money has been begging on North Main Street for a few weeks. Avoid her. She took one of our T-G staff members for a ride, claiming she was a school classmate (she hadn't been) and needed college money for her kids.
We haven't heard for awhile from the guy who also begged money for years in a several-blocks radius from the North Main Street-Colloredo Boulevard intersection.
He wasn't in such dire need, either. I've been asked several times and turned him down, mainly because I suspected he'd head straight for the nearby liquor store.
Shelbyville police do a good job, or least as much as possible, on handling these situations. But they can't be everywhere at once, and beggars who haven't really committed a major crime or shown anger when asking for "donations" can't be kept confined.
My opinion on "panhandling" changed nearly 20 years ago when a obviously-angry man went from table to table at a busy Wendy's in Nashville asking for money. He came across as someone who would attack with the slightest provocation. The other customers and I each reluctantly gave him a few dollars. In retrospect, someone should have called the cops.
For the record, I "give at the office" (through United Way), so I'm not heartless. But there's a difference between giving to the truly needy and those who are just "needing" alcohol and/or drugs.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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