Bans on Feeding the Homeless Are Discriminatory and Unconstitutional

In parks around the world, people are free to feed themselves, pigeons, squirrels, and even rats. So why are local governments increasingly preventing them from feeding other people?

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Thankfully, the latest ban to take effect—Philadelphia's, which the aptly named Mayor Michael Nutter implemented just last week—has drawn a legal challenge.

As the Nevada ACLU did in Las Vegas—and the national ACLU did in New York City in the case of the police beating of Ledoux's supporters—the Pennsylvania ACLU chapter finds itself challenging "burdensome restrictions on outdoor feeding programs."

While Mayor Nutter claims the purpose of the ban is to push all "homeless feedings indoors where it is supposedly safer," the state ACLU counters that the ban was put in place "not to protect the health of the homeless but instead to protect the city's image in a tourist area."

The suit claims the ban violates the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment and Pennsylvania's Religious Freedom Protection Act. While no doubt true, to those claims I would add that the ban violates the Freedom of Assembly, a First Amendment right that my own research has demonstrated is inextricably intertwined with the provision of food and drink (a fact I noted when quoted in the Leschin piece).

A religious group may have separate First Amendment rights to feed the homeless as part of its protected religious mission, just as a group like Food Not Bombs may have separate free-speech rights if feeding the homeless is part of a larger "bake sales versus bombers" protest. But every American enjoys assembly rights separate and distinct from any religious or speech rights—something the Pennsylvania ACLU should make clear here. After all, the U.S. Constitution guarentees the right to assemble peaceably for any reason, while the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights guarantees that "citizens have a right in a peaceable manner to assemble together for their common good."

Restrictions on feeding the homeless are unconstitutional, discriminatory, and wrongheaded. Courts should force cities to acknowldge that members of civil society have a right to help those in need, and that those in need have a right to obtain assistance outside of government channels.

Baylen J. Linnekin, a lawyer, is executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that advocates in favor of food freedom—the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, cook, eat, and drink the foods of our own choosing.

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  • db||

    Cops asked to uphold these ridiculous bans should protest formally against the waste of time and resources. Surely they could be out pumping up their drug arrest quotas or kicking in doors, right?

  • ||

    ....or shooting dogs. Dont forget about the dogs.

    "In New York City, for example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to the homeless earlier this year "because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content."

    Better that they starve than to get too much salt in their diet. I am sure there is some other reason for the ban, probably something to do with giving some supporter a monopoly on food supply/distribution. The bullshit justification is so fucked up as to make heads spin. I laughed out loud the first time I read that. That new yorkers havent hanged bloomberg in times square is testiment to the city's stupidity.

  • John C. Randolph||

    The fact that governments act to prevent people from helping each other gives the lie to the whole left-wing premise that government is necessary because the poor will starve without it.

    -jcr

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Maybe crap like this is the inevitable result of having to many people employed as cops, and the need for them to do something.

    Funny how the "liberals" are the ones fighting any reduction in the size of police forces.

  • JoshSN||

    The clearance rate for murders in this country is close to 2/3rds.

  • TELLMOFF||

    You don't hear cop unions complaining about having to arrest charitable people.

  • sloopyinca||

    You don't hear cop unions complaining about having to arrest anybody. They're there because the love the power, not because they want to uphold individual liberty.

  • sloopyinca||

    Case in point.

    From the comments: Posted by 73Gerry on Friday, June 08, 2012 11:44 PM Pacific Report Abuse
    Black and Latino males, between 14 and 24, comprised 41.6 percent of stops in 2011, even though that population only makes up 4.7 percent of New York, according to the NYCLU.

    How much crime do they commit NYCLU? The funny thing about statistics is they don't ever show the bad when your opinion is only going to be one sided for your cause.

    DON'T REACH IN TO YOUR POCKETS WHEN I WALK UP TO TALK TO YOU! I cannot count the amount of times someone goes to reach in to a pocket when I am asking them if they have an ID on them. I asked if you had an ID, not GET YOUR ID OUT OF YOUR POCKET.
    Go ahead and video record. I don't care. Just don't reach in to your pocket until I make sure you don't have weapons.

    Yeah, because during an illegal stop without RS (when really it should require PC), the "civilian" should have to do whatever you tell him to...just because.

    Cops are uncaged beasts. With weapons.

  • MyrahU||

    That's stupid. Why would a cop ask if a person had ID and not expect them to show it? It's like if I asked if you have a pencil and you just say "yes" and then not offer it to me, making me then say "can I have it?" That makes you a jerk.

  • ||

    Or a New Yorker. The line gets mighty thin sometimes in that city...

  • Brutus||

    It's easy to pillory Nanny Bloomberg for these idiotic measures, but what about the citizens of NYC who keep putting his busybody ass into Gracie Mansion?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Yep, I hate them, too

  • Pi Guy||

    What part of "constitutional" do all these douche nozzles who swore to uphold the Constitution not understand?

  • Father Jack||

    These effete scum who craft such laws think the constitution is what they do when they sit on the toilet. That is the extent of their knowledge of such things. Feck 'em all. Drink! Arse! Girls!

  • TELLMOFF||

    Why do you ignore the fact that the Constitution was written by men who owned slaves?

  • Taco||

    Maybe because that little factoid is completely irrelevant?

  • ||

    You're absolutely right. Because they owned slaves, they must be ignored at all costs. Now shut up, and hand in your rights at the door on the way out.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    What part of "Constitutional" do they not understand? All of it.

  • Father Jack||

    Feck any hillbilly cop who doesn't refuse to arrest someone for commuting a charitable act in public. And feck these scumbag politicians who, in a perfect world, would be beaten like cheap gongs by roaming bands of homeless men and women. And feck the Yuppie Scum who run to the politicos because they don't want to see homeless people in their neighborhoods. Rot in hell all of yez....

  • ||

    Lay off hillbillies, popsy. Those cops are sophisticated urbanites.

  • johnl||

    Bloomberg and his crew are not hillbillies.

  • MisterDamage||

    Agreed. Even the stereotype hillbilly is smarter than that lot, never mind the real deal.

  • ||

    In New York City, for example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to the homeless earlier this year "because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content."

    It's funny, those most obsessed with regulating what we eat are also the most stridently pro-choice when it comes to abortion. So tight control over what we put into our bodies; hands off what we take out of our bodies. Not really pertinent to the issue of feeding the homeless, but funny nonetheless.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    It's also odd that they assume the traditional popular stance was wrong about abortion, but is correct about food. Why do they do this without having anyone look into the actual science of food? According to Dr William Castelli, director of the world's longest running heart study, known as the Framingham Heart Study,
    "In Framingham, Mass, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol...we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least, and were the most physically active."

  • ||

    That's an amazing quote. They found one thing, didn't like it so announced another, opposite, finding.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Want more?
    Since 1970, while obesity has skyrocketed, we consume
    less whole milk, but more apple juice.
    less pork, but more vegetables.
    less veal, but more corn and wheat.
    less lamb, but more sweeteners in processed food.
    less beef, but more rice.
    less butter, but more vegetable oils.
    less lard, but more man-made fats.
    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepa.....ready.html

  • ||

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Very cool!

    I'm a big Taubes fan. (Betcha couldn't tell.)

  • Robert||

    It's likely that some of those changes are at least in part a response to obesity rather than vice versa.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Maybe, but if the dietary-health paradigm they came from worked, things should be getting better, not worse, right? Whole milk, pork, veal, lamb, beef, butter and lard all have a higher fat content (at twice the Calories per gram) than apple juice, vegetables, corn, wheat, artificial sweeteners and rice. Why isn't obesity plunging?

  • Robert||

    Maybe things would be getting worse faster. There's no independent variable here, so you can't characterize the function.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    According to the advocates of Calories in minus Calories out crowd, the function is simple: Fat has 9 Calories/gram, protein has 4 Calories per gram, carbohydrate has 4 Calories per gram and fiber has 0 Calories per gram (meaning we can't digest the stuff). It takes 3500 Calories to shift your weight by one pound. Fill your finite stomach cavity with the 4 Calories per gram stuff and the zero Calories per gram stuff instead of the 9 Calories per gram stuff and lose weight.

    Except clearly it doesn't work.

  • Robert||

    It doesn't work because the amount we want to eat is not a simple function -- perhaps not a function at all -- of the mass of the food.

    It's pretty obvious that calorie consumption is under tight biologic regulation, or we would be seeing enormous swings in body mass of all animals. Consider in humans how much just a 1% difference in energy in vs. out does to body weight in a year.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Since 1970, while obesity "skyrocketed", the baby boomers got old. Hard to maintain that teenage waistline when you espouse the 1960's 'if it feels good, do it' philosophy.

    Just saying.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Chilhood obesity tripled from the 1960's to the 1990's.

  • Robert||

    In the USA or worldwide? Humans only, all animals tested, or only domesticated species?

    Anyway, I'm far from the 1st to point out that giving the data as the percentage passing a threshhold exaggerates differences vs. giving raw data. By what % did avg. weight, age- and species-adjusted, change?

  • Nyarlathotep||

    The reason that bans against feeding the homeless are in place is to reinforce the preferred illusion that you can't help people individually and voluntarily.

  • Brutus||

    +1

  • John||

    I think you have stumbled on the truth there.

  • ||

    +1

  • John C. Randolph||

    Also, harassing the homeless is what the limousine liberals who write the campaign contribution checks what the mayor to do, because homeless people are icky.

    I'll never forget watching a pack of NYPigD goons rousting all the bums off the subway to get them out of sight during the Democratic national convention, the first time I was living in NYC. I made a point of telling some of the assholes I saw with convention passes around their necks about it. They called me a liar, because their precious government would NEVER attack the poor and downtrodden.

    -jcr

  • Robert||

    No, I actually don't think that's much of the motiv'n for such bans. There is a little bit of such Machiavellian support for them in some quarters, but mostly it's because people don't like to see poor people, especially more than 1 or 2 of them at a time.

    Partly it's because poor people have a higher than avg. tendency to be nuts -- overwhelmingly harmless nuts, but people are frightened by people acting strangely. Partly it's because of fear of catching poverty -- power of suggestion, power of the mind, the tendency to manifest what comes to your mind. And partly it's because people would rather not be aware of such bad things as poverty, unless they're spectacularly bad things like auto wrecks, bldg. fires, wars, etc.

  • Robert||

    Also, those who want to see gov't help the poor often engage in this sort of propaganda by deed, i.e. very visibly demonstratively helping the poor, to call att'n to the problem. I'd say they're at least a strong enough force to balance those who want to discourage solutions to such problems in the hope of maintaining such problems as a justif'n for state action.

  • MyrahU||

    Yeah, when you're poor and nuts, it's a problem and people want to stay away from you. When you're rich and nuts, they make you friggin' Mayor of New York City!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to the homeless earlier this year "because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content."

    If I hadn't read that quote, I'd have assumed someone had just made it up.

    That's the most effing ridiculous thing he possibly could have said.

    The reason people don't want the homeless gathering in public places is becasue they're an eyesore, becasue they relieve themselves in public places, and because they drive away customers from nearby businesses.

    Bloomberg just provided a great argument for why his city shouldn't be assessing salt, fiber and fat content in food. ...it's because jerkoffs like him will turn any toehold they can find into leverage against us exercising our freedom--even if it's our freedom to help the homeless.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    The other great argument against it of course being Bloomberg has no stinking clue what he's talking about.

  • TELLMOFF||

    Get this into your libertarian head: Bloomberg is not dumb,Bloomberg is a sadist, Bloomberg does not need libertarian enlightenment, Bloomberg needs the guillotine.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Guillotine? Cool, he could lose up to 8 pounds that way, and about half of that is fat!

  • ||

    Rope is a hell of a lot cheaper

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Have you seen the cost of good rope these days?

  • croaker||

    Especially with 50 Shades Of Grey being the big hit that it is.

    The guillotine has more visual impact, especially if you put the heads up on spikes in front of city hall.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Vive le Roi!

    Um... I mean, "How horrid."

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Besides, screaming "Vive le Roi!" doesn't go as well with a gallows. (So I've got a bit of a fetish... NTTAWWT...)

  • Entitled Slacker||

    What about the chopping block? A little low-tech but economical and still very entertaining.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I believe his new motto is:

    Everything within the city bureaucracy,
    Nothing outside the city bureaucracy,
    Nothing against the city bureaucracy

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    God damn, but people are fucking assholes.

    Unebelievable. No, wait - TOTALLY believable.

  • John||

    You can't make this shit up can you? And if you can't give food to the homeless because nanny Bloomburg can't judge it healthy, how long before it is a crime to bake your neighbor a cake as a house warming present? How long before pot luck dinners are banned?

    You think I am kidding. But are those things any more stupid or outrageous than this?

  • ALHaines||

    Recall the bans on school bake sales, for similar reasons...everything is a nail.

  • ||

    I like the debating technique of arguing a position to the point of absurdity to point out the end result (slippery slope end state) of a potential policy or program.

    Arguments I made 20 years ago are now reality. We are the frog in boiling water.

  • John||

    When they went after smokers people said fat people were next. And all right thinking people said that was ridiculous.

  • ||

    That was the big one. Once you set precedent...all bets are off.

  • TELLMOFF||

    Replace your libertarian study with resistance. That means hurting the enemy.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How is one supposed to judge if another person is "homeless" or not. If I strike up a conversation with a stranger and I have two apples, I have to judge this stranger by some arbitrary rules before I can feel free to ask him or her if he or she would like an apple?

    For example, Mr. Pig Farmer could have just come from work, covered in dirt and smelling like pig feces. His work clothing is ratty and full of holes. He has a long scraggy beard. However, he owns acres and acres of farmland.

    Whereas, Mr. "Pursuit of Happyness" could be wearing a pinstripe suit and be carrying a briefcase. He is clean-shaven and showered. However, he lives in his car.

    Now, which one would a cop ticket me for if he observed me giving an apple to one of them?

    This law attempts to replace empathy with telepathy.

  • John||

    That is just it isn't it? You can't tell who is homeless and who isn't. So the answer will be to just ban the public sharing of food altogether. Given Bloomburg's logic, I don't see how things like church pot luck dinners and community events won't eventually be banned or required to cater in food. How do do know the salt and transfat content of Mrs. Jones' pie. And children are eating that pie.

    It sounds crazy, but that is where it is headed.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, I'm sure said churches and P.T.Os can always apply for the proper licences and inspections from the Food Safety departments and whatnot. (6-month waiting period, and 1,000 dollar filling fee, of course)

  • John||

    It wouldn't surprise me if that isn't already the case.

  • Whahappan?||

    Plus $100,000 in required facility upgrades.

  • MyrahU||

    And permits. Don't forget the permits!

  • TELLMOFF||

    The U.S.A. has been crazy for a couple of hundred years. It started with buying and selling slaves.

  • Robert||

    But what the heck, you're still allowed to give poor people the thing they'd most like: cash. I think.

  • sloopyinca||

    For example, Mr. Pig Farmer could have just come from work, covered in dirt and smelling like pig feces. His work clothing is ratty and full of holes. He has a long scraggy beard. However, he owns acres and acres of farmland.

    Whereas, Mr. "Pursuit of Happyness" could be wearing a pinstripe suit and be carrying a briefcase. He is clean-shaven and showered. However, he lives in his car.

    First off, can you come up with an example that doesn't conjure up visions of Will Smith? No, seriously.

    Second, you're absolutely right of course.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    First off, can you come up with an example that doesn't conjure up visions of Will Smith? No, seriously.

    No.

    WELCOME TA EARF!

  • John C. Randolph||

    I just had an idea for something useful that the kids in the "occupy" crowd could do. How about holding a "feed-in" on the steps of NY city hall? Can they muster 500 people willing to get arrested over this issue?

    -jcr

  • John Sawyer||

    Lots of Occupiers all over the US and elsewhere, have already fed a huge number of homeless people. Many of the encampments had/have free food.

  • MyrahU||

    But the food was for the protestors, not the homeless. The protestors had homes. I even heard about the protestors keeping the homeless away because they were trying to get the free food.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The obvious solution is one close to Houston's. Any city with a park has the potential to see homeless feedings, and therefore really needs to set up an agency in city government dedicated to permitting private organizations who might want to engage in this kind of business on the city's property. Classes need to be required, acceptable lists of ingredients provided and fees charged for the resulting certification. After all that, of course we still can't let the feeding happen in the city parks where decent, employed taxpayers go to relax, so certified groups will have to hold events in buildings zoned for that sort of thing. Easy peasy.

  • ||

    Having an agency tasked specifically with the training, certification, licensing, and taxing of those seeking to feed the homeless is a great start. But to really work, this agency would also need to be given enforcement powers, and agents would ideally be armed and sworn. At the same time, new statutes will need to be written, providing criminal (we hope) penalties for those feeding the homeless in a noncompliant manner.

  • sloopyinca||

    Well you guys seem to be going in the right direction, but how can this armed agency with arrest powers properly ensure the right foods are being given out in the right venue unless they have drones at their disposal to monitor public spaces to ensure compliance with the aforementioned regulations and required training? And how can those drones properly monitor unless they are armed with some kind of pepper-spray or other non-lethal gas that can force people to disperse areas where they have not received the proper permits or training to be in?

  • Robert||

    And not just flying drones, but rolling ones on the street. With electric cattle prods. And loudspeakers. And strobe lights for the deaf. And backscatter X-ray equipment.

  • dan'o||

    Don't forget that this agency will need regulatory power to write their own rules!

  • sloopyinca||

    And what about their qualified immunity? If they make a mistake and accidentally kill someone, they shouldn't bear any consequences. After all, they had good intentions.

  • Major Pain||

    Also, they're going to need websites and a lifetime national registry to keep these food offenders from rising above the permanent criminal class. And the registry must apply retroactively. And we'll need an iPhone app so people can know who the offenders are.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I like where this is going.

  • plu1959||

    IF YOU FEED THEM, THEY'LL NEVER LEAVE!

    Also, if I'm paying $3,000 a month for a 2-room apartment in Manhattan, I don't want to see bums when I make a Starbucks run. Fix it, Bloomberg!

    /channeling

  • John||

    Homeless are a problem. But this isn't the way to deal with it. They are not city elk for God's sake.

  • TELLMOFF||

    I would rather see bums than fucking pigs.

  • Seanrude||

    Instead of outlawing feeding the homeless, just outlaw homelessness. Problem solved

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm sure many cops would seamlessly make the transition into members of death squads.

    And yet the Oathkeepers are the "crazy" ones.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't know about death squads.

    The purpose of the police in New York City is mostly just to make sure street vendors are paying the sales tax.

    If the cops are already at the point of sale,might as well go ahead and check the ingredients of that hot dog.

    So, death squads? I don't know about that. But they could seamlessly make the transition to nutrition fascists, no problem.

    Vie have vays of making you eat ein food pyramid.

    Ein volk. Ein stadt. Ein fuhrer.

    Heil Bloomberg!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So, death squads? I don't know about that

    Watch the Kelly Thomas video again and tell me that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's no doubt that there are some like that.

    There's a certain personality type that seems to be attracted to police work--Dunphy excluded of course--and so when they say there's one in every crowd? There's probably more than one in a crowd of cops.

    Still, after a few years on the job? Most cops are just punchin' a clock. They want to get through their day with as little hassle as possible. They're writing tickets. They're getting calls about people fighting with their significant others. They're busting kids who are driving around wasted.

    It's an eight hour gig. And the trick is to not get hurt or in trouble. There are some who pull people over becasue they look like they might be trouble. And then there are a lot who pull people over becasue they're speeding, and they don't look like they're going to be any trouble at all.

    The militarization stuff is mostly because the money's there for that. If you're in a government agency, and the government's offering you free money to buy stuff, you always want that free money. If you don't go after that free money, then your boss thinks you're not doing your job.

    If they offered them a ton of money to demilitarize, I suspect a lot of them would do that, too.

    Once you've got all that gear, the power that be want to see you justify further purchases by using it. That's the cycle.

  • TELLMOFF||

    What is the sense of outfitting cops like death squads if they are not going to act as death squads?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I keep trying to tell you...

    It's to check the nutritional value of food!

  • John C. Randolph||

    The purpose of the police in New York City is mostly just to make sure street vendors are paying the sales tax.

    It's also to make sure that blacks are routinely deprived of any money they may be carrying, since it must be drug money because the cop said so.

    -jcr

  • MyrahU||

    Get a house or go to jail!

    Hey, we could solve the housing crisis right there! Just make it a law for everyone to buy a house or face some kind of fine or something. For those who are low-income, the government would obviously give them a house. For everyone else, they would have to buy their own or have their employer supply it. It's so simple! Why has no one thought of this before?

  • Silly ol' Bear||

    It is time to reboot this society. Get rid of all these idiots in office, get new ones, replace the moronic cops with ones that actually have brains. Get the Constitution going again. Tell all the idiots in NY to repeal the bans, get a REAL mayor, not some moron that created a website for the NYSE. It's time ppl start governing themselves.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If we can't convince people to get rid of their leaders, there's always the Escape from New York option.

    Just wall the fucker off.

  • perlhaqr||

    The problem is you're righter than you think. With the electorate we have, we might "get rid of all the idiots in office", but we'd only "get new ones"; idiots, that is.

    Most people want this.

  • Silly ol' Bear||

    We need to have limits on offices. TWO TERMS only, no matter what, no matter where!

  • sloopyinca||

    How would this solve anything? How is it constitutional? What about my right to vote for who I support more than twice?

  • ||

    It would solve the problem of the career politician.

    It was envisioned that Congress would meet for a few months, do the country's business and go home to their REAL job. It was supposed to be a TRUE public service position. Now it's about how long can I stay on the gravy train. They begin politicking the minute they show up, which means they lie, cheat and steal because they have incentive to do so (continue to suck from the public tit).

    I propose a constitutional amendment that limits Reps to ONE four year term and Senators to ONE eight year term, with votes of confidence (2/3 voter majority required to unseat them) during off cycle primary elections to keep the scumbags loyal to their constituents.

    They know, UP FRONT, there is no second term to lie, cheat and steal for. You would attract politicians who actually care about the nation rather than power.

  • sloopyinca||

    We need to go back to 30,000 people per district, and most of the corruption would come to a screeching halt. Implement that and my proposals below on lobbying, abolition of the Fed and a balanced budget with PayGo and the corruption is gone.

    People are fickle and the only thing keeping these people entrenched is that their districts are so large they can dominate large political machines and spend big bucks on campaigns. If congress were nearly 4x its current size, they wouldn't be able to buy control so easily.

  • perlhaqr||

    30k people per district wouldn't give you a congress 4x the current size, but more like 100x.

    Nothing would ever get done.

    Personally, I'm all for it.

  • ||

    Interesting.

    However I don't like this:

    Once selected, the person will not be able to receive paid lobbyists while he/she serves his/her term. Any lobbying or attempt at lobbying not reported immediately will be punishable by up to 5 years in prison for both parties.

    Clearly unconstitutional under 1A.

  • ||

    I'd rather limit the government than the people.

  • sloopyinca||

    I'd rather limit the government than the people.

    So would I, hence that proposal is problematic on its face.
    So, how about this: they can't be lobbied by anybody from outside of their district, and all meetings and schedules of reps are a matter of public record and may be attended by any of their constituents. Also, an audio recording of any meeting is a matter of public record.*

    That would preserve the 1A and make our government transparent.

    *Also, all committee, subcommittee or working group meetings are open to the public and a recording is kept as public record.

  • Major Pain||

    "You would attract politicians who actually care about the nation rather than power."

    No, you'd just attract politicians who know they have to get their corruption done in 4 or 8 years, instead of over a lifetime. Those speaking deals, sweetheart jobs, "opportunities"... all have to be accomplished in one term. It'd amplify the corruption many times over. You can't fix our problems with term limits. You have to erase the corruption itself.

  • ||

    Hence, the votes of confidence. They'd not be running against an opponent, only against their own records. You can get rid of them if they commit egregious acts and it also addresses the problems associated with fundraising and "money" driving elections since they only run once.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Explain to me why the State of New Mexico is better off becasue Gary Johnson was term-limited.

  • ||

    The "good" politician is the exception rather than the rule. Sure, you'd lose a few good ones but we'd be FAR, FAR better off on the whole by limiting the shitbags. Absolute power corrupts...

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yes, Gary Johnson was exceptional.

    And New Mexico isn't better off for having to go forward without the exception.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You're trying to make choices for other people.

    You're effectively saying that becasue you usually disapprove of other people's choices, their freedom to choose for themselves should be limited.

    That sounds like the opposite of libertarianism to me. Libertarianism to me is the idea that people should be free to make choices for themselves--even if they sometimes make poor choices.

  • ||

    Libertarianism AND the Constitution are ALL ABOUT putting limits upon the government.

    Politicians lie, cheat and manipulate to serve their own need for power. That's how they persuade the public to reelect them. Taking away their ability/incentive to deceive is about the most libertarian thing I can think of. Increase the liberty of the people by restricting the authority of the government!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Because it forces Johnson to pursue the cursus honorum.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    Because Toney Anaya was also term-limited.

    ... Hobbit

  • Ken Shultz||

    That doesn't answer why New Mexico is better off without Gary Johnson.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Gary Johnson's tenure as governor had to be killed before it lived long enough for him to become a villian.

    You cannot see any general value in not allowing politcians to camp out permanantly in one office?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, it's real simple.

    You just vote the bastard out of office come the next election. Hell, sometimes you don't have to wait that long. As Governor Walker found out, sometimes they dislike you so intensely, they can try to recall you.

    Speaking of Walker, can you imagine if he were term-limited and his last term was up come November?

    I'm trying to think of why denying the people of Wisconsin the right to vote for Walker, in that situation, would be a good thing for Wisconsin.

    I'm drawin' a blank.

  • ||

    You just vote the bastard out of office come the next election.

    Except the bastard doesn't get voted out, because he lies/spins his message or outright buys off his constituents with subsidies or pork so he can continue to pursue his never ending lust for power.

    FUCK HIM! One term and then FUCK OFF! Go get a real fucking job!

  • MyrahU||

    That's why we can't get rid of Dianne Feinstein here in California. She'll probably be in there until she dies, then they'll stuff her and let her keep her seat, Strom Thurmond style.

  • Robert||

    They did pass (by voter initiative) a 2 term limit in the city charter. Bloomberg wanted a 3rd term, so he got the city council to amend the charter to allow it.

  • croaker||

    I can go for that.

    One term in office, one term in jail.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    And no pension for the legislators. It's not supposed to be a career it supposed to be a public service.

  • sloopyinca||

    As opposed to Silly Ol Bear's suggestion on term limits, I would propose a simpler solution. For each office that we currently elect people for, a random name from each district will be selected and that person will become that district's representative for the upcoming term. If they do not want the job, another random name will be selected.

    Once selected, the person will not be able to receive paid lobbyists while he/she serves his/her term. Any lobbying or attempt at lobbying not reported immediately will be punishable by up to 5 years in prison for both parties.

    Each piece of legislation can only be approved on a PayGo basis, and there will be a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment that also disbands the Federal Reserve Bank and puts us back on a standard currency.

  • sloopyinca||

    Either ^^that^^ or we go back to the original "One rep for every 30,000 people" concept that makes reps much more accessible and in touch with their constituents.

    My above was a bit of a joke, but this is a real suggestion that needs to be implemented. And the members of Congress need to ave their staffs cut by about 75%. They should be answering their own phone calls from constituents.

  • Ken Shultz||

    We just need to convince people to see things our way.

    I think we're making progress.

    I never thought I'd live to see people advocating gay marriage. I never thought I'd live to see so many people think that legalizing marijuana was a good idea.

    Obama's economic arguments are ringing hollower and hollower--in places like Wisconsin.

    We can persuade people. That's the way out. No amount of structural reconfiguration will overcome a populace that doesn't really believe in liberty anyway. So persuading people isn't just a viable way out; I think it's the only way out for good.

  • sloopyinca||

    Yeah, but getting back to 30k per district would give us a much greater chance of getting people elected. And a public voice and platform is a lot more likely to get people swayed our way.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Term limits and smaller districts are both just versions of the right people fallacy.

    The real solution, as Friedman said, is to get the wrong people to do the right thing.

    Besides, term limits have fucked up CA even more than it was before they were enacted.

  • ||

    article hits the nail on the head.

    as usual, it portrays, to an extent, cops as the villains, when as usual, it's bad LAW, and thus the fault of the legislature, but imo no cop with a conscience could enforce such laws without eroding the quality of his soul.

  • Major Pain||

    "no cop with a conscience could enforce such laws without eroding the quality of his soul."

    Well, my heart goes out to them. All three of them.

  • ||

    derp derp derp

    troll-o-meter:

    .0001

  • ||

    another "internet exception to the 1st amendment".

    and since, yet again, legislators (unlike cops) face NO penalties for violating the constitution, there is no disincentive for them pulling these 'for the children' shenanigans.

    what will inevitably happen is prosecutors will generally avoid using this law, unless and until a case of sufficient public pressure comes up. then, they will shrug their shoulders, say "the law is the law" and go ahead and violate the constitution to prosecute it, yet again risking no consequences (see: absolute immunity), and finally we can have a court throw it out... this will come after wasting tons of money passing the law, posting it, enforcing it, etc.

    http://www.volokh.com/2012/06/.....qus_thread

  • SIMON SEZ||

    we should use the right wing's tactics against them. let's quote the bible at them:1 John 3:17 But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him ?

  • Tulpa the White||

    Oh my God Linnekin. Freedom of assembly means you have the right to gather. What you do while gathered is still subject to the law.

    Otherwise, one could claim that the city can ban feeding people one on one but must allow mass feedings to take place, which is absurd.

  • Baylen Linnekin||

    Terms of the Las Vegas settlement require that police may no longer ban and ticket those feeding or being fed "unless there is evidence of unlawful activity, and in those cases a valid arrest must be made or a citation issued." Which is as it should be.

    Linnekin is pretty sure Linnekin covered said point.

  • Tulpa the White||

    That doesn't speak to my point, which is that the city has the authority to regulate what people can do while assembled, so long as that activity itself isn't constitutionally protected. Such as, feeding people, which is not constitutionally protected.

    That's a settlement, anyway, not a court decision. So it has no bearing on the constitutional situation.

  • Sevo||

    Tulpa the White|6.9.12 @ 8:44PM|#
    "That doesn't speak to my point, which is that the city has the authority to regulate what people can do while assembled, so long as that activity itself isn't constitutionally protected. Such as, feeding people, which is not constitutionally protected."

    You do know, don't you, that the Constitution doesn't grant rights, it limits government power.
    So please specify where in the Constitution the government is allowed to define who can hand out food to whom.

  • Tulpa the White||

    If we were talking about federal laws against homeless feeders, that would be a good question.

    oh snap, we're not.

  • Sevo||

    "oh snap, we're not."

    oh snap, the Constitution only applies to federal lands.
    oh snap, no, that's not true.
    oh snap, tulpa is an idiot.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and idiot, you haven't yet defended this claim:
    "That's a settlement, anyway, not a court decision. So it has no bearing on the constitutional situation."

  • Tulpa the White||

    I mean, Linnekin's interpretation of the first amendment would eliminate laws against having orgies in public parks, since you have to assemble before you can orgy.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Also, none of the bans discussed outlaw inviting homeless people onto your own property and feeding them there.

    The NYC "ban" isn't even a ban on feeding, it's a ban on donations. Which is stupid, but unconstitutional? You're crying wolf.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Nothing about these laws bans feeding the homeless on your own property, btw. So if your conscience compels you to do so, put some invitations to your place in the dumpsters and on the shopping carts.

    Freedom of religion isn't a right to have the public provide the land for your religious exercise.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Nothing about these laws bans feeding the homeless on your own property, btw. So if your conscience compels you to do so, put some invitations to your place in the dumpsters and on the shopping carts.

    Except that would be seen as "operating a soup kitchen," which requires the proper licencing, of course.

  • ||

    I was anxiously waiting for Tulpa to show up on this thread. This is like the one issue where he has a weird rage thing going. It's funny.

  • Tulpa the White||

    My thoughts on this subject are similar to Peter Bagge's.

  • Tulpa the White||

    [information not at source given]

    The licensing they're referring to there is for accepting tax-deductible donations.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Nothing about these laws bans feeding the homeless on your own property, btw. So if your conscience compels you to do so, put some invitations to your place in the dumpsters and on the shopping carts.

    Freedom of religion isn't a right to have the public provide the land for your religious exercise.

  • Robert||

    People tend to have sympathy for the poor only in the abstract, not the concrete or particular. Usually, however, the discouragement of services for the poor is more informal -- for instance, when a Universal Life Church in either Miami Beach or Surfside was burned out around 25 yrs. ago after they'd been serving food to the poor.

  • Tulpa the White||

    That's because the concrete in this case is dodging a cohort of mentally ill beggars with a continent-sized sense of entitlement while you try to enjoy a walk in the park your tax dollars pay for.

  • Sevo||

    Tulpa the White|6.9.12 @ 8:37PM|#
    "That's because the concrete in this case is dodging a cohort of mentally ill beggars with a continent-sized sense of entitlement while you try to enjoy a walk in the park your tax dollars pay for."

    Sell the park to someone.
    If you grant a commons, don't gripe when it turns into a tragedy.

  • Tulpa the White||

    There are going to be public parks for the forseeable future. For better or worse, we don't live in the Deus ex Sevo universe, we have to work in the one we have.

  • Sevo||

    Tulpa the White|6.9.12 @ 10:56PM|#
    "There are going to be public parks for the forseeable future."

    So, since you set the rules, obviously no other viewpoint is valid? Begging the question or poisoning the well? Not sure which.
    But you're also missing a process which progressives pitched and will bite them in the butt.
    Near my home, in SF, is an 'abatement'; required 'grease' by the supervisor in that district to 'allow' a developer to build rentals and condos.
    Well, the developer outsmarted the lefturd supervisor and put in a park rather than contribute to the lefturd's 'organizing committees' (his re-election supporters) and put in a park.
    It is 'public' in that anyone may use it, but it is also patrolled by the developer's security agents.
    Want to hold a party? Fine, a liability deposit is required. Want to allow your pooch to poop on the grass? Not if the agent finds you. Etc.
    Yes, 'public' parks may continue, but like 'public' toilets, most folks will avoid them.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    My abiding suspicion is that what we are seeing here is a case of "If it's supposed to be done by the State, then it's a State monopoly". If private individuals are taking care of the street people, somebody's budget might get cut!

    Basically the same reason I'm against government health care.

  • Dan Geddes||

    Clearly, many cities' attitude toward the homeless is beneath human dignity. See "Jesus Look-alike Arrested for Feeding 5,000 Homeless People" at http://www.thesatirist.com/new....._5000.html (satire)

  • ||

    Saw Prometheus last night, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. Normally, I hate 3D, but they really made it work here.

  • Lyle||

    If vagrancy can be proven to hurt business in a certain area, what else can the government do to remove vagrants from that area?

  • ||

    If vagrancy can be proven to hurt business in a certain area, what else can the government do to remove vagrants from that area?

    If someone who is a vagrant is, through the initiation of force (trespassing, for example), causing a business owner a real and quantifiable harm, then the police would be justified in making an arrest. But this discussion is about feeding homeless people in general, so going off on tangents about rogue bums kind of distracts from the issue.

  • Lyle||

    So vagrancy doesn't drive business away from wherever the vagrants choose to congregate?

    Through no fault of the property owner the property owner should suffer from vagrancy?

    This isn't about crime by the way, but causing citizenry and customers to avoid an area because of vagrants.

  • ||

    So vagrancy doesn't drive business away from wherever the vagrants choose to congregate?

    It seems like you're suggesting the law should be used as a weapon drive a group of people away from an area just because another group doesn't like them.

  • Lyle||

    Does not like them is not the same as lowering the economic value of a place of business.

    This hasn't got anything to do with disliking vagrants, this has to do with maintaining an area for optimal business transactions.

  • Tagalog||

    1. They sleep in the doorways of commercial establishments, scaring off both employees and customers.

    2. Restaurants that have outdoor tables find the derelicts occupying them all day.

    3. Restaurants (such as the local bagel and coffee places) have trouble with derelicts occupying the indoor tables, buying a cup of coffee and taking all day to drink it, while they have a group kaffee klatsch.

    4. The local library has a problem with the derelicts coming into the library, occupying ALL (I do mean ALL) of the chairs and desks, surfing the library computers for porn and playing video games, socializing in ordinary conversational levels all day long, and bothering people by begging for money and asking for car rides.

    5. Drinking, huffing, and doing dope in the public parks, sometimes near schools, and selling and buying same.

    They do indeed lower the economic viability of any commercial area where they congregate. Not to mention the shoplifting, aggressive panhandling, and occupying places where people who have more would do business.

    The result is abandoned downtowns with the roving bands of sharks that inevitably follow such shut-downs.

  • Tagalog||

    Even the soup kitchens have the good sense to tell the homeless they have to leave after they get their handout or their names will be taken down and they won't get any more free feeds if they're going to loiter around.

    I feel sorry for the poor guy who runs the bagel store; he used to give the homeless people his day-old bagels, so they could eat food that would only be thrown out, but his reward was that they hung out in his shop all day. They also hung out all day in the Starbuck's next door and the Subway sandwich shop across the street.

  • Lyle||

    Vagrants are kind of like pirates and the cops are the US Navy enforcing piracy laws passed by the wealth of nations.

  • ||

    If the vagrants are out there stealing and robbing, then your analogy is just about perfect.

  • Lyle||

    Pirates need not steal and rob to scare ships into moving on to another port. :)

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Yes, they do. If they NEVER rob, then nobody is going to shift ports. Only if they sometimes rob will shipping move away.

  • Lyle||

    Oh yes, vagrants NEVER thieve.

    It's not even just the thieving but the sheer nuisance.

  • ||

    Small sums of cash were given daily; http://www.lunettesporto.com/l.....-3_12.html free food was delivered by restaurants and bakeries; an experienced cobbler perhaps hundreds, of Ledoux's followers obtained jobs as a result of the auctions.

  • WMDKitty||

    Where I live, a lot of the free feeds also serve low-income (but not homeless) people. I've noticed that with our homeless, up here in Bellingham, the meals also help to form a sense of community -- and you meet a lot of interesting people, too. For me, it's kind of fun to just people-watch, and you'll see that regardless of social status or income or race or gender identity or orientation, we're all the same, we're all ONE; there is a basic human need to connect with other people, to socialize, and I believe this is good for EVERYONE.

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  • Tagalog||

    It's OK for the homeless and destitute to beg, but not OK for those who have more to feed them? How strange a world we now live in.

    It's as if a kid went to school with a turkey and cheese sandwich and the school took away the turkey sandwich and fed the kid chicken nuggets instead, claiming that they were concerned about proper nutrition for the kid.

  • 0ptimist||

    The statement regarding Houston "The ordinance ultimately passed by Houston is a slightly less onerous (though still terrible) one that simply "requires permission from the city government before serving food in city parks." is not entirely correct.

    The ordinance as it currently exists does more than require permission from the city; indeed, violation still comes with a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine. Additionally, section 20-257 of the code now states:

    "The director of the health and human services department shall develop rules, regulations, and criteria for the use of other city property for food service events and shall maintain a list of such properties with areas approved for food service events. The parks department and the health department shall coordinate designation of such properties to avoid redundancy and maximize the most effective use of the properties."

    This, along with the optional "certification" is sufficiently vague so as to leave wide open the possibility of future expansion of the ordinance, or at the very least broad authority over what were once public gathering spaces.

    Ordinance: http://library.municode.com/HT.....HFOSE.html

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  • Jan Parson||

    The separation between a homeless person and the average American, isminiscule. A layoff, illness or a bad divorce could happen to any of us.I read in the Dallas morning news that 2 of Dallas' homeless froze to death on Christmas night. For the past 24 years, my friends and I have given food and clothing to the homeless on Christmas Day. Local shelters do a very good job of providing housing to many, but there are still individuals for whom there is either no room or who are ineligible or unable to enter a shelter.We see families where the breadwinner has lost a job, Vets with post traumatic stress disorder and people who used their meager savings to travel to Dallas for a job, but once they arrived, they discovered the job no longer existed. This year we were stopped by 2 Dallas police officers; a city ordinance has passed restricting our type of giving. They explained the reasons for the ordinance: trash left behind when the homeless are done eating and possible health and food safety violations.

    The people we fed and gave dry blankets and coats to during the sleet and snow on Christmas day fared better after we left them. Cardboard boxes, that most of us would toss away without a 2nd thought, are the only barrier between their bodies and the cold, damp concrete.We were all soaked and so very cold when we finished delivering. We piled into heated cars, leaving behind people who didn’t have the luxury of getting dry or warm.

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