March 12, 2010

Miami Commission Turns Its Back on Citizens

The Miami City Commission has lost sight of its responsibilities to its citizens - ALL of them.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's incredibly bad proposal is this; to combat the problem of feeding the homeless of Miami, make it illegal to feed them. Instead of helping voters and taxpayers help the less fortunate, he's chosen to punish them. And that is not the purpose of government.

The intent of the ordinance is to stop various independent charitable groups from picking random locations around the city to do what the city is failing to do itself; prevent homeless people from starving on our city streets.

From Miami Today News:
The proposed ordinance would require anyone who wants to feed the homeless to get a license, and would also mandate how the food is to be handled, that trash will be removed, and that portable bathrooms will be available.
Next month I expect the county commission to take on those frickin' Boy Scouts who help old ladies cross the street. How dare anyone try to help others! There are paramedics relying on scraping grandma off the street to earn a paycheck.

That's not to say that there isn't a problem being created by the way groups feed the homeless at random spots around the city; there is. But criminalizing good deeds is not a reasonable approach to the problem. As the New Times points out, the commission's actions reduces the status of homeless people to that of pigeons.
Who cares about human decency and hunger if it gets in the way of pretty sidewalks, right?
-- Miami New Times/ Riptide
To be fair, the city has setup some shelters; there are just not enough of them. And with a flagging economy and slashed budgets, that's not going to change anytime soon. The commission should be praising these groups for stepping up to take up the slack, not turning them into criminals.

So instead of trying to arrest people who are doing the right thing the wrong way, the city should build help them partnerships to solve the actual problems.

Obviously, there are groups willing to FEED the homeless, but this is resulting in trash, and according to Marc Sarnoff, public defecation. Let's create sites near where these activities are taking place, and put in the necessary support systems. Get someone to underwrite the costs of port-a-johns, and someone else to underwrite the costs of garbage collections. The commission needs to be PRO-active, not RE-active.

The Miami Commission, and Marc Sarnoff, appears to have forgotten that they are elected to serve the public, not to hinder them.

The sad part is that these kinds of ordinances are overturned with some regularity; the city could choose to provide a small amount of funding instead of spending millions defending against a civil rights suit. But I guess it's not their money, why should they be expected to spend it responsibly just because we elected them to do just that?

1 comment:

  1. Again, right on target. How about the new bus benches with the thing in the middle to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them? Broward is also trying to prevent feeding the homeless.

    It is almost like there is a war on homeless people. Next thing you know they will be capturing them and relocating them!