The issue of what to do about panhandling and other annoyances on the Ped Mall in Iowa City will likely to come to a head tonight with a group of ICCI and FAIR! members asking the city council to delay a vote on the issue citing a lack of data to make the decision. Council member Terry Dickens has largely led the charge for the Downtown Assocation (DTA) to make panhandlers, musicians and others to stay 20 feet away from store fronts on the Ped Mall and 10 feet everywhere else in Iowa City.
There are numerous considerations on this issue:
- Does this significantly reduce free speech and right to assembly?
- Is the city essentially "selling off" public property to unfairly advantage a group of business people in a particular area of town?
- Is this fair to other downtown businesses?
- Is a council member using his vote in direct conflict of interest to his office?
Hear Mr. Dickens own words on this issue. He "pays dearly" for his store's corner location and for having panhandlers who are near his store who also recognize it's prime location value. Is his profit motive clouding his judgment?
People who wish to speak to this issue should plan to arrive at 6:45 pm for the council meeting which begins at 7 pm at Iowa City Hall at 200 Washington St. The agenda item is #18 and a second and third consideration will likely be voted on this evening, unless the council is compelled to await further input.