The Friday Catchall:
• ANYBODY’S HOME — The homeless issue is one that everyone should understand.
Many people are that “one paycheck” away from losing it all. While a lot of people have a support network of family and friends, this is not always the case.
That said, I have had experiences with the side challenge to this: panhandlers.
First, not all panhandlers are homeless and not all homeless panhandle — seeking handouts. Still, people standing on a corner with a cardboard sign wanting work have turned me down, when I told them of some manual labor at my house; also, my wife and I have witnessed people we’ve given donations to use the money, let’s say, legitimately (how they “advertised” on their cardboard sign) — and others who, well, did not.
Not all people are honest, and some donors are too judgmental. I get it. However, based on my experiences, I tend to be skeptical of the panhandlers’ motivations.
Knowing all of this, I was not surprised to learn that the City of Prescott (read: council members) are moving ahead with signs discouraging the act of giving to panhandlers. They also are exploring “collection meters,” where people can give and the money goes to local charities or efforts to help people down on their luck.
It makes sense especially considering that the Prescott area has more charitable efforts underway now to help people who are homeless than ever before.
That is why I bristled when I heard two people talking in line ahead of me this week at a store. Essentially they were complaining that Prescott is no longer “Everybody’s Hometown,” taking the label to mean the ever-obvious or popular “everybody’s welcome here.”
“Not me,” one of the men said. “I don’t feel welcome here anymore. They wanna keep people from giving to me, and it’s none of their business.”
I also understand the objections raised by Daniel Mattson, a local homeless advocate, stating that the meters “aren’t a viable option.”
People who panhandle will find a way to get what they want. Moving them or restricting them will not work, and criminalizing what they do technically flies in the face of the First Amendment.
Lord knows we will not be confused as a sanctuary city, but I hope we all come to terms with this.
If you want to learn more — to understand it all better — at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, the city will conduct two meetings at City Hall on these topics.
• TOP NEWS — I always find it interesting what people are interested in the most. At our website, dCourier.com, the big deal for readers in the past week was our coverage about the Prescott Airport and the City Council’s choice of a new provider.
Second was the Palace Restaurant and Saloon changing hands, followed by a story about a Prescott Valley man arrested for allegedly attacking his girlfriend; a dog saving a kindergartener; Castle Hot Springs looking to reopen; what panhandlers are and aren’t allowed to do; and only real service animals allowed, the state says.
Think about that mixed bag of stories this way: we’re covering what you care about — what affects you, your neighbor, your life, your animals. Travel, crime, critters, relaxation and, uh, panhandling … something for everyone!
• BREAKING NEWS — I just watched Gov. Doug Ducey’s announcement Thursday afternoon about pay increases of 20 percent for teachers, over the next few years. Kudos to him and the Legislature for making this happen. Check today’s Courier for the details; I am sure you are as curious as I am where they’re finding the money.
• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): Dancing for the Stars, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at the Elks Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley St. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona benefits from this premier dance competition, pairing local celebrities with professional dancers. Visit www.dancingforthestars.net to vote for your favorite celebrity or buy tickets.
Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or email@example.com.