By Wayne Allen
A concerned citizen recently asked the Scioto County Commissioners if they could do anything about the influx of panhandlers showing up around the area. After seeking advice from legal council, the commissioners learned they can’t do anything about it.
Commissioners Doug Coleman and Bryan Davis said they are tired of seeing people standing on street corners asking for help.
“I had people come in from Atlanta with my sister and it looked awful,” Coleman said. “Don’t think it (panhandlers) will not deter people away from starting a business here. We don’t need that and we need to fight this.”
The concerned citizen told the commissioners of a recent experience with a panhandler, in which the panhandler threatened legal action.
When asked for a legal opinion on what the commissioners could do, Danielle Parker, Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor said, “unfortunately, there is nothing the commissioners can do. You guys (commissioners) are creatures of statute and there are not statutory provisions that would allow you guys to pass a resolution to stop it.”
Coleman pointed out the city of Portsmouth has an ordinance in place concerning panhandlers.
“The city can enforce there’s, they already have it in place,” Parker said.
The commissioners seemed amazed; they had no ability to regulate panhandlers.
“It’s getting out of hand all over the United States. I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve seen them just about anywhere you go. It’s getting to be big business,” said Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners. “At one time there was some legitimacy to it because people were up against the wall starving. Now, it’s gotten to where you see the same one day, after day, after day and they travel to another city to do it there,”
Coleman said he’s concerned for safety because, some panhandlers will walk onto a highway to receive someone’s generosity. He believes, one day that will cause a traffic accident.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT