Anti-panhandling ordinance cost city of Pensacola $10K

January 8, 2018

The homeless and panhandling have been problems for Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward since he took office. Several times, he attempted ordinances to deal with them. Each time he and other city officials have walked away with political black-eyes.

In May 2017, the mayor pushed through the city council another set of anti-panhandling ordinances, over the objections of the American Civil Liberties Union, Councilwoman Sherri Myers and this newspaper. The mayor privately told his supporters that he was willing to fight for ordinances. City Attorney Lysia Bowling defended them during the council deliberations.

The ACLU almost immediately filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the laws. The mayor caved in, and the council rescinded them in September. According to ACLU attorney Benjamin Stevenson, the mayor paid the ACLU’s legal fees of about $10,000 as part of the settlement agreement.

When interviewed last summer, Stevenson said the council’s decisions have baffled him. The ACLU warned the city before it voted for the ordinance that it would be struck down.

“They could have saved a lot of time and effort,” he said. “We told them there were constitutional problems.”

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  • Reply Sherri Myers January 8, 2018 at 9:54 am

    So, how much did the City pay to defend the lawsuit besides paying the ACLU $10,000.00.

    • Reply George Hawthorne January 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Far too much. It is a shame that your council colleagues have no interests on performing their “oversight” duties and pushback against the frivolous litigatin costs for his malfeasance in governance.

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