Breaking news: Myers proposes repeal of anti-panhandling ordinance

Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers notified Inweekly that she plans to ask her fellow council members to repeal the anti-panhandling ordinance passed earlier this month and signed into law by Mayor Ashton Hayward. The ordinance was sponsored by Mayor Hayward and Council President Brian Spencer and drafted by the City Attorney Lysia Bowling.

The city is facing a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the constitutionality of the law. Despite having a legal opinion supporting the ordinance from Bowling, city officials have announced they will not enforce the law until the lawsuit is resolved.

Stay tuned….cue circus calliope music.

BTW: The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners are holding a summit on homelessness as part of its Committee of the Whole. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

Update: Repeal of Section 8-1-28 – Solicitation – Myers


1 thought on “Breaking news: Myers proposes repeal of anti-panhandling ordinance

  1. The irony of the new so-called “Downtown Visitors’ District” created by Section 8-1-28 is that leaves out so many of the places that visitors want to visit to include Joe Patti’s, the Community Maritime Park, the Seville Square area, the Fish House, etc. Oddly, the district boundaries magically include the homes and businesses of DIB Chairman John Peacock and DIB member/Council President Brian Spencer. What a coincidence!

    Regarding City Attorney Lysia Bowling’s so-called “legal opinion” opining that Section 8-1-28 is constitutional, I think it would be fun if Inweekly asked a diverse range of lawyers, legal assistants, legal secretaries and pre-law students to review and assess it. Inweekly could post the comments with or without attribution.

    As a reminder, neither Bowling nor her two predecessors – Jim Messer (fired in 2015) and Rusty Wells (fired in 2011) – have demonstrated a talent for legal analysis. All three are well-known as political attorneys best equipped to say loud and clear – “Yes, Mayor.”

    Regarding Bowling’s most recent accomplishments, keep in mind that she advised the City Council that the Mayor has the power to simply grant himself a veto power even when the voter-approved City Charter plainly does not give this or any future Mayor a power to veto a certain action of the City Council. Before that, Bowling advised the City Council that voter approval of a Council Staff Charter Amendment that uses the directive word “shall” three times in the first sentence can be tortured by the City Council to mean that it is not required – “shall” – to hire a City Council Staff to protect city taxpayers.

    For multiple reasons, Section 8-1-28 is likely to go to go down in flames to include that its hyper-ventilated Legislative Findings do not support the law and that it is in direct conflict with another city law though no one seems to have noticed or cares. What Councilwoman Sherri Myers proposes here is to put Section 8-1-28 it out of its misery sooner and save city taxpayers the money going to be wasted paying for a law firm in “Atlanta” to try to defend it.

    For three years, the city has not actively enforced the city’s primary panhandling law that is clearly labeled as such – Section 8-1-25 “Panhandling.” For reasons only it might know, the ACLU has never challenged Section 8-1-25. However, certain aspects of Section 8-1-25 (adopted in 2013) do seem questionable in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Reed vs. City of Gilbert, Arizona (decided in 2015). If the ACLU amends its complaint to challenge Section 8-1-25 too, parts of it may also go down in flames.

    One option no one has discussed is to look at other ordinances in Florida cities and adopt one modeled after one that we know to be legal. The panhandling ordinance in Tampa is clear, concise and legal. It seems a good model to follow.

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