Heaven forbid that Trudy Jones' flow of traffic be interrupted as she travels to and from her real estate sales meetings and city council meetings in the comfort of her luxury car.
This falls under the category of “outlawing acts of charity” by a privileged, governing-class Albuquerque city councilor.
Republican Counselor Trudy Jones is sponsoring an ordinance that will prohibit both panhandling, and drivers stopping to pass items such as food, money, etc.
Jones was first elected in 2007 and is serving her third term on the council. She represents District 8, in the far Northeast Heights and foothills, which are some of the more affluent areas of town.
Jones is very prominent in the commercial real estate and investment industry, and by accounts she is financially successful.
Given the area of the city that Jones represents and the line of work she is in, a person must wonder how big of a problem panhandling is in her district and what really is motivating her to sponsor the ordinance?
Jones is claiming that panhandling puts pedestrians in danger and that panhandlers’ signs distract drivers.
Presumably, the signs Jones are referring to are those ugly, dirty signs made from discarded cardboard with magic marker scrawl that say “hungry” or “will work for food,” and made by people so desperate they resort to begging on a street corner.
Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, has gone on record saying that the panhandlers’ actions of holding up cardboard signs, and the handouts, are protected free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The proposed ordinance goes on to state that drivers stopping to pass panhandlers items or money interrupts “the flow of traffic.”
Heaven forbid that Trudy Jones’ flow of traffic be interrupted as she travels to and from her real estate sales meetings and city council meetings in the comfort of her luxury car. Let alone be forced to see those who are less fortunate.
I suspect Jones feels that the ordinance is needed because of all those blue signs the mayor has put up at freeway entrances telling the homeless to call 311 for help aren’t working.
Jones apparently is not satisfied with the city’s already enacted aggressive panhandler ordinance that is seldom enforced by the Albuquerque Police Department, as evidenced by the number of panhandlers always seen at freeway entrances.
Heaven forbid that already stopped traffic be interrupted by a small act of charity by a driver who wants to help someone.
Jones also wants to make sure that all you criminals out there driving your cars are kept from giving away your own private property or your own food, and doing what you want with your own money.
It doesn’t matter to Jones that APD is having enough problems and handles far more important calls for service, calls about people who actually endanger public safety.
Under Police Chief Gordon Eden’s recently announced directives, all that APD officers will be able to do is issue paper citations for the panhandling, not make arrests.
In 2016, APD made 8,744 felony arrests, 19,857 misdemeanor arrests, 1,070 DWI arrests, and 2,462 domestic violence arrests.
In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately 2 minutes over the national standard.
APD has only 436 sworn police assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court. This results in approximately 24 sworn officers patrolling an entire area command.
Albuquerque is number one in the nation for auto thefts, our violent and property crime rates have increased by 21.5 percent and 19 percent respectively, and murders increased by 54 percent in 2015, but Trudy Jones is worried about panhandling.
We should all be thankful that Jones is willing to sponsor ordinances to stop the crime wave caused by panhandlers and all you criminals legally driving the streets of Albuquerque showing acts of kindness or charity to someone less fortunate.