At the October 17th meeting, the City Commission voted 5-0 to adopt an ordinance regarding public safety on roads and medians, which specifically addresses solicitation.
The current law states that an individual cannot approach vehicles in the street for certain reasons, including: soliciting or collecting donations or employment, and selling goods or services. Other types of communication are permissible, and certain permits allow for some actions.
The law has since come under review in response to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Reed v. Town of Gilbert. The case addressed the differentiation of certain rules applied to certain types of speech. For example, ideological signs and road signs are addressed differently in regards to these speech content rules.
Public areas such as roads and streets are deemed as public speech forums and protected by the First Amendment, and money solicitation falls under the protection of the First Amendment. The government retains the ability to regulate speech in the areas, but content based regulation is illegal and unconstitutional. Content based regulation is permissible so long as the government can prove that the regulation is the least restrictive means of furthering government interest. These types of regulations require strict scrutiny.
The Supreme Court ruled that any law that required speech differentiation required strict scrutiny. Many state courts, including Florida, have since ruled that differentiating pandering and other types of solicitation is unconstitutional. Thus, the current ordinance on road solicitation must come under review, as it is a content-based restriction.
But the concern for individuals occupying the public roadway still stands. A study of all car crashes involving a pedestrian in the streets from 2013-2017 reported 675 total incidents, 67 of which included improper pedestrian occupation in the roadway. This does not account for near-incident interactions or traffic delays caused by pedestrians.
The new ordinance proposes that it is unlawful to hold any sign in a median, which abolishes any need for content-based restriction. Pedestrians are allowed to communicate and exchange goods and/or services with another individual so long as either is not in a vehicle operating in traffic. Furthermore, pedestrians may hold signs on the sidewalk so long as there is no exchange with an individual in a vehicle.
Talking about roads, can anyone believe that with the new Publix Greenwise opening on Oct 4th, there is no left turn lane into the store’s parking lot from Gaines St. What a mess it will be, especially at rush hour and on game days. There is the space in the median for a turn lane, let’s use some sense and strip the turn lane before the grand opening!
If panhandling is so bad in Tallahassee, why use a photo to illustrate it that wasn’t even shot in the United States?
1) The shape of the car’s license plate (with the number Photoshopped out)
2) The phone number on the truck in back that starts with 011 (International dialing).
Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil is misusing his position and contacting his campaign manager to put out a statement to admonish citizens for speaking out against crime when the crime rate is at an all-time high and has been the highest in the state on GIllum’s watch.
Sheriff McNeil went through his personal public relations rep, Sean Pittman, to put out the statement. Even though Andrew Gillum lied on national TV 30 days ago about there being no crime problem in Tallahassee, giving citizens a false sense of security, Chief McNeil has the audacity to put politics before duty for Andrew… ahead of the public safety, for the citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County.
Chief MacNeil is misusing his position and co-mingling it with politics and his personal campaign manager in a desperate attempt to cover for Andrew Gillum’s poor record on controlling the crime problem in Leon County and Tallahassee. Citizens have great respect for law enforcement and believe law enforcement are our heroes and are doing a hundred percent Plus more to contain crime. Again, the citizens feel that the law enforcement and rank-and-file are not the problem, but apparently the problem is in administration.
Chief McNeil’s political pandering to Andrew Gillum is unconscionable and done nothing but advance the cover-up and give the public a false sense of security… and takes time out from the issue at hand to only derail it even further. I am embarrassed and ashamed that our Sheriff in the capital city of Florida stoops to these political ploys to advance his friend. It is a travesty to the good citizens in Leon County.
Chief McNeil goes to his personal campaign public relations rep ,Sean Pittman, who was paid by the McNeil campaign for Sheriff and who Pittman is also paid by the City of Tallahassee; whereby, Andrew Gillum just voted to extend a $90,000 contract to Mr Pittman puts out a statement for Sheriff McNeil Pro Andrew Gillum.
Why didn’t Sean Pittman decline putting out the statement for McNeil as being a conflict of interest?
This is inappropriate, unprofessional, at the least and should there be an ethics complaint filed against Sheriff McNeil for this egregious act in an effort to boost a political ally at the expense of the citizens Public Safety of Leon County?
This being a decision of a leader explains a lot and how we got to the situation that we are in presently regarding the high crime rate.
And when the truth comes out they run to their PR reps who they vote to give them contracts with taxpayers money to dig them out of the holes they put themselves in because of their own ineptness. This political farce speaks volumes.
The Tallahassee Democrat headline should have been:
Sheriff McNeil misuses office to put out statement through personal campaign rep also Gillum’s campaign advisor
Not only does Tallahassee have a terrible problem of people begging for money that are making a living out of doing it, but local businesses and their patrons are being accosted by solicitors begging in unheard of numbers. I don’t understand how this got so out of control, but it has.
Furthermore, the homeless are spilling over into neighborhoods causing property rights problems, traffic problems, and hindering home values and being able to rent rental properties. It is affecting so many on so many levels that how it was ignored for so long is beyond me.
All of this is going on in the city limits and how Andrew Gillum could ignore this is unconscionable and almost inhumane to so many.