This falls under the category of “outlawing acts of charity” by a privileged governing class Albuquerque City Councilor.
Republican Albuquerque City Counselor Trudy Jones is sponsoring an ordinance that will prohibit both panhandling and drivers stopping to pass items such as food, money or anything a driver wants to give as a handout to help make a beggar’s or a homeless person’s life a little less miserable.
Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones was first elected in 2007, is serving her third term on the Albuquerque City Council, and represents District 8, Albuquerque’s Far Northeast Heights and Foothills, some of the more affluent areas of Albuquerque.
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 Trudy Jones represents and the line of work she is in, a person must wonder just how big of a problem panhandling is in her city council district and what really is motivating her to sponsor the ordinance.
Trudy Jones is claiming “panhandling puts pedestrians in danger” and that the panhandler signs distract drivers.
Presumably, the signs Jones is referring to are all those ugly, dirty little signs made from pieces of discarded or scrap cardboard with magic marker scrawl that say “hungry” or “will work for food”, and made by people who are so desperate that they resort to begging on a street corner.
Peter Simonson, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, has gone on record as saying that the panhandler’s actions of holding up those card board signs and the handouts are protected free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The proposed Jones ordinance goes on to state that drivers stopping to pass panhandlers items or money interrupts “the flow of traffic”.
Heaven forbid that Trudy Jone’s 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 to carry out her duties, let alone being forced to see those who are less fortunate.
I suspect Trudy Jones feels that the ordinance is needed because all those blue signs the Mayor has put up at freeway entrances telling the homeless to call 311 for help if they are desperate need of assistance or need referrals for help or shelter are not working.
Trudy Jones apparently is not satisfied with the city’s already enacted “aggressive panhandler ordinance” that is seldom enforced by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) as evidenced by the number of panhandlers always seen at freeway entrances.
Heaven forbid that already stopped and backed up traffic be interrupted by a small act of kindness or charity by any driver who wants to help someone in some small way.
Trudy 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 own food and doing what you want with your own money.
It does not matter to Jones that the Albuquerque Police Department is having enough problems as it is handling far more important calls for service that do indeed endanger public safety.
Under Chief Gordon Eden’s recently announced directives, all that sworn APD officers will be able to do is issue paper citations for the panhandling and not make any 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 two minutes over the national standard.
APD has only 436 sworn police are assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court resulting in approximately 24 sworn officers patrolling an entire area command.
Albuquerque is number one in the nation for auto thefts, our violent crime rates and property crime rates have increased by 21.5% and 19% respectively and murders increased by 54% in 2015, but Trudy Jones is worried about panhandling.
We should all be thankful we have Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones willing to sponsor ordinances to stop the crime wave being caused by panhandlers and all you criminals legally driving the streets of Albuquerque wanting to show an act of kindness or charity to someone less fortunate than you.