By The Advocate
The proposed ban against aggressive panhandlers that the city of Worcester is presently considering is old news to the people of Everett, whose city council was in the forefront on the issue.
A local anti-panhandling ordinance – containing specific violations for which panhandlers can be ticketed and fined – was originally authored last spring by Alderman-at-Large Joseph McGonagle.
The measure – which was co-sponsored by Ald. Robert Van Campen, Ald. Chuck DiPerri and Councilor Lorrie Bruno – was enacted into law via unanimous votes from the board of aldermen and the common council.
At the time, the city council coalition cited the increasing “aggressiveness” of panhandlers in Everett.
Ald. McGonagle said that he had received numerous calls from local residents who were fed up with the brazen actions of those who were soliciting money on local streets, especially in the downtown district.
“Vagrants are actually badgering people for money in Everett Square. They’re even approaching cars in traffic,” said the alderman-at-large.
He asserted that “aggressive solicitation” on sidewalks outside of local stores was also a concern for Everett merchants, who didn’t want potential customers harassed because that could lead to the loss of patronage.
“The situation is out of control,” noted McGonagle as he called for passage of the anti-panhandler legislation.
The city council made special mention at the time that any new ordinance regarding “panhandling” would have to be crafted in such a way that it didn’t hurt legitimate Everett groups that need to raise funds by canning in order to continue their existence.
Worcester’s city council will vote next month on their proposed ban, focusing mainly on panhandlers who “shake down” drivers for change in traffic.
The Boston city council is also giving serious thought to a ban, but Mayor Thomas Menino is said to prefer designating certain areas within the Hub where panhandling would be permitted, rather than prohibit the practice entirely.