Parkersburg, as are many cities, is in a no-win situation when it comes to so-called "panhandlers" along city streets.
The city has an ordinance allowing police to issue citations to panhandlers who do not have a permit to solicit money from passersby, but such action is useless because the fines are never paid. It also does no good to contact the Division of Motor Vehicles of the fines not being paid because the panhandlers reportedly don't drive.
If enough citations are issued and ignored, it seems logical court action could be taken and arrest warrants possibly issued, but what good would that do except fill the court docket with trivial cases and potentially add to the overcrowding in jails.
The most recent action, though, comes from the West Virginia Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the city to learn who have received citations for panhandling without a permit and who is on the ordinance-stipulated board that supposedly issues the permits.
A local attorney involved in the ACLU acknowledges the city doesn't have such a board. The mayor contends the city never has had such a board, to his knowledge, and such permits are handled by the finance department or city clerk.
The ACLU's FOIA seems more like an useless exercise in futility when it knows no such board exists, issuing citations to those panhandling without a permit accomplishes nothing and no action beyond police possibly telling panhandlers to move on ever occurs.
The ACLU is a worthwhile organization aimed at protecting all of our civil rights, but sometimes it gets involved in issues that do nothing more than tarnish its public image ... an image that already is attacked by many who accuse the ACLU of having a secret agenda to turn the U.S. into a ultra-liberal, Godless, Socialist nation.
The ACLU needs to concern itself with real issues and cease its witch hunt on non-existent boards that are supposed to issue permits to panhandlers, which most passersby, businesses and motorists would rather see being helped by the countless organizations available to aid them rather than their panhandling on the streets for what the mayor contends is money for drugs and alcohol.
The 2012 presidential election is less than two weeks into the history books and already pundits are talking who will be running in 2016. Wow, can't we take a breather from one of the most contentious elections in my lifetime before we start the endless debate all over again?
Democrat writers and talking heads are again touting 65-year-old Hillary Clinton as the best and brightest star in their party, with some even offering Vice President Joe Biden, 69, as the potential frontrunner in 2016 and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, 43, as a possibility. Over the next couple of years it seems very likely other hopefuls will attempt to light the political sky with their stars, so we can all just sit back and watch.
For the Republicans, the pundits and political analysts keep mentioning New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 50; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 41; Kentucky Sen. Paul Rand, 49; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 57.
Rubio, a Cuban-American, potentially would lessen the GOP's image of being a party for the ultra-right conservative, hardcore Christian, white, men's club. But none of them, though, would lessen the separation between women and the Republican Party, nor get much traction with the senior citizen or non-Christian vote. But, like in the Democratic Party, it's a long time until 2014, when the early campaign for 2016 begins.
Contact Jim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org