PARKERSBURG -City council members will consider repealing an out-dated city code dealing with solicitors, but Mayor Bob Newell said the proposed repeal will not clear the way for panhandlers to continue requesting handouts at intersections.
City council, which meets at 7:30 p.m. today in council chambers, will consider repealing the ordinance dealing with the solicitation of funds. The move is an attempt to clean up old code.
Earlier this month, the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Parkersburg seeking records about citations to individuals or organizations for soliciting funds without a permit. The request stems from citations issued to panhandlers standing at intersections with handmade signs asking for help from passing motorists.
The FOIA requested the names of all members of the Board of Supervisors of Public Solicitation, which the city does not have.
Newell said the ACLU is questioning the city's ordinance, which has been on the books since 1957.
The city can cite the solicitors if they don't have a permit. According to the ordinance, there is supposed to be a board of solicitors.
"The fact of the matter is we haven't had a board for years and years and years," Newell said. "Once it was brought to (Assistant City Attorney Rob) Tebay's attention, he thought it was a good idea to repeal the section."
Newell said city officials still handle requests from groups and individuals who want to go door-to-door for solicitations.
"We can handle that without a board," he said.
Newell said repealing the section will not allow panhandlers - or other solicitors - unfettered access to motorists. The city's ordinance - passed in 2005 - prohibits solicitors from standing at intersections, in streets or on rights of way remains in effect.