Madison's controversial panhandling ordinance passes 12-8

MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Common Council has passed a controversial panhandling ordinance.

It prohibits panhandling in dozens of high-profile traffic spots across the city. During a marathon city council meeting that went into Wednesday morning, Mayor Paul Soglin told alders he'd been consistent with his long-held belief that it's unsafe to let anyone, even firefighters with boots, ask for money at busy intersections.

At about midnight, the council voted, and it was a tie.  After some more debate, the council voted again.  This time the ordinance passed by a 12 to 8 vote.

"The accidents the deaths are well documented and we all know if you want to help, the best thing to do is to support is to support our housing initiatives," Mayor Soglin told the Common Council.

But District 3 Alder Amanda Hall says the move is frustrating because it discriminates against people most in need.

"That's really mean, you know get off their back, they are already in a tough enough position, he turns pale [Mayor Soglin] and says this is for their protection, um, ok."  Alder Hall said about her dissenting vote.

She says there is very little data in the last 21 years to suggest panhandling is unsafe, with just one instance of someone being hit by a car.

Mayor Soglin says in the months ahead, the city will roll out an education campaign for panhandlers, where staff will visit the critical intersections and explain the new ordinance.  He says the Mayor's Office is not interested in arresting anyone.

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