The Gazette asked Mayor Steve Bach and City Council members to answer the question Wednesday.
Only City Councilman Bernie Herpin responded.
“Before I can comment on the status of the lawsuit and implementation of the no solicitation ordinance, I would need to hear from our City Attorney. However, we do have an ‘aggressive solicitation’ ordinance on the books that would cover most of the more aggressive panhandling anywhere in the city. It, like all our laws, becomes a matter of enforcement,” Herpin said in an email.
“I, also, do not understand the comments from the judge about our lack of discussion on other issues with the content of the no solicitation ordinance,” Herpin added. “I recall that we talked extensively about no charity solicitation, specifically about the Salvation Army bell ringers; street performers; sandwich boards; Girl Scouts; and other impacts of the ordinance besides just panhandling.”
City Attorney Chris Melcher weighed in Wednesday afternoon, saying the city had already issued a statement on the matter.
“The release stated that the city would carefully review the written opinion when released next week, consult with legal counsel, and make a decision after a thoughtful review and discussion,” Melcher said in an email.
Melcher also said that Herpin was “absolutely correct” that “there were substantial and detailed discussions in public council sessions that discussed solicitation by charitable organizations,” including the Salvation Army and the Girl Scouts, and solicitation by musicians and other street performers.
“Until we have the judge’s written decision, we cannot be sure what the court meant by those comments or whether the court was simply mistaken in its review of the record,” Melcher said. “The entire City Council proceedings on the ordinance were entered into the record by the city at the hearing, and the record before the court will reflect those discussions. ”
Melcher said it’s unlikely city leaders will be able to discuss “possible next steps” until the next council meeting Jan. 7 because of the holidays.