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City Council Advances Panhandling Amendment For "Fill The Boot" Campaign

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Fort Wayne City Council voted to amend the city’s panhandling laws allowing firefighters to raise money for its annual Fill the Boot campaign.

In a preliminary 6-2 vote, firefighters would be able to use city streets, curbs and medians to raise money for the campaign that helps fund the Muscular Dystrophy Association, pending approval from the city.

The measure was proposed by 2nd District Republican councilman Russ Jehl. It requires applicants to pay a fee, limits them to one permit per calendar year and street soliciting to no more than three consecutive calendar days from 9 a.m. to a half-hour before sunset.

Republican at-large councilman John Crawford and Democratic 6th District councilman Glynn Hines were the two opposing votes; they cited safety and legal concerns.

Mayor Tom Henry’s Office has also expressed opposition to the measure. The city’s legal counsel says these citations are often handed out to homeless individuals in Fort Wayne, and if they were forced to pay a citation while others were given a pass they could be sued by numerous groups and “the city will not prevail.”

As of Tuesday evening, the Mayor’s Office was noncommittal as to whether or not Henry would veto the measure once it hits his desk. In order to pass, it still requires another Council vote, which is expected next Tuesday.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.