It never hurts to broaden your municipal horizons
The day will come when former Elgin City Councilman and good friend, John Prigge, will write something positive about the city he once served, but it will not be this day!
One of his latest bones of contention is the $10,466 the City spent to send three police officers and one staffer to Scotland to study non-lethal strategies for subduing folks armed with knives and similarly edged weapons.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain why they’re taking this eminently reasonable step.
And sure enough, a number of folks jumped on the Prigge bandwagon by questioning whether Elgin had to go half way around the world to get that kind of training. One commenter suggested our traveling quartet simply avail themselves of Skype or Google for the same kind of enlightenment.
Call me crazy, but I’m not so sure I’d want to avail myself of a 3.5-minute Youtube video and immediately attempt to disarm a knife wielding drunk without some sort of supervised practice first.
No to mention the officers’ expenses were covered by drug asset forfeiture funds, so all the City Manager’s office had to cough up was a scant $2,520 to send Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez along with them. So, the taxpayer impact was negligible.
In addition, as Mayor Dave Kaptain noted, when international law enforcement agencies want to better understand community policing, they come to Elgin. Since most UK officers don’t carry firearms, who better to turn to for non-lethal methodologies?
But the best reason to go is these kinds of trips build the kind of relationships in which the potential dividends can’t be quantified. To wit, Elgin sent a pretty impressive group to the UK and I’m sure their discussions ranged over many more topics than suspect subdual strategies. It’s not at all difficult to imagine future business opportunities and international partnerships arising from this venture.
Successful municipal management always requires a careful combination of bottom line spending and investment, and the failure to invest wisely always ends up costing the taxpayers far more in the long run. Look no further that the State of Illinois’ disastrous mental health policies which mean the untreated least of our brothers often end up in jail.
And incarceration costs ten to twenty times more than treatment does.
So, not only am I’m good with this UK adventure, but I firmly believe that Elgin frequently finds that bottom line/investment balance more often than not.
Or as I like to call that fascinating group, “Liberals Gone Wild.”
Their latest beyond bizarre initiative was to get Nabisco to remove the cages from the front of their classic Barnum animal crackers boxes. Of course, my response to that symbolic gesture is a fervent wish that PETA was equally as imaginary as the “animals” they think just “saved.”
The only people who eat animal crackers are very young children who generally don’t catch the nuance of cookie boxes. But that didn’t stop a PETA spokesperson from declaring, “The new box for the animal crackers reflects that society no longer tolerates the chaining and caging of wild animals,”
No sir! The only thing it reflects is you and your ilk’s consistently misaligned priorities that do more damage to your organization than good. What’s next? Getting Tony the Tiger out of his overly onerous contract with Kellogg?
Some white folks really do have too much time on their hands.
Anti-panhandling ordinances are an exercise in futility
So, both Elgin and Aurora have recently come under ACLU fire for the overly onerous anti-panhandling ordinances. Elgin bans begging in roadways, at bus stops, and in city-owned parking lots, and the ordinance also precludes “aggressive” panhandling anywhere. Aurora outlaws the practice completely.
And my two favorite Kane County towns may as well wave the white flag because our fine friends at the American Civil Liberties Union have never failed to get the judge to side with them on this issue.
When the Supreme Court ruled that begging was basically free speech in 2015, Elgin tried to tweak their ordinance, but defining “aggressive panhandling” as touching, the use of profanity, or intentionally blocking a right-of-way ain’t gonna cut it. Put more simply, you can’t regulate one form of “speech” without similarly regulating the rest.
Though I generally applaud the ACLU’s unyielding constitutionally driven efforts, especially in the era of Trump, this is one area in which I think their efforts are misguided. And I say this because there are basically two types of panhandlers.
The first involves the chronically mentally ill and/or addicted and giving them money does nothing more than assure their downward self-destructive spiral. I’d much rather support the Community Crisis Center, Hessed House, Lazarus House, or Mutual Ground who do their damndest to get these folks back on their feet.
Then there are the more plentiful professional panhandlers. You’ll see them holding up cardboard signs with tales of woe at busy intersections or in parking lots. Then, a short half hour later, you’ll find them exiting Meijer with cell phone minutes cards, Starbucks, Cheetos, and cigarettes, as they get into a late model car with their waiting significant other.
For all the obvious reasons, I don’t give anything to either variety.
Since panhandlers go where the people are and legislating them into the next town is a constitutional impossibility, why can’t Elgin and Aurora embark upon the kind of educational campaign that would prevent kind-hearted folks from abetting this nuisance and making the homeless’ plight worse.
They could use social media and target the prime panhandling areas with signs and flyers describing the options available to the homeless. They could further explain that forking over cash only keeps these folks in the same sad situation, and that many of these beggars are simply preying on people’s kindness. The icing on the case would be strategically placed donation kiosks with the proceeds going to the aforementioned social service agencies.
When their cash supply dries up, so will the panhandling, and the homeless who really do need our help will be much more likely to get it. Problem solved!