2013-12-05 / Opinion

Panhandling Is Growing Concern

To the Editor:

The recent down vote on panhandling by the City Council once again shows how out of touch and/or apathetic the members are towards the present dilapidated state of Newport, its future, and to the safety of its citizens and visitors.

Last summer I came to the rescue on two separate occasions, of tourists visiting Newport who were being taunted by panhandlers.

As a frequent customer to many of the restaurants and businesses on Broadway, it is apparent that the situation has become worse and dangerous.

All business owners on Broadway and nearby are unanimous, not just in the Third World conditions that the streets have been left to, but secondly to the aggressive and growing panhandling crowd. They are also unified in the reality that these issues have caused a demise in business, as many are opting to stay away from Broadway.

The majority of the panhandlers are from local shelters and are on drugs. They have become more numerous, louder, and more assertive in aggressive panhandling, especially to women. This year also saw a rise in assaults and attempted rape on women on Broadway.

The situation is out of control.

Another obvious problem is the infrequency of police presence around the area, which is odd since the police headquarters in on Broadway. There should be a regular foot patrol at all times, especially at night. Newport’s City Council and especially our mayor are MIA regarding reality and common sense. Newport is in trouble as crime is rising, its streets are decaying, storefronts are empty, and its citizens are in fear on the main thoroughfare in and out of Newport.

Newport needs leadership fast! Obviously the lack of common sense and lack of concern on numerous issues, including panhandling, make it clear that our nonexistent mayor and City Council need to be voted out. Michael Smith


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