Amendment To Panhandling Ordinance Could Impact TFD Fundraiser

Thursday, June 22nd 2017, 10:07 pm
By: Justin Shrair

The City of Tulsa is considering amending an already existing aggressive panhandling ordinance.

City Counselor Karen Gilbert said the ordinance is designed to keep people safe, but Tulsa's Firefighter Union said if it goes into effect it would hurt their Fill the Boot campaign.

Gilbert said the proposed amendment is all about keeping people out of traffic and out of harm’s way - and that means everyone.

"So what we're proposing right now is that no one can stick a body limb into the roadway to receive a donation," Gilbert said.

She said this would not affect school groups or others trying to raise money because, typically, they are standing on a sidewalk asking people to pull into parking lots.

This would, however, include people who step onto roads, including the Tulsa Fire Department, who, every year, walk in and out of traffic collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"It would have a severe impact, a negative impact, on our Fill the Boot program. Muscular dystrophy is the IAFF's number one charity…if we lose the ability to be where the drivers are, then we'll lose our program," said International Association of Fire Fighters District 11 Vice President Sandy McGhee.

McGhee, a retired firefighter, said Tulsa firefighters usually collect about $200,000 a year - all of it staying local.

Gilbert said she wants to make it clear that they are just trying to protect people and are not singling out any group.

In the meantime, McGhee said he's hoping the council will reconsider their language.

"What we hope is that the council will reconsider, the language as its currently written and work with us to develop some alternatives, and maybe some exceptions for firefighters and our program," he said.

Gilbert said the City can't constitutionally ban panhandling, and that they are working with the department to come up with creative ways to help them raise money.

Proposed Tulsa Ordinance

Similar OKC Ordinance