I like Chanosos but I will have to reconsider whether I eat there now…


“Foxes have dens, and birds have nests. But the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.” —Jesus

MY UPCOMING ARTICLE FOR THE TECUMSEH TRIBUNE

Mark Boscariol, proprietor of Chanoso’s, Oishii and The Room in downtown Windsor is floating the notion in the local media that we can rid the streets of panhandlers if we simply stop giving them money. He paints a pretty picture of panhandling, suggesting that some of those people who work the streets are making $20 an hour. Mr. Boscariol said that “A few of them say they don’t want to work because they’re making more money doing this, because Windsorites are generous.”  He further says that 80 % of those panhandlers use the money for alcohol and drugs. This reminds me of the story of the man who was walking into the liquor store when approached by beggar looking for cash; “are you kidding? I’m not giving you money. You will just spend it on alcohol.”

Mr. Boscariol has a solution. Donation boxes for the poor, in places like his restaurant presumably, should be made available. The money from those boxes can be used to feed the panhandlers indirectly. The key word here is indirectly. Let’s get honest here. The real concern here is that those who panhandle are ‘unsightly.’ They are a ‘nuisance.’ They get in the way of business. People might be driven to go to the burbs to eat rather than face downtown streets where they have to come into ‘direct’ contact with these ‘undesirables.’ We are happy to help those people as long as we do not have to speak with them or see them.

People have been poor and people have been begging since Jesus walked the earth and even before (Jesus in fact declared, ‘you will always have the poor with you.’)  I would suggest that if Mr. Boscariol does not want his patrons to come in contact with the poor, he should move his business to an exclusive area, perhaps a gated community will do. While I applaud the idea of a collection box for the poor, the homeless, and the destitute, I must say that this just smacks of a culture of excess which again and again wants to remove any sign of poverty, suffering or pain. The truth is we have to face poverty and we have to deal with its root causes. In the meantime I want to float an idea:

I propose that one day a month Mr. Boscariol host a day where he feeds the hungry at his establishments. He can use the funds that he collects at the ‘dropbox’ at say Chanoso’s. He may have to throw in a buck or two as well. One day every month he will open his doors to all the homeless. This will address his concerns; people will not be giving their money directly to the panhandlers, the money gets used for food and not alcohol, and the homeless are given the dignity of a nice meal in a great restaurant. I’ll even come help serve to keep staff costs down. Good idea?

48 Comments

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48 responses to “I like Chanosos but I will have to reconsider whether I eat there now…

  1. Carlin Miller

    A truly excellent idea and one I would support. Many of the people who live on the streets struggle with mental health and substance abuse problems. Food in a lovely space wouldn’t quiet those demons, but it would nourish both the body and the soul of those in the community who are without safe shelter.

    • I agree, I suspect that Chanosos is more concerned with hiding the problem than actually addressing it. He should put his money where his mouth is.

    • Evelyn Meyer

      I am very glad that this post has prompted so much conversation. I am impressed with the things I read about Mark and have heard good things about his restaurant. I failed to outline my initial response to Kevin’s post: not very fair to expect someone to give away his labour,his expertise or his professional knowledge without pay. Lawyers sure charge for every call, letter and minute of their time. You wouldn’t expect to buttonhole a physician for free checkups at a party. Yet, so often, people seem to think that a farmer, for example, can just give away his harvest—not taking into consideration his labour, his materials, There are also many great and compassionate and generous people who do not identify themselves as Christian.

      • Actually Ev
        The lawyers I know have all given of their time and expertise to those who need it…the doctors I know have also gone beyond their pay grade and donated services…I did not suggest that Mr Bascarill bring people home, I suggested that he take them into his restaurant…you seem to be suggesting that I would not do this… The equal comparison would be for me to open our church to the poor and feed them… I’ll look for your help in this endeavor ….

    • Evelyn Meyer

      Maybe you would like to demonstrate your own willingness to have the mentally ill or drug and alcohol addicted come to your house for dinner. You could provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We all could collect money to defray your grocery expenses. It’s always easy to propose these ideas for someone else.

      • John

        Well said. It’s easy to preach. It’s harder to put into practice. A ministry to those poor souls downtown instead of a largely well off community of suburbanites might provide the good pastor with some insight to both sides of this issue.

      • Just a quick reply …
        Don’t be to quick to assume that I have not dined at home and elsewhere with the down and out.
        And my point was really about the notion that Mr. Bascariol x
        Is telling me and others how we should and give and more importantly how we should not give to the poor….my ‘idea’ while interesting was as much to point out that he need not tell me how I will support those in need no more than I need tell him… Gotta go … Have a funeral

  2. Sandy Tann

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Great idea. I’ll even offer my services to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ. If only people could see the Christ in everyone in all walks of life. Let’s be the vessels that God wants us to be so that He can do his work through us and as us. What a wonderful world this could be!

  3. Evelyn Meyer

    Yes, the signs of poverty are not always so “in your face” as the panhandlers. Most people who are poor and struggling to pay the rent or pay for food would be too proud to beg in the streets. They should be able to pay for food at the grocery store and choose their own food. Panhandlers ARE quite likely to be drug addicts or alcoholics. This is my assumption.Correct me if I am wrong. I do not wish to “enable” alcoholics to take my money and spend it on booze or cigarettes. I like the idea of feeding the hungry in a dignified way. I do not want to be ‘lady bountiful’ doling out charity for a thank you. You might be very interested in the memoir called Take This Bread by Sara Miles. She started a food bank IN St. Gregory’s Anglican Church in San Francisco and expanded that to distribute groceries (self service) to hundreds of the poor—including the drug addicts, felons….anybody who was hungry and wanted food. She was not deterred by anti social behaviour. It is an inspiring book to read. I know again that I have a long way to travel before I can reach that level of Christ like welcome.

    How’s your diet? Dr. Oz says that you can’t afford to eat out in restaurants more than once or twice a month if you are serious about losing weight. We’re having an active social life here in Arizona. Ergo, not doing so well in the fitness area. Smile

  4. A couple of things in this post disturb me. I never said I wanted to get rid of Panhandlers. I only feel that there is a couple of places that are inappropriate where the person who is being panhandled is a captive audience.

    I also feel that moneys are better spent on the dedicated organizations that help these individuals. This stance is also supported by the majority of those who work at the Salvation Army and the Downtown Mission. They told me that these organizations have rules and panhandlers use their money to circumvent those rules. The program I mentioned is being used in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Kelowna and modeled after Denver which has the best program to help the homeless in North America

    The $20 per hour was reported by the Windsor Star. Unit 7 worker actually told me the figure is closer to $16 per hour. This was convened

    What saddens me is that you are now threatening my livelihood and jobs of my employees because you disagree with my opinion. How would you feel if I asked where you work and threatened your livelihood because you disagreed with me???

    Panhandling is protected by the charter of rights and freedoms. I only wish to educate the public and offer them an alternative way to spend their charitable contributions. You think I’m the bad guy here??

    • jeff stiles

      good for you, mark. isnt it ironic that the arrogant christian right’s opinion might actually have the power (invested in them, apparently) to put you on the street? then, of course, all the jesus people would befriend you because it makes them feel better.

      • @Jeff –
        I am about as far from the Christian right as one can get.
        Mark has been very articulate in this matter and in his response to MY opinion – I appreciate that. You, sir, have simply reduced yourself to inappropriate comments and name calling. These are usually signs of defeat in matters of debate.

        I will not repost any more comments from you that call people names or degenerate another’s person. People may differ in opinion, I actaully encourage the discuorse. But demeaning someone because of faith, socieconomic status or any other reason is not acceptable on my blog.

        Many Thanks

    • I strongly protest Mark Boscariol’s words that a “Unit 7 worker” would tell him panhandlers make $16 per hour.
      Everyone that works for Street Help / Unit 7, including myself, have been homeless. Not a single one of us ever managed to raise that ridiculous sum of money per hour.
      Factually, most panhandlers would be lucky to make enough in an entire day to buy a meal at McDonald’s.
      I don’t know about other charitable organizations rules in respect to panhandlers, however, I doubt any agency would have stated “panhandlers use their money to circumvent the rules.”
      Could Mr. Boscariol clarify what rules he is talking about?

  5. BTW, I’d caution you as to what quotes or intentions you attribute to me in the Tecumseh Tribune, especially if they have a negative financial consequence to my business. I am not now nor ever been against panhandling. I have not endorsed any measures that would attempt to hide it.

    I also have contributed greatly to the Downtown Mission in the past. When I owned Rustshield plating those who attended Christmas parties would receive a receipt made out in their name to the Downtown Mission. I would never want this publicized but I am not the Blue Meanie that you are trying to make me out to be

    • Mr. Boscariol,
      Thank you for posting your thoughts here.

      Let me be clear – I do not see you as a Blue Meanie at all. I suspect we disagree on a few things however. I agree that organizations such as the ones you mention are able to address the needs of those who struggle with poverty, mental illness or addiction. Your support of them is good and I applaud it.

      What I point out in my piece above is that often these attempts to curtail panhandlers, which I have seen before in other cities, is often driven by a very ‘tidy’ view of what cities should look like. I did not suggest that is what you think. I wrote in very broad terms about ‘us’ as a society. “We are happy..” You assert here that yours is not that attitude. I am delighted to hear that.

      Now, you have gone very public with your opinions about panhandlers. I have made no threat to your livelihood. I simply said that I may have to reconsider supporting your business in my title. Surly once you are heard and read on so many media outlets this week expressing your opinion, you are not surprised that someone might offer a different point of view.
      If you are genuinely wanting to help those who panhandle take note that I offered a suggestion which builds on the one you are making. Let’s help those who say they are hungry with monies we could collect at a drop box at your establishment and offer a once a month meal. I would provide the volunteers to serve that meal, you as concerned downtown business owner would provide the ambiance and the food. I think the idea has merit and would love to pursue it further with you.

      Thanks for the feedback -

      • jeff stiles

        it should be noted that your opinion, like mark’s, is a personal one, yet you serve it as a political stance with the comfort of religious institution behind you. personally, you may disagree with his ethical posture but should it affect his business? afterall, it is his business he is concerned about. do you see the unfortunate irony of this? of course you, as is anyone with a mouth and communication ability (including myself and those god-awful peddlers!), is entitled to an opinion but you’re wrong convey it as some kind of memo from the desk of the lord. you should have contacted him personally if you really cared. you, instead chose to make it an example of how in tune you think you are with christ.

  6. @Jeff – I serve my opinion as me…read the webpage I make clear in my bio that these are my opinions…I no more have the comfort of a religious institution behind me that Mark has the comfort of a business behind him. but I believe your attitudes are clearly expressed in your comment, but I do thank you for sharing it here.

  7. Avery

    I never make the mistake of arguing with people who’s opinions I have no respect for but in this case I feel I do. Revykevy I disagree with you 100%! you did portray mark in a bad light, you completely manipulated his words. Marks right, give to the charities who’s SOUL PURPOSE is to help these people. Prime example: I had a young guy ask me the other day to spare some change and instead I offered him side work at my fathers shop to make more than some chump change and he said and i quote ” no thank you, this is easier then doing real work!” there are so many people who fake being poor they abuse it. I’m sure there are actual poor individuals asking for money on the streets but they have the establishments aka salvation army, shelters etc where they can get the proper help if THEY choose too. I do my part by offering help to charitable events, offering individuals actual work and donating my clothes and money to the proper establishments. Mark clearly makes his contributions to this cause in many different ways and his theory on the drop box I believe is an excellent idea. On the islands like Dominican the government asks you NOT to give money or candy to the people/kids because they don’t want them to depend on peddling and think that it’s the right way of life. Not once did it sound like he didn’t want to deal with them directly.

    Chanosos has great food and everytime I’m there such a welcoming environment. I am not going to stop going there or “re-think” eating there because my views on a subject are different from his, that’s life deal with it! I think how you expressed your “comment” was rude and unjustable and if your so concerned about the issue then maybe you should stop bashing people and their place of work from behind your computer and go make a difference yourself.

  8. george m

    A terrific thread and an excellent exchange of ideas. This is how to make
    concrete changes.
    My opinion is that the word panhandler is quite vague. There are seventeen year old kids with new runners on their feet asking for money, mentally challenged, obvious addicts, single mothers (yep), the very old, runaways and i use to see them AND feed them when i owned Slices Pizza in Downtown Windsor. You can t have a serious discussion about this problem by using a general tag like panhandling. Also, having done hundreds of interviews as the one under the magnifying glass, my quotes have been skewed accidentally AND on purpose which can lead to problems big and small. I have to say that taking a jab at someone’ s opinion in this case, is much more sporting than at his business.
    Gentleman, the more light shed on this subject, the better. cheers.

    • Thank you George M
      I think the exchange is good for the issue as well.
      Your point is well taken that panhandler is a rather wide open term
      Thanks for weighing in

  9. Dylan Zimmerman

    I think it’s fascinating that there seems to be this opinion that simply by supporting these indirect charities we’ll be able to deal with the issue at hand. It’s a tidy solution, absolutely, but when it comes to people who are having problems in their lives, tidy solutions rarely truly fit. I think it’s a mistake to assume that simply because a person is asking for spare change that they’ll be spending it on alcohol, and I think it’s a mistake to assume that those who do spend the money on alcohol feel that they have any other choice. There will always be people who game the system, this cannot possibly be avoided, but part of caring for people involves giving comfort now.

    I was told, once, that the difference between Doctors and Nurses is that it’s the Doctor’s job to make you get better, and it’s the Nurse’s job to make you feel better. One cannot come at the expense of the other, but from time to time, I think it’s right and good to part with some of your change for a person who feels they need the help, whether it’s going to serve the greater good or not. Call me naive if you like, but sometimes it’s necessary to be willing to be there, even the change is going to be used poorly. I think it’s about compassion and generosity as much as it is about fixing a problem.

    • Thank you Dylan
      You have raised some interesting points.
      I agree that we have to care for those who need it, when we see it, and know that for while some may be gaming the system, others are in need.
      People are not so upset about the people scamming the system when it is bay street …but do not scam me if you are on main street…in any event, your comments reflect in a sense, why I weighed into this conversation.

  10. Has anyone tried contacting Mark Boscariol personally without publishing their thoughts online or in the mainstream media? I’ve known Mark for years, and he’s one of the most generous guys in the world. Work with him on the solution that works best for both downtown revitalization (where his heart lies) and issues affecting the homeless population. You may be surprised that honey works better than vinegar.

    • Joyce Zuk

      I would agree Chris that honey does work better than vinegar. Imagine my surprise when I was slammed by Mark Boscariol in the Windsor Star for my personal choice of donating to those who may be panhandling. I guess no good deed goes unpunished. I am intererested in having a discussion on this matter to work toward the elimination of poverty in our community. Such a happening requires personal efforts and coordinated strategies. If we are going to work together–we need to keep the conversation going. In spite of the attack on my personal values and charitable givings–I want to work with the DWBIA. I am looking at the big picture here. We can’t just sweep people to another street or part of town–we need to get to the root cause of the issue. Thanks Kevin for keeping the conversation going.
      Joyce Zuk

      • My apologies Joyce, that letter was written before we met. I also hope that expressing my disappointment is not considered “a slam”

        The same charter of rights and freedoms that protects panhandlers, protects my free speech and I would never want it tampered with.

        I don’t want them swept aside, I want them to receive help. I am disturbed when my business is put at risk for simply wanting to have an adult conversation. Its the kind of thing that would make Kim Jong Il proud.

        By the Way, CBC journalistic integrity sucks the big one. I am not against panhandlers, I dont’ see it as a problem more than before, I see it as an opportunity to educate the public and redirect more money to programs that can help

  11. Catherine

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article and especially comments left by Ms. Zuk. I have heard disdainful comments about people who panhandle come directly from Boscariol’s mouth, so I don’t need to re-read the article. The whole idea that we can “shuffle people off to the sidelines” or “give to another charity so that we can hide the poor” seems well, insulting for lack of a better word. How would he suggest that we do this big clean up? Maybe we could use a back hoe? How about a big net? I won’t eat at Chanoso’s or any of his other restaurants. I haven’t for years and neither has anyone else in my family… and it’s pretty big. I’ve known this about Boscariol’s lack of compassion and NIMBY attitude towards people who have not for many years. Thank you Reverend for your article.

    • Evelyn Meyer

      Wow! I don’t know who Catherine is, but she exemplifies for me the art of slandering someone’s reputation by ‘he said, she said’ and no proof. She will not eat at Chanoso’s and neither will any of her considerably large family. I wonder where she works and if there is a boycott possibility for her interests. Never mind. I can think for myself and what Mark has posted in these discussions does not ring false or insincere to me. If we are to patronize only the businesses of the sinless we’d all go wanting. I have never eaten at one of Mark’s restaurants but will not be put off doing so by Catherine’s inuendo. I suspect that most of the people who rush to talk about treating the panhandlers of Windsor to fine dining free of charge would NOT invite them to THEIR homes. I don’t include Revy Kevy in that comment.

      • actually Ev, Catherine is not alone. You have missed the point here. This is not about fine dining! This is about human beings being treated as a nuisance and an attitude that suggests that ‘tidy’ streets are more important than hurting people. Not in My Back Yard – cry the businesses. My concern here is really to get at the root of the issue. I am concerned for those who live in poverty, with mental illness, or with addiction. They are people created in the image of God as much as you are and as much as I am. Catherine has shared a lived experience, you have dismissed it as insignificant.

        And c’mon really, “If we are to patronize only the businesses of the sinless” – that is not even a part of this discourse. Plenty of people over the years have taken a stand when people are maligned or shoved aside by others. Standing up for those who are on the fringe is not a ‘popular’ choice as I now see. Much easier to stand with the enfranchised. Nonetheless, it is my prerogative to do so and it is inspired by the conviction of my faith in Jesus. This is not about avoiding the sinless…it is quite the opposite. I am prepared to be in solidarity with the sinner instead of hiding him from sight to make a clear path for consumers in our culture to avoid any sign of brokenness, weakness, or poverty. How fortunate we are that we are arguing about whether or not it is OK for me to give my money directly to a person on the street. I reflected back in my piece what it looks like to tell someone else how help others – what I get back is unproven attacks that I am preaching, making easy suggestions, not doing anything myself etc, all without anything to back that up. It is a strange world we live in when a Christian is attacked for wanting to give to those in need and told that it has no basis, that it is a political statement, that I am using my ‘platform’ to advance my political agenda. It is laughable really. I will continue to offer MY opinion based on MY faith and MY convictions and I think it is fair for any other person, including Mark Boscariol to offer his. That is what makes living in a free society so good.

  12. MIKE S

    I think I will load my pockets up with bills and coins and go see my many friends panhandling, no trying to survive, in front of these places I used to frequent and give them some coin to go get break’y at a restaurant of which Windsor has many.
    Satan presents himself or his will in many ways. If it were not for the many who do not accept the pushing of these fine people to the gutter then I believe Windsor would be very dark and empty.
    Hey, I know of churches that are PROUD to feed these fine people and give them what their lives need to sustain life.
    Hey, BIOYA!
    Peace and good will to ALL.

  13. BTW equivocating the desire to have the public direct charity towards organizations with being anti Panhandling is wrong and STUPID

    That would be like saying I’m against Wildlife and Nature because I want to put up a “Don’t feed the animals”

    Now of course I do not equate wildlife with the less fortunate, I’m referencing my actions vs what people are concluding.

  14. jeff stiles

    there is a need to be cautious when speaking in a public forum, as this. you did not contact mark personally with your concerns but chose to air them out in the open. as a reverend, i am sure you’re aware of the power of speech and the need to chose words carefully.
    when i referred to your diatribe as having right-wing sensibilities, this is what i meant: your approach to this problem falls dangerously close to evangelical territory. by using iconoclasty and celebrity, as a rock star, tv evangelist or actor would, your words can fall on the ears of the weak-minded, omnipresent individuals of the congregation that undoubtedly fawn, preen and swoon over every/any spoken morsel. however, these individuals also get hungry and have expendable income for things like restaurants and, yes, alcohol (not always the earmark purchase of an addict – some sinners can actually enjoy and appreciate it. really?!?!? yes, really).
    in closing, i apologize for my initally heavy-handed replies. i am sure you are someone who cares about his neighbourhood and wants it to be a better place but i would hope that mark’s restaurant and accompanying venues do not suffer in wake of what i see was an unfortunately strategized maneuver.
    in an already strained downtown business environment, homelessness and its resulting effects continue to be a problem. for the downtown core, the supplementary annoyances it causes are just another straw on the backs of a camel trying desperately to make it through the eye of a pretty tough needle.

    • In my church – people often disagree with what I might have to say and do not wait to eat every morsel. In fact some have posted on this thread. Also, I have frequented with parishioners, Mark’s establishments and have enjoyed food and many adult beverages at them as well. I have also given to people on the street as I walked to his downtown establishments. The presence of those who struggle was no deterrent to me at all.

      Jeff, quite frankly, the conservative Christian Right probably would agree more with Mark on this than with me.
      I should also remind you that Mark Boscariol is the man who went quite public with this, not me. I did not invite his establishments to the dance. They were there when I arrived.

      While I am concerned about our neighborhoods, I am more concerned about the people in them…all of them. Including the ones you describe as being the cause of annoyances. I would like to say that your idea of my celebrity status did cause me to chuckle. If you knew me, you would know that I am far from anything like that.

      I am intrigued by your closing statement. You are no doubt familiar with it’s origins. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24. This strikes at the heart of my concern really. That our over anxious desire for profit in this consumer culture is blinding us of the real relationships we are called to foster. Despite what the business community might say about this, I believe there are things that are more important and more critical than the bottom line. Thank you for reminding me of this important piece of scripture.

      In any event, we disagree on much – but I suspect that we can find some common ground. Conversation and dialogue is a great way forward and I encourage us to get together in a very public forum and talk about these issues.

      • John

        Conversation and dialog is one thing, but you are here to “punish” Mark by going after his livelihood. In case you need to be reminded, “punishing” Mark for his thoughts and words, if he needs punishment at all, is Someone else’s job.

  15. @John remind me please how I am punishing Mark?
    I have no obligation to patronize any given establishment.
    I am ‘here’ to offer my opinion about the dignity of others.
    Suggesting that expressing my opinion is somehow a punishment to Mark is giving me more credit than I deserve I am afraid.

    • John

      No one said you have an “obligation” to patronize anyone. Don’t put words in my mouth. Just stick to the facts of your article which, starting with the very title of your article itself, call for going after Mark’s restaurant as a solution to your ideological differences with him on the subject. You are trying to leverage your influence as a pastor of a congregation and quite frankly that is very distasteful.

  16. Evelyn Meyer

    Hi Kevin,
    I did not suggest that you, Kevin, would not eat with the folks who have been described as the ‘shoved under the rug and forgotten fringe.’ And I did not suggest that Mark should invite all the panhandlers to his home. I think that to suggest that he invite them to his restaurant was tantamount to suggesting that he give away his livelihood (and that of his staff if volunteers are eager to serve and take away their jobs). I suggested that all of the folks who think that MARK should do it, should be challenged to do it themselves. Always easy to suggest that someone else do it. I thought it was underhanded of Catherine to proclaim that she KNOWS about Mark’s “lack of compassion and NIMBY attitude to those who have not for many years.” Apart from the disjointed sentence, I think Catherine’s attempt to malign Mr. Boscariol’s reputation is very mean spirited. I admit that this entire discussion seems to have been launched over remarks Mr. Boscariol is reported to have made in the newspaper??. Knowing how things are taken out of context I would ask him personally for his views if I were in Windsor. If you know lawyers who don’t charge and bill for their services I wish I could be their charity case. I think my postings were taken out of order (my error) and I should have mentioned by name other writers in this discussion. I have always been extremely honest about my failings to extend charity with no expectations. I admire those who can—-such as the Sarah Miles whose memoir I quoted a few postings before this one. This has been a very lively discussion and I like the opportunity to participate. Shalom!

  17. Pan Handler

    Mark Boscariol, a downtown restaurateur, said people should stop giving panhandlers money because it’s deterring customers from coming to the core. He said the issue has been the same for a decade or longer — when the nicer weather brings out more people, panhandling increases.

    “Everyday I step over someone’s leg on Ouellette Avenue. I can’t put a patio in front of my place because I have to maintain an eight foot walkway but yet someone can lay across Ouellette with their legs across,” said Boscariol.

  18. Robert Hubbard

    Wow. What an interesting couple of days worth of typing! First; Mr. Boscariol’s business is certainly not “put at risk” because of this conversation. Long ago I read a quote from Mick Jagger that read “The only BAD publicity is NO publicity”. There are certainly an awful lot of people mentioning Mark’s name and that of his restaurant. Next; Mark, if you don’t want to start a fight then don’t start a fight. It would have been easy to keep this discussion on track, I.E. “What do we do about panhandlers, if anything” by making your point clear and not resorting to threats and hyperbole. I can’t assume you are a conservative but your statements might have been taken from one of Karl Rove’s playbooks.
    Now, to return to the original scope of discussion: I can speak to the issue of panhandling in public areas from both sides. I have begged for money on the street and been approached for money on the street. I can assure you there was and is no such thing as $20. or $17. or $10. as an average hourly wage from begging. I would dig a little deeper than has been done in this space to find the truth here. My own experience was this: we bummed money because we needed something, when we got enough money to get something we quit. Begging isn’t a replacement for legitimate work. When people panhandle, they do so out of necessity for quick cash. No person of sound mind would tolerate the abuse received from staunch, upright, hardworking, honest, thrifty ‘normal’ people if there were a choice. The reasons people find for begging on the street are MYRIAD. To try and put panhandlers in any kind of category is completely useless.
    The other side; How do I feel when approached on the street? How I feel about it depends on the implied level of threat. If someone holds his hand out and says, “Can I have a quarter man, I need a bus ticket home?” while I am sitting enjoying my meal is one thing. When the voice is raised and the statement is more like, “Gimme an f…ing dollar, bitch!” that is another. Now, we already have laws that proscribe against threatening others in a public place. We can’t effectively enforce a law that would prohibit someone simply asking another person for money in a public place. For example, suppose you had no change and the toilet only took dimes? There is no threat implied or otherwise. It becomes chivalrous to help someone out of a jam.
    Where is the true threat from an untidy person begging money? We can’t expect to force other people to employ our own standards of cleanliness or hygiene when they are in a public place. An owner of a business can maintain order on his premises (within the scope of public law) but when you extend your business onto the public throughfare the rules change. There is no dress code on the street. People may not be kept from speaking to strangers on the street, either. Trying to modify public discourse with laws doesn’t work. It didn’t work in Chicago and it didn’t work in New York or Toronto or San Francisco.
    Finally, if no one gave panhandlers money, they would stop asking. Simple. There is no need to setup yet another layer of bureaucracy and invite further opportunities for graft. Mark, ask your customers to refrain from feeding the panhandlers and the pigeons. If you want to stop them, that is the best way.

  19. To the Reverend. wanted to make another point, kind of a footnote

    I have tried to be honest and open minded, I have acknowledged the valid points that you have made that even bringing up this discussion can yield negative consequences for panhandlers and can bring out the worst in some people. There is a cost to this debate.

    However, this conversation has now lead to myself and others in the BIA being educated about the different social services. I’m having a heated debate with a few from Unit 7 who were outraged by some of my comments as well.

    Again this is going to lead to a face to face discussion and education.
    If I, or others with my views end up being demonized for putting myself out there (not saying this is the case), others will be afraid to do so in the future.

    I believe the positives coming from this debate far outweigh the negatives. Even though there is still much disagreement and I still have volumes to learn. I know significantly more than when this started, Many business owners also have a better understanding.

    Example, we may disagree on 8 out of 10 issues but because I learn, understand and agree on 2, results like never before may be acheived. Also, just because we disagree on an issue doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role where business people can positively contribute. We can disagree on how a person gives to a panhandler vs social services but if our debate results in a higher total amount given to the issue in general, I consider that positive change from that disagreement.

    I believe education is the first and a vital step in creating positive change, you can’t fix a problem that isn’t identified and acknowledged.

    • Well Said Mark!
      I look forward to future conversations, hopefully something face to face…I to need to be made aware of the issues that face the business community as as well.

      You Wrote:
      “we may disagree on 8 out of 10 issues but because I learn, understand and agree on 2, results like never before may be acheived. Also, just because we disagree on an issue doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role where business people can positively contribute. We can disagree on how a person gives to a panhandler vs social services but if our debate results in a higher total amount given to the issue in general, I consider that positive change from that disagreement.”

      I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!

      Let me restate here, that Mark has been very forthright and direct with me in this from the beginning and has clarified his thoughts in an articulate and kind manner. This sort of decent discourse and dialogue is helpful in creating positive change.

      Let’s work to improve our city together

      • Hi Reverend,

        I cannot agree to the “heated debate” part. One of my volunteers has posted her feelings, and I have attempted to bring clarification to the issue to no avail.

        I also cannot agree that there has been a “decent discourse and dialogue” on the other blog when I am blatantly accused of “endangering” the homeless by giving them a sleeping bag.

        The accuser ignores the person may not be welcome at the shelter, may smell bad and this can be used to refuse service, may have mental health issues that prevent them from using a shelter bed, ignores that shelters must ask people to leave after a set number of days because welfare will only pay $46 per day for them to stay for a short period of time.

        The more relevant question to ask is: why does welfare impose a time limit?

        Another relevant question to ask is: why hasn’t government built sufficient low income housing to accommodate the homeless?

        Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to house people? Homelessness leads to long term health issues which certainly will cost the taxpayer more.

        I believe in saving lives and providing an essential emergency service to any person who cannot stay in a shelter bed.

        I am saddened by the level of mudslinging and misinformation in respect to my agency’s services, and, toward me personally.

  20. Christine
    As you know we are supportive of what you and your agency are doing. I will indeed speak to others about the many benefits of your work. I cannot speak to what others have said to you or I guess written about you by the sounds of it, but my last post was specifically about Mr Bascariol and how he has engaged me. We disagree on much, but he has disagreed with me respectfully for the most part while some others have been less than kind.
    I agree with Mark that learning is key … It is true for him, it is true fir me and tru for all of us
    We must continue with a positive discourse

    • Thanks for your clarification.

      I believe eduction on homelessness and the societal impacts caused by homelessness must be taught. I am always willing to educate.

      I cannot continue in another conversation where malicious, denigrating and false allegations are continually being made against my agency and against me.

      I am happy to continue a discourse on your blog, however, I must distance myself from another blog which is designed and maintained to be a forum with no apparent other purpose than to attack my agency and me.

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