Thursday, September 24, 2009
Shaking The Boot On Your Time - Patrick McPherson
On Tuesday the Omaha City Council did a re-look at allowing solicitors to collect for non-profit charities at your local intersection. Apparently, the chief issue was whether to require the benefiting charity to provide liability insurance to protect the city should one of its (or the solicitors) employees (volunteers) be injured while collecting. All this sounds nice but the reasons this shouldn't have been passed are the same as they were a month ago.
The council ended up passing the ordinance which required a $5 million liability insurance policy (including $500,000 in medical liability coverage), setting collection times between 9:00 a.m. and a half hour prior to sunset and requiring a $50 fee to the city. We're not sure that there was any training requirements established for volunteers which was part of the ordinance passed last month.
So what's wrong with helping organizations like Muscular Dystrophy? Several things.
First, the city continues to work with less personnel to get the job done and we're sure the law department is no different. Yet it has to establish the procedures and if there are any law suits stemming from the collection process it will still have to provide lawyers to help defend them, regardless of whether it is protected by a liability insurance policy.
Second, this bill was passed simply for the thugs, yes thugs in the Omaha Fire Department who want to collect for MDS. No other city department does this.
Third, the thugs on the Omaha Fire Department want to do this because they can do it on your tax dollars. Yes they will be doing it while on the time clock, paid by your taxes. Apparently, unlike other volunteers they are only interested in being paid to 'volunteer,' an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Fourth, the whole process puts the City of Omaha in a position of supporting one charity in this process since you obviously aren't going to see your Omaha Police Department or your Parks Department or your Planning Department collecting on your tax-dollar and time when their employment numbers are being reduced by Commissar Junior Mayor Suttle on an almost daily basis it seems. And who (department manager or tax-paying citizen) would allow these folks who are supposed to be working on your behalf to spend hours collecting on your time anyway? City employees have enough to do. Maybe the thugs at the Omaha Fire Department don't?
Fifth, any solicitor at a stop light, even a thug from the Fire Department waiving his boot at your window in intimidation, creates a danger not only to himself but to other motorists who are not only intimidated but distracted. Will the insurance cover auto accidents or occupants injured?
Sixth, the $50 permit fee will not pay for the cost of monitoring insurance and the charitable status of organizations that choose to collect your dollars at your intersections. Didn't we just hear that the permits department is shutting down two hours early every day because of personnel and financial cutbacks? We suspect the thugs from the Omaha Fire Department will quickly get their permit though. How about others?
Seventh, what happened to the training requirement for volunteers? Have they been established? By whom? If they have, who will monitor it? We thought the city had limited resources with all the cutbacks.
Eighth, since any charity from Hare Krishna on can apply for a permit, you can expect that your future trips will be plagued by street side solicitors, probably all day Saturdays and Sundays and maybe even weekdays. For those of you who have forgotten, that's exactly what happened before the city outlawed the practice nearly 8 years ago.
Ninth, this once again reflects the inept leadership of Commissar Junior Mayor Suttle who obviously isn't much of a leader when he allows the thugs from the Omaha Fire Department to testify against the wisdom of the Omaha Police Department and the Omaha Planning Department. The mayor of a city should set policy and should have taken a position on this ordinance and communicated it to the City Council with one voice not opposing ones. But, then, maybe the Mayor is owned by the Omaha Fire Department and its thugs, both its union leadership and its department head, to whom he has shown constant favoritism in return for theirs?
This is an ill-conceived ordinance that should have never been passed. It demonstrates the lack of business acumen and thought process of the members of the city council and the lack of leadership by a leaderless mayor who'd rather cave to the fire union than lead.