LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rescue Mission doesn’t have right to hurt community

By DEE ADAMS

PANAMA CITY

Our new mayor, Greg Brudnicki, is right on target when he discusses what the professional vagrants have done to our city. We have turned a blind eye to the elephant in the room — our vagrancy crisis. For fear of being viewed insensitive or mean spirited, most of us have allowed these professional vagrants and those who recruit and profit from them to threaten our property, our livelihoods, our families and our way of life.

Let’s be very clear. Let’s not pull any punches. These people who come here to prey upon our generosity and good nature are turning our town into a cesspool. Look around our very attractive downtown. Yes, it is a bit blighted. I would venture to say that one of the main reasons is that folks are just plain scared and put off to make it a choice.

These professional, many criminal, vagrants are drawn here by our reputation as a low-life vacation spot. The Panama City Rescue Mission, no matter how lofty its goal, is the main attraction. It has programs for out-of-state sex offenders, free meals and a campus that serves as a playground for those who choose to live the life of a vagrant.

To be fair, the Mission does serve some who are truly needy. However, those who are truly homeless, hungry and in need are trying their best not to be. These professional vagrants are taking the fruit of our generosity and good spirit from those who really, truly need and deserve our help. While it is our moral imperative to reach out to those who are in need, it is also our responsibility and our absolute imperative to protect our property and children. Who among us would let their kids ride bikes or walk unattended in our downtown?

Taking an honest look at the Mission is a good first step. It is a not-for-profit, church-based endeavor. So far, so good. This, however, does not give it special rights or the only view from the moral high ground. The leadership recently stated that the number to move was $10 million. That, my friends, is what you call a hold up. That is also what I would call a business valuation.

This begs the question: Who benefits financially from all of this? Think about it. The Mission employs a business development officer. Obviously, this is a business whose success and cash flow is on all our backs. We as a community can no longer stand aside and pretend the emperor has on his best outfit. It is a business, plain and simple.

There are some very fine folks who generously give their time and treasure to serve in leadership roles for the Mission. They have been misled on the true mission of the Mission. I call upon everyone who thinks we have a problem to reach out to these people and let them hear what we think. There is no shame or evil intent in telling the truth. I am quite certain the volunteer leadership would love to hear from friends and neighbors.

There are options on the table. The Mission is private property and is afforded the rights we all enjoy. But it does not have the absolute right to negatively affect an entire community any longer. We all have to live together with respect and dignity. We do not have to live in fear and disgust as each newly arrived bus brings the very worst of our society from other places to prey upon us.

This may sound alarming and strong-worded for some. However, I’ll wager a modest sum that these words resonate with the vast majority of our stakeholders — our residents. Unfortunately, this has become a zero-sum game. Please let your voice be heard. I have faith in our community and in our elected leadership. There is a solution that we can all live with. Let’s find it.

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/city-95282-right-community.html#ixzz1emY4whRh

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