Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki taking positive action to eliminate feeding of vagrants at local park.

Panama City – Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki is taking exception to a practice that’s been going on for about 9 years. He wants to stop members of local churches who are feeding the homeless twice a week in downtown Panama City.

Each Tuesday and Thursday night the group gathers in the parking lot next to attorney Carroll McCauley’s office across from McKenzie Park to feed homeless people, but Brudnicki believes their well meaning intentions are doing more harm than good.

As many as 100 homeless people show up for the free meal every Tuesday and Thursday. Members of the various church congregations believe it’s their obligation to help their fellow-man.

“God said if you had it in your possession and time to do it then help people not to come against them and down them and criticize them, but show them love,” said rev. Richard Gill.

The homeless out there say if it wasn’t for meals like the one’s provided by local churches they wouldn’t get to eat at all, but Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki is taking a different view of the practice. He contends the people they’re feeding are vagrants that have been banned from the Panama City Mission, because they’re sex offenders or drug and alcohol users.

“So yeah go to Panama City we’ll still feed you, you don’t have to be accountable, you don’t have to work, you don’t have to sing for supper, you don’t have to do anything for it and you can still be feed,” said Brudnicki.

Brudnicki says he and several city commissioners are considering a possible ordinance to ban the parking lot feedings, but supporters of the program, and those who benefit from it, say a ban would be a mistake.

“Banning this would cause a lot more crime waves because people would end up having to steal food just to stay alive,” said Laura Foust.

“We’re going to continue doing it just like we’ve been doing it for years and if they want to look us up then lock us up,” said Rev. Ron Donnerstag.

As many as nine local churches participate in the feeding program. St. Johns Catholic church provided Thursday nights meals

It is exciting to see our new mayor has made the cleaning up of our vagrant problem in the downtown area a priority of his administration. Those of us who live and work downtown see the affects of the problem each and everyday as it impacts our businesses and property values. Many who have chosen to participate in these feeding programs do so out of the kindness of their hearts and it makes THEM feel good to be doing SOMETHING. The problem lies with the residual effects of their actions. These volunteers leave their comfortable homes in a subdivision, drive their newish cars downtown, dole out food to the local vagrants and then go back home. Not once do they contemplate the potential negative impacts of their actions. Not once do they go through the thought  process of thinking of a better way to serve those locals truly in need without creating an eyesore for the citizens of downtown.  Why do these church organizations not take busloads of those near the mission that they feel compelled to feed then drive them to their church? Then when the feed session is over, just leave those they picked up right there in their own neighborhood? The reason is simple, it is easy to be charitable as long as it doesn’t effect YOU. It is easy to impact another community and then scoff at those who who would suggest that the actions are inappropriate. The feeding of vagrants in a Panama City public park enhances the already negative impact of vagrants in our area. Thank you Mayor Brudnicki for championing this cause for the downtown community.

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