Billy Fox’s answer to the vagrancy problem?….”City commissioners stop advertising Panama City as paradise”

Tonight Panama City Commissioners voted unanimously to create an ordinance to ban panhandling in Panama City. During the segment on the agenda to discuss the ban, Commissioner John Kady delivered a well researched and well thought out presentation outlining the true problem of the vagrancy problem as well as some of the core causes. Mr. Kady’s summary of the problem was dead on correct with analytic data to prove his points. After Mr. Kady’s excellent presentation, a public discussion period was offered by the board of commissioners. The first public comment was from local attorney, Carroll McCauley. Mr. McCauley shared with the auditorium that in his opinion, those who were participating in public feeding sessions offered by local churches at downtown PUBLIC parks  were “people just down on their luck” and that by “treating them with just a little respect, it would change the behavior of those individuals” . This writer would encourage Mr. McCauley to take a quick peek at any of our “top ten” along with their posted crimes to get a better feel for those who are frequenting these feeding sessions. Then Mr. McCauley somehow wanted to insult the intelligence of  the audience, the commissioners and specifically Mr. Kady by going through a “name dropping” session listing a series of people who are intelligent, prominent people in our community who participate in theses public feedings with the added question “do you think these people are not interested in the welfare of our community” ? Mr. Kady responded by asking attorney McCauley did  he think it was wrong to allow panhandling in our community and Mr. McCauley responded with a firm “no” leading Mr. Kady to respond “then you should have no problem with a law that prohibits panhandling”. Touche’

The next public comments came directly from Mr. Billy Fox , director of the Rescue mission himself. Mr. Fox was all over the board with his commentary. He attempted to use half truths and far fetched stories to somehow make his point that the community doesnt need any new laws to help limit the effects on vagrancy. He told a story about visiting ten businesses and “ten out of ten” supported what his organization is doing and even offered money. I guess he must have left out business number eleven where I work at that told him that they were not interested in supporting his organization due to the impact of the facility on downtown businesses. Then Mr. Fox rambled on about the community not needing any new laws and we all have so many things going on (still dont understand that comment). Then as icing on the cake, he commented that the vagrancy problem was due to city commissioners promoting Panama City as “paradise” and that is why vagrants from all over come to our area.

As the public comments session came to a close, Commissioner Billy Rader made a quite accurate and telling comment about mr. Fox. Mr. Rader commented that Mr. Fox was “really good at marketing” with which Mr.Fox added that he would take any cash that was being offered. The whole meeting reminded me of the storybook tale,”the Emperor’s new clothes”………

We applaud our Mayor and commissioners for taking the bold steps to address the vagrancy problem as it affects our beautiful downtown area. Keep up the good work!

Panama City commissioner , John Kady

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