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Posted on Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:45 a.m.

Aggressive panhandling, crime are driving away customers, Liberty Street retailers say

By Lizzy Alfs


A panhandler stands outside businesses on the corner of E. Liberty and Maynard streets holding a plastic cup for change and a cigarette.

Melanie Maxwell |

One afternoon this spring, Andrea Graef was working alone in her downtown Ann Arbor candy store, This & That, when a man came wandering in her shop and slumped to the floor.

“He walked in, fell flat on his back, hit his head on the floor and passed out,” Graef said. “His eyes were rolling in the back of his head.”

Graef called 911, and the police and EMS responded, determining that the man, whom Graef described as a frequent downtown panhandler, was intoxicated.

“He’s drunk all the time,” she said. “I see him up and down this street. It scared me, it really did.”

It’s just one of many nearby incidents of panhandling or crime that Graef has witnessed since opening her store at 611 E. Liberty St. in 2010. She said these incidents on East Liberty Street are frequent and have even scared customers away from her shop.

Her comments reflect an increasingly common sentiment among owners of businesses in the East Liberty Street retail district stretching from Division Street to State Street.

The district carries one of the highest rental rates for retailers in Washtenaw County — but it also attracts a crowd that’s scaring off some customers, business owners said.

When a high-priced East Liberty Street fashion shop called Poshh announced Monday that it would close after 10 years in business, several nearby retailers — including the owner of Poshh — said increased panhandling and crime are hurting business.

Liberty Street retailers said their concerns involve several factors:

--High-profile criminal incidents in downtown Ann Arbor, including a series of sexual assaults by one or two unknown attackers in public places such as a nearby parking garage.

--A rise in retail vacancies, including the closure of Borders’ 40,000-square-foot flagship store, Big Boy’s @burger restaurant and the soon-to-be closed Poshh boutique. Other stores — including American Apparel, which is facing serious questions about its financial viability — are fighting to keep their doors open, too.


Some downtown businesses put signs to remind people that outdoor seating is for customers only in an effort to keep panhandlers away.

Melanie Maxwell |

--A rise in public drug use, often concentrated in alleyways.

--An increase in the number of panhandlers frequenting Liberty Street’s celebrated graffiti alley.

--Customers’ stated concerns about parking in public garages, including the Liberty Square garage where a sexual assault suspect attacked a woman in July.

--A rise in panhandling and criminal activity at Liberty Plaza, a public square at the corner of Liberty and Division.

Customers uncomfortable

Wendy Batiste-Johnson, owner of the upscale women’s boutique Poshh, announced last week that she would close her store following a decade-long presence at 535 E. Liberty St.

After 10 years downtown, Batiste-Johnson said the area has changed “drastically,” citing an increase in crime and aggressive panhandling on East Liberty Street.

“When I came to Ann Arbor, it was listed as one of the safest cities in this country,” she said. “You could feel a sense of safety. Now, there’s a huge homeless problem on Liberty Street and let’s be honest, it’s driving customers away and affects my business.”

She said she’s had several recent instances of panhandlers following her customers into the boutique, and some of her loyal customers are now choosing to avoid downtown Ann Arbor.

“I have customers who have been customers for years, and now some of them are terrified of coming downtown because they’re scared of getting chased by panhandlers and scared to park in the parking garages,” she said.

Abraham Hejazi, owner of Allure Boutique, agreed, saying the panhandlers on East Liberty Street are causing some people to avoid the area — which, in turn, leads to less foot traffic at his store.

“A lot of students, they are scared,” he said. “With what’s happening in Ann Arbor with sexual assaults and then panhandlers shouting things and asking for money, people avoid coming to Liberty and go to another street.”

He also said his employees don’t want to work later than 8 p.m. because they are scared to walk alone after dark.

“We used to have one person panhandling outside,” he said. “Now, there are six or more right outside my store everyday. This 100 percent affects my business.”

Preventing panhandling

To be sure, the panhandling in downtown Ann Arbor is not a new issue facing the city.

In 2010, Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones told the Ann Arbor City Council that aggressive panhandling had become the No. 1 crime in Ann Arbor.

Prior to last summer, several police officers were assigned to walk or bicycle downtown in order to patrol the streets, but as part of a restructuring of the Ann Arbor Police Department, those patrols were eliminated.

With concerns about panhandling rising, the city reconvened a task force last year to examine aggressive panhandling. It resulted in revisions to the city’s solicitation ordinance to expand the areas where panhandling was prohibited.

The city’s solicitation ordinance prohibits panhandling in specific areas, including public buses; indoors; near parking structures; from a person in a vehicle; from customers in outdoor seating areas; within 12 feet of a bank or ATM; or within 12 feet of Nickels Arcade, the Galleria and the Pratt Building on Main Street. The revisions now also prohibit panhandling within 12 feet of a public alley and in front of the downtown library.


Gwyddion Storm soliciting money from people earlier this year on East Liberty Street outside Poshh boutique.

Ryan Stanton |

City Council member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, who chaired the 12-member task force, told that the committee was also successful in getting one police officer to patrol the downtown area when possible and necessary.

“We were able to get a commitment that would happen,” she said. “But once upon a time, there were six officers for the downtown area. Nobody expected the task force to solve the panhandling problem because that would require more enforcers on the street.”

Briere said that Ann Arbor simply does not have the resources right now for constant police enforcement in downtown Ann Arbor.

“We can’t have police officers everyday in the downtown area, which is what it would take to fix the problem,” she said. “It’s not good enough to come in and fix and problem and then go away because the problem hasn’t gone away. For me, that’s an issue I don’t know how to resolve.”

She said the best solutions are to educate people on why they shouldn’t give money to panhandlers to ensure it’s not a “lucrative” activity.

She also acknowledged the effect panhandlers may have on the businesses on Liberty Street, and she offered owners advice: Always report incidents to the police and continue to talk about the issue with the police chief.

“They need to talk the city police chief and voice their concerns,” she said. “Maybe owners need to get together with the rest of the State Street Area Association members and invite the police to talk with them. It’s time to say, ‘We feel unsafe, we want the ordinance enforced in these areas.’”

Not a new issue?

Tom Heywood, executive director of the State Street Area Association, said he’s had complaints from business owners in the area, and he agreed that owners should talk with the police chief and the mayor.

“I think they’re being listened to,” he said. “The problem is, unless the city finds money someplace, they don’t have the resources to put street cops back on the street. That handled a lot of problems in the past.”

Heywood also said he believes panhandling is a longstanding issue that hasn’t gotten worse over time, it just “ebbs and flows in vibrant downtowns.”

“People have been panhandling in that neighborhood and on that block for 30 years,” he said. “Nothing has changed, it just goes up and down with the seasons. I don’t believe that thousands of people are not coming down that block because of this.”

But Kasey Chammout, owner of the new La Pita Fresh restaurant at 529 E. Liberty St., said he believes the traffic on East Liberty Street has significantly decreased since he decided to sign a lease for the downtown space earlier this year.

“The combination of Borders closing, the aggressive panhandlers and the rape incidents have definitely caused less traffic on Liberty,” he said.

He said he’s also had issues with panhandlers coming into his restaurant and confronting patrons.

“They come in through the doors and ask for a dollar, or they’re hungry and want something,” he said. “They come into the restaurant when I have patrons and ask for food. It’s negative for my business.”

He pointed out that not everyone that hangs out on Liberty Street is panhandling, and some of the “talents” downtown are actually a draw for the area.

“There are some aggressive panhandlers, but some people are landmarks to Ann Arbor,” he said. “The Michael Jackson impersonator and a few talented people on the guitar — people come in to see them.”

Contrary to some of the nearby businesses, Russ Collins, executive director of The Michigan Theater on East Liberty Street, said he doesn’t see any negative effect on the business from nearby panhandlers.

“Do I think we live in a paradise that’s like a theme park? I don’t,” he said. “Do I think the downtown is a dangerous and intimidating place? I do not. That makes it real.”

He said that of the thousands of patrons he sees and interacts with on a weekly basis, no one has complained to him about a panhandling issue.

“We’ve got panhandlers, but there are lot worse things in the world,” he said. “We have a vital, urban core, and it gets celebrated everyday by the thousands of people who come down here and feel safe and secure.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 7:04 a.m.

So am I understanding this correctly? The city allows panhandlers to run free in specific areas by law? The reason being that the city can't cope with the level of this crime because they consider it rather petty and too overwhelming to even approach getting a handle on? Wow, people really disappointing. I might be able to see it if it were all true panhandling...just asking for money or displaying a sign saying they would like or appreciate you giving it to them. Or performing and should you appreciate their talent to honor them with a donation. Crazy as it sounds this is truthful panhandling. My concern is that the city and police are allowing conmen to run about the city and lumping them in as panhandlers. In the past year I have had a guy approach me holding more cash in his hand than I had in my wallet asking for just a few bucks to get a hose for his car (conveniently parked out of site) because he and the wife and kids (also out of site) broke down while in town. The next day he was pulling the same con on my mother outside of Wendy's and my sister outside Walmart in Ypsilanti. I've been approached by guys with gas cans two or three days in a row. All needing just a few bucks to get home. It's always a fun seeing mom running around town with the kids in tow teaching them the con as well. Just hang out in front of E. Michigan and S. University to reap this particular joy. It worries me that more people are not concerned about their parents, children or loved ones who are good natured loving people opening a wallet to these grifters. Once your money is out in the open what prevents them from more aggressive actions. A man asking for money doesn't frighten me. If I give it to him I feel good about my actions as a person. But the police not attempting to stop a con steals not only my money but my trust as well.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

After seeing more and more panhandlers in Ann Arbor and watching them basically accosting people on the street, I believe they now think it is a game, and laugh about it to one another, how far they can go, because there is no one there to stop them. Recently I saw a rather large dirty looking man annoying an elderly woman, following close behind her yelliing "spare change". I told him if he didnt leave her alone I would call the police. He laughed at me, and started after some other person. Our town is a joke. A good six months of police presence and panhandlers will find a new place to go. As far as expensive street art goes. Lets be real folks, ann arbor is an inconsequential little midwestern burg in the middle of nowhere, and as the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Expensive artwork will not quell all the problems of this town.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

I think we have to excuse Ms. Lowensteins' remarks due to ignorance, as anyone who thinks the answer to panhandlers if for shop personnel to tell them to move along has obviously no idea how silly that sounds. Dear Ms Lowenstein, that is what policemen are for. But if you feel so inclined why dont you go down there and usher them along, and to where? the next block? and then what will she do next? Tell everyone to eat cake?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 11:33 p.m. staffers take note, there is a real piece of sensationalistic journalism hiding within this story. Every local TV news outfit has done it at least once. Just stake out Liberty Square some afternoon, pick a bum, and watch him for a while. After the target rakes in some easy bucks and heads home (almost guaranteed not to be homeless) follow and then confront in a classic ambush interview. Bonus points for catching him driving a car, or buying booze or cigarettes with his cash. Success!


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

The panhandling is far worse than it was 10 years ago when Shakey Jake would play his guitar on the streets, or one guy would stand around with a cup. Now, there are more panhandlers, they are much more aggressive and they will shout at you if you don't give them money. I've tried just walking by, minding my own business, and they don't let it go. They have to yell at people and follow them, in some cases. I think it's related to "word on the street" that with all the rich students in A2, it's easy pickings. I find it intimidating and go downtown far less often than in the past. Panhandling is on the increase all over the area. On Saturday, I was leaving Arborland via the road that goes behind the vacant Borders store, and while sitting at the light, there was a 40ish year old man, with a cardboard sign: Out of work, need money, etc. Many of these panhandlers are professionals, they collect several hundred dollars a day, live pretty well and pay no taxes on the cash. While I was in line at the light, a car behind me gave this guy several dollars, so it's probably worth standing there for a few hours, even though it's illegal. I've seen more of these panhandlers around the parking area at Arborland in recent months and I don't care to be "chased" as I'm going into a store, or going to my car, and asked aggressively for money. People asking for money is on the rise, not just panhandlers. I'm also tired of grocery stores asking me "if I want to donate my change" or my bag credit for this cause or that cause. No, I don't want to donate my change. I just want my change and my bag credit, and I don't want to be asked continuously for money. What's worse, you can't even avoid this at the self-checkout. Kroger's on Plymouth will have clerks circulate while you are trying to scan your items and ask if you want to donate to this cause or that cause. My answer is the same, no. I just want to be left alone to go about my business! And I never give


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

After seeing more and more panhandlers in Ann Arbor and watching them basically accosting people on the street, I believe they now think it is a game, and laugh about it to one another, how far they can go, because there is no one there to stop them. Recently I saw a rather large dirty looking man annoying an elderly woman, following close behind her yelliing "spare change". I told him if he didnt leave her alone I would call the police. He laughed at me, and started after some other person. Our town is a joke. A good six months of police presence and panhandlers will find a new place to go. As far as expensive street art goes. Lets be real folks, ann arbor is an inconsequential little midwestern burg in the middle of nowhere, and as the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Expensive artwork will not quell all the problems of this town.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 4 p.m.

I still don't understand why a police department with 120 police officers seems to be unable to provide more patrol officers or a few beat cops for the downtown area. Barnett Jones needs to restructure his department. AAPD is still operating as if they had 200 officers, my point being that they have too many supervisors and not enough patrol officers. Sorry desk jocky's time to hit the streets again.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

This is laughable that there's so much commotion about panhandlers in downtown Ann Arbor. What's hurting businesses is their high prices combined with shoppers who are not willing to spend. Only the slight wusses would be driven away by the homeless(?) panhandlers we all see downtown. Now the sexual assaults with the attacker on the loose, I can see how that might hurt the amount of shoppers and patrons downtown when it's dark and less crowded. And the infamous lack of parking in downtown Ann Arbor (soon to be helped by the new parking structure and other spaces) is probably a deterring factor when you could travel to other, more accessible locations. But panhandlers? Seriously? Maybe I haven't experienced these uber aggressive panhandlers, who from what I understand after reading this, might ask you for some change outside of the Fleetwood Diner then ask you for a bite of your burger as they step on the back of your shoes as they follow you all over. Ann Arbor clearly has a significant homeless/panhandler population and there are trouble makers, but I don't think this issue is what's really the problem here. In order to attract people to these businesses, you need fair pricing and need to provide things that patrons will spend money on. As it stands these days, most downtown shops cater to a more wealthy consumer, and that's simply not going to work in today's Ann Arbor, especially during the fall and winter college semesters. And so we have things like CVS, 7-11, etc. downtown now, which many detest, but they're more likely than not succeeding financially compared to the traditional places downtown. The essence of this article seems to be to publicize the problem with the homeless and panhandlers and connect it to failing businesses downtown. And of course, we're reminded of the police cuts which are connected to this seeming increase in crime downtown and this feeling of 'unsafeness' that has been reported in articles in the news. I feel safe myself.

Cosmic Ray

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

Corn Dog, the one on State St. whose sign says "Pothead with the munchies" has his own Mercedes parked right in front of him the whole time!

American Family

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Well, well, well... Ultra liberal Ann Arbor has a bum and crime problem that is getting worse by the day?? Who would have "thunk" it?? That city is now reaping the seeds of which it has sowed. But the city will look pretty with all the art it is spending money on; instead of spending money on public safety services. It now seems that the PEOPLE will have to flush the city of its trash. Both the bums and the brain dead liberals on city council. People of Ann Arbor: Fix your serious problems now, or enjoy third world living in a art filled, bum and rapist slum in another 15 years or less. So much for the socialist experiment. "Epic Fail" as the kids like to call it today.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

I have never had an issue with an aggressive pan handler. I have lived in this city my entire life of 26 years. Maybe it is because I am a tall male. I have not once had to say anything more than "Sorry, only have plastic" or "no cash today, sorry man" I never have to stop walking, or even look at them. So I am confused when I hear stories of aggressive panhandling.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

As a tall male, you are not perceived as a push over. They won't follow you or get aggressive in the same way they do with women and young people. Just because you haven't personally experienced it doesn't mean it doesn't happen to others.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

As a tall man, you are not viewed as an easy target. They let it go when you say no. If you are a woman or young person, they often don't let it go. Aggressive panhandling is real, even though you personally have not experienced it.

Marilyn Wilkie

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:55 a.m.

I was shocked to read in this article that due to the re-structuring of the city coffers by the people in charge to provide public art, there is no longer any money to provide police patrols in the downtown areas of Ann Arbor. You might as well put a billboard up that says: "COME TO ANN ARBOR TO DO YOUR CRIMES! NO ONE IS WATCHING!"

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

I saw give all the money we give to corporate panhandler SPARK to the street panhandlers.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:24 a.m.

"Employees from the coffee houses should periodically go outside and get rid of the loiterers who are not customers." Likewise, Ms. Lowenstein modestly doesn't tell us she's a hand picked member of the DDA too, which is part of the problem, and not the solution. It's obviously from statements like this, she's clueless. The DDA is a failure, and it needs members who have a clue, unlike the ex-member of Council and the Mayor's political buddy. More art indeed! Lol.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:19 a.m.

So why didn't you identify Russ Collins as one of the Mayor's hand picked reps on the DDA? Just an honest reporting mistake I'm sure.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

Thankfully, this problem is nothing near the magnitude of automobiles idling. The Council has much more important concerns. It must save the environment by passing ordinances that will criminalize leaving your vehicle running a few minutes to melt the frozen and thick ice on your windshield. We need all the police officers we can get to carry stopwatches and mete out environmental justice Ann Arbor style. Aggressive accosting of women by panhandlers who come here from all over the country and who intimidate them and cause businesses to close is something we can get used to. Engine idling is the real threat to that Ann Arbor way of life... Let's get our priorities right...


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

"They need to talk the city police chief and voice their concerns," she (Briere) said. "Maybe owners need to get together with the rest of the State Street Area Association members and invite the police to talk with them. It's time to say, 'We feel unsafe, we want the ordinance enforced in these areas.'" Talk to the police? It's you they need to talk to. And you need to listen. You cannot be the homeless shelter capital of the state and cut police officers. Close the shelter and you will have the money to staff the PD. While many people here say the panhandlers are not the homeless, in my experience it is. Even so, I would presume that A2 being known as the mecca of social consciousness, those in the industry have perhaps focused on A2 as an easy mark. I am going to tell the beggars to congregate in front of the million dollar fountain, that they will also get the monies ordinarily tossed in the water. Who would toss money in a fountain in front of a poor homeless person sitting there? How cruel that would be?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Interesting, the city can't get a police officer there to do anything, but should your parking meter be 2 minutes expired a ticket magically shows up! Or park in the wrong spot and you won't even see the tow truck that makes your car disappear. Go to Brighton or Chelsae everyone, parking is free and no panhandlers!


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

Do what I do. Don't go downtown anymore despite the fact that I own a home in walking distance of the area. I am disappointed that downtown has become as unwelcome as it is due to the large number of vagrant people. The citizens of this city decided to make Ann Arbor "Mecca" to the homeless and now we are simply living with the consequences. Keep in mind that things were not always this way in Ann Arbor. I've been living in this city since 1979 and our downtown used to be a pretty nice place to be. I don't think it is safe anymore and am waiting for a homicide to be committed.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

The City Attorney does not enforce the state panhandling law cited by David Cahill. I do not know why not but I suspect it is because there have been First Amendment challenges to similar laws nationwide. Pandhandlers can be very annoying. They can either get angry at the target or insult him/her that he hates homeless persons. I have heard some are not even poor but can make a decent income doing this full-time. Some undoubtedly use funds acquired for liquor or drugs. It is reason I hesitate to give money to these people.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

@psaume23 , as to businesses "pooling" their money to hire security. Part of having a business is paying rent (and that area has high rent) part of the high rent is because their is high property taxes. Property taxes go for a whole range of things. The problem is property taxes are being spent frivolously a lot of the time. Infrastructure and public safety should be the most important things, these parts of the pie of tax money should be cut LAST when money gets tight. Cutting the police force was not trimming the fat (I'd say more like shooting ourselves in the foot). The downtown beat cops DID make a difference, every single day. The "bucket" for police should always be filled. A "bucket" for public art should not be overflowing. Tax money is the pooling that businesses do for "security" (police) Geez, cut the 1% for art program thing. If 1% is where it is at make it 1% goes towards public safety instead, maybe that additional 1% will make the difference up so we can get some of our police officers and firefighters back.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Now for my own eye witness account. I avoid completely the side of the street with Liberty Square park. This is after EVERY SINGLE DAY morning and evening being confronted with a panhandler, beligerant panhandler, cat call from a panhandler or being called a B* word when I don't give money. I've been in the car stopped at the light and still had someone knock on my window for a buck on that corner. On Liberty from Division to State (and then turning south on State) it is like a gauntlet. I now play a game in my head when I walk that stretch, how many times will I be asked for money, (last count 6) how many panhandlers are there (last count 13, possible 2 additional) how many women looked scared (14) how many cops do I see (0) how many swear words did I hear (27). How many panhandlers were smoking, using a cellphone or drinking what was possibly something from a coffee shop, (almost all, so obvisouly they can afford that). I also no longer like to walk through Nichols arcade. For one thing the entrance on State is often congested with aggressive panhandlers, ROUTINELY so, those that don't have the turf by the entrance are forced further in, so you have to get by the ones at the door and then by the ones hanging out infront of the (closed) shop doors. One guy often tries to sell incense sticks, he burns them too, that stuff STINKS. As a female walking alone I do not like walking this stretch. For the record I DONATE to charities for which caring for homeless causes helps and I have also spotted street persons a couple of times who were short a few coins for a simple cup of coffee at the cafe. Bottom line is, if people donated to charities involved with the homeless or tithed to their churches then the people who need the help will get it, those that don't want to go through those charities often don't just because they don't want to live by the rules of those charities to get it.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Those in position of authority, law enforcement and otherwise, in Ann Arbor should study what New York did with its panhandler &quot;epidemic&quot; in the '90s. The police and social workers worked in tandem, and put an end to a huge problem in NY: See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The Liberty Street area is changing for the worse, and maybe businesses should consider pooling their resources and hiring a security company, especially if the city continues to prove itself incapable of addressing these and many other &quot;blight&quot; problems.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:59 a.m.

The thing is that laws differ from state to state and what NYPD can do may be different from what A2PD can do. I believe the ruling that made simple panhandling legal and created aggressive panhandling as the illegal type was a state court decision.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:45 a.m.

Most Ann Arborites I would say understand the difference between homeless and panhandlers. While some will talk about the rights of the homeless (etc etc) this is not what the bulk of people are complaining about (even if the terminology is used incorrectly) this town has MANY resources for homeless and those in dire straights. This does not give anyone the right to aggressively beg for money. Aggressive involves, shouting, stepping in the path of, following, or otherwise causing people to reroute their walk so as to not colide with someone who is asking someone else for money. (etc) or even cause an uncomfortable enviroment that more than just asking a simple &quot;spare change&quot; can cause, most people would brush off the &quot;spare change&quot; and move on. However when it happens to the degrees passed &quot;spare change&quot; on a daily basis than for most people they would agree there was a problem. As a store owner myself I tend to be in a bubble most of the day, that is I don't walk around. (that often, but I will get back to that later). I get much of my info from my customers, who have told me in the recent past of witnessing street people using drugs in the alley, peeing in the alley, fighting in the alley. One witnessed a man follow another woman the length of five cars repeated asking for money, then saw him duck in an alley to make a call on his cell. One customer had a man ask her repeatedly for money, he stopped when she walked into her bank, but when she left her bank 10 mins later half a block away he &quot;came out of nowhere&quot; and mentioned she just went to the bank, she should have a few bucks to spare now.

Derrick Forshee

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Well what do you expect when you downsize the police department?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

No person has the right to scare me into giving them money. No person has the right to obstruct my path. No person has the right to physically coerce me. Businesses have a right to run their business and consumers have the right to shop. All this garbage trying to justify these types of actions is garbage....... Garbage, Garbage Garbage

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

Justifying their actions, no. Demanding that the police forcefully remove them is not the answer, either. A few walking patrols and a little friendly discouragement is OK in my book.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Wake up Ann Arbor voters. Do you like this City Council? First they pass an ordinance that will ticket you for not stopping in the middle of traffic for people APPROACHING a cross walk and now they defunded the police department and SNOW REMOVAL. Why the police and not some back room bureaucrat or cut back on maintenance for park #147? Because THEY WANT YOU TO FEEL THE PAIN!! You will be hammered for more and higher taxes so cutting something innocuous will not due because if all is fine on the street where you live, YOU WILL NOT VOTE FOR THE NEXT TAX INCREASE ON YOURSELF. CITY COUNCIL NEEDS TO GO!!!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

Bums seem to be treasured pets of the City Council.....most vulnerable something something that do nothing but need. Accordingly, Council stupidly enacts policies that ATTRACT bums to Ann Arbor - they come here for the goodies. They also feed off the naive sympathy of liberal UM students who, while often living on very tight budgets and night jobs, they do not hesitate to pester for money. For those of us who have worked in AA for decades and see the same guy on the same corner for all that time panhandling for cash since the day we started work here, there are some pretty strong indications that AA's hand outs are enabling the &quot;panhandler lifestyle&quot; rather then helping move them back into tax paying productive lives.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Oh my goodness, seriously? If people are too frightened by homeless to buy $300 jeans they need to get a grip. You are in a city, cities have homeless people. God forbid you actually have an interaction with them outside of the holidays when you adopt their families. It's just anxiety inducing, right? &quot;Realizing Ann Arbor is not Posh enough for Poshh, owner abandons store and filthy unswept streets.&quot;

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

If aggressive panhandlers are not kept in check, I'm afraid some will get hurt.

kindred spirit

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

One morning in the summer of 2010 i had to run an errand at 9 a.m. in the morning. I felt like I was the only customer on the street--and that there were at least six homeless people walking around, looking for change in phones, looking for cans in the garbage,and milling about. There was an odd feeling in the air. Broad daylight and in the morning, and I felt uneasy. I felt like I didn't belong. I felt unsafe. I didn't feel like I was in Ann Arbor. Bring the walking and biking patrol back.

Ricardo Queso

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

I recall a past story regarding the actual number of bums, er, &quot;panhandlers&quot; downtown.

Charley Sullivan

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

My mother taught me long ago always to acknowledge other people in this world when they talk to you. No need to be rude, or shout &quot;NO,&quot; or ignore people. Just look folks in the eye and say, &quot;I'm sorry, I don't give money to people on the street,&quot; or &quot;I'm sorry I don't have anything today,&quot; and the say, simply &quot;Have a nice day,&quot; or &quot;Stay warm!&quot; You'd be surprised how nice people are back. In my experience, the folks who seem to get treated &quot;aggressively&quot; (whatever that entails) are the people whose noses go up in the air as soon as they see a person asking for money on the street. Perhaps it's your attitude, or even rudeness, that pisses off the person you just dehumanized? Perhaps not, but think about it. Did you telegraph your disgust? How would you feel if someone treated you similarly? Be polite and even human while saying no, and very quickly, you're likely not to get treated badly. None of us own the streets any more than other people because we pay taxes. If you won't come downtown because you're uncomfortable with poverty, then, honestly, perhaps downtowns are just not for you. Do you lack enough humanity? As the Gospel says: 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25

L. C. Burgundy

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

Yes, and that's why I give to organizations that I know actually provide food, water, shelter, and clothing for the actual homeless (there's a city journal link further down that another person'd be surprised how many panhandlers are neither homeless nor poor) and not give it to people who will spend it on drugs or booze.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

To Mr. Collins, who thinks no one avoids the area because of panhandlers. The last time we went to Michigan Theater - now almost two years ago - we were accosted not by one, but by 7, yes 7, panhandlers in a group. They chased us down the street - literally ran after us. The group was waiting outside the theater for patrons to get out. It was a very large group. We used to go to Michigan Theater a lot. No more. So, let's see. I can go to a theater and not be accosted by beggars and go to a nice restaurant and not be accosted by beggars as long as I don't go into downtown Ann Arbor. Or I can go into Ann Arbor downtown/campus and be accosted by beggars, bicyclists who don't obey the law, pedestrians who step out in front of cars (not at crosswalks), difficulty parking. Hard choice, huh.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Even if we had all the neccesary police and all the policies and all of the rule and restrictions enforced to the letter...nothing is going to change until those that break the &quot;rules&quot; and the &quot;laws&quot; are actually punished! Our criminal system favors the criminal not the victim. Our jails are more elaborate than our children's schools! Stop skirting the issues and do something about it! Those in positions to actually make changes are afraid they won't be re-elected to office so they don't use the power they have to make positive changes. When people begin to get killed in the area MAYBE they will step in and do something. Your best bet is to stay out of the area, or only go in daylight with many friends. WHen the bodies start stacking up....welll...we'll see.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Being homeless is fundamentally a private tragedy with multiple and varied causes.. Aggressive panhandling---whether by the homeless or anyone else---is a public nuisance, to an outright crime if intimidation is employed , so police intervention is appropriate. Non-aggressive beggers are , however, a by- product of urban life anywhere at any time in history...and more so in an era of rampant unemployment and substance abuse. They may be something we have to simply live with and deal with on our own dime with personal charity to ignoring until they go elsewhere both being valid responses)


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

The problem is a lack of socialization. Not among panhandlers but among many Ann Arbor citizens. These are human beings. Is it really that difficult and Bothersome to treat a fellow human decently? Why are so many Ann Arborites so fearful and hateful?


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

I like my personal space. Panhanders invade it. I go about my business not bothering anyone, and I expect the same treatment from others.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

If an aggressive panhandler shouts at me, grabs me or follows me, he or she does not deserve to be treated decently. End of story. They get what they deserve, a nasty response, or they are totally ignored.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:21 a.m.

Garbage, Nobody as the right to accost me. (there is nothing decent about it) What is so difficult to understand about that?

West of Main

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

Why are we fearful and hateful? I'll tell you why: because most of these panhandlers are contemptible and some of them are, quite frankly, scary.

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Is it possible that people are avoiding downtown merchants because their merchandise is mundane or costs too much? Take all of the patrons out of downtown due to declines in personal finance, and you what is left? Shopkeepers and street people. So of course the shopkeepers begin to blame the street people for the business slowdown, but they are mistaken. It's not the street people that have scared off the business, but the stores themselves.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Slow news day, Aggressive (or should I say egregious) pan-handling in Ann Arbor? Again? As long as there is poverty and mental illness that goes untreated panhandling will continue. Get over it.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

You voted for them - or did you not vote? Make your voice heard next chance you get and get these people OUT of office. This current mayor has been in charge WAY too long. Look at his progress report, look at the historic houses being torn down for an apartment building because of inaction on the councils part, look at the crime rate, public art issues, business relocating because council cannot get it together for LOCAL developers, look at this mess and then vote!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

How about maybe. It's a pain and expense to find parking, and everything there is overpriced anyway.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Hello, If I am not mistaken P.O.R.T. was/is a most valuable resource in situation. Please continue to afford any/all necessary activities bringing about some positive forward movement in freeing up the businesses/shoppers/students/guests/ visitors/ and above all THE VICTORIES WOLVERINE AND THEIR NEXT GUEST IN TOWN. Thank you, Dawn


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:52 a.m.

NOpe, PORT is for the homeless folks. The panhandlers are usually a different population.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Have the City's new Art Director re-lable panhandlers as &quot;performance art.&quot; New headline: &quot;Ann Arbor Businesses take notice of Downtown Public Art Initiative.&quot; Don't fret. Just repackage the message.

Stephen Landes

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Remember this article on election day and vote for ANYONE other than incumbents. -- would you please re-post this article the day before the election? Everyone needs a reminder!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

&quot;She said the best solutions are to educate people on why they shouldn't give money to panhandlers to ensure it's not a "lucrative" activity.&quot; I don't agree with Sabra Briere on much but on this point we are in 100% agreement. Don't feed the pigeons and they will go away. I also don't think it would hurt if the cops made them feel as though their chosen 'profession' was not welcome here, which it isn't,

Chuck Early

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

The problem is out of hand. I took a lady friend down town at liberty square park and two guys were trying to hit on her purse. We left. It really sucks that these aggressive panhandlers won't spend the same energy trying to GET A JOB. I wish they'd just dry up and blow away - I love Ann arbor, and these people are RUINING that town. It's TERRIBLE.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Running the town? News to me. I love shopping in downtown A2. I do say panhandlers, but most leave me alone, when I tell them I have no money. Which is true, because I never carry cash.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

snub Ann Arbor! get over it, poor people are not as scary as you think!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Wake up mayor/city council! Listen to the people who live and pay taxes in Ann Arbor. Fund more police, especially on bikes downtown. Please clean up Liberty Square, Liberty Street, and the Blake Bus Station so we are not harassed every time we go downtown. I've had panhandlers and drunk men grab my arm and swear at me when I don't give them money. I'm 50 and it scares me to think what could happen (and is happening) to younger people in our town. We don't want them to leave the city. This is serious and needs to be addressed now!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

For those of you whining about the plight of the &quot;poor unfortunates&quot; who are forced to panhandle because of their circumstances, let me tell you about my experience as a cab driver in this fair city. There is panhandler that works Main street that I'm sure most, if not all of you who have ever ventured downtown have come in contact with. This guy takes cabs all night long back and forth to his his government subsidized apartment to drop off his loot when his pockets get too full. With all his other benefits (i.e. Social security, food stamps, etc) he's quite open about how he makes more than I do for NOT working. While I routinely work 12 to 14 hour shifts to house and feed myself AND pay taxes (cab drivers get a double tax whammy as independent contractors) all of you bleeding heart Ann Arborites continue to shower this guy with money while he openly laughs at you and me. And if you all think he's the exception rather then the rule, then I have some carbon offset credits I can sell you on the cheap. As this city continues its steady decline and more of it's citizens leave for saner pastures, All I can think is that Ann Arbor is getting exactly what it deserves. Enjoy your new taxpayer funded $750,000 German designed public urinal.

West of Main

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

Does he at least tip well?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Be sure to follow the proper Liberal guidelines or A2 news will remove your comment.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

A few things come to mind from reading this article and the comments. First of all, just because someone panhandles does not mean they are homeless. Save your money and give it to an organization that will use it for people who really need it. I usually have no problems with panhandlers because I completely ignore them. If they block my way I go around them. I walked the length of Libery from Main to State friday night and had no problems at all. I also have to say that I do think that if this is a problem for the businesses in the area, police patrols need to be increased. If businesses are leaving the area because of this, increases in parking rates and the fact that a rapist is running loose, the city needs to react. The city council and mayor really need to stop putting their ridiculous pet projects ahead of other crucial issues taking place. Finally, I am incensed that police are being used to patrol crosswalks while all this other crap is going on!!!!! It is insane that businesses are throwing in the towel, people are going elsewhere to shop, and the city is becoming unsafe and all those in charge worry about is the amount of public art, bicycle paths and thinking kids are too stupid to know how to cross a street. No on will come downtown no matter how much art there is if safety is an issue and if people who come down by car (I would have to say they are the majority, no matter what the mayor thinks) find it's taking twice as long because they have to stop at a dozen crosswalks on the way only to pay crazy parking rates once they arrive! It truly is as if the city council and the mayor are putting actual effort into destroying this great town.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

Give them a free meal ticket at the shelter. You are doing more harm than good when you give most of these panhandlers cash. These folks need to get help-- not handouts that enable them continue their destructive course in life.

Mike D.

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

I spend a quarter of my time in midtown New York City, and it's surprising that I get harassed less by panhandlers there than I do at home in Ann Arbor. When I walk around Times Square and Rockefeller Center (I happen to work in the biggest tourist neighborhoods in NYC), I might get asked for change 0-1 times per *day*, and never aggressively. On Main Street or Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, its about 2 times per *hour*, and often aggressively. The difference? NYC has very visible police foot patrols. It's time to raise taxes in MI to the point where basic services can be provided.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

um, when's the last time you all visited nyc or detroit? &quot;aggressive panhandling&quot; in ann arbor. hmmm. just ignore it, eyes up, keep walking. if the person gets loud, look them in the eye and say, &quot;sorry, NO!&quot; firmly, loudly, fearlessly, and with conviction, loud enough to make others near you turn their heads. if they attack you or get in your way, you start screaming bloody murder as loud as you can, and even a drunk bum will run. have we become an urban population so blinded by entitlement that we feel we need cops to do this for us? (and by the way, a city without art is a DEAD CITY no matter what else it offers, period.)

Blanch DuBois

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

&quot;look them in the eye and say, sorry NO!&quot;......I leave out the sorry part.....cause I ain't!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

@sh1--you are correct, i was being facetious. any time somebody asks you for some spare change, you should dial 911...


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Detroit has some excellent art. You should visit. It is not much different than Ann Arbor except that they don't have the police force enforcing silly traffic laws.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

A city without million-dollar art projects? Please. We can have art fore less.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

I've been to London, NYC, and DC in the past year, but have been approached by far more panhandlers in Ann Arbor than any of those places. And your solution seems a little satirical to me; I hope it is.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

Quit wasting tax payer money on unnecessary art and perhaps funnel those funds into a bucket that will support an additional police officer or two.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

Said Briere, &quot;...Ann Arbor simply does not have the resources right now for constant police enforcement in downtown Ann Arbor...We can't have police officers everyday in the downtown area, which is what it would take to fix the problem, she said...for me, that's an issue I don't know how to resolve." Didn't she just solve the issue? More police officers! But she can only offer suggestions to educate the public not to give to panhandlers. Ok, I'll try to remember this when I'm being sexually assaulted or someone attempting to rob me! Now, what was I suppose to do when becoming a victim of crime Councilperson Briere? Where did I put that pamplet? Maybe the money that the DDA is getting from parking revenue can be used for more police officers. Didn't the DDA give the city $2-3M recently? Or can't it be used because its from a different bucket? LOL! The downtown area's (both campus and Main St. areas) are one of the crowning jewels of Ann Arbor. If the city can't figure out how to safely protect these areas then it speaks loudly of the lack of leadership in the city. From water fountain sculptures, more funding for art projects, amendments recognizing same sex couples, and the police chief having to seek federal grants to fund officers (which may or may not occur), city leaders are clueless. Their record of not providing the basic services for their citizens has become the laughing stock of SE Michigan. If there is a perception of high crime in these areas then people will simply stop coming to those areas. How hard is it to figure this out? Apparently some feel as though reducing officers can solve the problem. However, perception tells otherwise.

Joan Lowenstein

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

Policing alone is not the answer to panhandling. Just as many people will say they don't want to come downtown if it looks like a police state. Most panhandling is not a crime, just as &quot;loitering&quot; is not a crime. Our society provides few resources for the mentally ill and the addicted so we get what we pay for. As some have stated, one solution is to make downtown an inhospitable place for the panhandlers (few of whom are actually &quot;homeless&quot;). We need more, not less, public art to make our outdoor areas attractive and modern. The property owners must clean up the graffiti and keep the sidewalks clean. Employees from the coffee houses should periodically go outside and get rid of the loiterers who are not customers. Don't give panhandlers money that they'll spend on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. Some problems require a little self-help.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

&quot;Employees from the coffee houses should periodically go outside and get rid of the loiterers who are not customers&quot; I can't believe a member of the DDA would suggest such a thing. Why should minimum wage clerks and servers have to go outside and confront panhandlers? They are not given training on how to handle possibly intoxicated, mentally unstable, or disgruntled loiterers. On the other hand, police officers are trained to handle all kinds of people in potentially difficult situations and it it their job to confront people who are disrupting business or behaving inappropriately.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

Ms. Lowenstein, I repect your perspective and I don't disagree. The challenge I think these other reply's point out is this: there isn't a direct connection between installing more art and reducing crime. There is a direct connection between adding police in a specific area and reducing crime (not loitering). I think this whole article is silly because the pretense (panhandling is hurt business) is indirect as well. I think there are lots and lots of reasons why people don't travel to downtown from the outskirts and those reasons won't change should the panhandling suddenly disappear.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

how amusing Ms. Lowenstein. Is graffiti not art also? Or is free guerrilla art not acceptable because our fair city didn't spend 'buckets' of money on them? Thank you for the amazingly apropos example of the divide between the city administrators and the citizens...


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

you are so far out in left field it is not funny. art will solve the problem. ha

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

The modest Ms. Lowenstein doesn't tell us she's a member of the DDA, as didn't Mr. Collins. I would be ashamed to admit that too.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 4:12 a.m.

1. Public art will eliminate panhandling 2. Graffiti creates panhandling 3. Coffee shop employees make good replacements for police officers 4. Give panhandlers only the type of money that cannot be spent on booze, drugs, smokes. 5. Enroll panhandlers in self help classes. That just about sums it up I guess.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

@racerx: I will agree with you that a police or security presence will deter these beggars from aggressive conduct. I have had some approach as soon a I got in my parked car or stopped at a light knocking on my window knowing that I could not immediately drive away without first hearing their &quot;presentation&quot;. Having security present avoids this type of scenario.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

Former council person Lowenstein, do you really think that panhandlers will lessen their approach if there was more public art? I'm laughing out loud! It's this same mentality that has caused money being diverted from essential city services that is enabling panhandlers to become more aggressive without police being around. Please. Don't run for council in the future to add any more of this mental to those already running the city with these very same thoughts. It's not about having a police state. Just a presence.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Aha! Another&quot;it's not my problem&quot; response from an unelected city official. Now you can see why the problems of Ann Arbor are only going to get worse if we keep electing Heiftje and his lemming like appointees.

Stephen Landes

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

This is a crock. Put police on the streets -- 6 officers doesn't constitute a police state.

Lou Perry

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Up until recently Ann Arbor has been a fantasy land – Nothing that affects other major cities never touched us. Well, it's time to grow-up. Panhandling in Ann Arbor is a growth business. When UofM starts a new term students come from all over the country, mainly suburbs and have never faced a panhandler before – "here's lose change." Interesting even those coming from New York City are neophytes to panhandlers. Without visible police on patrol the problem will continue to grow. I don't think building more shelters would affect the number of panhandlers. Homelessness and panhandlers seem to me two separate issues. A TV station in Madison, WI observed a woman in her twenties panhandling at a highway exit. The TV station estimated her take and it was significant. They then tailed her after "work". I forgot why she was asking for money, but the TV station asked her and I don't remember what she said. She went home to her mother's house where she lived, changed into nice clothes and then went out. The TV reporter knocked on the door of this middle class home and her mother answered. Mom said she thought she was panhandling, but didn't know for sure. Without question Ann Arbor faces more crime than in the past and with the women attacked serious crime. Consistently the Ann Arbor Police Department gets smaller and smaller. At one time we had 140 officers, now we have about 114. Ann Arbor must leave fantasy land.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

John Stossel did a 20/20 report on this years ago on pan handlers at the ramp exits. They tailed this one guy who lived in this posh neighborhood. When they knocked on his door? The family just said oh that is so and so, he is mentally ill and we let him do whatever he wants. He is harmless. O yeah, right, harmless. Some do not want jobs. Why get one when you can make $300 tax free dollars. So what you are saying does not surprise me in the least.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Oops, sorry...200 at their peak.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

Lou, they had almost 200 had their they have 114.

Dan Darbor

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Make the streets of Ann Arbor safe again and help solve local unemployment - deputize the panhandlers to catch the serial rapist.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

What was the violation???


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

How can you expect the Police to enforce panhandling laws --- they have to enforce crosswalk laws now, don't they? Besides, their ranks are so far below where they should be they can't even catch rapists running around town. The city council would rather focus our resources on art projects, administration bonuses, reducing firemen positions, crosswalk law enforcement in unmark vehicles, and dreaming up other ways to make foolish laws and spend money rather than focus on serious issues affecting the majority of the citizens needs.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

I am going to write a business proposal based on enabling my customers to completely avoid icky people who they don't like and are afraid of. All they need do is write me a check and mail it in! This way, you can support local business without getting involved in any of the the grimy aspects of local living.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

I think it's called a suburban strip mall, and they've been around awhile. Unfortunately for Ann Arbor, most of them locate just outside of city limits because the city is known for being anti-business.

Kara H

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

I went down to the Liberty/Maynard area to meet with a client last week and was accosted by a very large drunk panhandler at that corner. Normally when I'm walking through that area, I look ahead and cross the street to avoid them but I'd just come out of a building and didn't have my radar up. He bodily blocked my way forward a couple of times and had a couple of buddies who were nearby, standing behind us. Super uncomfortable. Dangerous? Maybe that too though I extricated myself without mishap (but with considerable effort), it's definitely one of those offputting experiences that when it happens repeatedly will have a negative effect on Ann Arbor &amp; our likelihood to see it as a destination. Just as an aside, I'm always puzzled when lack of police resources is raised as an excuse not to have police downtown. Everyday, there are several police cars hanging out in the Service center parking lot at Stone School &amp; Ellsworth. If they'd stage their fine selves where their presence could have a suppressive effect on crime that would maybe be better than a quiet afternoon shift hanging out in Pittsfield Township.

Stephen Landes

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

@Lizzy Alfs Take not of &quot;Awakened&quot; above -- now there is a follow up story for you (IF has the nerve).


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

The fancy police/courts building is not used by AAPD Patrol units. The new locker rooms flood and have mold issues like the old, so .... Patrol Officers report to the Service Center in Pittsfield township to change, be briefed, get the equipment needed for the shift. They return there for lunches, fresh radio batteries and report writing. They are forced to &quot;hang out&quot; out of town by the same folks who demanded and now crow about the new building. But the downtown boondoggle has nice offices for Chiefs, Lieutenants and other &quot;suits&quot; who haven't spoken to a panhandler in years.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Don't think of them as panhandlers. Think of them as Hieftje's pets. Their care and feeding is far more important than our economic or physical health.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

WAH! WAH! WAH! But y'all vote for 'em and you will again. Over and over. Yep. Just because they're democrats. So enjoy the overpriced and unnecessary art while our city leaders waste resources and hold back monies already designated for e.g., roads while they try to hog tie you into voting for more art if ya care to have the roads repaired. WAH! WAH!WAH! Keep whining.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Maybe it's time to spend some of that DDA money on security instead of parking lots!

Jean Schiller

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Parking lots make money. And security costs money. That probably explains a lot of things. Just guessing.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Don't give the panhandlers money, and they will not be so happy to be here. Some people find it hard to say no when confronted with this, but I don't....I've worked too hard for my money and I don't give it to people on the street. I do make donations to the places that people can go to if they need a free meal, but theymust comply with their rules to be there, and they don't want to do that....that's too bad. Stop giving them money, then there will be no need for the police to do anything. STOP GIVING THEM MONEY!


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Gotta remember, Ann Arbor loves its homeless and panhandlers. Why? Didn't you all agree on that homeless shelter? This is where they are coming from. Shut down that homeless shelter and these varmints will disappear. I hear Detroit has nice blocks to panhandle on.

Patrick Haggood

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

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Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

So much for escaping from New York! I'll look forward to be panhandled twice per block and at least once every other subway stop in the future here as well. At least in Michigan I can keep &quot;aggressive&quot; from escalating without fear of M4 and MP5 zookeepers from killing me too.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

I dunno. I always tell the panhandlers something to the effect of: &quot;Ok, you want me to give you my spare change, my money. Cool. I worked for my money, now you work for yours. Do a perfect backflip and I'll give you $2&quot;. That usually will send them away.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

I tell them I was about to ask them for money.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

I just said that's what I do. I did not say you have to do this as well. You do what you feel you must for your own safety, but my point was that if people stop giving these people money, they will eventually move on. The reason they stay is because they can make enough money to survive.

West of Main

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

Some of us would rather not have to engage with these types in the first place. Especially those of us who are females walking alone.

zip the cat

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

All you whiners and complainers had your chance and have your chance every election time to REMOVE those who think its ART over POLICE/FIRE protection,but choose for whatever the reason to sit at home and do nothing to change the way things are run in your great city. I own a repair service and 5 yrs ago Quit taking calls in your great city after being mugged by one of your panhandlers in broad daylight. If you want change get off your lazy duffs and vote them out . But with the track record voters have in your city it will only get much,much worse. Have fun.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

Perhaps the University of Michigan (currently the owner of the city) could find it in its extremely deep pockets to help the city fund its police department so that a greater presence on the streets can be shown. The university certainly seems to have enough for its athletic programs. The city leadership shouldn't escape criticism. It seems that they have plenty of funds for discretionary spending but little for needed public services.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Apparently not. They are not using their trespassing law to keep the varmints out of the city. O wait, aren't they bed fellows?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

When I moved to Ann Arbor ten years ago, the highlight of our week was to stroll downtown, shop, and enjoy the ambiance. Things have change considerably. I refuse to be accosted by able bodied men who choose not to work, but chase me down the street demanding money. I feel unsafe having to manuver around bums taking up most of the sidewalk. I refuse to subject my children to this. They were horrified the last time we were downtown, and a rather large and filthy man blocked our passage on the street and demanded money. It is unfair to all Ann Arbor taxpayers to have to put up with this in our town. To the bleeding heart liberals who seem to be prolific in Ann Arbor, this is not about the plight of the homeless. THis is about out of town panhandlers coming here because people give them money. If you are so concerned about the homeless volunteer at the soup kitchen. The only way our town officials will do anything about this situation will be due to the increase in the number of businesses that leave the downtown area. When tax money dries up, they may finally wake up. Another reason I do not shop downtown any longer is the new law in Ann Arbor that states if someone is approaching the crosswalk drivers have to stop and wait for them. This is nothing less than moronic. Have the powers that be ever tried to drive through downtown with all the students pouring non-stop into the street? The gridlock now is horrific. There is no clear answer as to how long a driver is suppose to wait, and for how many pedestrians. Yet, city officials talk about buying art. Time to vote these people out of office. The reality is, if you have a town filled with panhandlers, the folks with the buying power are going to go elsewhere. We now take our weekly downtown treks to Saline, or Chelsea, and do not miss downtown Ann Arbor anymore.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

I agree whole heartedly. Ours takes the bus directly to downtown library with bear spray just to keep them varmints out of her hair. Glad that bus is a direct drop. I have seen them inside the Blake Transit. Scary. Glad I shop where these people aren't.

Go Blue

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

&quot;Briere said that Ann Arbor simply does not have the resources right now for constant police enforcement in downtown Ann Arbor. &quot; But they sure DO for foolish, non-essential things like the outrageouly expensive art work coming up (paid for by skimming funds from other important, already short, accounts), spending police effort on (or trying to make it law) &quot;crucial crimes&quot; of car idling, talking on a cell phone within the city boundaries, pedestrian cross walks and so on. Not to say all those may or may not be important, but do say there are higher priorities that are being dropped at the expense of non-crucial efforts.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

money, money and money comes in not out.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

This is pathetic.

Michael Christie

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

This all starts with the Mayor, City Council, and Police that refuse to address the issue with Liberty Plaza. Liberty Plaza is the hub where much of the panhandling starts or acts as a gateway to 'blend' in with the other riff raff. As I type this there's a drug deal going down in the back of the site, it's 10:30 am on a Sunday. When I take my dog out I always get attention because I'm not 'one of them' and look like a narc. (Who doesn't among them?) I just keep staring hoping to get more suspicious and maybe find another place to deal. The situation is so bad that I've called Ann Arbor Police at least 9 times in the last 12 months because of the comments and approach of the rifraf. You can't get anyone to fix the problem as I've talked with officers that say keep calling....but when something bad, real bad happens maybe then someone will fix the problem. I've been encouraging several people to go out and get CCW licenses just to protect themselves from the aggressiveness or potential harm. (We still have a rapist out there...) I never would have thought Ann Arbor would become 'one of those city's', but with non-action at the City level it's bound to happen. It takes years, even decades to build a good reputation, and days or weeks to destroy one.

West of Main

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

Bingo. When walking down Liberty, I always cross the street before I approach Liberty Plaza.

David Cahill

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Actually, panhandling does equal crime. A Michigan statute makes &quot;begging in a public place&quot; a misdemeanor. Both the AA police and the sheriff department can enforce this statute if they wish.


Tue, Sep 27, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

So does that include all those darn fundraisers our children bring home every other month to support the schools? Gads I hate those things. Children begging for money. Thanks. Now I have something to go after the teachers with.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

Unless it was reversed, a court decision some years back eliminated the simple begging in a public place and regurgitated it to only being illegal if the begging is aggressive, puts one one in fear for his/her safety. That's where the term comes from. Another dark day in jurisprudence.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

City attorneys don't enforce that law. So if police took action it would only be denied


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

They could. But in a town with a recent serial rapist, that seems a little petty, even for a college town.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

this has been my pet peeve. i have seen the guys on stadium exit. pull out a cell phone and call. i was a nice phone. i have seen one guy walk from the exit to westgate. get in his car and drive off. i have seen them in a store buying beer and chips. now they do not pay taxs on what they get. i have to pay taxs on what i make. i know some are homeless and need help. but to me it is a racket. sorry i know lots are not going to agree with me. i heard a story do not know if it is true or not. but a guy was begging in new york. he did it for two hours. then he went into a restroom and changed into a suit and went to work. this may not be true but the idea is the same. giving away money that you do not know where it is going. take your money and drop it off at the homeless shelter. give it to some one you know where it is going.

Hot Sam

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Once again...we get what we tolerate...

General Demitrius

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Quell Bummair Poshh. Businesses have supported a Governor that cut every social service, is about to cut every deduction to charity, every public school, and every municipality, so you can have lower taxes. Why don't you use your tax reduction money to hire your own security? Isn't that what it has now come down to now, thanks to &quot;Every Man for Himself&quot; Snyder?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Winner winner, chicken dinner! I knew somebody could blame all the panhandling on Snyder, lol!

Ron Granger

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Panhandling is a problem in most every town. Stores often hire private security to deal with the problem. More police won't stop it. It is never a police priority. People need to stop pretending A2 was some crime free utopia until the police budget was cut.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

I grew up in Seattle, which has a large community of panhandlers. Our violent crime rate is remarkably low for a city of that size. Poverty does not equal crime. Panhandling does not equal crime. If it does in your mind, it's not about them so much as it is about you. I'm much more afraid of drunken frat boys than I am of the people hanging out on Liberty.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Panhandlers are not the only reason not to go downtown. Parking rates have increased. Businesses have closed and/or moved. Car-unfriendly laws and ordinances have been enacted. I set a target for myself last winter - to see if I could go through 2011 without going to downtown Ann Arbor. I haven't been down there yet, and I haven't noticed any decline in my quality of life. I'm sure merchants elsewhere appreciate my business.


Wed, Sep 28, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

It's a Walmart/McDonalds/Olive Garden life for you, then? Nice.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

The success of Ann Arbor depends on it being safe and cool. A few basically harmless characters have always added to the mix, but now walking downtown is getting to be much less pleasant. The sidewalks are too narrow. You need to dodge busboys, waiters, smokers and then you are left with no physical room to avoid the aggressive panhandlers. There is no sense of urgency at city council. Even though our taxes are at least 30% higher than the townships and villages nearby, council is basically saying, &quot;Deal with it.&quot; Maybe they will care when wealthy parents stop sending their kids to UM or when rental rate dive and tax revenue falls. Briarwood controls this problem - downtown needs to control it too.

John A2

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

I don't go downtown anymore because of it. Spare change? Spare change? is all I hear when I am down there. I tell them that I only have plastic, but there are some real aggressive panhandlers, and some have stopped asking for spare change and now ask for spare dollars. The police chief is right, they do come and go, but the aggressiveness has gotten worse. The numbers have gotten worse, and I feel these people who beg act as if you put them where their at, and it's now your responsibility to take care of them. There needs to be a end to the game, because it doesn't just chase away customers, but also makes some people not want to go downtown at all. I go to Briarwood when I want to go shopping, there are just way too many obstacles to deal with downtown.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

A agree. The parking is insane, the panhandlers are aggressive and the prices are too high. All reasons to avoid downtown.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Commenters here talk about homeless people like they are rats. Anonymously, mostly. Panhandlers have been a part of Ann Arbor since I was a kid in the early 70's and before that. When the tax cuts that get pushed through at the top trickle down to the street level, you see the result. The money NEVER trickles down. Only the cuts do. Don't like it? Quit voting for tax cutters like Snyder and Bush. Cops walking beats cost tax dollars. Services for the homeless cost tax dollars. Unless Ann Arborites decide they want to personally hire body guards, which is exactly what the people who are getting their taxes cut do, people need to fund government services that take care of those who can't take care of themselves. There's no good &quot;free market solution&quot; to the results of having no government. Take a trip to Somalia sometime. The free market doesn't care about your safety or your health or your education except to the extent that it can drain your bank account. You think fully funding a police force is expensive? Try hiring a personal security company like Blackwater or Triple Canopy.

L. C. Burgundy

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

You actually think the panhandlers are out there looking for money for food? Ann Arbor has many, many resources for people who are hungry. Granted, Food Gatherers won't give you cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs. People who panhandle for cash are looking for something else entirely (and it's not a WPA job digging trench for a sewer line), and they don't really care who the Governor or President is.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:49 a.m.

Last time I checked...the mayor of Ann Arbor and all the council people were democratic.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

This same homeless/panhandler argument came up over the article the cop wrote about the guys who work the freeway exits. As for funding Medicaid, that program does not buy you groceries. People without jobs can ask for money from pedestrians or they can break into grocery stores or your house but they've gotta eat so take your pick. Snyder and the rest of the repugs have ruled out getting them jobs through any sort of govt. WPA-type intervention.

L. C. Burgundy

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

No government? Government spending is 40% of GDP. Also, Snyder just signed a big tax hike on big business to fund Medicaid (you know, health care for the very poor and homeless...) . Your talking points need updating. Also, the homeless and the panhandlers are hardly the same group. Anyone who has spent a few nights working at a homeless shelter or transitional housing know that few homeless people panhandle - that tends to be dominated by unattached males aged 18-65 who are either not actually homeless or decide they'd rather not have much worldly attachment.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

There is an answer to panhandling: don't make Ann Arbor an attractive place for bums. Example: a band of junkies, vagabonds, and drunks set up camp within our community and started demanding rights, and many of you supported them. Stop giving them money. Be extremely rude and tell them to get a job like the rest of us. Attract the attention of everyone around you. If they get aggressive and threaten you, call the police and/or give them a face full of mace. There is a legitimate population of people that deserve our support. However, most of the &quot;homeless&quot; in the area are people that choose alcohol and irresponsibility and want us to fund their lifestyle. Sorry, I refuse. So should all of you.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

This web site had an article on those ramp pan handlers who told the news why work when you can make $300 just standing here in the rain? A lot of us feel sorry for them. I don't. I wonder if some of them just do it because they need something to do and already have a family that supports their habit.

Sarah Parviz

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Well then have fun being pestered - I will go and hang out in Dexter.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

&quot; I refuse. So should all of you.&quot; So because that is YOUR decision the rest of us should follow it. Sorry I will make my own decisions as to how I spend MY money.

Blanch DuBois

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

What's up with the flowery language? Panhandling is the term used to describe the *labor* that the gold miners used in the hills of California in the 1800's. What we are talking about here is *begging*. Not too long ago, after a full shift on my feet at a local restaurant, I passed a man sitting on the ground asking me for money. I told him I'd be glad to give him a couple of bucks if he would rub my feet for 30 minutes. He seemed offended!?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

Way to Go Tom Heywood for acting as if this is just another day in Ann Arbor from 30 years ago? Guess what? IT's NOT! Isn't your job to support the local state street area businesses? You say the city council and mayor should listen, are YOU listening to the local business owners you are hired to support? It probably should start with you approaching the city on the behalf of these businesses or guess what, you'll have NO businesses left to support. And in regards to the Michigan Theatre's Russ Collins....sure it hasn't impacted the theatre? I certainly haven't been to see a movie downtown in a long while and it's not because you don't have the movie I want to see? Try being an advocate for fixing the problem &amp; listening to your patrons instead of being part of the problem and saying what everyone expects you to say.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

The &quot;Noble Homeless&quot; salt of the earth are now the problem? Then do we have &quot;Homeless Shelters&quot;, do &quot;food drive for the Homeless&quot;, have groups protecting the rights of the Homeless? Aren't these poor the ones that we are balancing the State and Federal budget on their backs according to the News? It sounds like this town is run by conservatives not the progressive and enlighten!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

many panhandlers are homeless, but use their panhandling money for things like cigarettes, or drugs (just look at the guy in the picture).


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Homeless folks and panhandlers are not the same demographic.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Incredible. There isn't enough money for police patrols to enforce panhandling ordinances, so the council passes more ordinances that won't be enforced, then tells the businesses that they should all the police chief whenever they have incidents. That's so obtuse it's not even a circular. Here's what the tenant businesses should do. They should band together as an organization and contact the landlord companies that own the properties they are leasing. They should tell them that they will not renew their leases when they are due if those companies don't collectively approach the council and demand that it address this concern--permanently. If you are paying high-dollar rent you should get some service from your landlord. Many of those property owners are large real estate holding companies, I'm sure. They buy and sell councilmen everyday. In addition, the property owners can band together to hire a security firm to patrol the area and the city should work with such a firm and respond quickly when the security firm identifies problems. I feel for people who are down. But, for many panhandling becomes a profession and the first rule of that profession is to find a place where they don't kick you out. Once there, it doesn't matter if only 1% of the people give you something--stand there long enough and you'll intimidate someone or find a weak heart to give you something. &quot;Educating&quot; the public is a specious solution intended more to deflect responsibility from the public servants who are paid to provide a safe, clean and attractive area to the public itself. Politicians are always good at that--making all the problems they should be addressing our fault. That kind of thinking will lead to an ordinance that will make it a misdemeanor to give a dime to a panhandler. I wouldn't doubt that someone on council is thinking of that kind of outrageous solution right now...

average joe

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

"We can't have police officers everyday in the downtown area, which is what it would take to fix the problem," (Briere) said&quot; No, you can't. They are too busy panhandling themselves at all the crosswalks. Also, the panhandlers &amp; the serial rapist seem to be in the same location, downtown. Gee, it seems like that is where the police should be also.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

Great way of putting it Joe, the cops are too busy panhandling. And there is no money for the city in corralling the downtown panhandlers.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

The increase in parking rates and the new meters (which I hate) are the main reasons I don't come downtown as much as I used to.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

I agree there is nothing new in this article. It is important to remind you all of the earlier articles giving the profiles of the pan handlers - these are people who have chosen Ann Arbor because of the wealth and ease of pan handling here. They are not our more generalized homeless population. So, where are the police? Where is enforcement on this issue? Why is Ann Arbor erecting huge monuments to its city government and yet, not doing the basics: the roads suck, bridges are falling down, crime is driving business away. Hello? Anyone home?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 10:38 a.m.

MIck I am not using absolutes - I am sure there are a few from our homeless population but I stop and talk to these people when I get the chance and they come here (like drive their own cars) because its profitable. It is rare that I find one that is a truly homeless person from our local population. Ann Arbor is easy money - other cities run 'em out and people don't give. Thats the problem - we don't run 'em out and we give.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

I think they do arise from the homeless population. Most of those I see are anyway. I think as budget crunch, more cities are reducing aid to homeless and thus they are getting deflected to A2. Met one outside my church.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

I live downtown and can attest to the fact that panhandling is at its all-time high since I've been here. While I don't see it as a danger anything akin to having a rapist in the city, I don't care to be pursued and harassed several times as I walk place to place. If the activity can be restricted around certain areas, why not just make the city a restricted area?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

I am wondering something. If it is at an all time high, isn't that homeless shelter to blame for the pan handling? If they help the homeless then what do they do with them when it is time to put them back on the street? They pan handle. Something to think about.

Sarah Parviz

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Absolutely! Why is panhandling legal AT ALL in Ann Arbor? It is commonly seen as a nusiance by most reasonable people - there is no BENEFIT to allowing panhandling at all, unless it is to keep that liberal guilt away.

Tom Smith

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

I am a huge advocate of public art. But the public has to be around to see it. And, bluntly, here in A2 we're surrounded by it. Why do vital services keep getting cut when we obviously need them?

hut hut

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

Aggressive panhandling is the number one crime? With a serial rapist at large?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

members ? they forgot about that once they didn't have resources to find the guy.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

At the risk of seeming off key, I am very sure Chief Jones was speaking of volume of reports (&quot;reported crime&quot;) and not the main priority of the department.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

&quot;In 2010, Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones told the Ann Arbor City Council that aggressive panhandling had become the No. 1 crime in Ann Arbor.&quot; Isn't this the same guy who announced that when he worked in Jackson, he used to bring homeless people to Ann Arbor and dump them?


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

Might also have been the one who had them spread over to Ypsi as well. Although Ypsi is no tolerance to pan handling. I have seen the police pick them up. Need to get a court order against them, or arrested.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Although Russ Collins stated this problem has not caused problems with attendance at Mich Theatre, it has been a problem for me. I am a gold card member and I rarely go to the theatre anymore due to the panhandlers. Each time I get accosted by aggressive panhandlers. If I do go it has to be a Sunday afternoon when most, I suspect, are still sleeping after getting drunk on all the spirits they purchased when students and liberal Ann Arbor-ites continue to support their habit by giving them more and more money. I see many dollar bills b eing put in the hands of these people. AA is a lucrative market for panhandlers and the city needs to do more. Elect a new mayor and council members next election. Otherwise this will continue to increase. With the rapist problems and panhandlers who does the city think is going to travel underground where it is dark and away for the public to park their cars? Most people I know will never use this new parking structure. If I can't find street parking I don't shop in downtown AA. When will the major realize that he has a responsibility for the safety of our TAXPAYERS!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:34 a.m.

oh wow now the utopia type college towns are affected. In every corner of the USA there exists now the contrast between the well to do and the struggling . Seems appropriate in a way that in AnnArbor it's now apparent for all to see. The wealthy can send their kids here and as well, afford luxury accomadation for their 18-21 y olds. Michigan is in a slump-so, these people figure they might get a few bucks nightly in some of a few prosperous areas...hey..that's just common sense that they'd be here. Doesn't bother me as much as seeing college kids dressed to the nines with designer this n that because of the symbolism that it takes money as much as smarts and motivation to be here...the whole picture is unfortunate.

Dr. Webster

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

The city combined with the University of Michigan needs to create a teaching position for a &quot;Panhandler's Professor&quot;, who wanders the streets in search of abusive, intimidating panhandlers. He or she then befriends the culprits and teaches them the secrets to being a sucessful panhandler by being friendly and artsy. Anyone can be taught to shake a tambourine, wear a little clown makeup and give out balloons to donors. Panhandlers are an outdoor, nomadic work force that just need a little training and a few simple ideas to turn them into a constructive addition to the downtown. Downtown merchants could produce a weekly specials sheet with coupons and ads for their businesses that they could give to panhandlers to sell on the street and create a win-win situation. Merchants could give them clothing and jackets that advertise their stores printed on them. The &quot;PP&quot; could also go to the shelters and churches that houses and feeds these people to train them.. How about Disney type outfits they could wear? I see a potential work force here that with just a little thought could be turned into a wonderful thing for all of us. We are a community, let's act as one, BROTHER! After all we are Ann Arbor the home of the great University of Michigan let's use that same great creativity, initiative and educational drive to be a LEADING model of new thought and direction in social and humanitarian progress instead of calling in the police to subdue and incarcerate our fellow humans who are simply asking and showing us they need help, education and direction.......Amen!

L. C. Burgundy

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:40 p.m.

Panhandlers and the homeless (especially the not-by-choice homeless) are not the same thing at all! Most homeless don't panhandle, especially.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

you are making the assumption these panhandler people want to work at a job...

Jean Schiller

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

I'm being completely serious when I say that this is the most useful comment of all on this article. It is actually a solution. Hiring more cops is not a solution to the panhandling -- it is a band aid. When need to solve the problem of homelessness to resolve the issue.

Tom Smith

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

Good lord, brilliance. They're not panhandlers -- they're A3CMs (Ann Arbor Ambiance Cast Members)! We could even have Shakey Jake weekends! Imagine a parade of thirty-seven guys in fur coats and porkpie hats, lugging guitars and graveling, &quot;ON TH' MOVE!&quot; (Forgive me, Dr. Webster. I'm really not mocking your idea, which has merit and is right in keeping with Ann Arbor. It was just the first thing I thought of.)


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:49 a.m.

Just how does one acquire tenure as a PP? I would think Disney or Universale Studios would jump at the chance to be associated with this whole new industry...Dr. Webster, you are BRILLIANT and tell Miriam Hi!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

I'm getting fed up with the excuses. We have money to bail out waste-collecting companies and adorn the new city hall with the finest European art. Although our police force is reduced, we have cops available to speed trap on Huron (in an area with a low-likelihood of collision) and to check when driver's aren't mind-reading people who may potential cross. (Granted our police force has been hurt by cutbacks). Yet somehow, we don't have resources to catch serial rapists, install crosswalks where needed for safety, or to help downtown merchants and their customers. Ann Arbor has many more resources than most Michigan communities - our leadership simply does not care to deploy the resources in a way that the voters want. First we fund folly, then there's no money left for what would normally be considered basic city services.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

Just a pet peeve here: &quot;Contrary to some of the nearby businesses, Russ Collins, executive director of The Michigan Theater on East Liberty Street, said he doesn't see any negative affect on the business from nearby panhandlers. &quot; Do any of's reporters or editors know how to use the words &quot;affect&quot; and &quot;effect&quot;?

Nathan Bomey

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

@G Thanks -- good catch, fixed.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Russ runs a non-profit. He is not going to say anything which wil alienate his donor base.

5c0++ H4d13y

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Aren't they quoting someone there? Maybe the speaker said &quot;affect&quot;?

West of Main

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

Also, it should be &quot;every day,&quot; not &quot;everyday.&quot; The latter is an adjective, the former an adverb. Please correct. It's embarrassing.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

Russ, that's because you run a theater!!! If I'm not mistaken, you need to buy a ticket to get into the theater, no?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:02 a.m.

There is a University presence in the buildings near Liberty Square in terms of leased office space. Could some University police be deployed on foot in the area? Also, what happened with the Safety Ambassadors idea that was floating earlier in the year?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11 a.m.

The chickens have come home to roost. Briere: &quot;...the best solutions are to educate people on why they shouldn't give money to panhandlers to ensure it's not a "lucrative" activity.&quot; That's a bunch of bunk. The article itself said the most effective way to combat panhandling is to have more police on the street. It's also a bunch of bunk that city council claims their hands are tied *has* to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on public art, but can't find a way to properly staff the police and firefighters departments. When are we going to say &quot;enough is enough&quot; and DEMAND common-sense leadership from the corner of Huron and Fifth Ave.? Alas, I believe this group may not be capable of it.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

My apologies for the name misspell 63Townie, commenting without my glasses on...


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

T63Gownie...are you a carpenter? cuz you hit that nail square on the head! The article states...&quot;restructing the Police Department&quot;...that's a load of manure! I truly believe that the Maya has a plan to ELIMINATE our PD and go with the Washtenaw Sheriff for a law enforcement presence....and yes, City cirquedustupidthings...I mean Council should have the right to rewrite bucket fund restrictions but they never would because bucket funding is usually filled by resolutions that are overflowing with individual counsel [;op] pork!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

This needs to be cleaned up and quickly. Panhandling and late night crime have the potential to destroy downtown Ann Arbor. Everyone should tell these panhandlers to get the hell out of their face and get the hell outta town. NO MORE!

Cosmic Ray

Mon, Oct 3, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

How is it that we have too many bums AND pot holes, but no chain gang?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:47 a.m.

use the art money and get police to walk the area. sorry we got to much of them in ann arbor. on highways exits, down town. all over. should be a law against them. sorry but we will get more vs less of them. ssorry but not safe or good for business.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

As stated many times before, our mayor, city council and city leaders do not make decisions and manage issues in the best interest of Ann Arbor citizens and tax payers. Until we put in place a team that will truly lead our city, addressing the proper and important issues first, we will continue to see this slide in our standard of living. Nothing has caused our city leaders to change their practice of wasteful spending and buying art. This is all that matters to them. What a shame to see our city decline like this over the past years.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 11:34 a.m.

AMEN! my apologies to any

Bob W

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

"The problem is, unless the city finds money someplace, they don't have the resources to put street cops back on the street. That handled a lot of problems in the past." But the city wants to spend $500,000 on art. Hmm??

Matt Cooper

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

So we just say &quot;the hell with it, let's buy some art!!&quot;? Surely there's a better way to spend half a million dollars than to buy some pictures to hang on the walls.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

I think the point of asymptote's comment was, even if we spent half a million dollars on cops instead of art, what happens when we run out of money next year? It's not a long-term solution. The city needs much more money than they can get from the art budget. Where will it come from?

Ricardo Queso

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

The problems in Flint cannot be solved by a few pieces of scrap metal viewed by an elite minority as art. Panhandling will drive people away. It is not enough to stop feeding the pigeons, they must be made to feel uncomfortable to get them to roost elsewhere.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Well you can't have it both ways (city council buying a half million dollars worth of art works while at the same time complaining about the lack of police services). If you want art, stop whining about the lack of cops on the streets. Myself, I'd much rather see cops making arrests than see a nice pretty watercolor that cost $75,000 hanging on a wall in city hall.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

I'd rather not Ann Arbor come to look like downtown Flint. Without public art projects the spaces between businesses come to look desolate, empty, depressing, and dirty.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

asym: So your point is...what? That it's much better to spend a half million dollars on works of art that might hang on a wall someplace than it would be to take that same half million and rehire a half dozen cops? All the while the city council complains about how broke A2 is and that we can't have basic services because we're so broke?


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

it costs a lot more than $500000 to put more cops back on the streets