These Aren't The Good Old Days
July 8, 2010 - 2:39pm ET
I remember my parent and grandparents talking about the Great Depression with wistful nostalgia, recalling how as much as people were hurting it brought out the best in them and made everyone pull together. I don't know if it was true or just their own clouded memories of the past. But one thing is sure. If America ever pulled together in times of tribulation, it certainly isn't doing it now:
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that it's OK for Orlando to restrict the group feedings that have brought dozens of homeless people to Lake Eola Park.
In a case watched by cities and homeless advocates across the country, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed a 2008 ruling by a federal judge in Orlando who believed the city's rules were unconstitutional.
"We won on every single point. It's a complete vindication for the city," said City Attorney Mayanne Downs. "The point here was to protect Lake Eola Park. It's a very important part of our city's heritage and history, and all we wanted to do was to protect it from an unfair burden."
Advocates have continued to serve meals to large groups of homeless and needy people at Lake Eola Park since U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell ordered City Hall to stop enforcing its ordinance. In fact, in the nearly two years since his ruling, the regular feedings at Lake Eola have grown substantially, city officials say.
"Over 100 people have been gathering at the park every day, and it's really becoming a problem," said Commissioner Patty Sheehan, whose district includes the iconic downtown park. "It's gotten to the point where people are telling me they are no longer going to take their families to the park anymore."
The rules require advocates to obtain a permit for feedings of 25 or more people, and only two feedings a year are allowed in a given park. The City Council adopted the ordinance in 2006 after businesses and residents downtown complained that the feedings drew crowds of vagrants who caused problems outside the park.
And as we know, this is necessary tough love. Feeding hungry people just spoils them and makes them refuse to take one of the many available jobs out there which they think are beneath their skill level.
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