[Hpn] By MARK WAITE PVT - So-called anti-homeless law enacted - Pahrump Valley Times - November 28, 2003

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Sun, 30 Nov 2003 11:18:27 -0500


So-called anti-homeless law enacted

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By MARK WAITE PVT - Pahrump Valley Times - November 28, 2003

Pahrump,NV - Pahrump town board member Paula Glidden admitted
it was her idea to draft an anti-prowling, anti-loitering ordinance.

The town board passed the legislation unanimously Tuesday
night. It is now, officially, a misdemeanor to accost other
persons in a public place to beg or solicit alms; go
house-to-house begging; loiter, prowl or wander on private
property without lawful business; loiter or sleep in any
street, sidewalk or alley, building or automobile without
owner's permission; and loiter around a public toilet in a
lewd manner.

Glidden said she was walking out of Albertson's Supermarket
late at night last May when three men surrounded her. One of
the men asked for money. She said one of the three threw her
purse in the car as a joke.

"When I spoke to Sheriff (Tony) DeMeo he said there was
nothing he could do. They had nothing on the books to do
anything," Glidden said.

Ray Mielzynski and Paul Miller of Citizens for People's
Rights criticized the ordinance as vague and
unconstitutional.

"There are laws already in line to take care of this,"
Mielzynski said, holding his trademark American flag and
Bill of Rights. "It's a ludicrous ordinance because what
it's doing is superimposing another law above the statutes
that now exist."

"You don't have to open yourself to a lawsuit by people who
say this is unconstitutional," Mallow said. "This pertains
to sleeping any place. If you read it, you couldn't even
sleep on BLM, public land."

Paul Miller said it" relies on officers on the street to use
the crystal ball to determine what's on the minds of people
that are out and about in public.

"I remember the old saying, 'Brother can you spare a dime?'
Am I going to go to jail because I have to ask somebody for
a dime?" Miller asked. He added, "Most of the people caught
in this net will be too poor to sue."

Sheriff DeMeo, just back from a luncheon with President
George Bush earlier in the day, defended himself against
accusations the ordinance was anti-homeless.

"People have a right to just stand around without causing
any kind of nuisance," DeMeo said. The ordinance was based
on a similar one on the books in Reno, he said. "I'm
probably the first sheriff in Nye County to be listed in the
homeless newspaper as anti-homeless."

DeMeo said on a recent trip to Washington D.C., to meet the
head of law enforcement for the Bureau of Land Management he
was harassed by panhandlers a block away from the White
House.

"People have a right to walk down the street and not be
asked for money," DeMeo said.

"The parable of Jesus is when someone is down and out, they
gave money to an innkeeper to care for that person," DeMeo
said. "We do not have services like Las Vegas but we have
services to help people in need."

DeMeo said sheriff's deputies have found people outside
public bathrooms, "Doing things you would not believe." He
said, "I don't think people in Pahrump should be exposed to
this."

Town board member Jeanna Howard said she doesn't understand
how it got twisted around into a perceived anti-homeless
ordinance.

DeMeo said if town officials don't start making areas like
Petrack Park attractive to the public, the public will lose
those facilities. He said the sheriff's department is aware
of people camping out in the park. Deputies are given 1,000
hours of training before they make judgments on arresting
people, DeMeo said.

Regarding threats of a lawsuit, DeMeo countered, "If I ever
heard that comment and declined to take any action I might
as well not arrest anybody."

But Nye County Commissioner Candice Trummell questioned if
she would be allowed to go door-to-door campaigning for
reelection in 2006 the way the ordinance is worded.

"I know we have the all-night softball game where people
camp out on public grounds," she added.

Harley Kulkin, however, said he thought passage of the
ordinance would deter homeless people from coming to
Pahrump.

He said homeless people choose that lifestyle.

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