Nashville's homeless issues paper director says freedom of press at stake in Brentwood battle

Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 10:05pm

Nashville’s newspaper that benefits the homeless has received several citations for sales on street corners in the affluent city of Brentwood, prompting the paper to appeal a previous court ruling in defense of its First Amendment rights.

The Contributor, Nashville’s street newspaper sold by 400 homeless or former homeless people for $1 each at street corners across the area, has exploded in circulation during the last year, expanding far beyond the city’s core.

Locations targeted by vendors have included the suburban streets of Williamson County. But between January and March, Brentwood officials handed down seven citations to vendors selling papers inside Brentwood city limits for violating a law that bans the sale of items at public right-of-ways.

A Brentwood judge upheld the ordinance in a court ruling delivered March 17, forcing The Contributor to pay a collective fee of approximately $200. But on Thursday, attorney James Rose, representing The Contributor , filed eight appeals in Williamson County Circuit Court claiming the ordinance is unconstitutional.

“We really feel this is a freedom of the press issue,” said Tasha French, executive director of The Contributor. “It’s a First Amendment issue that we’re dealing with, and so we have appealed those cases up to Williamson County out of Brentwood.

“We’re looking toward going back to court within the next few months,” she said.

City of Brentwood attorney Roger Horner said codes and police officials warned the seven vendors of the city’s ordinance several times before writing them up. He said the city’s code restricts the selling or displaying of goods on public sidewalks or streets. 

“We’re not surprised,” Horner said of Thursday’s appeals. “They had made it clear they would appeal.

“We’re certainly not trying to deny anybody their First Amendment rights,” he said. “We’re not trying to ban the sale of newspapers in Brentwood. But, you have to take public safety into consideration, and that’s why this ordinance is there, to avoid interference with traffic.” 

French said the paper doesn’t assign territory to any of its vendors, allowing sellers to pick their own street corners. She called the expansion outside Davidson County a “natural progression.” In the weeks following the citations, she said vendors “may or may not be” returning to Brentwood.

“We’ve been very open with them, that if you go to this area you may receive a citation,” French said. “At the same time, we believe you’re within your First Amendment rights to be selling this paper on public property.”

Farther south in Williamson County, the city of Franklin has a similar law that prohibits people from using public streets and sidewalks for the sale of goods and services, a restriction Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said is rooted in concerns for public safety.

Franklin city officials have approached several Contributor vendors to make them aware of the law. Unlike in Brentwood, Franklin officials haven’t cited them.

So far, Stuckey said vendors have chosen to comply when approached to leave. Asked whether the city would enforce citations if vendors continue to sell on street corners, Stuckey said it’s always an option.

“This is an issue that really isn’t focused on The Contributor,” Stuckey said. “It’s focused on a law we’ve had in place since 1976.

“It’s public space,” he said. “That’s for people to converse on their vehicles and bikes, and walk on the sidewalks, and that kind of stuff ... We’ve been through this with other entities as well, everything from somebody promoting selling hot dogs, that kind of thing, or somebody promoting their deli.” 

56 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 4/21/11 at 11:05

I buy a paper a couple of time a week from a vendor at Kenner and Harding. Now that I read that the HOMELESS FOUNDATION is filing appeals against a community who does not want street vendors who impede traffic and put themselves in harms way I will buy no more.

By: lilpanda on 4/22/11 at 4:11

I have had it with these "vendors". Kenner & Harding is THE area. Though they are all over, on most days you will see many within 2 blocks of this corner. Jennifer, David, Mike, Dale, Lonnie, Luther, John, Edie and her crazy boyfriend that is a total conartist. You can't turn in any direction without them in your sight and I am sick of them! A few of them hang out outside of my work and act like they own the place. Jennifer is the sweetest most respectful of all of them. She should not be categorized with these others.

By: GuardianDevil01 on 4/22/11 at 4:52

This is not a 1st Amendment issue, it is a public safety issue. Streets were built for public transportation, not for giving anyone a place to sell stuff. Perhaps if I drive my car into The Contributor's offices they will then understand the difference. Not only do those who sell papers to drivers on the street present a safety hazard (I don't even like it when charities do so... IT'S DANGEROUS!), they obstruct traffic at intersections, parking lots, stop signs and traffic lights. People on their way to work/play/shop/etc. should not have to wait for Harry Homeless to exchange cash, papers, and pleasantries with people who should be focused on things like TRAFFIC, SIGNALS, SIGNS, and THE ROAD.

By: 2476 on 4/22/11 at 5:49

Give me a break. What type of public safety issue could there possibly be. Go to a sporting event and there is a hundred times more of a safety issue. People jaywalking, running, not watching where they are going, peopling almost being run over by vehicles, ETC. People want the homeless to start working and becoming a useful citizen again. As soon as they start doing something constructiuve , then they are singled out as being a safety issue. I view this as being an issue with the fact of the ritzy, high dollar people of Brentwood and Franklin wanting these homeless people away from their streets and not to be seen. I live in a wealty section of town and I applaud the fact that these people are willing to work and feed themselves. I buy one of their papers everytime I possibly can and they are starting to feel good about themselves and starting to feel as though they are not just panhandlers begging. Shame on Brentwood and Franklin for even making this an issue. Yes , I will continue to buy their papers as they are trying to become better citizens and do some work in society. Kudos for the homeless.

By: boognish23 on 4/22/11 at 6:08

The safety concern is a red herring. Traffic in Brentwood is unsafe because of congestion, SUV's, moms, teenagers, and cellphones. Every person selling the Contributor that I have seen has been courteous and expeditious. They only sell to those in the far right lane and are only there long enough to exchange the paper for the donation and say thank you. I think their presence makes people uncomfortable because they serve as a reminder that homeless people exist.

By: global_citizen on 4/22/11 at 6:18

It is not unconstitutional for Brentwood to ban the sale of this paper at public right of ways. Brentwood is justified in its action on the grounds of public safety. Beyond that, nothing Brentwood is doing is denying The Contributor their right to publish their paper.

Some people really need a refresher on constitutional law, including many lawyers. The city of Brentwood can't force you to stop publishing. That would be a violation of the 1st Amendment. But they also aren't obliged to provide you a forum for sales.

By the logic of this claim, can I sue record companies for not giving me a record deal? They won't provide me a venue to be heard.

By: concernedinnashville on 4/22/11 at 6:26

I have personally came across some of these vendors and watched them come upon cars and knock on car windows. A lot of them are drunk and selling them also. They do cause a danger to traffic when people will slam on their brakes just to hold up traffic to dig out change. If they are going to sell these papers let them sell them elsewhere and NOT at redlights and stop signs where it is very dangerous.

By: jonescry on 4/22/11 at 6:49

I have never seen a drunk homeless person selling the newspaper and we in East Nashville have them all over as well. They have always been very clean and courteous. This most certainly is a red herring - Brentwood simply doesn't like the idea of the homeless being in their neighborhoods because many are drug addicts or mentally ill. I don't blame them and I don't like it either; however, this is the world that conservatives have created where people do not have access to medical attention for serious mental illnesses so they self-medicate. Note Brentwood conservatives and understand that this is a part of the "small" government that you are fighting so hard for; this is the world that you are creating and it is getting worse. We moderates and progressives who have fought so hard to get these people real help will not sit back and allow the misguided in Brentwood and elsewhere to dump on us for their failed policies and ideas.

By: bloodysot on 4/22/11 at 6:56

Does it surprise anyone that Brentwood doesnt want "Those People" on their streets? I understand the point of public safety, but I have not had a problem with the vendors selling papers. How many of us see panhandlers and say "Get a job" so they are asking for money to give us a paper that highlights their plight, and we tell them that THAT is not proper either...ok, what would your solution be? My suggestion is buy a paper and read it. Perhaps if those people "inconvenienced" by homeless people in Wonderful Wealthy Williamson County would help support these people there would be less of them!

By: nourider on 4/22/11 at 7:10

Public safety my ass! If that was a concern, you'd ban soccer Moms with zero understanding of physics from driving 5,000 pound SUVs with a cell phone stuck to their ears.

You're within your rights to be rich elitist a-holes. But please have the integrity to admit it. Sunday morning at the church of christ might be a good place to start.

By: Larry Kirkland on 4/22/11 at 7:12

Wonder how well the staff is being paid on this venture??

By: BenDover on 4/22/11 at 7:41

The Contributor should be held liable for any damage or harm these people cause when they bus them out to the suburbs. When they finish with their propaganda distribution they proceed to shake down customers at the Publics and neighboring businesses in the Nippers corner area... I watched one of their finest cruise the Publics parking lot there looking for an unlocked car. I would encourage anyone who suffers damage at the hands of the Contributor's Motley Crew of Malevolent Misfits to hold the Contributor owners and staff fully and personally responsible.

By: Kingzing on 4/22/11 at 7:53

This scheme is rampant in south Florida and believe me I was saddened to see it in TN. The idea is great, helping those who are struggling. But like any utopian idea, the reality ends up being nothing like it was planned to be.

I have nothing against the people or organization but I am not a fan of panhandeling. It makes the areas worse and less desirable. TN needs to enact a bill to prevent this type of thing ASAP, anyone who has driven around South Florida will agree. If left to the own devices the organization will grow and become more aggressive In their sales techniques and will be much harder shut down, plus it deincentivizes a lot of people from pursuing long term employement, which doesn't help them in the long run anyways.

By: JohnGalt on 4/22/11 at 7:56

Obviously, if you are "homeless" the laws do not apply to you.

By: nash4206 on 4/22/11 at 8:07

My question would be "do these "vendors" have a license to sell in a public space?" Also, are they reporting their income and paying taxes on that income? If I put a yard sale sign in the public space I can be fined by metro, so how can they stand at all of the different public spaces and sell newspapers? I forgot "Metro" only fines people that looks like they have money and will pay the fines. Just my opinion but it makes our city look trashy. I know we need to assist and help the homeless but there has to be a better approach.

By: richgoose on 4/22/11 at 8:21

The people in Brentwood have a lot of cash flow and are enjoying their money until the cash flow stops. They moved to Brentwood to get away from the riff raff that goes on in Davidson County. Little did they suspect that these "people" would have so little disrespect for their laws. I think they should use a little of their cash flow to fund a defense against the homeless people and take it to the state supreme court.

Now in Belle Meade proper we do not have a problem with these "people". They do not solicit.

By: RTungsten on 4/22/11 at 8:31

I've wished The Tennessean would have people selling papers on the corners for $.50. I feel the Contributor could use a little competition, plus I'm tired of people selling papers as a job as homeless when they are clearly NOT homeless. Granted, some are homeless and I've bought papers from them before....but some are not. One guy had a internal frame Kelty daypack and a touch screen cell phone. Shoot, I'd like to have either of those and I have a job.

And I also feel there should be a cut off for selling papers, maybe at 7:00pm each night. Don't know how many times I saw people selling papers near Belmont at 10:00pm or later. Not exactly a time and spot to roll down your window and talk to strangers.

By: nash615 on 4/22/11 at 8:37

This is not a public safety issue, it's a class issue.

It's an "I don't want to see dirty homeless people in Williamson County, that's why I don't live in Nashville" issue.

Read the City Paper (much less these online comments) for a week, and try to say with a straight face that Nashville and the surrounding counties aren't full of some of the most selfish, back-ass, racist and hateful people you can find.

I'll be buying Contributors whenever I see them, and if I'm down in Brentwood next week I'll be sure to have a wallet full of $1 bills.

By: brooks53 on 4/22/11 at 8:43

I'm happy Brentwood refuses to have the homeless standing on street corners. I live in Greenhills and wish they would get out of my area as well. I am a charitable person and donate to foundations several times a year. I don't have a problem with helping anyone especially the homeless. I use to give a dollar to the contributor people at first and now they have over stayed there welcome. I never has cash and I always have one of my four children in the car when I'm out. My point is I have seen them become very aggresive and angry to the point of intemidating people. I watch them eat McDonalds all day, talk on cell phones, wear nice clothes, etc.. I have high taxes and value my property . These vendors are standing on every street corner and I do mean every street corner and every parking lot and make it a uncomfortable situation anytime I leave my driveway. What's the next thing, will they be standing on my in the entrance to my subdivision? I saw one of these vendors chase a 60 plus year old woman because she refused to give him a dollar. This has become a danger. I fear if we do not get them out of residential areas someone is going to get hurt. Alot of these people are not of sound mind.

By: spooky24 on 4/22/11 at 8:43

In going over the daily arrest records there are about 20 public drunkenness charges everyday. These arrest are all in the same general area from Riverfront, Broadway up to 8th ave and the mission.
If you follow the court process for these individuals after up to16hours to sober up they are fed and released. Some have 20-30 arrest and will continue to fowl up downtown until they break some other law or die-which ever comes first.
If you want this situation in the suburbs just keep enabling them. The ones I have talked too said they can get 'drunk money' their term not mine-in a few hours panhandling-and they do it everyday.
These people know the law and exploit it to the fullest. Occasionally they will take a hand out in the form of detox-at the public's expense-then resume their drinking after making many promises they have no intention of keeping. It's amazing to me how well these people understand what they can get away with and what they can't-they are quite proud of their scam and have no felling at all about repeating it.

sp

By: starkat on 4/22/11 at 9:06

PUBLIC SAFETY....since when??? is Brentwood interested in the safety of the public????sheesh...the whole place is lousy with lawn chemicals and weedkillers....because of some neurotic preoccupation with green weed free grass....Brentwood is an environmental nightmare full of people who care not for children or pregnant women's health...their SUPERFICIALITY will be there undoing.

http://inteldaily.com/2011/02/scientists-warn-of-link-between-dangerous-new-pathogen-and-monsanto%E2%80%99s-roundup/

By: UberGandalf on 4/22/11 at 9:10

RE: richgoose: Homeless foundation? What are you talking about? These vendors are not impeding traffic. That is not the reason for the citations.

RE: lilpanda: if you have a specific problem with specific vendors then you should report them to The Contributor. http://thecontributor.org

RE: GuardianDevil01: How is this not a 1st Amendment issue? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Contributor is the press and preventing them from selling in public space is a restriction of their freedom. Standing in the street is different. If you have a specific problem with specific vendors then you should report them to The Contributor. http://thecontributor.org.

RE: global_citizen: That is a false analogy. Brentwood sidewalks are public property. A record company is a private entity. How is restricting vendors from selling their paper in public space constitutional?

RE: concernedinnashville: if you have a specific problem with specific vendors then you should report them to The Contributor. http://thecontributor.org. The paper has rules for the vendors, but can't be everywhere enforcing them.

RE: Larry Kirkland: I could be wrong, but I think that the majority of the people involved are volunteers. There are some paid staff, but I don't think they are really raking in the dough.

RE: BenDover: All vendors of The Contributor are independent contractors, not employees. The Contributor doesn't bus these people anywhere. If you have a specific problem with specific vendors then you should report them to The Contributor. http://thecontributor.org.

RE: Kingzing: Scheme? Do you mean trying to earn a living? How does it deincentivizes long term employment?

RE: JohnGalt: Obviously, if you are selling a paper you are a part of the press and you have certain rights that other non-press street vendors do not have.

RE: nash4206: "Nashville’s own Metropolitan Code of Laws governs street vendors and street musicians dictating where they can and cannot work in the public space. But, these laws are carefully worded to avoid infringing on the rights of the press. For instance, Chapter 13.08.040 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws was amended in on Sept. 15th, 1998 to not apply to 'Vendors exclusively engaged in the sale of newspapers, magazines, periodicals or other such written items … and who do not utilize a cart, wagon, or any other mobile device or vehicle to sell such written materials.'” Are you reporting all of your income and paying taxes on it? Oh wait, that's none of my business. Again, a yard sale sign is advertising and doesn't fall under the category of press and therefore isn't protected by the first amendment. "It makes our city look trashy" - yes, these homeless people really should clean up their act...

By: Loretta Bridge on 4/22/11 at 9:27

If allowed to stand o the corner and sell they should be made to be several feet from the corner. Because they often block your view I have almost had an accident and have seen several other people having close calls because they block your view. I'm all for helping the homeless but I don't think it looks great for the city to have people on every corner selling stuff.

By: weareallone on 4/22/11 at 9:28

Truly sad. Reading so many of these comments makes me embarassed to be a resident of Williamson County. It's difficult for me to understand how so many priveleged and educated people can be so far out of touch with reality. I applaud the staff, the vendors, and anyone who buys the paper.....It is a WONDERFUL thing. Shame on the citizens (and the government), who, in the name of Safety, can't face the reality that there is life that exists outside their perfect gated community.

By: anonymous2 on 4/22/11 at 9:35

I find it ironic that most days one of these "vendors" can be found at the entrance to a shopping center in Hermitage with his back-pack and jacket hanging on the "No Loitering/No Standing" sign. I'm all for people working to earn an income and supporting themselves, but if I were to bake cookies and sell them on the corner, the authorities would put a stop to it. These papers are purchased by the vendors and resold to the public for a profit....If they are allowed to continue in this manner, then everyone should be allowed to peddle their wares on the street corners!

By: prophetoftears on 4/22/11 at 9:41

@jonescry

I think you are paying more attention to the democratic party line than the reality around you. The right to work without unnecessary government interference is one of the main Conservative beliefs. Case in point I consider myself a Conservative not a Republican. I personally know several people from the Nashville Mission and help drive down there to bring them up to church. I don't think you could walk into our church building and call us liberal with a straight face, but everyone of us know these men talk to them face to face and support them. Since you stated you live in a different area then Brentwood I would logically have to question how much you actually know about what is going on in that area. It is entirely possible that the people trying to sell papers there are not courteous and are making an unsafe situation at some locations. That said I Live in Donelson and drive around Nashville quite a bit, and I have not encountered anyone selling a paper that was rude or boorish. When ever I have some cash on me I will purchase a paper and l give and try to give them an extra $4. This only because I respect that they are trying to earn a living as best they can an not simply asking for handouts. That would be once again a Conservative value.

As for your 'understand that this is a part of the "small" government that you are fighting so hard for' comment, the small government conservatives want is one that is not a bloated bureaucracy that wastes money and talent on redundant departments and positions and legislates how an individual can live their life and extorts hard earned money from the common man in the name of a "greater good" that only benefits those who's votes who the liberal's need to purchase votes from.

So you know, all of this was said by a man who has been unemployed for the last year, and but for the grace of god and the charity of friends and family would be out there on a corner selling papers right beside these other hard working people.

By: fairtradewins on 4/22/11 at 9:41

It's remarkable that the leaders and citizens of Brentwood, after all these years, continue to pursue this ideal, utopian Americana. It's a land of ubiquitous culdesacs and no front porches- where one can drive their BMW, Mercedes, or Land Rover from the psychotherapy appointment into the two-car garage and never have to acknowledge his or her neighbour. If it had not been for desegregation in Davidson County during the '60s and '70s (and the resulting public resistance by some), today's Brentwood might look very different- more actual cows and fewer consumerist cows.

By: JohnGalt on 4/22/11 at 9:49

Uberwhatever doesn't know the difference between the editorial department of a newspaper and the business side.

By: nash4206 on 4/22/11 at 10:06

RE: UberGandalf -- Thanks for the information and yes I do report all of my income (even from a side/hobby business). If this is free speech, then vendors should start selling "The Tennessean" on all corners and at lease they will pay taxes. Everyone should quit buying them and they would go away. Give your money to the Rescue Mission and let them assist (no I don't work for the RM either).

By: prophetoftears on 4/22/11 at 10:20

@nash4206

Are you implying that the Tennessean is a real news paper and that The Contributor is not? I don't understand why you would say that they should sell The Tennessean on the corner instead. The Contributor's articles and images are created by Nashville's homeless and reflects the issues that are of importance to them. Not to mention that selling the Tennessean requires contracts and a much larger initial outlay of funds.

By: prophetoftears on 4/22/11 at 10:38

addendum: I reread your post again later and I think I misunderstood what you were saying, my apologies nash4206. I believe The Tennessean has the right to sell papers the same way. Problem is that the little boxes they put up to sell the papers are much more cost effective so it is unlikely to see that happen, the days of the newsies are over. As for the Mission the people who are selling papers don't want to just take a hand out. They want to work for what they have, and I respect that immensely. I'm not saying that we shouldn't give to the mission also but there are many ways to help the homeless and if they want to work I will support them all the more for it.

By: BenDover on 4/22/11 at 10:39

The defenders reveal the real purpose of this extrusion of the rag-weed vendors... it's time to give those snobby snotty Brentwoodites their comeuppance.

Gandalf... let's see how well your independent contractor defense holds against the contention that this is an organized assault on the suburbs and that the Contributor and its agents are neither collectively nor individually responsible for the malfeasance of those in your employ. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say. Discovery and depositions, I feel sure, will reveal the expansion of this well intended enterprise to the suburbs to be a calculated effort and not by accident at all.

Your lawyers working pro-bono on this altruistic exercise of helping the homeless... will they turn their efforts to defend a hand-full of privileged liberals on a do gooder crusade when the inevitable disaster occurs? Do you really want to be held responsible when an unbalanced homeless man of your employ drags a Brentwood teenie behind the Super-Target and has his way with her?

Good luck with that. If I were you I’d examine the grand expansion policies of that little propaganda rag, post haste…

By: therapacize47 on 4/22/11 at 12:28

I am not an attorney and am not well versed in consitutional law. Nor am I an expert on the economy and have no far-reaching solutions to the country's financial problems. I am, however, a caring individual whose heart feels an emotional tug when he sees the homeless. I don't know liberal from conservative and both seem to me to be contradictions. I do know that many of the souls living on the street need services no longer available because of historic "cutbacks" and realignment of priorities" that have had a huge unintended impact. Let's spend less for bombs and more helping the American-born who are unable to successfully manage their lives. Let's spend less on the unfortunate residents of third world countries (is Israel still considered 3d world?) and more on raising our own children with healthy diets and learning functional coping skills. Let's spend less on $80 million airplanes to destroy land masses and their occupants and spend more on education within our own borders.

I have no dogs in the :homeless paper" race but in reading the comments I saw revealed the negative, the bad of much of our country and our attitudes. Hey out there! We have needs right here at home including Social Security, Medicare, and joblessness. How about we focus our skills and energies on these problems instead of concentrating on what others believe that we can't accept.

By: lilpanda on 4/22/11 at 4:45

UberGandalf, I have. You know what I got? An email from Tasha French telling me to gather the names of the vendors and report back to her. She also listed off the "rules" that the vendors must follow - though no one is there or willing to enforce them. So I am not meaninglessly griping on a story, I am in fact doing what I can to be sure my complaints are at the very least, heard by the appropriate people who are in charge of doing something about it. Have they? Not a cotton pickin thing!

By: NashvilleGator on 4/22/11 at 6:15

As IF the situation isn't bad enough, all of you who are posting are making it MUCH worse.

I work in Williamson County and have found that it is SUCH a SNOTTY place. If most of the residents noses were much higher in the air, they'd drown during the next storm.

I, for one, would think that people who claim to be as good and Christian as the people that live around here do would applaud what the vendors are trying to do and SUPPORT them. Please understand that the vendors are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and HELP THEMSELVES. They aren't being a burden on the state or federal government by asking for handouts. They're working. And you can believe that once they get to a better place, they'll get a BETTER job.

Speaking as someone who WAS homeless when I was younger, you all need to take a look at your blessed lives and realize that NOT EVERYONE HAS IT AS GOOD AS YOU DO. Some people struggle. And for people to make ASSUMPTIONS about the vendors without knowing FACTS about them is just UNCALLED for. I'd imagine there were quite a few times that I looked drunk or strung out when I had nowhere to live. I was sleeping for a total of about an hour a night...after a couple of weeks, it takes its toll on you.

I'd PERSONALLY think you guys would rather see the vendors selling The Contributor than someone begging for cash, wouldn't you? And the person above who said there are FAR more traffic problems than these vendors is SO right. I've never seen people drive as erratically as they do over in the Cool Springs/Franklin area. Above and beyond that, all of the kids on their cellphones drive like they're at the Indy 500.

By: UberGandalf on 4/22/11 at 6:56

RE: JohnGalt: What are you talking about? What does your statement have to do with anything I've said?

RE: nash4206: I wasn't really asking if you paid your taxes. I was just making a point - why would you assume they don't report their taxes? The statement about the Tennessean doesn't make sense. One could sell The Tennessean on the corner if they wanted. What are you talking about?

RE: BenDover: I never said anything bad about Brentwood. I grew up in an affluent area of Williamson county and don't think rich people are all snots. Also, I want to be clear that I do not work for The Contributor. I have volunteered several times for them, but that is it and my volunteering was mainly manual labor. All of my responses are based on things found on their website. How is this an assault on anything? Why do you think it is an organized assault? No one is told where to sell papers. The Contributor is a 501(c)(3) organization. The only people who are making any money that work for The Contributor are a couple of administrative office workers. I think the only reason vendors have made their way out to Brentwood and other areas is the saturation of other areas. If you have some kind of information I am missing please point it out. Where are you getting this "grand expansion policies" thing? How are the vendors in the employ of The Contributor? They buy a product for resale. That is all.

RE: lilpanda: Did you send her the names?

By: BenDover on 4/22/11 at 7:43

The fact that the Contributor paid the fines for its agents and is further suing on behalf of the rights of their agents is all anyone needs. It's a powder keg. I'd prefer it just go away rather than blow up on everyone.

I'm not unsympathetic to the homeless... I'm a break-down away from that myself and I realize that better than many. I peal off a $10 or $20 more often than you would imagine but I hate it even when the charity groups shake people down at intersections for money; and that's usually sans the disproportionate level of criminal behavior found in the homeless community.

A lot of what bugs me though is the simple inconvenience of missing one of these red lights because it's another 5 to 10 minutes anymore before the cycle comes around and people handing money to the bums often interrupt the flow of traffic (and trust me the word bum is accurate because they ought to be paid by the publisher to hand out that leftist propaganda rather than representing it as some kind of valuable product).

Mainly though I hate that attitude illustrated by Gator above that wants to stick-it to the rich folk. It's not like I haven't sold plasma for gas money and dealt with two in diapers in a shack of a rental trailer, getting my electric turned off and wondering how I’m going to pay for food in my life.

Society already goes out of its way through progressive taxes, tax credits, food stamps, public housing and all manner of charity to deal with the issue of poverty yet some people on behalf of others who don't persevere due to either misfortune, mental illness or inaction, want to blame the situation on a society that goes far far out of its way to address the plight of those in need.

By: UberGandalf on 4/22/11 at 8:13

RE: BenDover: I don't see anywhere in this article where it says that The Contributor paid the fines for the vendors. They paid the court fee of $200, but that is different from paying the fines.

The part about the lights is annoying, but the people stopping to buy the papers are the people in your way not the vendors.

The part about vendors being bums makes no sense. You obviously just have an issue with the perceived politics of the paper.

By: BenDover on 4/22/11 at 8:47

Oh... Gandalf... I have read the paper. I've got a down-town condo and I hit the McDonalds on Broad on the weekends a lot ... picking up a copy as I leave and often giving the salesperson a cup of coffee to boot. It's not about the perceived politics of that rag at all... it's on full display for every reasonable person who suffers the time of it's examination to endure.

By: gofer on 4/22/11 at 10:35

Oh the class envy....there's one thing thing that a lot of people will never forgive you for and that's being successful and having money or living in an area that is "moneyed". Whether you are or not, to them, you are a snob. They know this on sight, because of their own personal insecurity and envy. I live in the cheap side of town, but more power to those that live in those nice areas.

That said, why is it that they have to interrupt people in traffic and cause cars to miss signals. I'm sure Wal-Mart and many other places would allow them to ply their trade. Traffic is no place to be soliciting. It's unproductive because you can't sell many papers during lights. The REASON for the traffic solicitation is simple. They can't go away....get in their face and a lot of people, out of guilt or disgust, will throw out some money. It's a marketing technique.

Some of these professional beggers are making a lot of money. You would be shocked because some actually have nice homes and cars, but hey, why not pick up your cash the easy way...have people give it to you. That's why it's a business.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/23/11 at 1:04

Moonglow1: Brentwood can expect to see a rise in the homeless population under the ALEC politics (Republican tea) being pursued and anti jobs bills such as union busting being passed in this state. The people selling the Contributor are trying to help themselves since there are no jobs. I thought that is what the theo-tea nuts wanted: people working\people helping themselves. Have you bothered to read the Contributor? It is so much more enlightening than the corporate blather spewing from the highly paid no talent CEOs these days. The theo-tea nuts
believe that deregulation & limited tax on the top 1 percent = jobs. Ok so where are these jobs? Perhaps Bejing? . Brentwood does not want to see the homeless. Well vote out Blackburn & elect a democrat. And preferably a socialist leaning one.

By: BenDover on 4/23/11 at 7:09

It's interesting to see the Repubs bashed when arguably the most leftist president and congressional leadership of the past 80 years presided over the biggest economic down-turn of our lifetimes… leaving us on the precipice of the dollar being downgraded from its status as world reserve currency and bringing on suffering in this country unseen since the great depression. Everybody likes to blame Bush for our huge deficits but if you knock out the war supplementals (entered upon by a 90% consensus of congress and the public) and TARP (the one time loan to financial institutions to prevent a run on the banks) his deficit contributions were pretty much nil. The left led congress threw out his final budget calling it 'dead on arrival' and proceeded on a 5 year binge that has taken us from deficits in the $400,000,000,000 a year range to year over year deficits in the $1,500,000,000,000 range.

Another interesting point is that the TARP loans have been repaid. Obama, Pelosi and Reid have respent that $700,000,000,000 though in addition to racking up year over year deficits $1,000,000,000,000 higher than Bush was running; this while the largest reason for the Bush deficits, the Iraq war, has been winding down. My question is where the hell did all that TARP repayment money go? Shouldn't we be back down to deficits in the hundreds of billions now rather than $1.5B year over year deficits for all the foreseeable future?

You people who see Obama and the leftist Democrats as some kind of saviors while turning a blind eye to their own crony capitalism and to how their policies of uncertainty, pro-unionism (that priced US labor out of the world market) and just plain ineptitude are destroying our economy; you people really should wake up. This is no zero sum game. Eating the rich will just cause them to hunker down and ride out this storm... looking for ways to save and conserve rather than how to grow their businesses in an anti-business climate. Your cure, my friends, is the cause.

By: BenDover on 4/23/11 at 7:13

$1.5B above shb $1.5T

By: Moonglow1 on 4/23/11 at 8:41

Moonglow1: Ben Dover must have been residing in a cave somewhere during the 8 years of Bush. Bush ran up the deficit, started two wars which cost 1 billion per day, encouraged corporate welfare, caused the debt crisis, fostered policies that caused the housing crisis, and turned a blind eye to intelligence reorts suggesting 9\11 was about to happen. Where was NORAD when the buildings collapsed. We know where Bush was: reading "My Pet Goat. " The public employees have nothing to do with the deficit, unlike the two wars. Tax breaks for the top 1 percent under Bush has NOT resulted in jobs for Americans. Tax breaks for GE has resulted in more jobs OUTSIDE of the US. I am tired of funding wars without end. And the 1 percent are sucking up all wealth & they want more. And they are not innovators. Read up on the Koch brothers & how they are intimidating their employees to vote for their anarchistic stance against the govt unless govt policy like union busting & anti climate change benefits them. Next time the tornadoes hit, remember climate change is here. Next time you visit the gulf thank the Bush deregulation policies for the oil catastrophe. Transocean gave their executives bonuses for their "safety" record. When the public cried out fowl Transocean gave the money to the victims instead. This ALEC & Kochs are so crazy & ruthless they will initiate "death squad" policies for those people who have exceeded their Paul Ryan Medicare allotment of 15K. Once used up: too bad no more. Oh Cancer: no money left. Too bad you are on your own. And don't raise money to pay for additional healthcare by selling the Contributor in Brentwood. We call that panhandling. By the way, the first ones in line for govt contracts & "free" money is the tea republicans. Walkers friends in WI all take farm subsidies. Why not. They take from taxpayers while they disparage the govt.

By: pswindle on 4/23/11 at 9:28

This is the christian church going people at their best, kicking the helpless. I buy papers when I'm stop at redlights. They do not approach a passing car. I have never seen them put anyone in danger.

By: NashvilleGator on 4/23/11 at 9:49

Excuse me, BenDover, but I need to address a COUPLE of things:

I'm a Republican through and through. That's why I respect that the vendors of the contributor are having to go out and work for the money they receive. Much better than going and grabbing that social security disability check because they're fat or depressed...don't YOU think? I sure would prefer them to stand on the corner and peddle newspapers and earn their money. Additionally...do you have any idea how many of those "bums" you refer to are actually soldiers that lost EVERYTHING when they came home because of the governments lack of help for them?

You may find it to be an inconvenience to you that you MIGHT have to wait another light cycle...but let's be honest...people drive so slow in Nashville that you're going to wait at least three anyway. The vendors aren't holding you up...people who can't figure out where the heck they're going and what the heck they're doing do. EVERY intersection that I've encountered the vendors at they have been polite and haven't stepped off the curb EXCEPT to hand a paper to someone who already has their money ready. FURTHERMORE, if they see the light on the other side turning yellow, they WON'T attempt to step off the curb.

ADDITIONALLY, to gofer:

I have no envy of the "rich" in that area. In fact, I only speak from experiences I'VE had when shopping or working over there. Never in my life have I experienced such a bunch of self serving, entitled, nasty people. I've been standing in line to be waited on and some nasty little soccer mom who has ALL DAY to shop will cut in front of me because OBVIOUSLY, to her, HER time is more valuable than mine. Never mind that I'm on an hour lunch break from work and she's been rattling around her house all day. The people over there who have WORKED and EARNED their money....kudos to them. It's their family members that cause the problems. Snotty spouses and kids are far worse than ANY of them. I've actually sat by some of the kids at restaurants and seem them mock ADULTS not wearing clothes as nice as theirs or driving cars as nice as theirs (because obviously, we should ALL drive a Lexus at 16....) and have actually heard the words "ew...they should just go kill themselves" uttered. It's a sad shame that they've been raised with such an elitist attitude that it's OKAY to behave that way and think that someone who doesn't have what you have is a lesser person than you. THAT has nothing to do with Democrat/Republican.

Oh and when you say "professional beggars" you're referring to panhandlers. And you're correct. Some of them DO have very nice houses and panhandle all day because they're too lazy to get a job. There IS a difference though in holding a sign that asks for money and selling a newspaper. BIG difference.

By: hfachica on 4/23/11 at 11:18

Clearly, some of you are ignorantly commenting, knowing nothing about The Contributor. All vendors must be sober before selling papers or even wearing The Contributor logo. Not all vendors are homeless. Formerly homeless are allowed to sell too. They must purchase each paper for $0.25, and then they sell them for $1.00.

The Contributor offers these people a job- a way to better themselves. All of the vendors I've come in contact with from Nashville and Green Hills have all been very pleasant. You can be a complete snob about it. Your arrogance is to be expected; however, you have no idea what it's like for them. I don't either, but I know how to empathize, a skill many of you should learn. You may be rich, but we're all humans occupying the same earth. You should care a little about the human condition. These people are trying to better themselves, something you might want to try to. Stop being ignorant, and research before you make yourself sound foolish.

By: BenDover on 4/23/11 at 6:01

Geeezzz what a pile on. I didn't bother to read more than the first sentence of the kick-back because evidently no one of you noticed that I've been in the struggle myself. I pushed a few buttons and got the exact response I expected. Unfortunately this will go down the way I predicted. One of your mentally unstable agents is going to screw up royally and then the paper will be held liable and it's going to ruin the lives of some very naive and well intended people for no good reason. Oh well... as Bob Dylan said... "good and bad I defined these terms quite clear no doubt somehow... Oh but I was so much older then... I'm younger than that now". Good luck with your venture and your idealism. You’re swimming with sharks and the generous people of the community who you are back-lashing against are the least of your worries.

By: courier37027 on 4/23/11 at 10:26

This is not a First Amendment issue. The Contributor is entitled to pursue their newspaper interests as a media entity. Issues here are thoroughfare and traffic safety. Have you noticed when entering an interstate you see restrictions against bicycles, pedestrians, motorized bicycles and non-motorized traffic? Are these restrictions a a "red herring" against environmentally friendly means of transportation? No, it is to prevent pedestrians and low power transportation from being run over by faster and larger vehicles. A thoroughfare, while public property, has a primary purpose of serving pedestrians and traffic. If newspaper sales are allowed on street corners and intersections, why not have a flea market in the middle of the interstate? How about neighborhood yard sales vendors taking their goods to the curb and selling in a four way stop?

By: NashvilleGator on 4/24/11 at 6:48

You know very well that a flea market in the middle of the interstate and a vendor on a street corner are two completely different things and it is absolutely asinine to compare the two. That's not even close enough to call it being sarcastic.

What I don't understand is why it's JUST cities in Williamson county that are having such a "problem" with this. Perhaps because since they live outside of Metro Nashville they don't have to look at the homeless and prefer to keep it that way?