Dallas City Council Considers Code Amendments to Crack Down on Panhandlers. Nobody likes urine in the median, but that’s about where the clarity and consensus stopped during yesterday’s council briefing. According to the Dallas Morning News, city staff received 500 complaints about people asking for money last year. Just over half of the complaints came from the city’s four northern districts, although the majority of the incidents occurred along three major thoroughfares in South Dallas (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Samuel Boulevard, and Jim Miller Road) in addition to North Central Expressway and Royal Lane. While council member Cara Mendelsohn claimed that panhandlers were making more money in her district than the $60,000 she does as a council member, city outreach workers reported that most panhandlers are homeless and use the money they make (anywhere from $20 to $300 per day) for food or shelter. Mental health is also an issue, preventing many from holding a job or taking advantage of available services. City Attorney Chris Caso noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has generally protected panhandling under the First Amendment, but that the council could consider taking action against those giving money, providing vouchers for services to panhandlers, or removing things like benches to keep people from congregating. Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who was on his first day on the job, said that data showed no correlation between panhandling and fatal accidents and violent crime, and therefore panhandling would continue to be a low priority for officers even if council enhanced the city’s ordinances.
Dallas County Reports a Record 50 COVID-19 Deaths. Forget your Super Bowl party plans and stay home (here are some great options for takeout). “As we have said, these will be our darkest months for deaths thus far,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a written statement. “If we lose our resolve, and stop doing the things that we’re doing to keep ourselves and our community strong, then the battle will prolong and we run the risk of not reaching herd immunity before new strains set us back for a long time.”
American Airlines to Send out 13,000 New Furlough Notices Tomorrow. CEO Doug Parker said he thought the federal Payroll Support Program would allow them to get through to the summer, when flights would be full again, but that’s just not happening. On top of receiving close to $6 billion in government aid in March 2020, American Airlines was also recently given $3.1 billion in federal stimulus grants and loans. The company lost $8.9 billion in 2020, posting losses of $30 million per day for the last three months of the year.