Look Out, Belo: Amidst Solicitation Ordinance Chat, Talk of Fines Over Unwanted Papers

Categories: City Hall

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At this morning's Quality of Life Committee meeting, we finally got to hear about that proposed new home solicitation ordinance with which we wrapped last week. We know what you're thinking, and let us reassure you right away: Your Girl Scout cookies should be unaffected. Exhale.

As City Attorney Tom Perkins told the council, the new ordinance would apply to anybody selling things, offering services or handing out commercial handbills door-to-door. Home solicitors would be required to register with the city, made to pay a (yet-to-be-determined) non-refundable fee, and given a certificate of registration, good for one year, within 30 days of the application. Registered home solicitors would also have to wear a city-issued I.D badge.

Current anti-litter regulations that prohibit leaving handbills at vacant houses would also be better enforced (how novel), and new provisions would be added that state the person who's named on the handbill would be presumed responsible for any violations that occurred, in addition to the person handing it out. The fine for violating any of this could run up to $500.

Perkins assured the city council members you wouldn't be able to get a certificate if you provided false information on the form, or had been convicted of homicide, kidnapping, or, per the docs, "specified sexual offenses, specified assaults, robbery, burglary, or theft, or fraud committed while soliciting." At least five years have to have elapsed from the date of the conviction or release from prison for a felony, and two years for a misdemeanor. And while the City Attorney's Office wants everyone who registers to have to undergo some type of background check, it would have to be confined to public records only; the Police Department can't do their own, more extensive check.

But all this applies to commercial solicitations only, with exemptions, as we told you previously, for " educational, charitable, religious, or political solicitations; solicitations conducted at the invitation of the property owner or occupant; and newspaper sales requested by the property owner or occupant." Anybody selling cookies or wearing celestial underwear could continue as before.

"So we're not going to take every Girl Scout's picture and do a background check on all the little girls?" Angela Hunt asked dryly.

The question, of course, is how much all this will cost. Perkins told the council members that the city "can't charge more than it costs" to run the new program, adding, "There are First Amendment issues associated with this."

"I'm in favor of this," council member Dwaine Caraway said. "But I want us to walk extremely carefully from a legal perspective." Specifically, he had questions about the background check requirement. "I think that's a little extensive," he said. He was concerned it would handicap people who had been convicted of a crime, but were now trying to make an honest living. "They can't come down and get a job with the city of Dallas," he said.

But the real question the council members had was basically, hey, but what about all those damned free newspapers that clutter up the yard?

"They just leave 'em there all over the community," Caraway said.

"They're a problem in every neighborhood," council member Sandy Greyson added. "They pile up on the curb and show you're not at home." That, Perkins assured her, is where the amended anti-litter ordinance comes in.

"Lots of residents in my district complain about free newspapers in my district also," Hunt said. She wanted to know: Would it actually become illegal to dump them under the new amendments? "Would the newspaper company be held in violation?"

"Yes," Perkins said. "They would be subject to a fine and possible prosecution."

"Would it be a fine per newspaper?" Hunt asked. "Because I can tell you, if it's just $500, Belo won't care."

The full council will be briefed on the proposed amendments -- and be given their own chance to complain about free newspapers -- sometime very soon.

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20 comments
Alacrity Fitzhugh
Alacrity Fitzhugh

After you "opt out" without results 5 times they will actually give you a live person to talk to, who will tell you they are not responsible for the delivery crackheads they pay. That is why you see the paper on vacant lots and just thrown in the middle of the street sometimes. Many of these delivery people are illiterate and cannot read a "do not deliver to" list if they gave them one, so they don't give them one.

argentina chat gratis
argentina chat gratis

 Do a search for 'free gay chat rooms' and a giant list comes up however so many of them say they are free and are really not. Gay chat rooms are quite often the target for gay bashers and people who visit these free gay chat rooms that are not gay and are there just to harass people. There are 2 totally free chat rooms online. The great thing is that these chatrooms are part of a larger and legit gay dating community and website.

cp
cp

This ordinance will never pass. There is no way that Belo will allow the City Council to pass anything that's not in its own best interest. Just watch...

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Again I get the impression that this is more about getting yet another fee as opposed to the quality of life.   Every day I see yet another example of how dysfunctional Dallas (city, county and school) government is.

heyheymama
heyheymama

What about my entrepreneurial 10-yr-old who goes door to door on our street of 40 homes letting folks know when he'll have his homegrown tomatoes for sale?  He puts a flyer under their doormats, unless "no solicitation" is posted or he knows a house is vacant.

i'mahoochie
i'mahoochie

I guess he'll just have to think about selling crack, then. Solicitation for it is always illegal, so no biggie.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Ugghhh, I subscribe to Briefing and they never come to my house, but yet it goes to other houses that people don't want them. I only need it when the Store Ad's on Wendesday comes out, they stop sending them by the mail when I was with the DMN. So if you want, your more then welcome to drop them off to my house :)

Facebook User
Facebook User

I would really appreciate it if I could stop getting the paper - the 'People's Newspapers' and the Dallas Morning News. I have never subscribed and I hate having to pick them up just to throw them away each day. I contacted both companies and asked to be removed from their distribution and while that worked for a few days, I found myself back on their routes in less than a week.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

I once took a month's with of them and dumped them on Belo's lawn.

Stacy Wilson
Stacy Wilson

Christine Dovers, VP Circulation214-977-8222

smy2k
smy2k

Belo is the tv station. A.H. Belo is the newspaper(s)

G_David
G_David

I don't mind the occasional free DMN, but I generally just fling the Al Dia in the yellow plastic bag back into the street.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Not only do I want them to prosecute Belo for their littering my yard, I want them to persecute them. I finally gave up on contacting them about not putting that crap on my property.

doorknobsnobs
doorknobsnobs

I think we should start a campaign to make this happen! I'm thinking we can make up some flyers and hand them out in the communities??? Just an idea.

Dallas Dad
Dallas Dad

I hope they do something about the free papers that litter up my yard. Attention Belo: I don't want your damn paper!

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

There is a place on the DMN website where you can unsubscribe from the free paper delivery.  I filled out the form years ago and have never received another one.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Meanwhile, I gave up after about the 10th time I filled out that form.

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

I have to go through it once a year. I guess the form info doesn't roll. 

Paul S.
Paul S.

$500 equals one year's subscription to the DMN, right?

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