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MailTribune.com
  • Fire crews had a valid permit

  • At most of Medford's busier interchanges, there is a sign warning us regular Medford folks that exchanging anything between a motorist and a pedestrian there violates a city code. It's so panhandlers can't ask for — and accept — food or cash from motorists. I get it. But what I don't get is why does the city's fir...
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  • At most of Medford's busier interchanges, there is a sign warning us regular Medford folks that exchanging anything between a motorist and a pedestrian there violates a city code. It's so panhandlers can't ask for — and accept — food or cash from motorists. I get it. But what I don't get is why does the city's fire department get to break city code. I know the firefighters are collecting money to fight muscular dystrophy. But shouldn't they have to obey the same laws we must obey in doing so?
    — S.S., Medford
    It is a bit peculiar to realize that there is a difference between good panhandling and bad panhandling within the city of Medford. But we at Since You Asked checked it out and found the Medford Fire-Rescue crews in their Fill the Boot campaign Thursday were completely on the up and up.
    Here's why.
    The Medford City Council in 2010 passed Ordinance 6.360, banning the exchange of any items between motorists and pedestrians. It was a way to limit but not eliminate panhandling, which courts have ruled to be legal free speech.
    Within that code is an exemption for those asking for and receiving a special-event permit, such as the one the Medford Fire-Rescue crews used Thursday to raise money to fight muscular dystrophy, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau says.
    The permit typically includes restrictions, Budreau says. In the Medford Fire-Rescue case, firefighters had to be off duty and wear bright-colored vests, he says. The date, length and location of the events also are restricted.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.
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