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A Florida judge ordered the city of Fort Lauderdale to temporarily stop enforcing a law it passed to harass a 90-year-old WW II vet who has been ruining the city's quality of life by feeding homeless people at the beach. The law had been aimed squarely at the activities of Arnold Abbott, a retired jewelry salesmen who had drawn the ire of city officials by continuing to think that homeless people deserve food even though they are unsightly and not at all fun on the beach. Not that it was personal or anything; the law merely limited where volunteer groups could feed homeless people, required permission from property owners, and required any group feeding the homeless to provide portable toilets. It was all about health and safety, not trying to discourage anyone from helping the unsightly poor and mentally ill, who would have no doubt gone away if everyone just pretended they didn't exist. Or if you steal their stuff.


Abbott and members of his organization, which has the suspiciously provocative name "Love Thy Neighbor," had been feeding the homeless for 23 years and have been arrested multiple times since the law went into effect Oct. 31. Under Tuesday's order by Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch, the law will be temporarily suspended for 30 days, and the city, Arnold, and other groups helping the homeless have been ordered into mediation.

The decision was welcomed by Rev. Mark Sims, pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, who had also been cited under the law:

“I’m very pleased,” said Sims, who has filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the enforcement of the ordinance. “I think it’s a great first step for the city to sit down with a more varied group of people to work out a plan so we can provide food for everyone who is hungry in the city, not just those who are in the large shelters.”

Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler was disappointed that the city's nifty new law was interfered with, but, apparently aware that he'd been looking like an ogre for arresting an old man doing that "feed the hungry" thing the Bible is so big on, also made noises that he seems to think sounded like he's willing to compromise:

We’ve been trying to find some amicable resolution,” he said. “We hope that Mr. Abbott meets us half way. We’ve asked him to meet us half way in the past.”

“We would prefer to enforce our municipal ordinances,” he said. “But whether the judge was trying to take a little steam off the kettle, whether the judge was trying to give a little period of quiet during the holidays, I’m not sure what was the logic behind his decision.”

Really, who knows? But maybe those crazy do-gooders will settle down, stop acting like Jesus meant it when he said that stuff about caring for your neighbors, and they'll meet the city halfway. Ideally, halfway out of town.

[Sun-Sentinel.com / NYDN]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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