Tampa newspaper vendors worry about their future

07/30/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Tampa City Council clarified their law today on solicitations from city roadways, a law that a local newspaper and its vendors feared could hurt their ability to sell papers on street corners.

1st Amendment attorney James Lake represents the Tampa Tribune. He said of the two proposals before the Council, he disliked one that would require that all vendors to check in with the police two weeks in advance.

The Council then heard from a series of people who sell papers on Sundays, who overwhelmingly asked that the board not rule in a way that could prevent them from making extra cash.

A man named Shannon said selling newspapers was helping him out a little bit.

Dave Driscoll is an independent contractor for the St. Pete Times. He says he contracts out work to 175 people every Sunday in Hillsborough County to sell the paper, and appealed to the Council’s concerns regarding safety.

George Harris said he’s seen people die on the streets of Tampa, but not from selling newspapers.

A new study released this week by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that when truck drivers texted, their collision rate was 23 times greater than when not texting.

Councilman Charlie Miranda said there were several things he thought were more dangerous than the current situation of allowing men and women to sell newspapers from street corners.

The only member of Council who wanted to add more teeth to the two options that the city’s legal staff brought before them was Joseph Catano, who represents the New Tampa region.

The Council then voted on a provision that would not force contractors to have to check in with the Police.

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