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It is illegal for a St. Armands merchant to have a table outside, so Corrigan thinks the solicitor should follow the same rules. "This is going to proliferate if we don't fight it," said the district's thenchairman, Marty Rappaport. During the April meeting, reports indicated little had changed except that the solicitor has begun using a "sandwich board," which use is also denied to the merchants under city code. "We understand First Amendment rights," said Corrigan. "But tables and chairs and a cooler and signs? She's out there all the time." City staff and police have both told Corrigan and the BID members this appears to be a legitimate expression of freedom of speech, and there is little they can do. "She's not sell ing anything, and she has a First Amendment right for a sign," said Mary Tucker, the city purchasing manager and staff liaison to the BID. "If the table isn't blocking anything, and she's not selling anything, she can have it." "This diminishes the image of one of the fin est shopping districts in the county," noted Rappaport. "It opens the floodgates to this being continued." Sarasota Police Officer Cherie McKeon, who runs the Crime Prevention Unit, told the group, "What she's doing is not panhandling." The woman asked the city engineer and the top city code official for a permit to solicit donations on the Circle before she appeared on St. Armands earlier this year. In both cases, according to earlier reports, she was told she did not need one if she did not block the sidewalk. "If we don't do anything, we could have 50 people lined up with tables and signs. There's got to be a solution," said the BID's current chairman, Gavin Meshad. "How can we change the code? Other districts have addressed this, I'm sure." "We gave her a foot and she's taken a foot ball field," added Corrigan. A later agenda item addressed amplified music on the Circle, prompting Meshad to ask, "So the nun could get an amplifier?" The BID board is composed of St. Armands commercial landowners who levy a prop erty tax on themselves to provide enhanced maintenance, beautification and marketing of the shopping venue. % For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | Tonya Herschberger & Linda Keefe "After a terrible accident I required surgery. Tonya shared with me that Dr. Koval was responsible for her beautiful smile. She gave me hope and direction. I'm so grateful to Dr, Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone." Sarasota News Leader April 11, 2014 Page 21

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