Scam: Charging people to park at metered spaces

Yesterday my friend Mike King, who co-moderates the Handling-Panhandling online forum with me, noticed the panhandler pictured below (white shirt) working Beale Street between Main and Second.

(Click the image to see it full-size, for a better look at him.) This guy was approaching people parking at the metered spaces on Beale, and charging them between $1 and $3 to park. This is illegal.

You only have to pay to park in metered spaces between 8 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. At all other times parking in these spaces is free. The city absolutely NEVER stations attendants at these meters to collect money from you. If someone approaches you and asks for a donation to park there, just say no! If they make you feel intimidated or threatened, call 545-COPS.

The guy pictured above has been panhandling Downtown for years and uses several popular gimmicks – the “tour guide” gimmick, handing out flowers to couples, carrying an umbrella to put over tourists’ heads when it rains. He also likes to use the gimmick I hate the most – the race card. If you refuse him, he’ll tell you that you’re racist and you hate black people. He tells people he’s homeless and I’m not sure whether that’s true. I know he was living in the Exchange Building at one point (and panhandling to pay his rent). I don’t believe he’s there now. He’s been panhandling Downtown for at least 5 years… seems like if he really wanted to turn his life around he would’ve gotten somewhere by now.

In other news… Downtown Night at the Westin tonight, 5:30-7:30. Come meet some of your neighbors and enjoy free appetizers and discounted drinks.

I hate it that I had to go out of town this weekend, and missed Snozberry’s first performance at Pearl’s Oyster House Saturday night. I hear it’s the band’s new favorite venue. Later this week I’ll post info on an upcoming benefit concert Snoz and three other bands are doing at the Black Diamond in August. ‘Til then I have two words for you – free beer!

The Dempseys will be back at the Flying Saucer Thursday night, 9:30. Seems like the Dempseys are getting booked Downtown a lot more lately… which is just fine with me.

Two more days (today and tomorrow) to take advantage of the promotion offering a 70% discount on restaurant gift certificates. Just use the code PRESENT when you check out. Already a value at $10 for a $25 face-value gift certificate at normal price, when you factor in the 70% discount you can get most $25 face-value gift certificates for only $3! Some restrictions apply – for example, they generally can’t be used to buy alcohol – so make sure you read the offer before buying. Memphians can see a list of restaurants offering the promotion at Memphis Discount Dining. For my Little Rock classmates who found my blog, there’s a Little Rock Discount Dining site too.

… And that’ll do it for now, time to get some work done.