On one hand...
Port Book and News owner Alan Turner said his sense from customers is, "Things are not getting better; things are getting worse." Customers tell him they don't go downtown anymore because of the unsavory environment.
Cherie Kidd said the issue may be on the agenda for the next regular City Council meeting on September 6th. The Council was responding to 96 residents who had signed an online petition - and according to (notorious liar) Kidd, 200 people had complained - about aggressive panhandling.
But then, on the other hand...
There were six panhandling complaints in January, six in February, seven in March, six in April, eight in May, seven in June, four in July, and three through early Wednesday afternoon, Sgt. Jason Viada said.
WOW! Look at those (less than) huge numbers! These complaints peaked in May with a ginormous...eight complaints. Yes, it sure sounds like total anarchy on the streets.
The housing bubble bursting? This guy's fault.
The spread of Zika? Here's the culprit.
The collapse of the Port Angeles economy? This guy did it!
And all while making "$200 a day tax-free," according to Cherie Kidd.
Seriously, these numbers don't even come close to adding up or making sense. Crabby Alan Turner says his customers tell him they don't go downtown anymore...But how can they tell him that if they aren't downtown, in his shop, as customers? Somewhere between 96 and 200 people complained about aggressive panhandling...And yet the most citations ever handed out in a month was eight? Two a week?
This tempest in a teapot perfectly illustrates two of the chief problems in Port Angeles: Denial and displacement. While tacitly acknowledging there is a problem in Port Angeles, the powers that be want to deny the real causes - which is to say, their own decisions. Instead, they try to displace the problem, scapegoating someone or something else - in this case a handful of hobos.
But if the people running Port Angeles want to see what is ruining Port Angeles, they don't have to go downtown. They don't have to get asked for some spare change. They just have to look in the mirror.