Special Session Tonight To Consider University City Sidewalk Bill

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A Loop slacker obstructs a sidewalk, or does he?
Updated 3 p.m. with response from University City Mayor Shelley Welsch.

With little warning, the University City Council will hold a special meeting tonight to consider one of its more controversial ordinances in recent years: a bill to crack down on unruly youth in the Delmar Loop.

The proposal, Bill 9112, allows police to ticket individuals or groups found to be obstructing the use of a sidewalk or street, including by standing, walking or loitering. Those found guilty of such an infraction could be fined up to $1,000.

The city made public the meeting just last Wednesday. The sidewalk ordinance was tabled during two prior city council sessions and was supposed to be heard at the next regular meeting on June 13.

Mayor Shelley Welsch tells Daily RFT that the meeting was called primarily to deal with the city budget, which has to be finalized by June 27 according to the city's charter.

"We still have 8 to 10 items in the budget that need to be finalized and accepted and the city manager had expressed concerns that we might not be able to address all those by keeping to the regular meeting schedule," says Welsch. "That's why the meeting was called."

That said, Welsch acknowledges that the sidewalk ordinance could also receive its second and third readings tonight and be voted into law.

Ed Reggi, a local activist who's spearheaded opposition to the ordinance, tells Daily RFT that he was "floored" when he discovered late last night that the city planned to hold a special session today.

"I don't want to be too conspiratorial," says Reggi. "But you think they'd have a better way to alert people of something that's raised concerns from the ACLU, the Fairness Campaign and others about civil rights issues. It just doesn't seem very transparent."

Welsch maintains that the meeting was posted in all the normal places -- on the city's website, at City Hall and the municipal library.

Reggi says that he'll be in attendance at tonight's meeting and is making calls today to encourage others to attend as well.

H/T to gadfly extraordinaire, Tom Sullivan, for tipping Daily RFT off on tonight's meeting.


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