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Let Them Eat Cake

Effort to fend off panhandlers pays off
September 25, 2003
MARION COUNTY - Many people encounter panhandlers on a daily basis, but one Salem mother was so fed up with panhandlers that she took to the streets to do something about it.
After months of watching transients work a street corner near her home, Lara Starr has found a way to fight back.
"What's wrong with you people? Why can't you get a job?" she asks of a panhandler.
One transient, named 'Jim', is one of dozens who camp on the corner of Highway 22 and Lancaster in Salem.
When asked if he has tried to get a job, Jim replies, "I'm waiting for my social security."

Starr says the panhandling is bad enough, but she and her family have seen them doing other things.
What they do concerns her because her children ride past the corner on the school bus every day.
"My children see them urinating in public," said Lara.

In an effort to combat the panhandling, she decided to give the transients some competition.
Now she stands on the corner, asking drivers to donate to a children's charity.

Lara's effort has not gone over well with regulars like Jim, who complained he needed his share of the take.
"I use mine for tobacco, candles, and a couple of beers, I won't lie to you," said Jim.
In the first three hours Lara was able to collect more than $20 for her cause.

But having Lara meet the needs of her cause doesn't help Jim, "They're out here for charity," he said. "I'm out here for me."
However noble Lara's charitable funding is, the pursuit of removing the transients helped her succeed.

Even though Lara sought money for charity, the driving force was the removal of transients from her neighborhood, which she has accomplished.
Lara continues to patrol the corner when her children are at school, collecting money for charity and keeping her corner free of transients.

Lara needs psychological help. 01.Oct.2003 13:06


This is one of the more pathetic stories I've read.

* 01.Oct.2003 14:15


Well, Lara can probably afford psychological help.
Unfortunately, a majority of the people she's railing against can't and probably need it, too.
It's just her 'let them eat cake' attitude that kills me. As if they could all suddenly get jobs (or, in her case, marry a successful man) and move into cushy suburban houses.
It's the god damned obnoxious tone of entitlement that these bourgeois hausfraus have and the compliance of the local media that creeps me out.
It makes me wonder how long till we just start marching the homeless away to camps.

Go LARA! 10.Oct.2003 05:34


You GO Lara! Woo-Hoo! Raising money for charity...that's progressive volunteerism. And if "Jim" can't get enough money for his cigarettes and beer, well then he can wait tables like anyone else.

Maybe one of the Hawthorn-area coffee houses would hire him .