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Denver officials devised new plan to aid city's homeless

| Friday, March 9, 2007

What a noble idea.

Denver officials have devised a new plan to aid the city's homeless. As an alternative to giving coins to panhandlers, people are being encouraged to deposit their quarters into several dozen old and unused parking meters scattered throughout the Downtown area.

Money collected in the meters will be given to organizations that provide meals, shelter and job training for those lacking a permanent residence. Having heard about this unique, compassionate plan to aid society's less fortunate members, you probably are experiencing the same reaction as I did:

This concept is too good to waste on the grate-crashers.

Particularly in Pittsburgh, which has plenty of worthwhile causes that could reap the benefits of such a program. Especially now, when the city is replacing individual meters in most neighborhood lots with a centralized pay station.

If the city recycled some of the meters it has flung onto the scrap heap, think of the money that could be raised for:

* The David L. Lawrence Convention Center Patron Protection Program.

In the wake of the sudden collapse of a 30-by-60 foot chunk of the center, money could be used to buy hardhats and life insurance for those attending future events at the patched-up center.

* The South Side Sidewalk Spray Initiative.

These high-pressure hose-downs hopefully would placate the people constantly griping about their sidewalks being used as restrooms by tavern-hoppers with poor bladder control.

An added bonus: The hoses also could be turned on anyone who continues to complain about one of the city's few vibrant communities having too many bars. Enough already.

* The Strip District Nightspot High-Turnover Education Fund.

Given the dizzying number of renovations and renamings of various Strip District bistros, it's hard for people to organize -- much less complete -- a Smallman Street pub crawl.

This public-awareness campaign could alert people, for example, that Bash has become Smallville, Pure is where Chemistry used to be and that remodeled church that was converted into Sanctuary now is Altarbar.

* Confused Yinzer Parking Ticket Assistance Allocations.

Funds would aid befuddled, tradition-laden Pittsburghers who mistakenly thought they were purchasing parking time rather than making a donation when they fed one of the charity meters.

I'm guessing that particular program might require more money than all the others combined.

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