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Palm Bay: First Property, Now Businesses.

A certain homeless “advocate” is at it again.

(click on image for larger version in new window.)

Mr. Rebman has made similar comments before when it comes to property owners and property rights. He told the Palm Bay City Council that they had agreed not to trespass people off of property they do not own. (Of course, once a property owner has notified people they are not wanted on the property, the City has no choice in the matter. They have to follow the law on trespassing.)

Rebman then proclaimed he had helped “relocate” people from one property which he does not own to another property which he does not own, essentially saying “the rights and safety of the property owners don’t matter.” It is a seeming pattern from Rebman that his “cause” and “beliefs” outweigh the rights of others.

The above post by him is another example of that belief.

We think it is right and appropriate to look at what is being said by Rebman.

First, we want to give context to the sign.

It appears the sign is from a store in Eugene, Oregon.

As KEXI Channel 9 in Eugene wrote on May 29, 2019:

EUGENE, Ore. — A Eugene convenience store is asking customers to say no to panhandlers.

Employees said the sign has been at the 7-Eleven on West 6th Avenue for two weeks now. This follows several incidents in which customers have been harassed, and fights have broken out in the parking lot.
(emphasis ours)

We are forced to wonder why Rebman left out the part were people were being harassed and fights occurring. Is it because the complete picture (or more complete picture) and context hurt his argument?

Is there anyone reading this who wants to head to a 7-11 for a Slurpee and be harassed or have to witness constant fights?

Clearly, this is a liability issue for the store.

If the store is aware of incidents in which people have been harassed and fights in which people have been or may be injured, the store has to address that or face large liability issues. If one of their customers is harmed and the store could have taken steps to prevent that harm, a lawsuit can result in thousands and thousands of dollars being awarded.

Instead of calling the police to remove the homeless panhandlers from the property (which they have the right to do) the store is taking the less confrontation route by asking customers not to exacerbate the potential harm and the fights by giving money to the panhandlers. If the source of the money goes away, so will the panhandlers. If the panhandlers go away, so will the issue of harm to people and so will the store’s liability.

The store’s simple, non-confrontation approach is a good one.

Unless, of course, like Rebman, you believe that you can run the store better than the owners. If you believe that you can or should be able to tell a store not to reduce liability, to not reduce threats to customers, and not reduce harm and threats amongst the panhandlers themselves, you are free boycott the store, make posts in social media that intentionally omit critical details or whatever.

In fact, feel free to open up a 7-11 of your own.

The initial investment to own and operate a 7-Eleven franchise location ranges from $37,550 to $1,200,000. This comes with a net worth requirement between $100,000 and $250,000 and a Liquidity requirement of $50,000 to $150,000. The one-time initial franchise fee is “based on the individual store’s gross profit” and therefore can be anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. There is also a gasoline fee (if you offer fuel) and the “initial inventory-supplies-permits-bonds, and cash register fund fee.”

Once you shell out all that money and are working 60 – 80 hours plus a week to get the store off the ground, you can then make decisions that put your time, effort and money in jeopardy by following the advice of some people who can’t read a P&L statement or work a POS system.

(We are amazed that Rebman is actually saying the store is wrong for an action that will help keep the homeless and the panhandlers safer. It almost seems that he is more interested in making a point rather than actually caring about people.)

Rebman also tries to address the economics of the issue. He fails there as well.

I am confident that most panhandling money garnered within the vicinity of your store, is spent in your store.

We can argue as to whether this is a true statement or not, but in some ways, the money being spent is not the point.

What should be the point is that items in a convenience store are more expensive than in other stores such as WalMart, Dollar General, Aldis, etc. There is a premium price that is paid for the quick “in and out” service these convenience stores offer. For example, a loaf of bread is often two or three times the price paid for at other stores. While Rebman is trying to make the case that the money is spent in the store, he should be concerned with the money not being spent in the most judicious and thrifty manner.

Not many people can survive on doing all their shopping at a convenience store. It is just too darn expensive. People shop there for quick access and “emergency” items such as “Honey, can you stop by 7-11 and get some milk? We’re out.”

Shopping at convenience stores is not a good use of limited funds gained from panhandling, yet that is what Rebman seems to be advocating.

(It is also interesting that he thinks the homeless shopping at the store is more of an economic benefit than the liability the harassment, fights, etc., create. We suspect that Rebman has never run a store or understood the concept of risk reduction.)

Rebman then moves onto this:

Please remove these signs and replace them with your typical juul, low cost cigarettes, been specials, or other signs that embrace your customer base.

Wait.

Just wait a second.

Earlier Rebman claimed that the homeless / panhandlers were part of the store’s customer base. He claimed that the money they were getting was being spent in the store itself.

The question then has to be asked, “should public contributions that are given to panhandlers go to the homeless using those donations to purchase ‘juul, low cost cigarettes, [and] beer specials?'”

Is that expenditure what people who give money to panhandlers want their money to be spent on?

Rebman claimed that the sign “plays into stereotypes.”

Don’t his own words do the same thing? Don’t his own words say that as part of the customer base of the store, instead of food, panhandlers will use the money to buy “juul, low cost cigarettes, [and] beer specials,” or is he just denigrating the store and other shoppers?

The cause of reducing and helping the homeless is not helped by these petty, nonsensical rants made by Rebman. The rants call into question the depth of his supposed “expertise” in the area of the homeless, as well as business, economics, and the law.

If one questions the “expertise,” one has to question the wisdom of the proposed “solutions.”



3 Responses to “Palm Bay: First Property, Now Businesses.”

  1. Rick Teresi says:

    Mr Rebman continues to prove his hat size is way larger than his imaginary qualifications as a homeless “advocate”. There used to be a lot of aggressive homeless and panhandlers in Downtown Melbourne. The store owners clearly do not want them begging for money in front of their establishments. It’s bad for business. Period. The local police ask them to move along or be arrested for vagrancy. Melbourne police have also closed down many illegal camps near the parks and under bridges. It’s amazing what you can do if you enforce laws. Mr Rebman chooses to ignore those laws.

  2. Unknown says:

    The homeless problem is a tough one to solve but I dont think a business or government policies allowing them to trample the rights of the property owners or general public helps anyone. I think California is showing us what happens when they turned a blind eye on the problem and let the homeless camps grow into unmanageable little city’s. Most (not all) of the folks I see asking for handouts seems like they would be capable of doing something more productive with their time if only they were nudged in the right direction. Any policies or help they receive should be based on encouraging them to get off the streets. To continue the free handouts only traps them and keeps them from realizing their full potential.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Unknown,

      Thanks for the comment.

      It seems to us that there are several “categories” within the overall term “homeless.”

      There are those who’s life has given them a bad break and who want help to get back on their feet. We encourage people to help that category and have done so ourselves. People fall and sometimes need a hand up.

      Then there is the category of those who make the choice to live on the streets. The Florida Today profiled one such person when discussing the Melbourne panhandling ordinance.

      We are sorry to say that we don’t feel obligated to support those who make a life choice like that.

      Then you have those with addiction issues. If there is one thing we know about addiction, it is that you will never get off until you want to change. All the money, all the therapy, and all the support won’t make one bit of difference unless the addict decides they have had enough. We don’t see supporting addicts addictions. We do see supporting those who want to end their addictions.

      Finally, there is the mental health issue. During the Regan administration, a court case challenged the practice of putting people in asylums who were not a threat to themselves or society. After that case, the law is that people cannot be forced to get therapy for mental health issues. We have no idea how to address that part of the homeless population. Throwing money at it (donations or tax dollars) won’t solve the individual’s problems unless the individual is will to get the help they need which in and of itself is a monumental task.

      We agree with you that handouts without responsibility doesn’t help the issue much. Handouts must be accompanied with action plans.

      A. Afterwit.

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