Housing Authority tables vote on solicitation

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:03 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

For the second month in a row, the Columbia Housing Authority tabled a resolution Tuesday that would restrict door-to-door solicitation in Oak and Paquin Towers.

A standing room only crowd of about 30 people filled a meeting room in the Housing Authority building. Most were present either in support of or opposition to resolution 2277, which would ban all uninvited visitors from the residential hallways of Oak and Paquin Towers. Certain groups would be allowed to set up tables in the lobbies of the two buildings with permission from the Housing Authority’s executive director.

The resolution grew out of an incident in October. While attempting to register voters, members of Grass Roots Organizing were escorted from the towers following complaints from residents. Now the question is how to address concerns for residents’ privacy without imposing unreasonable limits on free speech or public discourse.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a lawyer for Grass Roots Organizing as well as local representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Civil Liberties Union, Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition and others spoke out against the resolution. The president of the Residents Association of Paquin Tower and a member of the Resident Advisory Board spoke in favor of the measure. Residents of the towers spoke both for and against the resolution.

After an hour and fifteen minutes of comments from the public and discussion by the board, Commissioner Fred Parry moved to table the resolution. Parry cited the number of new issues introduced at the meeting as the reason for postponing a vote.

“There are some things that we really owe it to ourselves and to the residents to check the legality of,” he said.

The motion passed 3-2 .

The Housing Authority plans to incorporate changes suggested at Tuesday’s meeting into a new draft of the resolution that will then be shown to legal counsel as well as the Resident Advisory Board.

A vote on the revised resolution is scheduled to take place at the Housing Authority’s March meeting.

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