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Jasper once again rejects sagging pants ordinance
JASPER - by Steve W Stewart/KJAS and Rayburn Broadcasting Company
For the second time in as many years, the Jasper City Council has rejected a proposed ordinance to prohibit the wearing of "sagging pants" in public. The issue was first brought to the table by Councilman Alton Scott who made a motion to pass the law, but it died without a second and no discussion.
On Monday evening, during their regular monthly meeting, the issue was placed on the agenda by Councilwoman Hazel Johnson, and unlike the first attempt to pass the ordinance, there was discussion among the city leaders.
All agreed that they were disgusted by the practice of men intentionally wearing their pants around their thighs and showing their underwear, but it was the legal ramifications of trying to impose a city-wide dress code that caused the greatest concern.
Johnson began the discussion by telling of her recent experience of being in a convenience store and being offended by two males in front of her who were wearing their pants around their thighs and exposing their underwear.
Councilman Tommy Schofield weighed in on the discussion, noting that several cities have passed such ordinances, but they later faced lawsuits, and eventually had to reverse their ordinances.
Schofield said "I think if we consider something like this, I'm not saying I'm for it or against it, I just think with us setting dress codes for the whole town we're opening ourselves up to quite a bit of liability."
Councilman Mitch McMillon also spoke up, "Once you get started with that, where does it end? Do we cite people for tattoos and earrings? Some of those are offensive as well."
McMillon went on to say "There's been a lot of criticism of these laws, racial profiling, discrimination; it just invites problems, more so than I think that passing an ordinance would solve, and it's also very difficult to enforce."
Councilman Raymond Hopson hinted that he would be in favor of the ordinance, however, he expressed concern about the exact wording and he asked for City Attorney Michael Stewart Ratcliff to review the wording in the law.
When it came to a vote, Council Members Johnson and Scott voted in favor, while Council Members Schofield, Hopson, and McMillon voted against.
In other council action, the majority of city leaders voted in favor of appropriating half of a requested $52,350.00 to improve the downtown area. The decision came following a presentation by local business owner Ann Smith, and lengthy discussion by council.
According to the proposal, the City of Jasper's contribution would be contingent on the Jasper Economic Development Corporation kicking in the other half of the funding.