It wasn't that long ago that some members of the New Bedford City Council were skewering the Mitchell Administration for attempting to keep panhandlers off of median strips and street corners at busy intersections. Now, some of those same councilors are calling for fines for people who jaywalk.

Councilors Debora Coelho, Joe Lopes, and Maria Giesta have filed a motion for Thursday night's council meeting that would establish an ordinance that would allow police to progressively fine people who violate the jaywalking laws.

Back in April, Councilors Hugh Dunn, Maria Giesta and Ian Abreu called Mayor Jon Mitchell "inhumane" for attempting to keep the beggars off Route 6 by installing "spiked cobblestones" along the median strip. Their letter to the mayor expressed their belief that Mitchell was looking to make people "suffer" by preventing them from crossing a busy highway. "The spiked cobblestones are quite simply designed to hurt people," they said. They accused the administration of employing "medieval tactics" to keep the panhandlers out of the street.

So what gives?

Greg Desrosiers/TSM - New Bedford mayoral candidate Maria Giesta at her campaign kickoff event in February.

The common denominator in all of this is Giesta. On one hand, she insists that preventing beggars from playing in traffic is wrong, yet she believes we should fine taxpayers who cross a street at someplace other than a designated crosswalk.

Usually when you see someone jaywalking, it's because they are hustling to get somewhere--like their job. Or perhaps to support a struggling business.

When did jaywalking become such an issue in New Bedford? I hear regularly about shots fired, assaults, drug overdoses, drug dealing, stabbings, robberies and such, but the memo about all of the out of control jaywalking must have missed my desk. How many people died in New Bedford last year as a result of jaywalking as compared to say, gunshot wounds or knives? Or how about drug overdoses?

Could it be that some on the council are simply looking for more ways to nickel and dime the citizens to death?

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

In any event, it would seem that things in Ward Two, where incidentally Councilor Coelho also resides, are pretty quiet these days, and our representatives from that part of town are simply looking for things to keep them busy.

What say y'all get cracking on solving the trash crisis and leave the people alone?

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.