Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Solicitation ordinance delayed again

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For the fourth time in less than a year, the Gaithersburg City Council has voted to push back the date to begin enforcing its controversial anti-solicitation ordinance as Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler continues his deliberation over whether the measure is constitutional.

In deciding to delay enforcement until Feb. 6, the City Council also called on Gaithersburg Police Chief John A. King for his suggestions on what steps police can take if the ordinance is eventually deemed unconstitutional.

Despite the county opening a day-laborer center off Shady Grove Road, small groups of day laborers have continued to gather in parking lots along Route 355 in Olde Towne — albeit in far fewer numbers than before the county-funded center opened in April.

‘‘The concern is that we want people to be using the day-laborer center, and this is a way to have them do that. It’s the safest situation for all involved, for the day laborers, for the neighborhood, for everyone,” said Mayor Sidney A. Katz.

Reached Tuesday, Gansler spokeswoman Raquel Gellory said the law is still under review, but did not know in which direction the analysis is leaning.

‘‘We hope to have it done shortly,” she said.

The council approved the controversial law 4-1 in February, amending city code to make it a misdemeanor to solicit work along streets, on sidewalks and in driveways and parking lots.

But when Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy expressed reservations about prosecuting offenders of the law, the city asked Gansler to weigh in. His opinion is non-binding.