Council Reconsiders Ban on Fundraising in Haverhill Streets

City Councilors will try one more time to find a way to safely allow solicitation of charitable contributions on city streets.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini asked councilors to uphold his veto of an ordinance the board passed last month that bans solicitation on city streets, then change the rule to allow firefighters to collect money on Water Street over Labor Day weekend for the traditional “Fill the Boot” drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Tim Carroll, president of the city’s firefighters union, said his colleagues collected $13,000 for MDA last year, about $10,000 of it during the Fill the Boot drive on Water Street in front of the fire station.

City Councilor William J. Macek suggested the council’s Public Safety subcommittee take another look at the ordinance to find a solution that would allow not only the firefighters but other groups, such as veterans, to continue to collect on city streets.

Macek asked councilors to table the mayor’s request for a vote on his veto and instead perform “a final round of review and analysis, and come back with a better suggestion.”

Macek said he feared Haverhill would open itself to discrimination lawsuits by groups that were banned from on-street collections if the city allowed one group but prohibited others.

Councilors and the mayor are at odds over whether the mayor’s veto stands until the council acts again. Fiorentini said in-street solicitation is again allowed in Haverhill because councilors did not take a vote to over-rule his veto. But Council President John A. Michitson said that is not the legal advice the council received.