Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Peer Pressure Law Enforcement
Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 11/23/2011.
The last time the City appeared on the KAJO talk show, I asked City Manager Laurel Samson when they are going to start enforcing the City’s litter code. She said that the City relies on “peer pressure” to enforce its litter code.
I pointed out that peer pressure apparently isn’t working; that we create laws when peer pressure doesn’t work. She ended up saying that it is not a priority when there are so many “more important” crimes out there.
What “important crimes” are those? The City cited, arrested, and prosecuted me for petitioning and passing leaflets to vendors in our Public Market. It enforces its unconstitutional sign code against merchants. It gave me a written warning for posting my speeches on poles downtown. It apparently prioritizes suppression of political and commercial speech over litter control. It needs better priorities.
All the City has to do is announce that its litter code will be enforced; send police out on a few litter-warning patrols; call and send letters to landowners; and the city will be cleaned up forthwith. They do it for crosswalk enforcement; tolerating litter is much easier to catch.
Peer pressure works both ways, unlike the law. Peer pressure is apparently keeping this law from being enforced, because large landowners would have to do a lot of work or hire people to clean up their empty lots around town. These peers of the people in City government are doubtless willing to exert great pressure on the City to keep that law from being enforced. Certainly, there is no pressure from the City to clean up their properties.
Our County illustrates how well peer pressure works. Back in September, I asked you to water your lawn at the abandoned Dimmick hospital property, and quit spreading weed seeds throughout the neighbourhood, violating City code. At that time, I mentioned the weeds and litter surrounding the West end of the Fairgrounds, and you, Commissioner Hare, said that you were sending an e-mail to Wes Brown to clean it up.
An e-mail from a single commissioner is mere peer pressure, as a single commissioner cannot order a single county employee to do a single thing. Sure enough, Wes Brown has not done anything about the weeds and litter outside the Fairgrounds’ fence. Why? Who knows? He apparently is not inclined to clean up the property without a real order from an authority.
Please give him that order from the full Board. It’s a bit ridiculous to have to order a county employee to obey the law, but apparently it is necessary.