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Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013
Enforce or DiscoursePosted Monday, September 26, 2011, at 7:18 PM
Enforce or Discourse
Each time we elect a new bunch of aldermen, it seems as if they can't wait to start writing ordinances. It's gotten to the point where we might have to build an addition onto our court house just to store all the legal spam spewed out by our town councils. And what's worse, we don't seem to have any way of enforcing all these ordinances. Why?
We have sixteen law enforcement officers in the town of Eureka Springs according to a call I made to the Police Department last week. Not twenty two as you have heard through the rumor mill. This figure includes everyone from the Police Chief on down, part time and full time. However, according to the Citizen's Dispatch Desk "gone on arrival" tends to be the phrase of the day, leading folks to think we have way too many cops in town. I think it's likely that our officers are responding to unwarranted calls concerning "suspicious people creeping around homes or stores", and that's why they can't make it to the really vital calls on time. I also think they may have to enforce too many arbitrary laws, and answer too many silly complaints by bored and nosey citizens.
The other problem is not being able to enforce the laws, as they are written. For instance, I have seen the animal control officer working very hard these days since there were so many complaints about leashed dogs being injured by dogs running wild. However, the officer seems to have to warn the owners of the unruly dogs several times before they are cited. Why?? Is the leash law written without teeth? Are there three or four warnings mandated before citation? If so that's not a law, that's a get out of jail free card. The law should read: one warning and a second occurrence is a citation; no excuses.
Now this brings me to the scoff laws who feed the deer. They are breaking an ordinance outlawing the feeding of deer in the city. They should be cited, but so far they have not. Why??? Many citizens in our town, including myself, don't like to hear about people who appear to receive special dispensation just because they hold public office. Is this ordinance riddled with loop holes or is this good old boy cronyism? Again, our police seemed to be operating within narrow parameters of what they can enforce and what it seems can't be touched. This is not fair to our law enforcement officials or to our community. Again, one warning and a second occurrence merits a citation. No excuses or grandfather clauses or public office you may hold, should give you a pass, ever. In fact, you should be a good example for a law abiding citizen.
In closing, I ask the council to be careful about the laws you write. Be sure they can be enforced. Don't cripple our police with exceptions. And for Pete's sake, get busy and codify the laws we have on the books, now. I have lived here fourteen years, and every new council says they are going to look at all the ordinances and see if they are viable. Here's your challenge from me. Don't write one new ordinance without dumping an old, unenforceable law. That should be the golden rule for the town council, and then maybe the citizens would have some respect for you and the office you hold.
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I'm Enid. No, not the town in Oklahoma, but a transplant to Eureka Springs from Minneapolis fourteen years ago. I'm a writer, journalist and sometime artist. My real love is expressing my opinions on almost any subject, as you have seen in my many letters to the Editor of The Lovely County Citizen over the years. Now, I'm happy to say that I will be writing a blog titled In a Twist for your amusement, amazement or commiseration. Thanks for giving me a read.