What’s government hiding?
Want to find out what government is up to? Good luck. A recently enacted state law makes it possible for local government to hide whatever laws it passes by claiming it has published them online. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no check on this. And more than half of the time when we have checked, what the government has claimed to have published online really wasn’t.
The latest example is Marion Ordinance 1428. This week’s paper says you can see the full ordinance on the city’s website — assuming you have internet access and can actually find it among the dizzying array of documents posted there.
If you go to the trouble of actually looking for the ordinance online, what you’ll find is a blank page followed by only the first page of the ordinance. The rest is missing. Even if it weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to tell what’s going on because the ordinance refers to adopting information contained in a series of attachments, none of which are posted either.
So what did you miss? Well, if you have a DirecTV or Dish antenna on your roof and did not have a certified structural engineer inspect your roof before the dish was installed, you’re a criminal. Likewise if you have two dishes and didn’t ask the city permission.
The city has the right to approve a commercial feedlot, basically wherever it wants. It can approve a junk yard, too, but there are a few more restrictions— many more than on where toxic and explosive chemicals can be stored.
If you work at home, you can’t use more than half the floor space of your house for work, can’t use your garage or carport for your job except to store a vehicle, and can’t have a separate entrance for your business.
For all residences, you can’t have a fence taller than four feet high in your front yard. Your garage sale can’t last more than three days, and you can have only one such sale every three months. If you’re a business person, you probably need a permit to conduct a sidewalk sale.
The list goes on.
Time was, government had to publish its regulations in a medium it doesn’t control — something that’s fixed and isn’t subject to change whenever the fox wants to reorganize the henhouse. Forget Russian hackers. The biggest danger to our laws is from bureaucrats who with a few keystrokes can change official enactments to suit their whim, and no one will ever be the wiser.
All this was enacted at the request of bureaucrats so they could save a few dollars that could be put toward ever more lavish raises for them and their fellow employees.
It deserves a response fixed for all time in a medium they can’t control:
State Representatives John Barker and Don Schroeder and Senator Rick Wilborn: What are you doing to close this terrible loophole in a law that obviously doesn’t work as intended and was a bad idea from the start?
We’d like your answer before the next election, please. The internet has a memory that can change at any given moment, but our memory is a lot more persistent.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified Feb. 8, 2018