Watch your step on new city of Gladstone laws
In the most recent example of how common sense is dead, our council just voted in new and updated park rules. You should familiarize yourself with the new rules because the default consequence for breaking most of them is a class C misdemeanor. This comes with a penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a $1,250 fine.
Some may think we need rules to keep people in order and preserve the peace of the park. I agree. However, I have issue with the heavy penalty for mundane occurrences.
If you kill wildlife you may face a fine of up to $720. If your dog leash is over 6 feet long, you could go to jail and/or face a $1,250 fine. This seems oddly disproportionate.
Pick a dandelion and face jail. Pull a leaf off of a tree and face jail. As a member of the Gladstone Garden Association, I'm personally concerned about wording here that essentially makes gardening illegal and not only harvesting my community-garden plot a jail-able offense, but weeding it too. Planting berry bushes could possibly send gardeners to jail.
A person can grab wildlife and either kill it or take it home and only face a fine while parking in the wrong area could get you arrested and cause you to face a much higher fine. If you ride your bike on a trail that isn't designated for bikes — you guessed it, jail and/or the big fine.
What about when nature calls as you're walking your dog? You cannot have a leash over 6 feet. You cannot bring your dog into any park buildings, including bathrooms. You cannot tie your dog up and leave it unattended. Any of these actions could mean 30 days in jail and/or a $1,250 fine. As I stated at the council meeting, you're better off to just relieve yourself in the park as it's less jail time and/or fines. Is this what they really intended?
Other things that can have you facing jail are:
If your dog annoys people or animals.
If your dog barks too much.
Not picking up your dog's mess.
Picking up and removing a rock or dirt.
Swearing or flipping someone the bird (or the bad finger as my youngest used to call it).
If your car or motorcycle is too loud.
Violate any traffic laws (usually just an infraction with a fine) and now you could be off to jail. If you don't bail out before the park closes and remove your car, then it's another trip to jail.
Each of these offenses is a separate crime (class C misdemeanor) and each punishable with up to 30 days in jail and/or a $1,250 fine.
Do we need most of these rules in our parks? I would say, yes, most of these rules make sense. The penalty for breaking them, however, passes the point of absurdity. In comparison, the city of Portland, the center of evil for those who choose to live here, fines a person $50 for the first violation of their leash/scoop rule and $150 thereafter. Not jail time, not $1,250.
This new set of rules and consequences was disappointingly passed by our elected officials on Nov. 14. It was sad to see common sense so blatantly discarded and oppression of the people implemented. But it didn't stop there...
If you vandalize in the form of graffiti in the city of Gladstone, as the perpetrator you could face a $720 fine. If your home is vandalized by graffiti and as a homeowner you don't remove it within 14 days, you too could face the very same penalty as the criminal who defaced your property. I have been told that if you're going to complain about an issue, bring a solution. I wrote a code that would have provided help and no penalty to the crime victim. Only one member of our council supported my suggestions, and the rest sided with the punitive direction to turn victims of crime into criminals.
Whatever happened to a town we could be proud to live in? What about common-sense laws that help and not hurt we the people? Our "leadership" continues to make new laws that infringe on our property rights and personal liberties. I have heard the mantra repeated, "Well, we're not really going to be citing people for these issues." This makes me ask the question: Why then are we making these laws? Why not just enforce already existing laws that cover most of these topics?
Our political system is broken and needs to be repaired. We the people need to start holding those who would rule us accountable and to remind them how to properly serve us. I encourage everyone to contact their elected officials and let them know how they feel. While so many seem disappointed on what's going on, so few take a minute or two to email their thoughts. In order to create a better tomorrow, we must stand up and be heard today.
Bill Osburn is a Gladstone resident.