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Letters to the Editor

Shoveling repeal?

February 12, 2011

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To the editor:

Winter snows have come again, and we are still stuck with Lawrence’s onerous (for some) snow-shoveling ordinance. But the passage of a year does not make a bad law good.

Lawrence seems to be getting a reputation throughout the TV broadcasting area, and not a good one, from what I’m hearing.

Should citizens be compelled to labor by and for government, for whatever causes it deems good? That is the crux of the issue; friends of freedom will, I believe, say no.

Some may believe this is a trivial matter, that it does not warrant concern. Then should laws concern themselves with trivia? But I think the matter is not so trivial, though its supposed benefits probably are. It is for many an added burden, concern and annoyance, and it sets a bad precedent.

Also, in some cases, shoveling is likely to produce sidewalks that are more slick and dangerous to walk on, not less so. The law takes away from individuals the freedom of judgment as to local conditions. Its repeal should be an issue in the upcoming election.

Comments

Carol Bowen 3 years, 2 months ago

Sidewalks should be shoveled. Many people would shovel just because it needs to be done. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people who would not shovel voluntarily.

We complain about "big government", and we could make the government smaller if all of us would be individually responsible. (A perfect world.) We create big government by not being personally responsible.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 2 months ago

Let's go ahead and repeal the ordinance, and replace it with a rise in property taxes so the city can clear your sidewalk. It would need to be sufficiently larger than the library tax increase. A majority of Lawrence voters had no problem with that.

I have no problem with that (as someone who doesn't own property.

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John Hampton 3 years, 2 months ago

You probably don't want drains to keep your neighborhood from flooding either. You live in a city. Cities have ordinances and taxes that they imposes on their citizens that choose to live within it's limits. If you don't cotton to it, there's a lot of undeveloped land outside the city limits, really pretty country too.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

Well guys you see cows and I see horses (maybe ants and grasshoppers). The issue remains the authority of government to do anything. Our constitutions are replete with the notions of limitations on government powers. Many of those are to limit the use of the government by the majority to victimize the minority. Quaint but important concept.

If it is truly my property than I have the power to have the walk removed as no contract as to the easement actually exists. It was imposed not negotiated and I received no consideration for that imposition. In fact I challenge the cities right to impose it. Certainly there is no contract as to my responsibility to maintain that walk OR to REPAIR IT. That is a collective responsibility for a collective piece of property Mr. C's comments not withstanding.

I think if you go back in time you will find that the courts have allowed this whole process as an aspect of taxation. It was imposed on you as a tax and at least historically it was imposed on most citizens. Times have changed and your right to impose it on what have become minorities (as opposed to all of us) is potentially suspect.

There are basically two issues with your notions. Government's right to take private property without compensation (I believe there is an amendment on that) and government’s right to impose taxes selectively (taxation without representation). The minority has no ability under our system to stop your presumed majority from taxing them selectively and ultimately destroying them (except the courts)

I believe those are big time ISSUES between the two (three) parties. We are not going to resolve them here.

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John Hampton 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't like the ordinance. I would rather shovel my sidewalk and driveway because it's the right thing to do, not because someone told me to. But, you know what? It is the right thing to do and I have a large driveway in addition to a sidewalk so it is time consuming and I'm able to do it, so I do it.

If I weren't able to do it, physically, it would be nice if there were someone I could call that would remove the snow for a reasonable charge. If I were disabled or elderly it would be nice if this charge could be supplemented some how. Since there seems to be a lack of door to door teenagers looking to make some cash, maybe a link on the city webpage to a group of people willing to do just that.... it's a nice idea, no?

As to all the political and legal debate on the basis of the ordinance.... it's the right thing to do... cleaning your sidewalks. The fact is that many a walk went uncleared for a few winters and that was the impetus for the ordinance... something people should have been doing in the first place.

It's a good thing that some posters here don't live in cities like Boston where...omg, wait for it... they tell you what side of the street you can park on after a snow! And if you don't, you get a ticket or towed! It's true!

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

JAFS,

Just where does the city get the right to put their property on other people’s property to begin with?. In my view the property owner suffers the impact of having a public facility on their property out of a sense of civic responsibility. Adding the additional requirement that the property owner has to maintain something forced upon him that he/she tolerates is ludicrous. The ordinance in force when I moved here was quite acceptable to me. The revised ordinance is punitive and poorly written. Just how do you get the right to change the rules after the game is played?

Now we are going nowhere fast because you and I (once again) come from very opposite concepts of the role of government. In a sense you are a Borg. You believe in the collective and the right of a collective to rule over the individual. I believe in the individual who can in certain instances seed authority to the collective. I do not under any stretch of the imagination accept that the collective can impose its authority on a minority unless that minority has agreed to that imposition or there are compelling and defensible reasons to accept that imposition. Snow removal is not compelling. If it were not removed we would all go on as usual with little consequence other than a few people might have to wait a few days to bike/run/what have you.

I could go on but I am not really interested in rehashing our current political situation where what I am complaining about in Lawrence plays out in so many other ways.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

There are two issues involved here. The primary one is whether shoveled sidewalks are a positive goal-- are we better off with walks cleared of snow and ice? That one is a real no-brainer. Obviously, we are.

The second issue is how we make that happen. All it takes is one quick drive around town a couple of days after a snowstorm to confirm that the threat of $73 in fine and court costs isn't getting it done. And I don't think simply raising the penalty is the solution.

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hitme 3 years, 2 months ago

This all comes down to the same parable as the Ant and the Grasshopper. Everyone needs to add show removal into their pre-retirement investments.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

Facinating. I point out that many of you are demanding that people do things that are dangerous to their health and well being. You respond with pay someone ignoring the fact that doing so constitutes a tax on 25% of the population most of whom are not fat cat rich people.

No one has ever responded to the notion taat shared civic responsibility means shared. What do the 75% of you do who do not have walks in compensation for the civic service performed by the 25% who do?

Just a bunch of very greedy people demanding that others solve an irritant to them. So much for our vaunted civic responsibility

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 2 months ago

The ordnance works! I reported (online) a property owner 1 storm back, and after this last snowstorm that sidewalk was one of the first ones on the block shoveled! (I waited until it had been one week after the snow to report.)

Thank you to the City for providing us a remedy, and thank you to that property owner (near 6th and Schwartz) for catching on after the warning from the city.

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edjayhawk 3 years, 2 months ago

Shut the fvck up and go shovel you moron!

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

merrill I am 68 and partially disabled. I will shovel my snow as long as I can. However, telling me I must because of other seniors and disabled people is ridiculous.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Scoop shovels work better than snow shovels..... for me. Scoop shovels might be easier for young people who embark on a money making expedition. Scoop shovels are a versatile piece of equipment.

When possible we are out cleaning off the snow in the snow with push brooms and as I said a scoop shovel. Can work up a sweat.

If shoveling alone is a bit much invite friends over for brew,pizza and shoveling snow.

Just think about those Lawrence residents who cannot drive that must walk to work or to a doctors app't. Senior citizens need a lot of help for their bodies are not as agile.

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northtown 3 years, 2 months ago

I am a handicapped person,but i get out and shovel my snow-may take me a little longer than most-But this is another way of showing-That your freedom is slipping away in the U.S. I know there are folks who would come over and do it for me-but i beleive there are others who need the help more than myself-It does show how lazy americans have gotten-just get off your butt and show some respect to others-and if you have ice-as i did myself-a little ice melt took care of the problem. And yes good old K.C. news seems to like to rub it in-just shows how stupid our city looks to them-and it can be just a little simple----------At Times-------------

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red_devil 3 years, 2 months ago

What a bunch of cry babies. Grab a shovel and get your lazy ***es shovelling.

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faceit 3 years, 2 months ago

I took a jogging route on 6th street a couple of times over the last six weeks. I found it ironic that Lawrence Athletic Club ( a business who promotes fitness) hasn't bother to clean off their walk on 6th street for any of the last three snows. The businesses both East & West of LAC have cleaned their walks. It's still covered today.

Thanks.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

How many of those demanding that others shovel walks have walks to shovel.. Always neat how many people are for making other people do something they do not have to do! Must be in that liberal blood.

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Number_1_Grandma 3 years, 2 months ago

LTE, would you like some cheese with your whine?

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OonlyBonly 3 years, 2 months ago

Jus' quit your lazy griping and shovel the sill snow. What's so hard about that?

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

Are you arguing that snow removal is just A TAX levied on 25% of the population that happens to own property? A tax on top of one of the highest property tax rates (value and mil rate) in the state?

By the by, just what social responsibility does the 75% of the population that does not have walks assume? Actually, we should amend the ordinance to require that the resident as well as the owner is responsible for clearing the walks. That might get the burden to 50% of the population and maybe get the non-compliance rate down.

If government has the right to demand services from a few just what might they demand next. How about a bar tax to cover the costs of cleaning up after the weekend nights mayhem? Maybe a commuter tax for all the Johnson County students that use our facilities but live there - and pollute our air. How about a weekly responsibility to clean the sanitation trucks? I could go on but only an idiot would not understand the drift. It has nothing to do with snow and everything to do with the role of government.

And LO I would argue you do have a dog in this fight. I have never argued that I do not feel a responsibility to maintain my property. I do have a problem with government demanding selectively that I maintain theirs. In my case at least half the walks are not on my property at all.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

You know guys/gals that all the arguments about social responsibility are right on until you realize that only 25% of Lawrence has this social responsibility. At least taxes would involve maybe 50%.

How can you justify demanding that 25% of the population perform services for the rest? Sounds like the tyranny of the majority. Thought our constitution protected us from that??

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 2 months ago

"Should citizens be compelled to labor by and for government, for whatever causes it deems good?"

Good point. Repeal all taxes.

Of course, all government services will come to an end, but hey, you won't have to shovel your sidewalk any more!

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ophiuchus 3 years, 2 months ago

".... Also, in some cases, shoveling is likely to produce sidewalks that are more slick and dangerous to walk on, not less so...."

(As already has been noted above,) the several times I shoveled my walk this season, within a surprisingly short time of removing the snow blanket, the associated solar gain at the surface had melted and evaporated unshoveled residue, even on sub-zero (ºC) days. It was the unattended neighboring sections of the walkway which became increasingly perilous to pedestrians over time.

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kernal 3 years, 2 months ago

The only stories I saw on the news about sidewalk snow ordinances were those towns that give their citizens less than forty-eight hours to clear their walks. One town was less than twenty-four hours. In comparison, our city code seems lenient. Unless you are physically handicapped or elderly, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to shovel your walk.

Quit your griping or move somewhere that has a homeowner's association that clears the sidewalks.

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Chuck Wehner 3 years, 2 months ago

To add an another I hope interesting observation I have made. I volunteered for the "Safe Sidewalks" program and have done so for the last couple of years. I have not had one client in those two years, that couldn't afford to have someone else shovel there walks or do it themselves. Its just plain laziness I think on the part of most homeowners, or the "poor me" attitude of I couldn't possible get out in the cold and actually do something physical.

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jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Sand is better than salt, as it won't damage the concrete.

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Jimo 3 years, 2 months ago

'Let me have all the benefits of living in a civilized society, just don't try to force me to be civil!'

Sorry sir but don't fling your feces at your neighbors and call it an exercise in liberty.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 2 months ago

Where's all the kids around Lawrence with snow days? Grab a $15 shovel, walk door-to-door and make a wad of cash in one day.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

"grimpeur (anonymous) says…

"Here's a question for you, Curran: why should anyone who walks to work pay taxes to have your street plowed?

walk to work every day. Yet my taxes are going to plow hundreds of miles of residential streets that have no military, commercial, or industrial importance. Do you drive a car? Then why don't you take responsibility for yourself and plow your own damn street and leave the government out of the driver welfare business? Why should I be forced to pay for your convenience? You can walk to the nearest plowed arterial and catch a ride in one of the hundred thousand or so empty seats in cars traveling in and out of our city each day and evening.

The fact is, you have no idea about what freedom means, let alone the responsibility that comes with it, so your use of these concepts to cry about it is pathetic. You sound like one of those tea-baggers--all blustery pout and no brains or ideas.

The law was made for people like you. Sad that it is needed. But, clearly, it is."

Hear hear!

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toe 3 years, 2 months ago

Just avoid living in any house with a sidewalk. Salt damages the ecosystem and hastens the deterioration of concrete. Full disclosure of a homeowners responsibility for their sidewalk should be required of all real estate transactions.

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PROAMERICA 3 years, 2 months ago

The city built the damn sidewalks and they say the easment of your front yard belongs to them so let the city clean the damn things.

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seeker_of_truth 3 years, 2 months ago

Wonder what fine he just paid for getting reported for not shoveling?

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BigPrune 3 years, 2 months ago

How many heart attacks shoveling the sidewalk? How many fell down breaking bones? How many back injuries shoveling sidewalks? If the City has the numbers on the decrease in heart attacks since the smoking ban, then surely they have the numbers on how many people have died or been injured shoveling the sidewalk.

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grimpeur 3 years, 2 months ago

Here's a question for you, Curran: why should anyone who walks to work pay taxes to have your street plowed?

walk to work every day. Yet my taxes are going to plow hundreds of miles of residential streets that have no military, commercial, or industrial importance. Do you drive a car? Then why don't you take responsibility for yourself and plow your own damn street and leave the government out of the driver welfare business? Why should I be forced to pay for your convenience? You can walk to the nearest plowed arterial and catch a ride in one of the hundred thousand or so empty seats in cars traveling in and out of our city each day and evening.

The fact is, you have no idea about what freedom means, let alone the responsibility that comes with it, so your use of these concepts to cry about it is pathetic. You sound like one of those tea-baggers--all blustery pout and no brains or ideas.

The law was made for people like you. Sad that it is needed. But, clearly, it is.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

The contention that shoveling sidewalks will make them slicker is just wrong, bordering on idiotic.

Sure, in the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm, a shoveled area may have some slick spots. But as the days wear on, any unshoveled walks are guaranteed to turn into a solid sheet of ice, while the sun and/or temperatures above freezing will cause any remaining ice or snow on shoveled areas to melt or sublimate.

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conservative 3 years, 2 months ago

Sorry curran but i'm not buying the whole more dangerous to shovel argument. If its icy underneath then put out some sand and salt. Leaving it unshovelled leads to a much more slippery surface a day or two later after it has been packed down by people walking on it. The only bad thing about this ordinance is that it is neccessary to get people like you to do what most property owners do without the ordinance.

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ignati5 3 years, 2 months ago

Once again, we have a Letter to the Editor which seems satirical, but may not have been so intended by its author. It tries to make a Libertarian issue out of shovelling one's sidewalk: "government" vs the property owner who can make his own decisions about the effect of a blizzard on public safety. The argument stands, however perverse its intent, until one considers the cost to "government" (ie the taxpayer) of paying workers to default for property owners. Are we also to maintain city staff to mow lawns in the summer, remove dead trees on private property, or fix rickety front steps that mailmen, deliverymen and repairmen will not risk? Absolutely baloney at face value.

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Scott Morgan 3 years, 2 months ago

n some cases, shoveling is likely to produce sidewalks that are more slick and dangerous to walk on, not less so.

Bingo, the result is really just cosmetic. Especially when the temps drop to negs.

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appleaday 3 years, 2 months ago

"Should citizens be compelled to labor by and for government, for whatever causes it deems good?"

So, you'd rather pay more taxes to have the city clear the sidewalks? I believe a little rock salt solves the slipperiness issue. None of this is that difficult. Many other cities have shoveling ordinances, by the way.

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