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The Great Snow Shoveling Crisis


Lawrence has a live or die crisis - not everyone shovels the public sidewalk on or near the property they pay the bank to live in. The world will end.

Now I can understand a desire to ease the burden on some of our citizens who might find walking on snow difficult. For the rest, I am perplexed. Since snow here about tends to be of limited duration, the former can in all reasonableness stay off the sidewalks for a day or two. The latter – what is the problem.

Now, I shovel my walks. I have always shoveled my walks. As long as I am physically able, I will continue to shovel my walks. So what is my problem?

Simple! I do not recognize the power of government to force 25% of the population to provide uncompensated physical services to the rest of us. Worse that service is demanded on a tight schedule without regard to environmental conditions (subzero wind chills and blowing snow) or the physical capabilities of those required to perform that service. Yes, one can pay but that frequently leads to a bill greater than the fine. And, more importantly, it is a tax levied on only a small portion of the community.

Yes, many places have ordinances on snow removal. Thorough research will show at best very selective enforcement. Historically the right of government to levy this requirement hinged on the simple fact that most people had sidewalks and therefore the demand was no different from other forms of taxation. In most communities there was due regard for those who could not perform the service – real civic pride. As times have changed, the requirement is increasingly more pejorative on only a small number. That leads to low enforcement rates because the various municipalities just do not want the law challenged as it might be thrown out with loss of all control.

Worse, in Lawrence it has never been clear to me exactly what our problem is. Where I live, the walks are cleared. Just where are they not cleared and who is not clearing them. Are the miscreants people who cannot do the job? Are they businesses who have better things to do? How you approach the problem depends on what the problem is!

I find our ordinance a form of lip service to shut up people with little minds and much opinion. The penalty, if caught, is less than the costs of paying to have the work done. If, as I suspect, much of the problem rests on commercial interests with a real consideration for the bottom line our ordinance will not get the job done. If we are really serious, the penalty should be about $250 bucks a day. That would get the commercial interests that control a good part of our government to actually do something. Aha, but they do control the government so fat chance on getting a meaningful ordinance

So, Katara and I can continue to spar about nothing while the real miscreants laugh all the way to the bank. The means are just as important if not more so than the ends!! When are the do gooders here in Lawrence going to learn that??? Duped again!!


Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago

This part of County Government has had over FIVE YEARS to obtain "insurance" to provide the service suggested below. Why have "they" refused to be responsive? Why are drunk drivers and any other person LUCKY enuff to avoid Jail Time in lieu of "Community Service" given the "red carpet" treatment???? It makes no sense at all...... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Be nice if the people sentenced to Community Service for things like DUI, traffic tickets, and any other misdemeanor or even felony matters were sent out with shovels to do this work.

What is preventing our community from accessing this, essentially, free labor pool???

The answer is the idiots at Court Services who will find every excuse in the book (the most often used one being "We don't have the insurance" which really translates into "We're too lazy to leave our offices and actually be a part of the community"...) to NOT be progressive in their thinking. "We've always done it this way....". Give a ring to Ron Stegall, Chief Executive Probation Officer (how ya like that FANCY title?!!) at (785) 832-5220 or email him at rstegall@douglas-county.com . He'll be glad to explain to you why that office CANNOT serve the community. His antiquated decision making is backed by Linda Koester-Vogelsang, Court Administrator: (785) 832-5256; lkv@douglas-county.com (They have a SET list of places where Community Service hours can be worked off and they're all in a/c and heated sit down places; Nice and comfy for that oh so misunderstood drunk driver or whatever.....).

Community corrections and community service: Jokes in Douglas County, Kansas

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