Property Rights Foundation of America®

February 10, 2004

To the Editor:

In their overzealousness to raise quick cash opportunistically at the unwarranted expense of their constituents, some Ellenville administrator(s) must have overheated the police department to prematurely blitz the village residents with tickets for not having shoveled snow off sidewalks. There were way too many people in the Tuesday courtroom after the 16 Jan am snow flurry, abnormally too many. Something was amiss.

Most of the accused paid up without critically apprising the facts of their case empirically (from out of the real world) compared with the allegations in the ticket. I myself only became suspicious when at a village board meeting an overeager consorted cheer of glee arose from a group of village administrators patting themselves on their backs for how good they made out, cashwise, from the slew of tickets issued after a recent snowstorm. It was inappropriate — governing administrators chortling over how they'd taken their constituents, how they'd separated their own village citizens from their hard-earned cash — the people whom they are supposed to be protecting — "of & for the people" — in a scam-like fashion. It was very strange seeing the village administrators openly portraying themselves in a hostile relationship with the people they were supposed to be governing.

I just happened to be precisely aware of when the snow storm stopped because, having been up working at 2:15 am when it stopped I myself went out to shovel as an excuse to take a break. Checking the time on the ticket that was issued to me, it was timed at 11:00 am the next morning — only 9 hours after it stopped. The village code requires police to wait 24 hours after the storm stopped to issue tickets.

At the trial when I was given the chance to question the police officer I asked when the snowstorm stopped. She unhesitatingly parroted, "at least twenty-four hours before the ticket." I then asked what time that was. She rustled through her papers a bit too frantically, finally admitting she had no idea what time it stopped snowing.

It became immediately plain and clear (prima facie), undeniably evident and unmistakably obvious to everyone, including the judge, that someone had told the cadre of police officers to go out and issue snow tickets without any regard for the 24-hour-wait requirement. Had there been cognizant regard for following the law rather than the blitz being simply a thrust for greedily and opportunistically raking in the cash, the officers would have been made aware of exactly when the storm stopped so they could comply with code and wait the requisite time to write-up the tickets. They were not. I rest my case. Many people were stung. The fines were not inconsequential.

Paul T. Johnson

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