Yet again, the City of Greenville has done something that I’m having trouble coming to grips with.
BACKGROUND: For the last… I dunno, forever, the City Council has been considering an ordinance that increases the “buffer zone” around places where kids hang out (schools, playgrounds, libraries, the pool) where sex offenders can’t live. The state mandates that buffer be 1,000 feet: Greenville’s increased it to 1,500 feet, and opened an industrial sized can of worms.
Completely ignoring the facts that 1.) there have been numerous studies in other states showing that this kind of action has absolutely no effect, 2.) that there have been several court cases overturning decisions like this as unconstitutional, and 3.) that this new law only means sex offenders can’t live in that zone, not that they can’t come in and visit to their heart’s content, the council voted unanimously in favor of this ordinance.
Now, they’ve opened themselves up to at least two lawsuits, that will cost the city at least $200,000, whether they win or lose.
The council knew the lawsuits were coming: it hasn’t been a secret. I almost respect them a little for sticking to their guns in the face of that threat (almost), but seeing as all the research I’ve done deems it to be a pointless and ultimately useless change, $200k is a pretty expensive gesture. And that money is coming out of the people’s pockets.
I am all about standing up for the little guy. Hopeless fights are the best kind. David and Goliath, Remember the Titans, Cinderella Man, all that, rahrahrah go team… but this is dumb.
It’s like… okay, here’s a metaphor. It’s wrapped in a game show, so I hope you like those.
The Greenville City Council is a contestant on a game show: their name has been called, they’ve been told to come on down, Drew Carey is up there ready to give them a hug.
Now, they’ve just been handed a tricky problem. There are several possible answers to the problem, like on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (what follows is a crazy amalgamations of gameshowiness: please keep your hands inside the car at all times).
Only instead of waiting for the other options, as soon as the first one pops up, the Council’s family starts yelling at them to take it! Take it right now! It’s the first answer we’ve come up with so it must be the right one!
But then… the problem’s lawyer shows up. “If you choose this answer, we’re going to sue,” says the lawyer. Then another lawyer shows up from a third party on behalf of all problems like this in the state, and tosses in another law suit for good measure. So, right now, if the city goes with answer one, they’re going to have to pay at least $200,000 in court fees.
A couple of the family members quiet down. That’s a lot to process. Maybe they should think about this for a while. Other members of the family instead get angry at the problem: “How dare you sue!” they yell. “We’re going to continue to push for this first answer because we want some kind of response right now! Screw your lawsuit! ANGRY NOISES!”
So the council postpones for a couple episodes, goes over the problem with their family, claims to do some research, consults a lawyer, then comes back last night and decides to go with the first answer, law suit and doubts and facts be damned.
That’s how what’s been going on for the last several months has looked in my (decidedly odd) perceptions. The stakes are a little higher, the problem is much more serious, and there’s no Drew…
… but there you go. The amount of silly in the response is about the same. And as a third party (and here, “third party” means “someone who’s going to have to help pay for those legal fees”), I can’t help but goggle at the level of ridiculousity.
More news as it develops. Tony, out.