Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Effigy of Sarah Palin Hanging by a Noose is Despicable, but Legal

October 28, 2008

I’ve seen some pretty weird Halloween decorations before, but this one probably tops them all.  In West Hollywood, California, Chad Michael Morisette has put up an effigy of Sarah Palin hanging by a noose with John McCain up on the chimeny with flames coming out of it (as well as skeletons and spider webs on other areas of the house).

Well, this made some people very unhappy and even sparked an investigation the FBI as well as the Los Angles Police Department.

The LAPD has determined that this doesn’t rise to the level of hate crime (I don’t remember if the FBI has finished its investigation).

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told reporters, “I’m not defending this; I’m not criticizing it.  It doesn’t rise to the level of hate crime.  Now, if there was a crime against bad taste–.”  When asked about an effigy of Barack Obama, he replied, “That adds a whole other social, historical hate aspect to the display, and that is embedded in the consciousness of the country [but I am not sure that it would be a hate crime].  It would be ill-advised of anybody to speculate on that.”

Morisette claims that it’s  all in fun, saying, “It should be seen as art, and as within the month of October.  It’s Halloween, it’s time to be scary, it’s time to be spooky.”

The Mayor of West Hollywood, Jeffrey Prang, told reporters, “While these residents have the legal right to display Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin in effigy, I strongly oppose political speech that references violence–real or perceived.  I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion.”

I agree with the Mayor here.  The point of a hate crime is that it has to threaten violence, or be violence toward a person because of discrimination (and hate crime isn’t a real legal term, but it’s easier to just say “hate crime”.  For the law that defines hate crimes, see U.S. Federal Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 13, § 245).  There is no threat of violence here.  Now, if this were done of Obama, I would say the same thing.  If it’s in a Halloween decoration, it’s generally not intended as a violent threat (as the sheriff’s department found in its investigation).  As long as it’s not being done to encourage violence for racist reasons, it’s not a hate crime.

So, I think this was over the line, but it’s still protected as free speech by the First Amendment.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois City Bans Trick-or-Treating for Teenagers

October 27, 2008

Well, this is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while.  Belleville, Illinois passed an ordinance last Monday that restricted trick-or-treating.  That sounds normal, right, most cities limit the time that kids can trick-or-treat.  But the city isn’t just limiting when; they’re also limiting who can trick-or-treat.  And it also limits the wearing of masks, to only Halloween (unless you’re under 12).

Here’s an overview of the ordinance (unfortunately, Belleville is a little slow in uploading their meeting minutes, and all they have right now is a copy of the agenda, so this isn’t the exact wording of the ordinance):

  • Limits trick-or-treating on Halloween from 5:00 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.
  • Bans anyone in above the 8th grade (anybody older than 13 or 14) from trick-or-treating on Halloween, unless they are a “special-needs” child, and then they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Allows children age 12 and under to wear a mask and/or disguise any day of the year, but restricts anyone above 12 to being able to wear a mask and/or disguise only on Halloween.
  • Prohibits any and all child sex offenders from going to any event and/or holding any event for Halloween where any child (other than his/her own) will be present. Child sex offenders must also turn out their outside lights on Halloween night, and they are banned from handing out candy.

OK, so bullet points 1 and 4 I have no problem with.  It’s 2 and 3 that I have an issue with.

But before I go on, let me give you some quotes that Mayor Mark Eckert told reporters:

We believe that Halloween is for little children.  We just feel that we need to go that extra mile to protect the children.

We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9:00 at night and the people who lived in the homes were scared.  The seniors were especially scared.  They didn’t want to be the recipient of some kind of trick, but they didn’t want to open their doors late at night, either.

Sexual predators can’t have parties.  It’s not right, it’s wrong.  They lost that privilege.

OK, so I get the principle behind this, but here’s where you have a problem: Those teenagers out after 9:00 P.M. would be out past the overall curfew anyway, so they’d already be breaking the law.  What is the need for another law here?  If they’re out past 8:30, they can be arrested (I’m assuming that’s the punishment).  So that right there would solve your teenagers out late problem.  Banning trick-or-treating for anybody above the 8thgrade is simply ageism.  You cannot discriminate against somebody like this.  I’ll accept a curfew (although I have problems with those at times too), but to ban outright the practice of trick-or-treating for ANYBODY (other than felons who lose some rights when they’re convicted) is discrimination, and in my view, illegal!

Now, the mask/disguise ordinance.  You’re telling me that a 16-year-old kid can’t wear a mask outside at a Halloween party the night before Halloween (Devil’s Night if you live here in Detroit)?  Or what if a Star Trek convention comes to Belleville?  Are you telling me that masks aren’t allowed?  It’s ridiculous!  Unfortunately, without the ordinance I don’t have the city’s legal definition of “disguise” but would this apply to people dressed up as Santa Clause?  Are you going to haul away the Salvation Army Santa for being in a “disguise” on a day other than Halloween?  It’s dumb.  It restricts the Freedom of Speech (this isn’t a dress code in school we’re talking about here – this is just being out in PUBLIC generally!)!  It’s asinine, ridiculous, and it’s unconstitutional.

I hope somebody old goes out and trick-or treats, or wears a mask the day after Halloween so that this can be taken to court and overturned.  I’m a Law and Order Conservative – I abide by the laws.  I don’t speed.  I don’t drink underage.  I’ve never stolen a candy bar.  But when the law goes against Constitutional principles, it MUST be disobeyed so that it can be challenged in court, and this is one time where I say, “Break that law!”

Done Ranting

Ranting Republican
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Michigan Restaurant Offers Free Pizza for McCain Signs

October 22, 2008

Alright, so I saw this clip from my hometown news station, FOX 2 from Detroit.  Watch the video and I’ll talk about it below:

Alright, so you have Salvatore’s Pizzeria (Warren, Michigan) who’s offering free pizza to people who bring in yard signs.  Diana Franzoni, the owner claims that she just wants people to turn in their signs since McCain left the state.  OK, people aren’t going to do that.  Honestly though, if I worked for the Republican party, I’d be doing that as a means to get food for my campaign headquarters.  The state party would save so much money doing that that they could’ve cut down rent for the McCain stuff that’s still in Michigan.  If I were in the McCain campaign – I’d give my volunteers a set of 1,000 signs, which would be $1,000-$2,000, but it’d absolutely kill Salvatore’s.

Although I think the restaurant is encouraging people to steal signs, I don’t think they can or should be prosecuted.  They’ve done nothing wrong.  If they were saying, “Go steal signs,” I’d say we should prosecute them.

Who should be prosecuted are the people who steal the signs, like the teenager they talked about.  I don’t care WHO you are.  If you steal a yard sign, that is a federal crime, and you need to be prosecuted.  And I’m talking to you people who steal Obama signs too – you’re committing a federal crime, and you deserve to be punished just as much as the kid who stole the McCain sign.  If I ever catch somebody stealing one of my signs, you can be sure he/she’ll be prosecuted.

EDIT: I just had a friend bring up this possibility: Charge the restaurant with possessison of stolen property and knowingly accepting stolen property, but proving that they knew it was stolen would be impossible unless it was a set-up.  Having a McCain person do a little sting operation would be pretty clever though.

Even the Obama supporters I’ve talked to about this have said that they think she’s doing it so that people will steal them.

I think it’s a shame that this kind of crap is happening, but there’s nothing illegal with what the restaurant is doing.  I think it’s dishonest, and I think their motives are to have people steal signs, but obviously they won’t say that.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Fire Marshal Handcuffs Woman for Swearing

August 21, 2008

Alright, so I heard about this on the radio earlier this week, but I’ve been so busy getting ready for college and other stuff that I just haven’t had time to post this.

So, here’s what happened:

On August 4th, in La Marque, Texas, 28-year-old Kathryn “Kristi” Fridge went with her mother to the local Walmart (FM 1764 and Interstate 45) with her mother and 2-year-old daugter to get supplies in preparation for impending Tropical Storm Eduardo.

She went over to buy batteries, but there were none left.  Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Dang.’  I looked at my mom and said, ‘They’re all f***ing gone.'”

Captain Alfred Decker, the La Marque assistant fire marshal (certified by the state of Texas as firefighter, peace officer, fire investigator and fire inspector) came up to her in uniform, and told her, “You need to watch your mouth” (quote from Fridge).

Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Oh, OK.  Sorry?'”

Decker ordered Fridge to follow him to his car, because that was where his citation book was, but she protested.  She eventually listened, but as he led her to his car, she yelled to some on-lookers, “Can you believe this?  He’s f***ing arresting me for saying ‘f***’!”

She later told reporters, “When I got outside, I saw he was a fire marshal — I saw his car.  I said, ‘You’re not even a cop!’  He said,  ‘I can do this.'”

Decker then asked for her name, and she spelled it out both verbally and in sign language (according to her – Decker hasn’t commented because there’s a pending court case).  She said that this angered him and he handcuffed her.

But La Marque Fire Chief Todd Zacherl said that because Fridge made a scene, Decker was forced to act.  He told reporters, “She cussed him, she cussed everybody. By now, we have a huge group of people looking.”  Fridge denies this saying that she never cursed at Decker.  Her mother (Kathryn Rice, from Santa Fe) backed up her story, saying, “She never got nasty with him; she never cussed at him.”

Zacherl went on to say that Decker handcuffed her for his own safety, because Fridge was being belligerent and Decker had to turn his back to get his citation book and run her name to see if she had any warrants.

Fridge was then ticketed for disorderly conduct (a Class C misdemeanor) and then released.

On August 7th, Fridge went to the La Marque Fire Department to speak with Zacherl, and she took forms to file an official complaint, but as of last week had not filed the papers yet.

She told reporters, “I’m not out to sue or get money—I just want them to drop this ticket.  Yes, I probably shouldn’t have cussed in public, but he took it way too far.”

Zacherl disagreed, saying, “When you’re in uniform, you have to uphold the laws.  It’s like if he was on the way home and saw a drunk driver—he had to act.”

Personally, I think the fire marshal was perfectly in the right here.  He handcuffed her for his own safety.  He didn’t arrest her, he detained her.  This is a common practice that police officers use to ensure their safety.  It was HER who caused the scene, not him.  It was either handcuff her or call for back-up (which would mean calling the police department, since it’s not the fire marshal’s job to back somebody up like that).

As for the legality of the ticket, it’s perfectly within Texas law.  You can’t go around swearing.  The public as a whole has decided that they do not want profanity allowed in public (they did this by electing the officials who put that law into practice, and have not disagreed with that law by passing a citizen sponsored initiative to overturn it).

This was done in a public place where there are children who don’t need to be subjected to profanity.  I know little 3-year-olds who go around using the f-word because their parents just curse whenever they want to.

This isn’t a violation of free speech.  I can’t go up to a little 4-year-old and say, “Hey you little f****er!” so saying it within hearing distance of anybody else violates that principle of “breach[ing] the peace”.

On the radio show that I heard the story on, there was a caller who said she should file assault charges, since he touched her without her consent.  He is a certified officer, and has an obligation to uphold the law.  While upholding the law, he is exempt to some degree from assault charges.  He didn’t abuse her, he handcuffed her.  Criminals can’t sue cops for touching them as they are handcuffed, and this case is NO different.

The fact that there was an outcry because of this (although most reaction was in the fireman’s favor) shocks me.  Where is our sense of law and order?  There’s a difference between civil liberties and anarchy, but the two are beginning to become confused in the minds of many Americans.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Sharon McPhail, Aide to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Gets into Verbal Scuffle as She Ardently (and Obnoxiously) Defends Mayor

August 8, 2008

You know, every blogger at on point or another sees a story unfolding before him/her and thinks, “This is gonna make an incredible blog post,” and the news interview I saw today was exactly that.  Watch the following interview between WDIV’s (NBC-4) Devin Scillian and former Councilwoman turned Mayoral candidate turned Mayoral aide:

I haven’t seen that much bull crap since – heck – I can’t figure out when I’ve seen that much bull crap.

That interview was so hilarious (yet sad) that I called my grandma (a hard-core liberal, but anti-Kwame advocate) halfway through the interview and said, “Grandma, turn on Channel 4.  Sharon McPhail’s making an idiot out of herself.”

Let’s look at some of what McPhail said:

  • Arguing that Windsor is “across the street” and should be treated as part of this country!  Come on – he broke the terms of his bond.  There’s no way that you can say he was justified in going to Windsor. (3:45)
  • Saying that a “bar member means nothing.”  Bull crap – he should’ve known better.  He DID know better.  If you can’t tell the legal difference between Windsor and Detroit, you shouldn’t have passed the bar.
  • On to my favorite part, the exchange about this being the media’s fault:
    Scillian: “Detroit is being splattered all over the headlines in very bad terms.  We’ve got a mayor whose spent the night in jail, the first time in 300 years that this city’s been in existence that that’s happened.”
    McPhail: “Here’s a thought: stop printing those headlines.”
    Scillian: “Ignore the truth?”
    McPhail: “No, I didn’t say ignore the truth, I said, “stop printing the headlines.’  I would really love it if people stopped ignoring the truth.”
    Scillian: “I’m confused.  Are you blaming the messenger?”
    McPhail: “You are, and that’s exactly the point. … you do not have to take the position that everybody else is wrong and you are right, because usually that’s not true.”
    Now, I’ve been one to criticize the media, and say they need to be put in their place every once in a while, but this was just crazy.
  • Arguing that the cops intentionally went to the mayor’s sister’s house to serve the subpoena on Ferguson.  They saw the vehicle, and hoped he was there.  Even IF they did it knowing whose house it was, that’s not illegal.
  • Scillian: “Sharon McPhail, it is always an experience talking to you.”

What a cocky, stubborn idiot.  I mean, the level of support for the mayor there is just incredibly sad.  Even after all he’s done, she supports him!  And her arguments are just incredibly stupid as well.  She really has come a long way from once running against the mayor.  The way she defends him, she’s acting like she’s sleeping with him too!

So, hopefully that provided you non-Detroiters some entertainment.  For you Detroiters, I’m sorry that you have to live with that.  I pray that this ends for you soon (hopefully our Governor will act on this – there’s a hearing coming up, I THINK next week).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Federal Judge Rules Bush’s Aides (Like Karl Rove) Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

So, as I said, before, a case looking into executive privilege in regards to subpoenas from Congress was in a federal court, and the federal judge, U.S. District Judge John Bates (a Bush-nominated Judge), ruled that Bush’s aides are NOT exempt from Congressional subpoenas.

The full Memorandum Opinion can be read here (it’s 93 pages long, otherwise I’d stick the whole quote in here).  Since it’s so long, I’ll give two key quotes that pretty much summarize the opinion:

  • “Harriet Miers [and Josh Bolten] is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena.”
  • Regarding the lack of case law for White House aides being immune from Congressional subpoena: “That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law.”

And that’s really the problem here.  Executive orders have been used since  1789, and that gives the Executive Branch some limited power to influence and shape laws without actually making new laws.  The Supreme Court RARELY overturns these, and although Bush didn’t issue an executive order here, the same principle applies.  The difference is that Bush has VASTLY overstepped the bounds of the executive branch, and is now completely reshaping things and taking us into unknown territory.

I agree with Bates’s opinion, and have previously said (here and here) that Rove should testify to Congress (although Rove isn’t mentioned in this case, his predicament came after Miers’s and Bolten’s, but he’s essentially in the same place as Bolten and Miers, so this will apply to him as well).

Now, let’s get to the reactions:

  • “We disagree with the district court’s decision.”  White House press secretary Dana  Perino
  • “I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House … and don’t expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future.”  Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney
  • “It certainly strengthens our hand.  This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.”  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • “We look forward to the White House complying withthis ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims.  We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”  Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • “I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.”  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • “I’m sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue.”  House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), in regards to the fact that the subpoena will expire at the end of the 110thCongress in January.  Several Democrats have siad that they expect that the subpoenas will be reissued if and when they keep the Congress in this upcoming election.
  • “Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived.  If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.” Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Republican in the House Judiciary Committee.

I could not agree MORE with Lamar Smith (and the fact that a major Republican is siding with the Democrats and the Judge shows that Bush is in the wrong).  Smith, unlike some Republicans is not making this a partisan issue, but wants to keep the power that has been given to Congress in Congress’s hands (and thus, partly in his hands).  These cases simply don’t happen – Congress and the White House normally simply compromise.  The fact that this was taken to court means that there is now a LEGAL precedent set.  But before those who are happy with this precedent start celebrating, we must remember that precedents and rulings can be overturned by higher courts.  If a higher Court, and ultimately the Supreme Court rules to overturn this ruling, Congress will be hating themselves for not simply COMPROMISING with Bush.  Congress will lose a power that they’ve taken for granted, possibly forever.

I DO hope that the Bush administration doesn’t appeal this, but I think that they will.  I hope Congress prevails.  The executive branch has overstepped it’s power, and needs to be stopped.  Miers, Bolten, and Rove should ALL testify.  And the Bush administration needs to remember that if this ruling gets overturned, this precedent will remain in effect when the Republicans control the Congress and are trying to subpoena Democratic aides.

I have faith in the system, and I really don’t see how Bush can win any case here, but weirder things HAVE happened.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Noose Student at Central Michigan University Will Not Be Charged With Ethnic Intimidation

July 30, 2008

This is breaking news – I just heard about it from the CM-Life.

Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick has said that he will not be pressing charges against the 28-year-old male engineering student who hung a noose in the Industrial Educational Technology Building back in November.  (My previous posts on this subject can be found here, here, here, here, and here).

Burdick released a press release, saying, “I am confident of the work performed by the CMU police, in conjunction with the FBI.  The facts determined due to the joint investigation does not support a charge of ethnic intimidation, and the intent needed for that crime cannot be proven.”  And that’s basically what I said in my retraction to my original statementssaying that he should be charged.  The fact is, even IF he did it in an intimidating way, without a verification for that, Burdick can’t win the case, and if he tried, he’d be a bad prosecutor, in my opinion.

Burdick goes on to say, “The student’s e-mail to the campus newspaper was, in my opinion, both insensitive and demonstrative of a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about the historical significance of the hanging of nooses.  His explanation, however, as to the reason he constructed and hung four nooses last November was corroborated by two of his classmates, which I found to be very credible and forthright concerning the incident.”

Again – that shows that although the student made a very poor/stupid decision, it wasn’t intended to be a threat of force (and even if the student is lying, 2 witnesses would be hard for Burdick to argue against).

Burdick continues, “Because intent lies at the heart of the charge that was under consideration, both we and the FBI felt it important to fully and carefully examine the individual’s personal computer to see if there was anything to suggest his actions were racially motivated. … What happened on campus should not just serve as a badly needed educational experience for one college student, but enlighten all of us as to the detrimental effect of this symbol.”

Again – this was a good call by Burdick.

But now that Burdick has said all of this, this means that CMU cannot release the student’s name (under FERPA, only a person who commits a violent or sexual crime can have his/her name released).  As I said before, if Burdick doesn’t prosecute, as he now has decided not to, I’d wonder what rule CMU used to suspend the student.  The fact that no crime was committed gives the student a possible case against the university to overturn his suspension.  I really can’t give my opinion on this, since I don’t know what the university charged him with.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite the student to do an interview with me.  I have a few questions, some about the incident, but mostly about the aftermath and what will happen here.  So, to the student who hung the noose, if you’re out there reading this, and wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, e-mail me at

I’ll keep you all updated as this story keeps on developing.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Karl Rove Ignores Subpoena and Refuses to Testify to House Committee

July 11, 2008

Well, yesterday, Karl Rove didn’t show up at a hearing at a House Judiciary subcommittee (chaired by Linda Sanchez), where he was supposed to testify, regarding whether or not the Justice Department pushed for investigating Democrats, influenced by partisanship, specifically the investigation of Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.  The House was also investigating the firing of prosecutors who had been investigating Republicans.

The White House cited executive privilege as the reason that Rove (among others) did not have to testify, and Rove has offered to meet informally, while not sworn in, but Democrats have rejected that offer.  Rove and the White House have argued that internal conversations are confidential, and that Congress has no right to force officials to testify.

Rove may be held in contempt of Congress.  The decision to pursue contempt charges will go the full Judiciary Committee and ultimately to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

The House already has voted to hold two of President Bush’s confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with its inquiry into whether the administration fired nine federal prosecutors in 2006 for political reasons.

The case, involving White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, is in federal court and may not be resolved before Bush’s term ends in January.  The House has already has voted to hold Hariet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt, for not cooperating in its investigation into the firing of the prosecutors back in 2006.  That case is still in federal court.

Personally, I think Rove should just cooperate.

And I’m tired of partisan hackery by BOTH sides.  You have liberals saying that Rove has to testify, yet these same liberals stood silent during Clinton’s administration and defended officials such as Janet Reno, when she was held in contempt.  You have conservatives who attacked Reno and others and now are defending Rove.  BOTH officials should have cooperated, and I’m tired of people just siding with anybody from their party no matter what.  If you do something wrong, face up to it.  If you associate with the party of somebody who did something wrong, don’t just keep defending them.  I’m a hard core conservative – but I’m tired of all of this crap.  Right is right and wrong is wrong – who cares who’s in what party – law and order is law and order.  Obey the law.  PERIOD.

I’ll keep following this as the situation develops.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit to Crack Down on … Bicyclists?

July 11, 2008

Well, I heard about this from a co-worker yesterday, and I actually didn’t believe him until 3 other people chimed in and told me that it’s true (although they told me that the law was just passed) – apparently, Detroit (oh, well now we KNOW this will be good) has decided that they want to start enforcing some laws.  Great!  So, what laws?  It’s a 1964 ordinance that requires bicycles to be registered, and violators will be slapped with a $55 fine.  Police officers will start enforcement on August 7th.

The Detroit Police Department released a press release on Wednesday (I can’t find the full press release because they apparently don’t update their website for months at a time), saying, “Increased enforcement of the ordinance will … take place citywide in order to ensure that any stolen property is returned to its proper owner.  Enforcement will remain relaxed until Aug. 7, 2008, to allow bicycle owners an opportunity to register their bikes without penalty.”

Here are some responses to the new revelation from the city:

  • “You’d think the Detroit cops would have better things to worry about than giving out fines to people who don’t register their bikes.  This is just a way for them to get money out of people.  They want to get those fines.  What are they going to do?  Give tickets to little kids who are riding their bikes?  It’s ridiculous.”  Marv Adams, Detroit
  • “It’s not really a priority.”  Dearborn Police Lieutenant Wayne Seccombe
  • “If people want to, they can come in and we’ll give them a sticker, which will help us track down the bikes.  But we don’t require it.”  Ferndale Police Sergeant Vince Palazzolo
  • “Why are the police worrying about something like this?.  Are they going to start giving tickets to little kids?  Maybe the police ought to concentrate on getting rid of all the dope dealers and gangs, so the kids will have a safe place to ride their bikes.”  Evelyn Roark, Detroit
  • “I’ve had two cars stolen in the past five years, and I never even got a phone call back from the cops.  Maybe they ought to worry about getting stolen cars back instead of worrying about bikes.”  Tina Burse, Detroit
  • “If they start enforcing this, it would dissuade us from wanting to come into the city.  This can’t be a good thing for Detroit.  We come into the city and spend money.  We also help people get over their fears of the city.  If people see we aren’t afraid to ride our bikes into Detroit, maybe they won’t be afraid to drive their cars into Detroit.”  E.J. Levy, Southfield, a member of the Wolverine Sports Club and Cadieux Bicycling Club.
  • “Detroit is my favorite place to ride.  I like to go to the RiverWalk, and the Conner Creek Greenway.  It would be a shame if they start enforcing this ordinance, and people stop riding their bikes in the city.”  Todd Scott, Royal Oak, Detroit Greenways coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Detroit Police spokesman James Tate later clarified the intent of the enforcement, saying, “We’re trying to get people to register their bikes.  We’ve got hundreds of bikes piled up with no way of knowing who they belong to.  The idea isn’t to start handing out tickets to little kids on tricycles.  We’re supposed to enforce the ordinances that are on the books.”

Now, normally I’d be all FOR enforcing ordinances like this (and ALL ordinances for that matter), but enforcing this ordinance, under current circumstances, would NOT be legal?  Why?

Let’s go on a magical journey to the Michigan Compiled Laws, Chapter 257, Act 300 of 1949 (Michigan Vehicle Code), Section 257.606:

Act 300 of 1949

257.606 Regulation of streets or highways under jurisdiction of local authority and within reasonable exercise of police power; stop sign or traffic control device requiring state trunk line highway traffic to stop; approval; posting signs giving notice of local traffic regulations; providing by ordinance for impounding of motor vehicle parked contrary to local ordinance; bond or cash deposit.


Sec. 606.

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be considered to prevent local authorities with respect to streets or highways under the jurisdiction of the local authority and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from:

(i) Regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.

(3) An ordinance or regulation enacted under subsection (1)(a), (d), (e), (f), (g), (i), or (j) shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected [emphasis mine], as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. The posting of signs giving the notice shall not be required for a local ordinance which does not differ from the provisions of this act regulating the parking or standing of vehicles; nor to ordinances of general application throughout the jurisdiction of the municipalities enacting the ordinances which prohibit, limit, or restrict all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, if signs, approximately 3 feet by 4 feet, sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person, giving notice of these ordinances relating to all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, are posted on highways at the corporate limits of the municipality.

And do they have those signs?  No.

Attorney Michael Salhaney, Birmingham’s lawyer, said, “In Detroit, it would be a daunting task to post signs on every street where the ordinance is enforced.”

My rule on laws: Enforce them.  If they’re laws you can’t legally enforce / choose not to enforce – take them off the books.  So, either take this law off the books or don’t enforce it.  In other words, take it off – it’s a waste of money to enforce this.  They may make money off of tickets, but they’ll lose bikers coming in and the signs / upkeep/replacement of the signs will be too costly.

It’s a stupid law, make registration voluntary!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan May (and Should) Add 10 Cent Deposit to Water and Juice Bottles

June 19, 2008

Yesterday, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) announced a plan to extend Michigan’s 10 cent deposit law (the first in the nation) to also apply to water, tea, and juice bottles.

Here’s some statistics:

  • Michiganders return 97% of pop/beer bottles/cans.
  • Michiganders recycle only 20% of other bottles.

Executive Director of MUCC Dennis Muchmore told the Detroit Free Press, “Bottled water and sports drinks weren’t around when voters approved Michigan’s deposit law in 1976 [which MUCC pushed strongly for].  It’s time for Michigan to step back to the plate.”  His goal is to get the legislation passed before the legislature breaks for the Independence Day holiday.

But passing the law may not come as easily as Muchmore wants.  Ed Deeb, president of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association said, “We won’t stand for it.  We’ve had enough of the bottle deposit law.  Grocery stores should not be rubbish collectors or recycling centers.”

Linda Grobler, the president of the Michigan Grocers Association, argues that many people bring back filthy bottles which then have to be cleaned, and that some people illegally bring in out of state recyclables to get the deposit money.  Well, I know that the latter is not true.  My family takes vacations out of state every year, and every once in a while, we’ll accidentally bring a bottle or can back to Michigan that we bought in another state, not remembering it was from out of state, and when we take it back, the machine won’t accept it.  Mrs. Grobler, I don’t buy your lie, so find a new argument.

But Grobler and Deeb could have their way if the bill is amended.  Instead of going for conservationism, legislators may weaken the current bill.  Muchmore hopes to keep this from happening, saying, “If it’s going to be amended, we’re going to defend it, and even take an offensive posture [by adding water, juice, and tea bottles to the bill].”

So, who stands where?  A MUCC poll shows that 75% of Michiganders support it, but Andy Such, a lobbyist for the Michigan Bottled Water Council, said “Our concern is for the retailers,” but he doesn’t know how hard they’ll fight an amendment to the bill.

If the amendment doesn’t pass the legislature, where it would need 3/4 approval in both chambers, a ballot initiative could appear on a future ballot.  James Clift, policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council, told the Free Press, “I think it would pass easily.”

Here’s a press release from MUCC:


LANSING—The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) today announced a major initiative to expand the state’s 32-year-old Bottle Bill to include water and other non-carbonated beverage containers.

The 50,000-member, non-profit MUCC seeks to duplicate the 1976 grassroots campaign that made Michigan the national poster child for recycling beer and soda pop containers. Eleven other states have current or pending legislation for container-deposit recycling, and a growing number include bottled water. Last week, for example, New York’s General Assembly voted to add non-carbonated containers to its required deposit list.

“It’s time for Michigan to step back to the plate,” said Dennis Muchmore, MUCC Executive Director. “Although our citizens now return 97 percent of the 5 and a half- billion bottles and cans for which they pay a deposit, they recycle only 20 percent of the bottled water containers because no deposit is required. Eighty percent of those empty containers end up in landfills or critical wildlife habitats. It’s a terrible waste.”

According to the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), in 2005 each Michigan resident bought an average of 338 bottles and cans of soda pop and 138 containers of water and other non-carbonated beverages. More than 1.1 billion of the latter were thrown away instead of being recycled.

National trend data from the CRI shows that within a few years, sales of non-carbonated drinks will exceed pop sales.

“We can, and must, do better,” Muchmore added. “Adding a ten-cent deposit to bottled water creates a win-win situation for everyone.”

How so? Recycling the containers reduces litter and saves money and energy while increasing the number of Michigan jobs. The annual energy savings alone for bottles and cans of pop and beer is equivalent to 450,000 barrels of oil, enough to fuel 150,000 cars for a month. There are economic advantages as well. According to the Michigan Recycling Coalition, annual sales of recycled commodities are nearly $2 billion. The industry employs more than 5,000 people who earn $137 million each year.

MUCC believes Michigan citizens are proud of their Bottle Bill and are ready to expand it. A 2003 survey revealed that 64 percent supported a deposit on water and other non-carbonated containers. Only 16 percent opposed expansion, and 19 percent were not sure.

“Voters” are even more supportive with 76 percent favoring the concept. Given such positive feedback, from Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, why isn’t Michigan’s Bottle Bill all-inclusive now?

Muchmore says more than political will is involved. “Timing is everything,” he said, “and because legislation to change the current law is suddenly pending, it makes sense to include bottled water in any new bill heading to the Governor’s desk for signature.”

Bills introduced in both the state house and senate seek to reduce the amount of fraudulent returns to merchants. MUCC supports the proposed changes, which were initiated by a coalition of the Michigan Beer & Wine Association, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, and the Michigan Grocers Association. But the state’s largest conservation organization of hunters and anglers wants to take a bigger step forward.

“We simply want to amend the pending legislation to include bottled water and other non-carbonated containers,” Muchmore explained. “Right now Michigan can reduce fraudulent deposit returns, increase recycling, supplement the economy with new jobs, and reduce litter in our lakes, streams and other critical wildlife habitats.”

Reducing the amount of litter has long been an important issue for Michigan taxpayers, who pay $5.5 million per year to clean up water bottles and other trash from the state’s roadways. The current Bottle Bill has shown that when containers carry a deposit, people pick them up for free.

“That’s why we’re asking Michigan citizens to contact their state senator and representative to make these changes now,” Muchmore said. “We only have two weeks.”

The legislation comes to a vote in late June. Changing the existing Bottle Bill requires a 75 percent super-majority in each chamber (29 of 38 senate votes, 83 of 110 house votes).

Muchmore said bottled water, sport drinks and other popular beverages weren’t around in 1976. “They’re here now and more are being consumed every year,” he said. “Michigan citizens have an opportunity to do what’s right, and time is of the essence.”

So, what do I think?

I like the idea, and here’s why:

  1. We need to recycle more.
    1. It’s just good for the environment, and although I’m not a “tree hugger,” being green sometimes doesn’t hurt.
    2. We’re running out of landfill space here in Wayne County.  We’re bringing in too much trash from Canada (including our current Governor) and throwing too much away.  If we could recycle more, it’d be cheaper for cities in the long run.
  2. My parents let me have the deposit money if I take the cans back, and like any good Republican/Libertarian, I like my money (or other people’s money in my pockets [only if it’s there legally of course]).  People give out free water bottles all the time – it’s an opportunity for me to make some more money.  It’s a purely selfish reason, but if it came up as an initiative, I’d sign the petition and vote for it.

I don’t know if this proposed amendment would apply to cans of juice (such as lemonade), which for the most part do not have deposits on them now (I know that Kroger’s lemonade cans do, but most don’t).

Alright – I’d like to hear your comments.  I only have one rule.  This is a Michigan blog, so I don’t want to hear the use of “soda” or “soda pop” – the proper term is just “pop.”  I’m a stubborn Michigander, I know.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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