The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, February 04, 2008


A Young Reader inquires:

"Dear Democratus:

How does something become a Code Violation?"

Young Reader

Good question, reader. A number of things must occur before an act can become a Code Violation. It's all part of our democratic/legislative process.

First, that "something" whatever it may be, cannot already be a Code Violation. If "something" already is a Code Violation there's no need to do anything.

Next, a citizen has to be issued a citation for the non-existent Code Violation.

The next steps are complicated and the matter should be handled by the municipality's chief legal officer.

The would be Code Violater must challenge the citation by pointing out that no such code violation exists. Then, and only then, can the government issue the would-be violater a new citation. The new citation must reference an existing Code Violation but does not need to be relevant to the initial citation. Hey, no one said Due Process would be easy.

The original "action" that brought about the non-existent code violation is then defined.

Finally, our democracy kicks it in to high gear. The definition is submitted to someone in the tech department so an amendment can be added to the government's website.

Abracadabra.....we have a new law.

The public is then invited to "learn more about property maintenance" by reviewing the Code. Ironically, the Code does not define Graffiti or make graffiti a Code Violation. Nor is Graffiti "illegal." Graffiti can be a crime if the intent behind the Graffiti is to damage property.

All of this begs many questions. If "Graffiti" as defined by the City website is a code violation and "illegal" why was the deSeve citation changed to a sign violation? That's not to mention the broad definition of graffiti used on the City's website. What about murals? What about children using chalk on a driveway? Can we get variances from the Ministry of Art?

Is this important in the grand scheme of things? Yes, if you don't want Harry and the Administration to steal the conch and kill Piggy.

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