Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner – Leonard Barnes, a repeat winner!
Idiots come in all sizes, shapes and job descriptions. We run into them frequently in everyday life, especially when dealing with power-mad bureaucrats, but we kind of expect that if when find ourselves in court, we’ll be standing in front of someone to whom the label will not apply. Apparently, such is not the case in at least one Tennessee courtroom.
Seeds of Discontent
Code enforcement targets urban garden.
Adam Guerrero and three kids from his neighborhood, Jovantae, Jarvis, and Shaquielle, hardly seem like lawbreakers as they turn over soil at Guerrero’s Nutbush home.
But the city’s code enforcement department has deemed their urban garden a nuisance, and a judge has ordered them to remove the small ecosystem they’ve been working on for the last two years.
According to the court summons, Guerrero, a math teacher at Raleigh-Egypt High School, was cited for violating city ordinances 48-38 and 48-87: He failed to “remove personal property” that is “unsightly” or a “nuisance,” and he failed to maintain “a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.”
Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter upheld the citation, ordering Guerrero to get rid of the “debris and personal property” stored outside his home and trim overgrown vegetation — including cutting down his 7-foot-tall sunflower plants.
“He said it’s considered a neighborhood nuisance,” says Guerrero, who is a member of the GrowMemphis board. “I asked him to define nuisance for me, and he said basically if it generates a complaint, it’s a neighborhood nuisance.”
If it generates a complaint, it’s a neighborhood nuisance? Had Judge Potter been toking on a certain psychoactive weed when he made that pronouncement?
If we are to use that standard, I could force my neighbor to cut down his trees because, each autumn, those falling leaves that land in my yard are sure a nuisance. Then there’s the neighbor with the dog, the one that likes to bark every time someone walks by. Talk about a nuisance. And don’t even get me started on the eye-assaulting paint jobs I see when I drive around town.
The fact is that anyone can claim anything they don’t like is a nuisance and the city’s code-enforcement department and especially Judge Potter should be bright enough to know that.
Personally, I hope Guerrero fights this idiocy by appealing to a higher court and, perhaps, filing suit against Judge Potter for abuse of power and gross stupidity.
What do you think?