Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Missing cat stirs post-no-bills debate. New champions of US Constitution have 4 legs!

Conventional wisdom says that a dog is man's best friend. Only in Pittsburgh can the four-legged pets be best friends to the US Constitution.
From china - sculpture

Thanks to Bruce Kraus, this is what our city is doing and worrying about.
Missing cat stirs post-no-bills debate: "When John Stocke's cat, Mulva, got away two weeks ago, he put up lost pet signs, hoping the city of Pittsburgh government had decided how to handle fliers for finding Fluffy or Fido.

He soon learned otherwise when, a few days later, a Department of Public Works employee started ripping them down.

'They take 3 percent of my income and spend it obstructing my efforts to find a lost pet?' he fumed. (The city's earned income tax is shared with the school district.) He said he then called the department, and was told he could keep the signs up for just three days.
Furthermore, the start of the weekly city council meetings, Bruce Kraus is keen on putting the cats and dogs of animal shelter at the front of the agenda, before the business of the city and before the citizens have a chance to speak.

Getting the signs torn down is bad -- but wait for the bill to arrive. There can be fines too.

From PPS Safety

I don't want some city employee to be the one who determines the reasonable numbers and durations for signs. If the sign is about fluffy -- okay. If it is about freedom -- then watch out.

So, the public officials are to tolerate some statements, despite the city code's overall ban on posting fliers on public surfaces, but take others to jail. That's a typical Councilman Bruce Kraus' effort.
Lost cat! From china - sculpture
Life is always about an exemption from the bans when the bans are everywhere. Rather than make these exceptions to undo the loss of freedom, it would be refreshing to just propose freedom in the first place. Use what is already in place, at the least.
"There was some miscommunication with these posters," said Mr. Costa of Mr. Stocke's signs.

He said his employees are supposed to remove most fliers. "We do allow lost pet fliers only when they're at intersections," he said. There are two other unwritten rules: "[Do] not blanket the area and don't exceed two-week postings."

Now it is written -- at least in the newspaper and this blog. Unwritten rules from government officials are not healthy.

"A written policy is in the works," he said.

How many exemptions are there?

That could be tricky. In July, Mr. Kraus included a line in a piece of advertising legislation saying that the city's post-no-bills rule "does not prevent the posting of fliers regarding lost pets."

"We had to take it out," he said, because he concluded that the exception would favor one message over others, and could be deemed unconstitutional.

Darn constitution gets in the way of another pea-headed action by some over-reaching legislative do-gooder.

Now we've got constutional champions named "Mochi."

The issue came to the fore when the Shadyside owners of Mochi, a Shiba Inu, were threatened with a fine for posting lost pet signs. The city withdrew the threat, the signs went back up, but the dog was not found.

Mr. Stocke said his friendly, black, white and brown long-haired Mulva has been spotted by someone put on alert by the fliers, but hasn't yet been caught.

Tell Bruce Kraus to put the animal shelter public service announcements at the end of the meetings or at another time.

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