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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow cops

We start with the praise: Boston and New England does a much better job dealing with snow than Yankeeville or Old England. And as a walker, I appreciate the push to get sidewalks clean and in a hurry.

But there's something rather unsettling to see huge mounds of plowed snow blocking sidewalks in my neighborhood, probably until spring. Put there by town plows. And I will spare my town the embarrassment of mentioning how, in years past, one of the worst-kept sidewalks I could find was right in front of a school.

But the idea of snow cops judging my work could produce enough heat to melt that plow mound all by itself.

Let's be honest. How many people have cleaned their sidewalks or driveway aprons only to find a plow has dumped more heavy icy chunks in the path? It's only made worse by a large storm that dumps so much snow the legal sidewalk spots to create piles disappear.

New this year in my neighborhood is the need to clear a path and a sidewalk spot for the huge recycling bins that have replaced the small, easy-to-carry baskets that could be placed on top of a snow mound. Some of my neighbors don't clear paths to the street for walkers, and you can go for blocks down major streets like Comm. Ave. and Beacon Street without being able to find a curb from which to step off.

There's a shared responsibility here and if Boston (or other communities) is looking to add snow tickets to parking tickets as a revenue source -- without considering the particulars of each storm -- there could be a Boston Snow Party brewing.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at Consalvo's article in the Beacon Hill Patch. It's about fines for pitt bull restraint laws but it could just as well be about fines for sidewalk shoveling, lawn mowing or shrub trimming, and my response:

To: Boston City Council, each and every member

I recognize the public interest in requiring bit bull owners to control their animals. At the same time I disagree with Rob Consolvo's view of reality:

"The reality is that the best way to get people to comply with our laws or ordinances that are violated is to hit them where it hurts the most, in the wallet." http://bit.ly/ebaT5f

First, the idea that government is in the business of making people hurt "where it hurts most" is absurd, outrageous and ignorant. Mr. Consalvo argues that people who are cited for lack of compliance with pitt bull restraint regulations won't learn to comply until after they pay the fine, and that the citation itself does not deliver the desired result, such as when the officer delivers the ticket with an explanation.

Mr Consalvo argues it's the fines that will change the dog owners behaviour in the way people restrain their pit bills, and he seems to believe inflicting some pain in the punishment is how they will learn to do what is required of them by law.

Consalvo adds: "It is especially important that the city collect the money it is owed in these dire fiscal times." Property taxes are up 7%. I don't think pitt bull non-restraint revenue is really a significant factor in addressing the cities financial status. Isn't the primary issue here public safety?

I argue that Consalvo's punitive approach to lesson-learning is off the mark and tends to make government an adversary rather than a partner for public safety.

I oppose the home rule petition and I think the City Council should seek less punitive approaches to government engagement in public safety and inspectional services.

December 29, 2010 5:52 AM  

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