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Tuesday, August 9, 2005
How's That Again?

A blurb in today's Daily Herald tells us that American Fork City "has announced plans to enforce laws about garage sale signs." There's already a problem; do you see it? Assuming the report's accuracy, which is by no means a safe assumption, we have a city announcing that it is going to begin enforcing a law that presumably already exists. In other words, the city has a law on the books that it wasn't enforcing - which is shoddy government, at best.

The short paragraph explains that signs may not be placed on public property to advertise a sale. This makes sense. And it might be worthwhile to note, for example, that the property from one foot inside my sidewalk, extending all the way to the street, actually belongs to the city, even though I'm liable if someone trips and breaks his leg there.

But the report continues: "A fine could be imposed. The exact amount has not yet been determined." So there may or may not be a fine, and we don't know what it is yet? If it isn't in the statute (why not?), don't we actually need to amend the statute to include a fine, before a fine can be imposed? If the fine is in the statute, why are we wondering whether to enforce a fine, and how large? Or if the statute itself doesn't actually exist, what on earth are we talking about?

Either this is a very poor report, or the City is having trouble communicating a coherent message, or the powers that be need an attitude adjustment. If a law exists, it should be enforced. If we don't enforce it, we should repeal it. And if a statute defines a crime or violation, should it not also provide for a penalty?

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