The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 24, 2013

Readers' Forum 6-24 | People more concerned with neighbors

JOHNSTOWN — With ever more evidence of gross rights abuses by government, you might think most Americans want all levels of government to stop encroaching on freedom.

Evidently not. A report stated municipal officials say their most frequent complaints involve residents demanding action against their neighbors. In other words, people consider it more important to have the barking dog or weedy lawn dealt with than to worry about whatever random constitutional rights might be abridged in the process.

The complainers worry about presumed lower property values. They should realize that there is no right to high real estate values.

But property owners – those hated neighbors with the dandelions, cracked sidewalks or wrong kind of cars parked outside – have fundamental rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

And the evidence is that the real causes of declining property values are the region’s economy and irresponsible government in the forms of high property taxes and bad schools.

According to the The Tribune-Democrat, a local suburb’s police chief said it was unusual for grass ordinances to be enforced by police officers, and it was a lot of work to continually check locations all summer. No kidding.

But this is what happens when a community is lucky enough to have nearly zero serious and violent crime, but the residents demand that aesthetic ordinances be enforced as though they are about serious crime. Somewhere, sometime, some people – if not the police then citizens – need to start saying no to local ordinances that make crimes of appearance unconstitutional.

Dwight B. Owen



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