Glass Houses, and Bigger is Smaller

August 30, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Two quickies:

Those Who Live in Glass Houses…

The [proposed anti-grafiti] ordinance would establish mandatory minimum fines, starting at $200 for the first graffiti offense, and require property owners to remove graffiti within 15 days of receiving a notice from the city.

...An abandoned gas station owned by the city has had a big red graffiti tag on it for weeks, he said. ...

Where is it? 48th and O, one of the city’s busiest intersections.

Shrinking Government?

City Councilmember Robin Eschliman wants to disband the Railroad Transportation Safety Board, of which she is a member. A government body wants to eliminate itself? Well, sort of. She has proposed dumping the RTSB, but nobody else seems to share her enthusiasm. Her solution? She wants to ask the state legislature to expand the RTSB’s role. *sigh* So close, and yet so far.

From the Lincoln Journal Star.

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The Comments

foxspit August 30, 2006 at 3:21pm

First of all, at the end of the article it talks about Steve Huggenburger’s missing shoe.  Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t he have a prosthetic device?  If so, the last portion of the article could be considered insensitive.

Why is the city so enamored with creating rules like the graffiti thing?  Do they really have the time, manpower and money to police this kind of thing?

The RTSB has, indeed, done good work but it’s work is not finished.  Why do away with something as important as this?

Barbara August 30, 2006 at 6:41pm

The graffiti ordinance is very important - it’s a “standards” issue, the same sort of thing that the weeds/litter/dilapidated buildings law covers. Unfortunately, that law has never covered graffiti, I was really shocked to find out. The LPD told me it was an “aesthetic issue,” that we couldn’t tell people what color to paint their houses. Excuse me? The city can force you to mow your lawn, but not to remove gang signs from your fence? How much sense does that make?

Now, before someone goes off on ‘victimizing the victim’ a second time, by fining them if they don’t clean up the graffiti perpetrated on their property, consider this; it is a well-documented fact that graffiti attracts more graffiti. It’s a well-documented fact that graffiti is no different than broken windows and dilapidated buildings - it’s a sign of crime, apathy, and disorder. These things attract criminals who realize that the people who live in these neighborhoods don’t care and will look the other way or ignore them. Law-abiding people won’t live in disgusting, ugly, vandalized areas if they don’t have to, so they move, leaving the neighborhoods to further deteriorate.

Now, if you want to talk about the resources required to clean up graffiti, and how expensive that is, well, yes - it is expensive. But how much *more* expensive will it be to police crime-ridden neighborhoods full of drug dealers and gang members?

Volunteer Partners (see volunteerpartners.org) has formed a group that will consist of citizens who are willing to help clean graffiti for other private citizens. They will be funded by businesses and individuals. Supplies and time will be donated. The city DOES have resources to help, but for some reason the Mayor’s office (and trust me, I know, it’s the Mayor’s office) is waffling on supporting this effort, and whines about the money. I guess Mayor Grandma doesn’t want to face facts, and also doesn’t get that funding sources could come/are coming from the private sector.

Lastly, and then I’ll shut up, a personal example of why this ordinance is needed; a garage at 33rd and X has been hit with graffiti a couple of times over the past 2 years. First time, the graffiti stayed there for months, while I talked and talked myself blue in the face to the owners asking them to please clean it up. Finally, they did paint it over. Then it was hit again a year later - I contacted the owners, was ignored. I contacted them twice more, volunteering my own time, money, and resources to clean it up for them, and they ignored me. It wasn’t until Union College had a ‘clean up day’ that these landlord jerks/slumlords finally took advantage of someone’s kindness and “allowed” the garage to be painted. In the meantime, the graffiti spread all over the fences and the Hyland building nearby, as well as getting worse and worse on the garage itself as it was tagged and retagged again and again.

Graffiti removal must take place within 48 hours for maximum effectiveness. Otherwise, it’s likely to be tagged again and again. This ordinance will give some teeth to neighborhoods that are sick of dealing with scummy landlords who don’t give a s*it about their investments, and the Volunteer Partners group will be available to help those owners and landlords who need it.

Whew - sorry to be so long winded. But it IS important that the city finally deal with this in some way that will work.

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