"Get off my lawn" is a cliché that exposes me as a fossil. I'm ashamed to say it pisses me off when I see tire tracks where they aren't supposed to be - especially on the lawns in city parks. I have no great desire to martyr myself like Walt Kowalski did in "Gran Torino," so what are my options?
Somebody's old pappy used to say that you should never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins. To hell with that! But because they insist, I will attempt to channel my inner voices representing the cretins who pull this crap:
- It's a free country.
- There's no sign saying not to do it.
- It's a public park. I'm the public. I can do whatever I want, because it's mine too.
- This is the most convenient place for me to do donuts in my car or drive my ATV or dirt bike.
- Screw you bourgeois elitists and your exclusive notions of civilization. Defy authority!
- They'll never catch me, and even if they do nothing will happen.
Hold on! There are other voices clamoring for attention in here. These are the apologists and enablers, a whole other stratum of cretin:
- The City can't afford to enforce all the laws on the books. The Police can't be everywhere.
- These things go in cycles.
- Every kid worth a hoot goes through a wild phase. We don't want to mess up their lives by putting them in the justice system.
- Even if we put up a gate at the entry to the park and close it at 10:00 pm when the park closes, people bent on destruction just drive around it. So why bother?
- We don't want to make the park environment hostile to citizens.
- If the powers that be don't care enough to do something about it, why should I?
Two's company, three's a crowd. One of the delights of modern times is the "Men Are from Mars" business which proposes the bizarre notion that women don't want their problems solved, they just want sympathy. According to a good friend of mine, you'll find "sympathy" in the dictionary between "shit" and "syphillis." Do you call the help desk for sympathy? Here's what my inner handyman/ tech desk agent has to say:
- Post the rules at all paved park entrances, including sidewalks. Put online video cameras there too, positioned and automated so that it can be shown in court that anyone violating the rules was exposed to them. Other signage and cameras may be indicated at locations that have seen persistent violations and vandalism, such as bathrooms, shelters, and recreational facilities.
- Install gates and/or place barricades at all paved entrances, including sidewalks. Physically secure the park at closing time and open it accordingly.
- Place curbs or mount obstacles to prevent vehicular traffic from driving off the pavement. Design or enhance existing facilities to discourage vandalism and unauthorized activities such as skateboarding, bicycling, and hunting.
- Establish a schedule of appropriate fines and penalties for infractions, said penalties to be composed entirely of community service in the parks. Any fines shall be sufficient to pay existing city employee scale to complete the maximum community service associated with the infraction, and to repair any damage done and install appropriate deterrents to similar damages.
- Screen and deputize volunteers to patrol the park. Provide them with credentials authorizing them to be in the park even during the hours it is closed to the public, and also with a secure and reliable means of summoning the proper authorities as needed. Alternatively, this could be a function of "Citizens on Patrol," including commensurate training and coordination with the local Police District, Park District, the Recreation Commission, Fire Department, and others as needed.
- Go "full metal jacket." Utilize military technology to enforce the rules, up to and including Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles.
There's plenty of room for company. So - got anything to add? Get inside my head and post a comment.