dear jessica newman and time moneyland,
you were partially correct about the uniformity of oak park. sadly, you are correct about little else. it’s upsetting to me that a prestigious and well-known magazine would publish a letter that is so clearly not fact-checked- and is, in fact, blatantly incorrect about important details. for the record, i was never contacted to verify anything in the essay, and i’m not even sure where jessica got her information.
let’s set the record straight:
1- the city never “explained that such a project was against code”. far from it, i was informed that, while the planner was unable to find anything specific to vegetables, decorative plantings were in fact allowed.
2- i was not un-swayed, nor did i go ahead with a mission. i planted a garden, and made it a “decorative planting” as per kevin rulkowski’s information.
3- no neighbors have complained to me, either now or before. it is questionable whether anyone actually ever complained at all.
4- oh, and by the way, my garden has 5 beds, not 4. i have no hay at all, and the garden doesn not take up the entirety of the front yard.
5- the beds were not found to be against ordinance. the vegetables were the only accused, and they stand alone.
6- the warning was not ignored. in fact, i had a lengthy conversation with the code enforcer in order to gain a better understanding.
7- my blood never boiled. to accuse me of acting with “intentional disregard” is irresponsible and just plain wrong. the project was never deemed “inappropriate”. i was “on notice” to “account for my actions”? are you serious? she makes it sound like i made a pact with satan…
8- she would have been correct that we could have challenged the city’s interpretation of the ordinance if there had ever been any ambiguity or something to challenge. the ordinance doesn’t say no vegetables. never did. but that’s what they cited us for.
9- how about this: the people who supposedly don;t like the garden- if they actually exist- could have gone to city council and had the ordinance changed. i’m not frustrated to be held accountable; i’m frustrated that this story is so backward and wrong.
10- do you really think that the city is preserving the “character” of their community by persecuting one of its responsible and law abiding citizens?
11- “if the majority of citizens disagree with the code…” huh? what’s to disagree with? since the city’s code doesn’t actually say anything specific, how could someone argue against it?
12- oak park officials don’t welcome requests. they don’t even return phone calls. hello? do you have any clue about the real oak park, and not the oak park you idealize in your imagination?
13- did i fundamentally mischaracterize anything? nope. the city is prosecuting me for having vegetables. read any number of the reprints of the actual warning and citation that can be found all over the web.
14- are the city’s actions “thoroughly lawful and reasonable”? is it lawful or reasonable to harass a citizen based on a violation that doesn’t exist?
15- you assert that we are irresponsible in “encouraging ongoing harassment”. guess you’ve never read my blog. ever. too bad you don’t know me or my positions at all. too bad you act knowledgeable, but are, in fact, the epitome of ignorance.
16- i don’t recal ever saying that city employees are “power hungry, irrational bureaucrats”. but now that you mention it, you might have a point…
17- as far as verbal abuse and anonymous threats, i think that pretty much sums up the reaction people will have to reading your essay.
man, oh man…