lots of people have asked us how we feel about the charges being dropped. i wish i could say “great!” ” wow, the city’s just so super duper great and wonderful and fluffy huggy kissy and full of love… today there were rainbows in the sky over oak park, and marshmallow clouds with dancing unicorns singing folk songs…”
but really, it feels more like the sword of damocles is hanging over our heads. if you don’t know the story of damocles, it’s worth looking up.
the whole crazy strange peculiar un-common/un-suitable way things played out just leaves us with a feeling of , “uh oh- what next?”
we weren’t actually cleared of any wrongdoing. the charges have not been settled in a way that gives us any assurance at all of them not coming back the second the media spotlight is off of oak park.
the dog charges are, should i say it? – just plain malicious.
no, i don’t think that any time a dog owner is cited for having an unlicensed dog, it is malicious. i think that if the city has contact with any dog- because it is stray, because it is menacing, because there have been complaints about it being aggressive- the city has a reason to check if that dog has been properly vaccinated against communicable diseases.
of course, the easiest way to check this would be to actually have an owner produce vaccination records. having to obtain a license, which one can only obtain after the owner proves (by showing vaccination records!) that the dog is vaccinated, just adds a layer of bureaucracy and a nice fee for the city.
so, why do i think that in our case this dog license charge is malicious? our dogs never had any contact with law enforcement officials. they were never arrested or charged with a crime- hahahaha- but seriously, they were not loose. they were not stray.they never hurt or tried to hurt anybody. they both have collars and tags. they are both well fed, well groomed, well maintained, and thoroughly spoiled. the code enforcer had to have seen them either in our LOCKED and fenced back yard, or in our house (we have a large window in the front).
the idea of the code guy snooping in our backyard or, worse, peering into the windows of our house is creepy- to say the least.
but back to why it is malicious: the only way for the code official to determine whether or not our dogs were licensed was to go through the city records and check. why would he have been looking this up? please remember that the dogs were clearly on our property and in our control at all times, so this is not a case of the city finding a dog and checking to see if they have it on record. the ONLY reason i can think of why they would have been checking on our dogs is to have more ammunition against us.
we failed to comply with their coercion to move the garden beds. so when they wanted to write out the ticket, they tried to dig up other dirt on us.
if you can think of another explanation, please please really do post it in the comments section. because i don’t want to be paranoid, but i have been over this in my head, and i really can’t think of any other reason at all.
so, we pay the license fees, we pay late fees, we get proof, and we take that proof to court.we show it to the prosecutor, the prosecutor makes a few notes, says ok, we sit down and wait for our case to be called in front of the judge.
judge calls us up- no mention of anything about the dogs. because it’s been settled. it’s been taken care of.
or so we thought…
because almost a month to the day after we paid for the dog licenses, the prosecutor decides to reinstate the ‘no dog license’ charges that we had already taken care of.
and it happens to be on the same day that they quietly and sneakily dismissed the garden charge- for now at least.
oh, yeah. because now they have 2 misdemeanors pending against me for the dogs, and they may or may not decide to pick up the prosecution over the vegetables after the prosecutor has had time to “review the ordinance”.
the part of the ordinance in question is one part of one sentence. it is a phrase. my 6 year old could read it, and everyone in the non-oak park government world seems to be able to understand it. but the prosecutor for the city of oak park- a man with advanced degrees, many years of experience practicing law, and hopefully at least a little common sense, now need time to ” review the ordinance”? does he think there is secret code embedded in it? is this like the davinci code or something? it’s not exactly hieroglyphics. it’s a phrase.
“…or suitable live plant material.” 5 words. not big words. not hard words. ambiguous words, yes, but what is there to review?
unless the city is buying time to see if there is anything else they can throw at us.
way to go, city of oak park. you’ve done a great job in the PR war so far. so now you’re gonna make this process even more long, even more drawn out, and even more ugly.
we fixed the dog licenses. we planted “decorative plantings”. our garden is literally full of “suitable live plant material”.
so do we really need to keep this hanging over our heads?
get real, oak park. i am willing to grant you a 1 or 2 day migraine, but 4 days??? my family is stressed, my phone is ringing around the clock, and my husband has had to take time off from work to try to help handle this mess. this is starting to try my patience.