Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Egregious Use of State Authority, Right in my Home City

I was in a hardware today, getting some supplies for the job I am doing. While I was there, a news crew showed up. When I asked the clerk helping me, why, she explained that our municipal government just passed a measure requiring every store in Multnomah county, that sells spray paint and other "graffiti paraphernalia," to keep it locked up or behind the counter. Too, they must now demand photo ID and fill out a form, every time someone buys spray paint or other such paraphernalia. Here is a link to the ordinance, passed today.

This is even more ridiculous than making cough medicine OTC. This will also create a huge pain in the behind for anyone who needs to actually buy spray paint, not to mention the stores that sell it. When I am in the middle of a job and happen to need to run to get spray paint, I am often times in a hurry. I don't to spend ten minutes filling out a form, stating the purpose I intend to put the spray paint to, the colour I am buying and all that jazz. This is a minor, yet egregious invasion by state authority. Absolutely absurd.


Beth said...

Maybe it is to prevent teens from using it for huffing?

Icepick said...

This is the kind of thing I was ranting and raving about over at Respectful Insolence that day. Why is the government taking on more essentially meaningless tasks instead of correcting problems with basic functions, such as infrastructure maintenance, effective and meaningful law enforcement, and public education?

Surely the worst phrase in the English language is "There oughta be a law...."

Beth, I'm not sure if your comment was facetious or not, but if not, then so what? If the kids don't huff spray paint then they'll huff something else. Back when I was in HS, I knew of people that huffed gasoline. Are we going to restrict the sale of that too?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Beth -

Kids have started drinking certain kinds of hand sanitizer, do we restrict the sale of that too? How about anything, literally anything else that comes in spray can? How about the gasoline that icepick mentions? Or any of a myriad of household cleaners or solvents that are used in construction?

But that is not the reason for it. It's all about graffiti. The problem is that this is absolutely useless, hundreds of thousands of cans of spray paint are sold every day around here, with, at the very most fifty of those cans going for graffiti. Are the police going to check through every one of those forms to figure out where it came from and follow up by visiting everyone who bought the colour used in a particular graffiti crime?

Believe me, Portland has a lot better things to do with our tax dollars. We have a lot of bridges to maintain, schools that are failing and on the law enforcement front, far more serious issues.

Beth said...

It's fine to rant about failing infrastructure and public schools, but I am pretty sure the funding of these things and law enforcement are from different places. For example our school funds are totally separate from city funds. Road dollars come from gasoline taxes, so that doesn't get affected by law enforcement usage. While Icepick's comment about effective and meaningful law enforcement is a good one, making changes in that does not improve the schools or roads.

And I wasn't being facetious, just had a thought of the real motive behind the ban.

BobApril said...

...I am pretty sure the funding of these things and law enforcement are from different places.

Are they truly separate, or are those various funding sources just earmarked for those various uses as a guideline? I suspect it pretty much all goes into the general fund, and then all gets allocated as the politicians see fit.

Even if all those funds/uses are kept separate, DuWayne's point is still valid - the costs of enforcing this law could easily be diverted to better law enforcement purposes. Instead, they're being used to provide an ineffective solution to an insignificant problem.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Actually, the money that the city puts into all of those things, including some of what goes into infrastructure, comes from the same place, income tax and property taxes. It all comes out of the same pot, excepting what comes in from state and federal funds. Even if you eliminate all the other things that the cost of enforcing this could go to, we don't exactly have a hell of a lot to cover basic law enforcement. While in large part, draconian drug laws are the cause, people picked up for anything non-violent get processed and released. Anyone picked up for aggravated assault, without a weapon, spends a few hours in jail and is released. There are a hell of a lot better ways this money could be spent, inside law enforcement.

Beth said...

I am speaking from my own community, I know the city funds and the school funds are separate.

DuWayne Brayton said...

The funds are separate here too. But they all come from the same place or places, our pockets. There are a lot better ways to spend the funds, even if they stayed in the police budget. This is a funded mandate though, so the cost of enforcement is coming out of municipal coffers.

On top of that, it is a serious inconvenience to the owners of the stores affected. The hardware/paint store that I was at when I heard about it will have to buy a lockable display and hire another employee just to deal with filling out the forms - for ever damn sale.

They, a bloody paint store, are considering the idea of just not selling spray paint any more. To cover the cost, they will have to charge more for spray paint. Apparently, big box retailers have managed to get an exemption from the new ordinance, so their prices won't go up. The more I learn about this, the more pissed off I am about it.

Not only is this a waste of tax dollars, that are sorely needed on other fronts, it is creating an unfair advantage for the big box competition that is already killing small retailers. There is a recall petition going around for the asshat that proposed this, as well as for those who approved it. Not just because of this, this is just another major screw-up by these jackasses.

I will probably put up a post about the private, armed security that has reign over a portion of downtown, without a lick of oversight. They can make arrests, they carry guns, there is no way to file a complaint against them and, as I mentioned, they have no municipal oversight. The morons that passed the above ordinance are also responsible for this.

BobApril said...

Apparently, big box retailers have managed to get an exemption from the new ordinance, so their prices won't go up.

Um...what? Lemme get this straight - not only does this ordinance prescribe an ineffective remedy for an insignificant problem, but then it allows an exemption that offers a safe haven to allow graffiti-minded people a place to buy the paint without being affected by the ordinance!

What will they do for an encore, set pi equal to three?

Icepick said...

Here's a much more egregious abuse of state authority, although it's not in the USA. Thought you might be interested nonetheless.

from Colorado said...

Oregon politics suck!!!