Who Woulda Thunk It?
November 11th, 2009
Who Woulda Thunk It?
On the 11th minute, of the 11th hour, in the 11th month of 1918, Germany surrendered unconditionally to the American led forces in World War I,. To all the men and women who have served, I salute you! To all the families who have had loved ones who served, I salute you! All who have served gave some, some gave all. We observe this day in honor of our armed forces, and acknowledge their willingness to sacrifice their lives to preserve our freedom.
At the Union County Commissioners meeting last Tuesday, the commissioners, on advice of their legal counsel, announced suspension of the portion of the ordinance pertaining to signs. This was a humbling experience for me. It isn’t often I win an issue with the commissioners, but this one was particularly sweet. If you read my article last week, you would understand why I am so pleased. After over a month of playing by their rules, they gave in to my request and suspended that part of the ordinance. States Attorney Jerry Miller advised the commission that it would be very difficult to defend against my claim and that the best route to go is to suspend the ordinance pending a rewrite that will stand up to legal claims.
I would prefer that the whole ordinance be rewritten, but as it says in the comprehensive plan, this is a living document and is to be reviewed on a yearly basis and major reviews are to be done every 5 years. I have learned to become a patient man when dealing with the county government, and I can wait as long as they can. There are many portions of this ordinance that are bad, but until something happens which challenges the law, things will continue under the status quo. There is an old saying that if you don’t tell me something is wrong I will presume everything is ok. I wonder where they would like me to start. After all; I did get through County Government 101.
What bothers me most about this whole thing is that I have the feeling that since I did this, the county hopes this issue will be forgotten. Wrong! I still have a personal roughing the passer foul in this brief that I filed. They said nothing about the fact that I accused Dennis of infringing my 1st amendment rights, and that still stands. It says nothing of the questions that I want answered and won’t be, so the case goes on.
It was really great to see so many people there on the 29th, showing their support. You don’t know what a boost it was for me to have you show up. Just the fact that you came to the meeting meant so much. And I’m sure to the board as well. When we showed them a united front, I think they knew we came meaning business. Sometimes when people aren’t sure of which road to take, the one influenced by a mass of people shows them the way to go. Even though they declared it a non meeting, they will remember what was said. I will present it again when it is an official meeting.
Now let me give you a timeline of what has happened with this situation and you make up your mind as to whether or not our county government is acting above board and with integrity.
1) The Planning Director sent a letter on the 14th of August saying take down the signs.
2) Ed Cable responds that the ‘save union county’ signs are not political.
3) On the 15th of September, the director sends another letter. Take down the signs
4) At the end of September, I am on the agenda with the commissioners and assert that the Planning Director violates my 1st Amendment rights. The board says they have no jurisdiction over this issue.
5) On the 1st of October I try to present my grievance to the Board of Adjustment. They say that I am not on the agenda so they will not allow me to present the letter.
6) On the 29th of October I am on the agenda for the ‘Board of Adjustment’ and present my grievance. My lawyer advises the board that they did not give proper notification for the meeting and they violated the zoning ordinance and the state law. The meeting is declared a non meeting and adjourns.
7) At the County Commissioners meeting on the 3rd of November, the States Attorney, Mr. Jerry Miller, advises the board to suspend the portion of the zoning ordinance that pertains to the signs as they would lose this case if it went to court. The ordinance is not constitutional in the sign portion. The board acts to suspend enforcement of the signs. At the same meeting Mr. Miller advises the board that he, Mr. Henze and the Planning and Zoning had been aware of this situation for at least a month and a half. This lends further credence to my claim that the actions by the Planning Director were intentional.
Now here is my problem with all of this. I retained a lawyer for counsel back at the end of September, to make sure that I did everything correctly and according to the law. He was with me when I made my presentation to the board of adjustment. It is unconscionable to me to think that they knew what Henze did was highly irregular and probably not legal but said nothing. (County Government 201). I have learned my lesson and hope everyone will benefit from my experiences. If you are going to deal with government, you had better be prepared for just about any situation, and that things move through the system very slowly. I can vouch for this. period.