Thursday, August 06, 2009

A True Tale of Bureaucracy and Individuals

I posted this as a comment below but decided it could stand as a post.

Re "individuals" and beaureaucrats.

When Libby was in Bozeman an INDIVIDUAL woman who disapproved of Libby's keeping company with a hunter (really) got the town to go after our then third dog, as no one could keep three without all neighbors' permission. The town actually told us to put down one, our choice.

A law firm took us on pro bono, thank God. We won, but the bill, to the town, was $27,000. The town then appealed to the Montana State Supreme Court, who found again in our favor, costing thousands more. At the time Libby couldn't leave and we couldn't have afforded to pay the lawyers.

One of the low points was the neighbor's husband's perjuring herself by saying in court that my Goshawk's screaming was keeping him awake. I was able to prove that his hearing was remarkable; the Gos had been in NM for 6 months.

After it all one of the city councilmen told me: "You beat us on dogs. Now we are coming after your hawk. And if you beat us on that we'll come after your pigeons."

Now in Bozeman you must have all neighbors' permission for ANYTHING. I believe the regs say "if your neighbor has a problem you have a problem". As the feed store owner sadly told me: "This used to be Montana".

I see no reason NOT to fear such monstrous violations of freedom, unless perhaps you have millions to fight them. That is why I consider bureaucrat- free zones like Mongolia, Kazakhstan (yes), Wyoming (outside of Jackson perhaps) and Catron county (guns mandatory, no other bureaucracy wanted). Albuquerque, with virtually no public input, rushed in the most stringent AR regs in the country.

You are not paranoid when they are after you.


PBurns said...

Steve, I bring good news: If you want to avoid zoning, move out to the REAL country ;) Until then, zoning in urban and suburban areas exists no matter how much we hate it.

And YES, I DO hate it.

Where I live, chickens are banned and there's a limit on three dogs (no exceptions).

On the upside, my neighbors cannot have peacocks. I think Sarah Brady would rethink the Second Amendment if she lived next door to someone who had peacocks.


Lurcher man said...

Dont get me started on Mayor Smarty Chavez and the Albuquerque animal ordinances. Fortunatley I do have good neighbours so I can get away with bending the rules.

Jess said...

Even the REAL country can be dangerous; I looked a at very rural county in Arizona that had a limit of four dogs for the entire county no matter what the zoning was, another in NM had kennel laws but the HS, under contract to enforce the law, had no idea what the law actually said (or they were lying) and gave me very erroneous information regarding limits.

Where I live there are no weird dog laws, people leave each other alone, and we are on friendly terms with both the county judge and the local sheriff, who are happy to leave us alone if we don't bother anyone, plus we are not zoned. We also have no electric (we run on solar), no phone lines, roads that need a 4WD, and a long drive into town. On the plus side, we have no neighbors for miles and miles.

retrieverman said...

Move to West Virginia.

You can have as many dogs as you want.

You literally can have pink houses, just like the John Mellencamp song. The neighbors down the road have one.

We have lots of game species living in very high densities.

Property is cheap. Property taxes are low.

To me, it's paradise-- even if my political views hardly align with anyone around here.

You might not be able to run sight hounds very well here, though, because the land is nothing but choppy mountainsides that are covered in dense forests.

I second what Patrick said about the peacocks, but guinea fowl are far worse! My neighbor had about a dozen of them that would make noises that would put peacocks to shame.

Anonymous said...

Thank God Eastern Montana is a long way from Bozeman...were still trying to figure out how many cars you can have in your yard before it becomes a violation...Tom Glendive, Montana

Steve Bodio said...

Tom, that sounds more like Magdalena, thank God. It is the STATE of NM I worry about these days!

Christopher said...

Some how, Some way, I am Absolutely certain they got their due.

Heather Houlahan said...

I recommend guineas for those who hate their neighbors.

Since I like my neighbors, and they are too far away anyway, I sold my guineas.

Re: Montana. Can there be some happy medium between granting absolute power to individual perjurers and the legal and bureaucratic negligence that permitted this to snowball:

Because as one of scores of individuals whose lives have been disrupted for eight months (so far) by the need to repair the chaos and mind-boggling cruelty perpetrated by one individual, I'd like to avoid a second act -- ever.

Steve Bodio said...

To various commentors: moving would be a difficult or impossible situation for an impoverished sixtyish couple with health issues in a leaky old stone house they have inhabited for thirty years. Nor does moving to the country solve anything if the state changes the rules. The county regs noted by Jess were done without public comment. Some third- world place would probably be all we could afford-- preferably Asia-- but damned difficult.

Heather- the situation you mention sounds horrible but well- covered by existing law and volunteer efforts. I see no reasons for new rules.

Anonymous said...

I lived for many years along the Tennessee/North Carolina border, deep in an area considered somewhat "backward" by most modern urbanites. The kind of place that people crack lots of "Deliverance" type jokes about. I LOVED the area, but then, I was there BECAUSE it was "primitive", and I had no desire to try and "improve" things--in fact, it could have been MORE isolated and primitive, as far as I was concerned! As for neighbors, I learned real fast to MIND MY OWN BUSINESS--no way did people dare to complain about how or what your few neighbors might be doing! If some outsider DARED to do so, they were literally usually BURNED OUT in short order! Law enforcement dreaded even having to go in this area, and no one (except outsiders) ever thought to call them! You kinda took care of things yourself; frontier justice. After getting quite used to those social conditions, I have been amazed and apalled at the whiny, selfish, nosy, arrogant attitude exhibited in more civilized climes, and stories like this are hard to take--makes ya jest wanna get some dang torches and teach them suckers some manners! Except, well, dangit, there are just SO MANY of those suckers--not enough torches to go around! And by the way, I LOVE neighbors with peafowl and/or guinea fowl! I love to hear those guys! How can people complain about them, yet be accepting of all the traffic noises and sirens and yelling people and roaring aircraft in some of the urban environments? Give me exotic fowl anyday!...L.B.

Steve Bodio said...

Lane-- on this lighter note, from our house we can hear guineas, two macaws, two cockatoos, and (fighting?) roosters. We also hear Eurasian collared doves and whitewings (native to SW but not to here), sparrows, pigeons, and starlings. Thank God for the orioles and grackles for being native voices!

Jess said...

Lane, that is why I live where I do. Run out of torches? That's what pitch forks are for! Shovels or sharp sticks will work, too.

Steve, the 'why don't you just move' argument makes me want to slap people. It's just not always possible, and many people are leery of fighting city hall for fear of retaliation. I have heard of ac following people home from city council meetings related to BSL. Frightening.

smartdogs said...

I live in a place without pet limit laws and only limted leash laws. We're zoned 'borderline agricultural' so I can have any livestock I want, I just can't sell the meat I raise from a stand or store on my property (though I could sell produce). The one neighbor close enough to hear him well is thrilled that I have a rooster and none of my neighbors cares about my (legally operated) on-site dog training business.

It's too good to last. One day Mrs. Grundy will move in next door and I'll be screwed. Intolerant, narrow-minded, buttinsky neighbors are becoming the rule, rather than the exception in today's world. And as our society oozes farther into political correctness - the Mrs. Grundys are increasingly the ones the politicians cater to.

We are fast running out of places to run away to...

Anonymous said...

Even though where I now live(midstate N.C.) is much more civilized(sigh) than where I lived in the Appalachians, it is still "country" with lots of neighbors with chickens, cows, horses, etc. and well outside the city limits(so far....), so I can get purty much what I want without repercussions, except for certain outlawed exotic animals, so I and my 13(mostly rescued) dogs are safe for now! I did not mean to sound like I condoned "frontier justice" in my last comment(even though I do sometimes, in some situations) as it CAN get out-of-hand QUICKLY(serious feuding), but I was merely trying to show the contrast in peoples' behaviour in a "backward" area where such repercussions are very likely, and therefore foremost in peoples' minds, and such a phenomenon keeps them from "going after" someone unless they have a damn good reason! Whereas in more civilized society, with law and order, police and courts handling things, it seems some individuals will waste more time and money on the most trivial, pointless things, that aren't hurting anybody! Such stupid attacks and repression on peoples' rights just as often lead to transforming what should be a trivial thing into a serious confrontation, where emotions and anger can erupt into violence every bit as deadly or destructive as any "frontier justice" the laws are supposedly there to prevent! Kinda ironic....L.B.

Heather Houlahan said...

Heather- the situation you mention sounds horrible but well- covered by existing law and volunteer efforts. I see no reasons for new rules.


Stephen, the only "new" rule I'd advocate is a requirement that law enforcement actually enforce the existing laws when there is a legitimate complaint.

Or hundreds of them, for years from people whose homes were made virtually uninhabitable and completely unsellable by the insanity of their "neighbor." Whose children could not go outdoors safely.

It took a new complainant with bulldog tenacity, a commitment to documenting every interaction with the authorities, and a willingness to employ the nuclear option with the media to force the enforcement of cruelty laws in this case.

The delay ended up costing hundreds of thousands in public funds, hundreds of thousands in donations, and probably millions in volunteer hours donated. Which is all as nothing compared to the suffering of the victims and survivors.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that irks me about new, more restrictive laws being made, is there is all this hoop-la and flurry of intensive political activity to get said laws passed, but once they are, not very much enforcement of them. One rarely hears about animal rights people(the loud, fanatic, type) actually getting out in the field and physically HELPING an animal, or the animals confiscated get "rescued" only to be euthanized! No way do they wish to commit themselves to caring for a critter the rest of its natural lifespan! In regards specifically to animal regulations, in most places, the laws that exist now are sufficient to control abusive situations and cruelty, IF they were enforced! Still though, best not to let the fanatic humaniacs use making MORE laws one way they achieve their "final solution", that is, to eliminate human interaction and communing with other forms of animal life in any way except distantly. Or the social snobs who use such laws to drive off anyone not in their restrictive little, animal disdainful, cliches!....L.B.

Mike Spies said...

STEVE I am sorry to hear about Bozeman and Libby's issues with the 'law' in the last best place. It seems that anyplace that people want to move to becomes what they said they hoped to escape.

A familiar problem in many popular relocation sites throughout the Western states. Reminds me a bit of Nichol's 'The Milagro beanfield War' wherein the original inhabitants are displaced by those who are creating the New West.

I understand that Two Dot, Montana is still a good place to live...

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Karen said...

I put up a 6 foot picket fence so what I can't se won't hurt me! Too bad we werw going to put in a gate in when the old neighbors lived there. On another not,e the local Sound Off column in the local paper had a personal comment about "why do neighbors kids scream and yell while in the pool...they can't relax in the yard!" I am sure they were talking about mine boys and friends having too much fun. I won't even get into the animals...