By Bradley Harrington
“The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s goodbye to the Bill of Rights.” — H.L. Mencken, “On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe,” 1936 —
If ever there was a group of collectivist meddlers that warranted a serious spanking from the constituents they allegedly represent — and then got exactly what they had coming to them — it would be difficult to find a more deserving band of busybodies than Casper’s City Council.
And the problem? The codes call for a bevy of regulations governing everything you could ever hope to regulate regarding building structures. For a bit of flavor for the IPMC’s approach, consider a portion of Chapter 3, Section 304.2 (“Protective treatment”):
“Exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks and fences, shall be maintained in good condition. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, painting and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted.”
Non-compliance, by the way, results in repair costs imposed on property owners, as well as fines and misdemeanor charges.
But that’s just the beginning — for, under Chapter 1, Section 104.3 (“Right of entry”), “ … the code official is authorized to enter the structure or premises at reasonable times to inspect or perform the duties imposed by this code …” … And that “if entry is refused, the code official shall have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry.”
Translation: The police will show up and FORCE you to let the “code official” enter your dwelling. For “inspection.” WITHOUT a warrant. Whether you believe in your constitutional right to “be secure” in your “houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” (4th Amendment) or not.
Well, Casper’s council snoops passed that first reading by a 5-4 vote — with the second reading scheduled for July 3.
Except that in between, a lot of Casper residents decided to show up to voice their opinions, and several dozen of them attended in order to tell the council what they thought of its creeping collectivism.
Opinions including, but not limited to:
Lisa Engebretsen: “I wasn’t aware that the city of Casper was in the HOA business — and this is what this is, it’s just a glorified HOA. I intentionally chose a home that is not in an HOA because I don’t want to be told what to do.”
Brian Windham: “I do not like the way governments pass laws that affect our homes and our children. I fought in the battles for this country; I served in our military. And I am humiliated and ashamed for it — because we lose more rights to people sitting in government seats than we’ve ever lost to a foreign enemy.”
Michelle Sabrosky: “Councilman Huber said that ‘we just want to keep our people safe’ … It’s not your job to keep me safe from myself, I’m sorry … When it comes to safety and security, Benjamin Franklin said that ‘those that give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither’ … My concern, when I read through these things, was not window screens and checking for mold … My concern is, once these people are in my house, what are they going to be looking for? … There was a man who ruled Germany, and he had people that went into other people’s houses looking for things. And I will be damned if I’m going to let somebody come into MY house and look for my guns and my ammunition, and start keeping tabs, so later down the road, somebody can come in and take it from me! And that is something that nobody ever considered when they decided to play Nancy Pelosi and vote on something they never read!”
Well, after a barrage like that, it didn’t take long for the council to make up its mind: The 2018 IPMC was ingloriously blown out of the sky, 8-0. And good riddance.
“We’re not communists or Nazis,” Councilman Dallas Laird had said at the beginning of the meeting. Maybe so Mr. Laird; but a few of your fellow councilors certainly gave those ideas a try — and, had it not been for the courageous people who called you all out on it, they would have gotten away with it.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on July 22, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.