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Councilmania

Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 3/5/2008

On the Agenda for Feb. 25

Bill 08-0047 "Dirt Bikes"--Unregistered Motorcycles and Similar Vehicles--Forfeiture Proceeding Would require the owners of motorized dirt bikes and other unregistered motorbikes to immobilize them at all times while within city limits. This looks like a way for the cops to crack down on dirt-bikers who ride on the streets, many of whom are suspected to be moving drugs. Under the proposed law, police would not be required to catch someone riding a bike or even straddling it. The mere presence of an un-wheel-locked bike would be grounds for seizure and maybe forfeiture.

Public Interest Grade: C This is smart thinking when considering the typical use of the bikes in the city, but it also looks overly broad, since not everyone riding these is a drug courier. What happens if cops catch someone pushing their race-only Yamaha WR-250F up a ramp onto a trailer? The bike isn't immobilized, so under the law the cops could seize it. Still, we hope this spring the cops rein in the kids who grind through Druid Hill Park like a cattle stampede, and the boys who pop wheelies down the sidewalk two blocks east of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Bill 08-0049 City Trees--Protective Measures Would empower the city's arborist to fine people who butcher city-owned street trees and require that they replace the trees they kill with similar ones.

Public Interest Grade: B Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (14th District) made a show of this one, handing out a photo of a tree she says is on the 600 block of Homestead Avenue, which she says BGE mutilated. Saving city trees from this fate is laudable, and fits well with the mayor's "cleaner and greener" strategy, but in recent times the real problem for the city's street trees has not been chain saw-wielding ruffians. It's poor maintenance and neglect by the city's own Department of Recreation and Parks ("Not So Green Acres," Mobtown Beat, Oct 10, 2007).

Bills 08-0050 through 08-0052 Would create new penalties for minor infractions of animal control, sanitary maintenance, and littering laws: 0050 doubles fines for vicious dogs and dog fighting from $500 to $1,000; 0051 increases to $250 (from $100) the fine for being a slob with a business; and 0052 increases the fine for littering from $50 to $500.

Public Interest Grade: A All these minor tweaks in the existing laws would do the right thing: cause pain for assholes. Good! Now, however, it's up to the city to enforce these laws with vigor and wisdom.

City Council Quote of the Week

"You know that old saying where you go to a barber shop and say 'a little off the top?' I guess someone forgot to say that in this case." --Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, handing out a picture of a sad, sad tree in her district.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for March 3, at 5 p.m.

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