Tuesday, September 22

Fair Hearing of Iowa City Ordinances

The City Council has two more readings of the controversial minor curfew and loitering ordinances. Below are links to both. While FAIR!, the group I am chair of, supports efforts to make Iowa City and Johnson County safe and vibrant, we also have concerns that the enforcement of these ordinances may run contrary to those goals. We fully support neighborhoods implementing Neighborhood Watch programs and community dialogues and think that the City may be using a hammer to accomplish what good communication could effectively solve. Please take a look at the ordinances and if you are able to contact City Council members between now and September 29th, it would be appreciated.

Curfew Ordinance:
This was approved on first reading by a vote of 4 - 3 (Correia, Wilburn, Bailey voting in the negative; O'Donnell, Champion, Hayek, and Wright voting in the affirmative).

Some points to consider:
* Curfew is implemented by age groups, but many teenagers do not carry proof of age.
* Other ordinances, including disturbing the peace are already on the books.
* Persons who are causing disturbances are aware they are violating existing laws, no assurance that this ordinance will change behaviors; has not been effective in other communities.
* Likely to escalate tension in neighborhood without other tools; e.g., mediation, community dialogue, social events

If you aren't sure about who it will affect, see this small clip by one of the council members.

Loitering Ordinance:
This was approved on first reading by a vote of 6 - 1 (Correia voting in the negative; All others voting in the affirmative).

Some points to consider:
* Loitering ordinance applies to sidewalks, trails and can be enforced by the perception of "obstruction"--meaning if I believe you are obstructing my ability to get around you, you can be fined $50.
* Hard to enforce in that it relies on subjective judgment of police officer.

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1 comment:

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