Friday, May 25, 2018
PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 5/25/18
By Luke T. Bush
The local chapter of NAMI -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- had a successful open mic last week at Koffee Kat coffeehouse.
Three days later a police officer showed up at the Kat. There was a complaint. Noise from the event? No. The problem was the posters taped up around town to promote the event. The officer explained to the owner that there was an ordinance against leaving posters up. If the owner didn't have the posters removed then she could face a fine and maybe even jail time. (Sounds silly but...)
One key detail: Koffee Kat only provided the space. It had nothing to do setting up the open mic or distributing the posters about it.
Each poster included a contact number for the one of the event organizers, not the Koffee Kat owner. The organizer -- one would assume -- would have been contacted first.
The coffeehouse owner -- Patty Waldron -- and an organizer visited the Plattsburgh City Police Department to learn more. The officer they met with said enforcement of the ordinance was to set an example to others postering downtown. What was odd that there was no written complaint, only a verbal one by some unknown person. (I'm not a legal expert but shouldn't the accused know the name of the accuser?) The officer also explained that the complaint came from "higher up."
This raises questions. Will all the posters promoting other events and businesses be taken down? Why an anonymous complaint with no written report? Why was this ordinance suddenly enforced? Did Patty Waldron -- a reasonable and fair member of the Clinton County Legislature -- accidentally torque someone off with enough influence to extract petty revenge?
And could this possibly lead into a free speech issue, i.e., the ACLU?
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
The bright yellow caught my eye. Fresh dandelions had sprouted all over the terraced hillside. Evening sunlight raked across the dandelion buds, the sun low enough to separate the yellow tops from the shadowy sloped lawn in the background.
Of course everybody's a critic. While I was photographing the dandelions some street character passed behind me, grumbling: "Why would you want to photograph that?"
Indeed, why would I?