LETTER TO THE EDITOR – A local organization committed to fighting the fear imposed by Mayor Dan McArthur and his bully-like fear squad, (otherwise known as code enforcement officers), upon the citizens of St. George was formed approximately one week ago. It is an entity named the CAITS Institute, which stands for Citizens Against Incumbent Tyrannical Servants.
The establishment of CAITS is a direct response to Mayor McArthur’s overlength stay in the mayor’s office, (two decades), during which time he has presided over the passing and enforcement of vague and overbroad city ordinances that trample upon private property rights, which ordinances are enforced at the expense of property owners’ constitutional rights.
The penalties for not complying with the code enforcement include daily fines, a lien levied against your home, and criminal prosecution.
A sampling of these city ordinances includes what property owners can or cannot park in their driveways, including boats or RVs; what condition yards are in, including small dry spots on a lawn or the height of grass and weeds; the manner in which property owners may hold a yard sale; what kind of a tree can be planted in our yards, and where it can be planted; what items property owners can place in their yards, including back yards; and whether a fee can be earned for performing a service upon private property.
A Government Records access Management Act (“GRAMA” request) has been filed with the city requesting information on these so-called city ordinance violations in the past three years.
Early review of citizens served with these abusive ordinance violations indicates that many were elderly, economically disadvantaged, or otherwise physically unable to maintain their yards.
In addition, at a recent hearing held at the St. George City Council Chambers, local attorney Aaron Prisbrey was permitted to cross-examine code enforcement officer Jeff Cottam about his enforcement of these city ordinances. Mr. Cottam made the remarkable admission that he conducts approximately 200 warrantless searches of private property each year in an effort to enforce city ordinances. Mr. Cottam testified that although he obtained no warrants before conducting these searches of private property, he was nevertheless authorized to conduct these searches because of city ordinances. In other words, even though the Constitution prohibits Mr. Cottam from conducting such searches, he conducts them anyway because he believes city ordinances authorize it.
The CAITS Institute insists that a city ordinance is not greater than constitutional rights, and that such warrantless searches of private property must cease.
Mayor McArthur has presided over this unconstitutional enforcement for twenty years, endorsing the draconian penalties against those least able to fight against it — all in the name of community aesthetics.
The problem with Mayor McArthur’s lengthy stay in office is that he, as Thomas Jefferson once wisely warned, has taken the power entrusted to him, and “in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
If this abuse of power were not enough, photographs show that many of our local public officials’ properties, including the mayor’s, are in violation of the very city ordinances that the mayor’s fear merchants selectively enforce against those least able to defend themselves, which reeks of the worst kind of hypocrisy.
For more information on how to become involved in ensuring that Mayor McArthur is voted out of office in the upcoming election, and how to fight Dan’s fear squad and its bully-like enforcement tactics, visit www.caits.org, look for us at parades and events, and “like” the CAITS Institute Facebook page.
Submitted by: Trevor C. Sanders
Ed. Note: Trevor Sanders is an occasional contributing columnist for St. George News’ Legal Briefings, an opinion column with guest attorneys writing on a variety of matters with legal overtones; this piece, however, was submitted as a letter to the editor. Sanders is an attorney at Aaron J. Prisbrey, P.C. and a resident of Hurricane. The opinions stated by columnists and letters to the editor are those of the writer and not representative of St. George News.
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