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Got Tar & Feathers?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I've never been a fan of small government tyranny, especially when it comes from peons working in local government. I have little-to-no use for them and feel they need to be dealt with harshly. So, you can imagine my dismay when I opened my local newspaper, the Lake Stevens Journal, to the Letters page and read the following written by on obviously distraught elderly woman:
Shed setbacks may cost a bundle

Dear Editor,
Did you know a 5-foot setback is required for storage sheds from your fence/property line?

Did you know the setback is 10-feet with additional requirement of not more than 8-foot height sheds for an exterior side yard of a corner lot? It's the first I've heard of it.

I am a disabled female senior citizen who bought my Lake Stevens home eight years ago with a huge storage shed in place, two feet from one fence, 130 feet from the street, which Richard Karns, Lake Stevens building official, filed a Formal Complaint Investigation against me last week laying a false accusation that I "created and allowed the violation to exist", threatening me with "fees, costs, liability for any expense."

After phoning Richard Karns, who snipped at me and cut me off saying I don't agree with you. Put it in writing. Have a nice day!

The shed has lived a peaceful existence under a cedar tree for 18 years and according to a city councilmember is grandfathered in. It was here before and after I bought this property. It meant no harm nor adversely affects anyone.

Storage sheds, greenhouses, etc., are seen all over Lake Stevens less than 5 feet from the fence. Is yours?

If I have to move my shed, let's not just discriminate against disabled seniors. The whole city needs to move their sheds to code.

S. Barnes
Lake Stevens
Tar and feathers was a form of punishment which was often fatal.A little history is in order for this story to make sense. Much of the surrounding area of the actual lake known as Lake Stevens was part of unincorporated Snohomish County. Just recently, the city pushed to expand it's borders and annexed quite a bit of real estate surrounding the actual lake. Of course, all this new property greatly increased the amount of tax revenue the city would be taking in so they increased the size of city government. They have added or are adding around thirty police officers, many new officials to the building department, etc.--all the trappings of a new and modern city government.
Back to our story. It would seem that just like any position of power, Building Official Richard Karns has become drunk with his newly expanded power of building code enforcement. Keep in mind, city codes are not "laws" per se, but rules cities impose on those unlucky enough to live within a boundary line the state grants the city jurisdiction over. City codes requiring you to keep your lawn cut are not the same as laws that prohibit you from killing your idiot neighbor. For more on this difference, see my post, Malum In Se v. Malum Prohibitum.
I'm not saying that Richard Karns should be dealt with in the same way past generations dealt with power-mad city officials: tarred and feathered. Many of those recipients didn't survive their ordeal. What you can do is call Mr. Karns or drop him an email letting him know that badgering little old ladies will not be tolerated. He can be reached at the following email and/or phone number:
Richard Karns
Building Official
(425) 377-3228
You may also want to call his boss the mayor, Vern Little, and let him know that this type of abuse of the citizenry by city officials is unacceptable. His contact information is:
Vern Little
(425) 334-1012


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Don Bangert:
Reading your blogs, I can understand your concern and frustration with what you have heard and that you feel this is the best avenue to correct the wrongs of this world. But, it seems to me that you, of all people, should know and understand the laws of our country. So, I find this whole article simply in poor taste and beneath you. Before you continue to rampage against someone - you should check out ALL of the facts, not just what you have "read" in the newspaper. I should know... I worked for a newspaper for several years... I can still see the publisher's wife standing in our newsroom, holding the competitor's newspaper... telling us that "this is what people want to read, not..." what we were printing (the truth). To make a long story short - we were told to "write stories" and the "truth" was and always will be secondary to getting the reader audience. Pure and simple, money drives our Medias.
The Lake Steven's paper is no different. They are in business to make money. However, it is unfortunate that they do not bother to check their facts, especially on something as inflammatory as this. If they had, this matter would be mute.
I don't believe everything I read, see, or hear...especially blogs like yours, without first checking the facts. More people should do the same!
Start with the women's neighbors. I would bet we would not be so kind... then again, we don't gossip to the public.
Public officials do not go out of their way to look for problems; nay, someone must first put a complaint into writing. Check with the city office to see who is on record for the complaint against her. Then if you still need more confirmation - set up a meeting with the city. Speak to them in person - eye to eye… If that fails to satisfy you go to the city council and speak with them; failing that there are still a number of other rational avenues available to the public.
As a fellow reader, community member, and concerned citizen I fail to understand you can justify your rantings - based on a letter to the editor. When a child repeats gossip, I remind them that they could be sued for slander and that this behavior is not acceptable, even under the Freedom of Speech Act. If we expect our children to follow the rules, then shouldn't we, as adults, do the same?
Furthermore, the last time I checked this is a public democracy - but, it is still against the law to defame someone…
God Bless!

P.S. I will be praying for you, and if you are the upright citizen that you claim to be. I will expect to see your apology on your next blog and maybe even in the Lake Steven’s paper. But, then I don’t think you care about the “Truth”… only in making headlines… right?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Don Bangert said...

First off, I'm not sure who you are. Your initials neither match Ms. Barnes nor Richard Karns, so I'm not sure where your standing comes from in leaving your comments. In other words, I don't see where you have a dog in this fight... unless you're a neighbor of Ms. Barnes.

Putting that issue aside, I want to remind you that Ms. Barnes stated publicly that the shed was on the property from before her purchasing it. Furthermore, she states that a city council member told her correctly that the shed was grandfathered in as a pre-existing structure. Mr. Karns should know which structures are pre-existing and which are not.

This whole matter boils down to nothing more than a government official abusing a private citizen. To make matters worse, he threatened her with fines and penalties. For you to come on my blog and defend this type of behavior is reprehensible. Furthermore, trying to intimidate me with hollow threats of lawsuit for slander are laughable. I slandered no one.

Another point of confusion I want to clear up: my freedom of speech doesn't spring from the Freedom of Speech Act. We, as human beings, had the right to speak our minds well before the Freedom of Speech Act was written, and we'll have it long after that act turns to dust. All our Rights don't come from government proclamations; we don't exist because government exists; government exists because we allow it to exist.

P.S. Save your prayers for someone who needs them. Richard Karns comes to mind. There will be no apology coming.

8:53 PM  

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