Monday, January 12, 2004

What's Your Rhetoric Worth?

Probably not much.

After work today, I stopped into a little shop in Westfield hoping to catch the owners present. I was in luck, so I introduced myself and asked if they wouldn't mind discussing their hassles with the town's planning commission regarding placing signs on their commercial property.

They definitely wanted to talk about this. It seems the planning commission has dictated what an acceptable sign is, and it wasn't the one they had near the street. Understand that the point of a sign is to catch the eye of the passerby in the hopes of luring would-be customers. This purpose is lost on the planning commission, who believes the purpose is to create objects that are nearly invisible, so as not to be 'clutter'. This is not a saftey issue, where, say, the sign blocked visibility on the roadway. This is an aesthetic issue.

I offered the services of the Libertarian Party. I was met with skepticism. The man expressed concerns over differences between his views and the party's. I explained that I expect that, just as there are Republicans who support abortion and Democrats who support war in Iraq. Then he expressed a bigger concern- that the LP might not be able to be effective for him.

This is the real deal issue. If the party cannot be effective, it doesn't matter how great the rhetoric is, nor how much agreement there is. At the end of the day, he agrees with our stand on property rights: that the property belongs to the owner, and should be used as the owner sees fit. And although nobody else- no Republican or Democrat- had come to offer their support, he was skeptical of a representative of the one party that offered support.

The task for the Libertarian Party in Hamilton County is to get the planning commissions to listen to property owners in Westfield (and Cicero), and to remember that the property owners own the land, and that the commissioners are public servants, working to serve the citizenry, not to forward their aesthetic agendas.

This issue interests me greatly, as (rhetoric, please!) planning commissions are beginning to run amok throughout Hamilton County, which is commonly known as the most Republican county in the state. Republicans are ostensibly pro-business, but you'd never know it to learn of the pronouncements of their planning commissions. I was told that the Italian restaurant near this business was told that the colors of their signs were not permissible. What colors were used? Red, white, and green- just like in virtually every Italian restaurant worldwide.

It is important to get the attention of planning commissions, since they aren't just focusing on signs. They zero in on any property usage, dictating by whim as suits their tastes. This means homeowners in addition to commercial entities. Every fence, deck, swimming pool, and shrub is being scrutinized. Fees are charged, and the citizens made to beg for permission to use their own land as they see fit. In America?

Well, that last bit is rhetoric. You probably agree with it. It means nothing if we can't move policy in our direction.

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