Showing 1 - 10 of 26 posts found matching keyword: laws

One week ago today, a small wildfire approached my father's house in Fountain, Florida. (It's an ironic name in hindsight.) The fire ignited several bales of hay he had just that morning stored in his pole barn. The barn stood no more than 20 yards from his house and no more than 100 yards from the entrance to his cattle pen. Naturally, Dad called the fire department then jumped into action with a garden hose.

How's that for the start of a dramatic story? I'll go ahead and tell you up front that the fire department put out the fire, and the house was saved. That's not what this blog post is about.

I wasn't there at the time, but as I hear it, armed agents of the Bay County Emergency Department arrived before the fire trucks did. And the officers, rather than jump in and help, ordered Dad to put down his hose and let the fire burn. I'll give them the benefit of doubt and assume that they wanted to "protect" Dad, not "serve" the fire. Dad didn't see it that way. He had called for help to extinguish the flames not for a group of spectators to the destruction of his property. So he refused to comply.

You can see where this is going now, can't you?

When father, who moved to middle-of-nowhere Florida to get away from authority figures, said he wouldn't put his hose down until the firemen arrived, the police attempted to arrest him. Note the use of the word "attempted" in the previous sentence. Dad didn't make it easy for them. For what it's worth, I'm led to believe no actual punches were thrown, but there was certainly something of a scuffle as the police tried to drag a 72-year-old man away from a fire.

Personally, I think Dad's reaction was understandable. After all, he believed his property and his livelihood was being threatened. Understandable, I say, but also unwise. Sometimes your best option is to let the world burn.

When the Bay County fire department finally arrived, Dad was unable to see it. He was sitting far away, handcuffed, in the back of a police cruiser. And he stayed in the back of that police cruiser for the five or so hours it took them to put the fire out. (I should say put it *mostly* out. It would flare up again the next day on the neighbor's property and the fire department would be called back to complete the job.)

As I already said, the house was fine. The animals were fine. And Dad was released from the police car eventually and allowed to go home where he was now, presumably, safe. An inconvenience, sure, but at least a happy ending. Right? Wrong.

Four days later, the Bay County Sheriff's Department returned and served a warrant their fellow officer had sworn out against my father for the crimes of Preventing or Obstructing Extinguishment of Fire (Florida Code Chapter 806.10) and Resisting Arrest with Violence (843.01), both Third Degree Felonies. They served the warrant one hour after court closed for the day, ensuring he would spend at least one night in jail until bond could be set the next afternoon. What nice guys, I say sarcastically.

Dad is now home — again — after paying a non-refundable 10% of the $6,500 bond to a bail bondsman. He's facing considerably more in lawyers fees to argue against a 10 year prison sentence. All because he panicked when the cops he didn't call demanded that he not try to save his own house from a wildfire.

If there's a lesson here, it's don't ask for help in Bay County, Florida. Either way, you're going to get burned.

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Legal humor website LoweringtheBar.com has reviewed the list of Official Georgia State things (specifically, "Georgia Code Title 50 Chapter 3 Article 3: Other State Symbols") and given our list of stuff the respect it deserves. (By which I mean "none.")

Of course, I had previously decried that as of 2015, the state mammal is officially the White-Tailed Deer. (You fools!) But seeing it again in print made me do a little more research.

Somehow I had missed this 2016 AJC article in which State Representative Carolyn Hugley of Columbus assured her concerned colleagues that the new amendment to the Georgia Code wouldn't "prevent anyone from eating the animal." Hooray! Venison jerky for everyone!

It's a good thing that being an Official State thing doesn't prevent consumption of that thing. Otherwise, the Vidalia Onions (State Vegetable), peanuts (State Crop), and grits (State Prepared Food) industries would be in trouble. That's not such good news for the Southern Appalachian brook trout (State Cold Water Game Fish), green tree frog (State Amphibian), or Pogo (State 'Possom — yes, the apostrophe is written into § 50-3-68 of the Georgia Code).

Naturally, this made me curious if there was any law on the books in Georgia that barred someone from eating something. I couldn't find one. There are lots of things you can't buy or sell, including substandard pecans (§ 2-14-63), unpasteurized milk (§ 26-2-242), and unregistered pacific white shrimp (§ 2-15-5), but nothing you're barred from actually chewing and swallowing. It seems even cannibalism is legal in Georgia. That's Southern hospitality for you! Eat up, ya'll.

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On May 16, House Bill 135 was reported to the Ohio House of Representatives State and Local Government Committee. House Bill 135 seeks to amend section 5.49 of the state's Revised Code to read:

Sec. 5.49. The twelfth day of June is designated as "Superman Day" to recognize the Ohio birthplace of one of the creators of the superhero who stood for "truth, justice, and the American way." For on this day, let it be known that Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!

Now that's good government!

Sadly, as of this date, the bill remains only a House Bill, having not yet passed the House much less the state Senate, where it hasn't even been introduced yet. Therefore, it doesn't look like Superman Day will be June 12, 2017. Fortunately, there are plenty of other dates on the calendar for the Man of Tomorrow.

Way back in 2013, DC Comics declared June 12 "Man of Steel" Day in advance of the movie of the same title, and some people have celebrated the day ever since. (Americans love their stupid, corporate-manufactured holidays.) I'm not sure why June 12 was selected. The movie opened on June 14. To be fair, Action Comics was cover-dated June, 1938, though it was actually most likely released April 18.

Since this bill specifically references Superman's creators, it's worth noting that the birthday of Cleveland-born Jerry Siegel, Superman's co-creator, is in October — 10/17/1914, to be specific. Comparatively, Siegel's partner, Joe Shuster, was born in Canada in July. And, of course, Superman's birthday has (almost) always been February 29. (At least since 1976.)

So June 12 is as good a date as anything, I guess.

In any event, I'll be perfectly willing to celebrate Superman Day whenever Ohio gets around to approving it. Just don't wait too long, guys. Superman might not age, but we're not all so lucky.

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It is not uncommon for me to drive through Atlanta late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. When I do, I always listen to Handel on the Law on WSB AM 750 (or preferably on FM 95.5, which typically gives me a more widely-dispersed signal). Bill Handel spends three hours a week yelling at people for getting into legal predicaments that are generally pretty avoidable. It's a great show, and I give it my highest recommendation.

I've known a few lawyers in my life, some of them pretty well. From them I've learned several specific lessons which I will now share with you, dear reader.

  1. Lawyers think they know more than you do about everything. This may or not be true, but that has no impact on whether the lawyer thinks it.
  2. A lawyer's life is just as messed up as yours, but probably moreso. Therefore, never take advice from a lawyer about anything other than the law.
  3. And most importantly, never, ever support a girlfriend/boyfriend through law school. They will eventually leave you. I personally know of no cases where this is not true.

Why am I not a lawyer? Sure, I'm argumentative, prone to obsessing over pedantic trivia, and I know more than everyone else about everything. But I'd really like to do something with my life other than be a total douchebag.

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Remember New York City's proposed law forbidding the sale of giant sugary beverages? Turns out that law isn't just silly, as many people have claimed. It's also racist.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Hispanic Federation have joined forces to oppose the new law. They argue that the ban will "arbitrarily discriminate against citizens and small business owners in African-American and Hispanic communities." Their position, in a nutshell, is that a disproportionate amount of the revenue generated by minority businesses comes from sales of Big Gulps.

How, exactly, does the NAACP or the Hispanic Institute think that they are helping by wading into the dispute over this law? If it is true that the 64-oz beverage is the true economic engine of the minority business in New York City, shouldn't they be working to solve that problem instead of perpetuating it?

I don't recall the NAACP standing up for the cigarette companies as governments worked to eliminate them as a health menace. I doubt that the Hispanic Federation stood up for the use of lead paint. So why now, why giant cups of soda? If the only thing that the law's Big Beverage opponents can do is call it a racially-motivated attack by The Man, there must not be a lot that they can do to stop it.

Once super-sized sodas are outlawed, maybe then there will be an underground criminal empire built around delivering jugs of black-market soda. Since crime disproportionately affects minorities in this country, at least that would give the NAACP and Hispanic Federation something to protest.

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Just in time to send Superman and Advertising Month out with a bang, I received an advertising flyer in the mail this week for fireworks. Specifically, this ad promotes Phantom Fireworks, which has been advertising very aggressively this season. In addition to stuffing my mailbox, they have billboards on Interstate 85 in Atlanta and even commercials on local cable television. Too bad that the products they are promoting are illegal to possess here in Georgia.

It's not uncommon to see ads in Atlanta for casinos and dog-racing tracks in nearby Alabama and North Carolina. However, the sinful activities taking place within those locations don't extend beyond their own boundaries. Phantom doesn't explicitly tell us to take our fireworks across state lines, but their advertising slyly points out how their stores are just over the state line, wink, wink. I suspect that they would be irritated if I tried to shoot my new fireworks in their parking lot.

Georgia legalized fireworks about 6 years ago. Specifically, Georgia legalized sparklers and noisemakers, but not rockets of any sort. That means that despite Phantom's fantastic "Buy One Get One Free!" offer, I can't really buy anything. No 6-shot Mighty Mite's Mortars, no 12-shot Def-Con Alerts, no 30-shot Blue Brocade Barrages, and certainly no 100-shot Saturn Batteries.

No, no Phantom Fireworks for us here in Georgia. Thanks to the Georgia legislature, we're stuck with only Wolf Pack Snaps and Morning Glory Sparklers sold in the seasonal, appropriately-named Acme Fireworks tents. Because even children know that if there's any place to buy explosives of any sort, it's not from a company named Acme!

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Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he wanted to ban the sale of individual servings of "sugary drinks" over 16 ounces. In a country facing a staggering economy, continued high unemployment, and a politically-motivated class war, it's facing an inability to purchase 64-oz Big Gulps in 7-11 stores in Manhattan that has the population up in arms.

Those who opposed the ban, including misnamed, non-profit mouth-pieces for the beverage and restaurant industries like the Center for Consumer Freedom, have been running ads opposing the proposed law. However, to disguise the issue that no one really cares if they can't buy a Coke in a styrofoam cup large enough to drown a midget in, these lobbyists are attacking Bloomberg as a tyrant determined to take away our American freedoms. That's not advertising, that's propaganda!

If anyone should be concerned that government might take away my Coca-Cola, it should be me. But I really don't mind if I can't buy a fountain beverage larger than 16 ounces. If I want more than that, I can pay for another one. Just because the technology exists to make larger cups doesn't mean that we have to put drinks in them. By that logic, let's start throwing Bounty paper towels into the ocean to see how many it takes to absorb it all, just because a) we can and b) it will help Proctor & Gamble turn a bigger profit this quarter.

Don't try to bait and switch me by telling me that I have the God-given right to be a fat ass. And don't tell me that a maneuver to regulate the destructive business tactics that have contributed to my fat-assery constitutes a Fascist state. Bloomberg is trying to save the Jews, not gas them.

Honestly, I suspect that just like New York's attempt to tax sodas in 2008, this measure will probably encounter too much popular opposition (read: big business money) to ever go into effect. But I don't think we should let the advertisers confuse us by comparing Snapple with Orange Crush. Whether we like government or not, we should't be tricked into buying something something just because we (aluminum) can.

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Coca-Cola has announced that it will change its caramel coloring manufacturing process nationally in order to minimize costs associated with conforming to a new California law. The law requires a warning label on products that contain 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) notifying consumers that the product contains carcinogenic chemicals. Without those labels, says California, people might accidentally think that drinking Coca-Cola is good for you.

California has decided that the maximum safe consumption of 4-MI is a mere 16-micrograms (mcg) -- that's 16/1,000,000 of a gram -- per person per day. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a 12-oz can of Coke can contain up to 150-mcg of 4-MI. Obviously, if you drink a can of Coke in California, you're going to get cancer.

The evidence that 4-MI is carcinogenic comes from a study where rodents were fed massive amounts of 4-MI. Cancer was found in female rats fed 250-milligrams (mg) -- that's 250,000/1,000,000 or 1/4 of a gram -- per kilogram of weight. To compare, since an average human weighs 69kg, that human would have to drink 115,000 cans of Coke each day to equal the amount of 4-MI that was proven to cause cancer in female rats. I hope you're thirsty, Californians!

Don't get me wrong; the fact that Coke is changing its manufacturing process to reduce a potentially dangerous chemical in its cans is good news. After all, we wouldn't want the rats in our trash cans to get any more cancer, would we?

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It's been a few years since my last traffic ticket for a "safety restraint violation," so I guess I was probably due. I was pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol this weekend driving between Tucker Hardware Franklin Road and the Silver Star Chevron gas station on Temple Road 0.35 miles away. There was a gas station closer to the hardware store, but I thought the Chevron would have higher quality gas. That decision will cost me $15.00, more than the amount I had intended to spend on gas for the Jeep. Next time, I'm just settling for the lower quality gas.

Violators Copy

I understand that Georgia's Seat Belt Law allows an officer to pull me over and issue a citation for an obvious violation of the code. (Damn you, open Jeep top!) I do not, however, understand how a fine of $15.00 is supposed to encourage me to wear a seat belt. So far it hasn't, and I can't imagine that it ever will be the deciding factor in whether or not I buckle up. If Georgia lawmakers wanted me to care, they'd charge me more. Just think: if $15.00 means nothing to me, what does it means to them?

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To be continued...

 

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