March 26, 2011

The two sides of this story

Interesting tale of civil disobedience this morning in today's News Journal. It's a tale of DelDOT (Delaware Dept. of Transportation) and the police against local residents who have put up basketball hoops "curbside" so kids can play ball on the street.

I always love reading the comments to get better "feel" for how your average joe thinks (just so I don't have to rely on the notoriously ridiculous News Journal), and in this case -- just like me -- the opinions seems perfectly split down the middle.

On the police and DelDOT's side is the law. The relevant statute is the "Free Zone law, which prohibits hoops, trees, shrubs and other objects from being within seven feet of the pavement's edge in subdivisions." On the parents'/kids' side is common sense -- the kids are engaging in a wholesome, aerobic activity (instead of sitting on the couch and playing video games), and the fact that there are Lord-knows how many roads in pathetic shape (like the nearby-to-this-neighborhood [and yours truly] Foulk Rd.) that DelDOT should be busily repairing, not worrying about showing up to tow away basketball hoops.

I sympathize with the old gentleman quoted in the article, who complained about the activity in the streets damaging cars and the influx of kids from other areas which make it virtually impossible to drive down the street. I also sympathize with the parents who put up the hoops regarding their complaints about DelDOT, and the aforementioned point about sedentary teens. However, ultimately, I come down on the side of the police and DelDOT. If the Free Space law is the law, then people have to follow it. As mentioned in the story, why can't these parents put the hoops in their driveways? That's what my friends and I did back in the day. Playing on the street does allow for more space, but again, the Free Space law is so that everybody has space, not just those playing b-ball. And, damage to surrounding vehicles (and property) can, and I'm sure does, happen. I also don't think the parents are setting a particularly good example (like the mom climbing on top of her family's basket) for their kids. What's that say to the youngsters? "It doesn't matter what the law, or other neighbors, say -- we're gonna do what we want"? Great lesson, there. And they did receive warnings from the state about this, too. They just ignored them.

But still -- c'mon, DelDOT. Aside from your recent scandal, many of the state's roads outright SUCK. Again, north Wilmington's heavily traveled Foulk Rd. is a disaster area. Meanwhile, there's been ongoing major construction on Governor Printz Blvd. -- one of the least traveled double-lane roads in New Castle County?? Lovely. Things haven't changed, obviously, since the department paved -- and then repaved -- Naamans Rd. within two years of one another.

Nice "priorities."

UPDATE: Check out the comments by regular readers of the LGOMB. Did these idiots even bother to read the article?? The most sensical (surprise, I know) was made by MJ:

Not debating whether the law or policy is correct, the McCafferty’s were told that they had to remove the basketball pole. They refused. DelDOT did what they were supposed to do under law and regulation. The State Police were called in because there was a fear of violence or obstruction. As for the trooper in the hoodie, we don’t know if she works undercover or what. And she may have had a badge hanging around her neck for all we know.

We cannot pick and choose which laws we are going to obey and which ones we wish to ignore.

Posted by Hube at March 26, 2011 10:09 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Did it occur to anyone to try to change the law, rather than just to flout it?

Posted by: Darren at March 26, 2011 02:56 PM


This is claymont where a 40 year old basketball pole is history. The same town they celebrate a Christmas weed. Please...the entire area should be illegal

Posted by: Arthur at March 26, 2011 11:48 PM

Sorry - this is like outlawing chocolate chip cookies because they don't fit in with nutritious guidelines.

Kids. Have you forgotten what it was like?

Back off, parent-bullies.

Posted by: DB Seattle at March 27, 2011 02:18 AM

Just because something is "the law" doesn't mean it is right.

You conveniently forgot the fact that DelDOT *FAILED* to reply to multiple inquires making the matter of the hoop a no-action item until it is all resolved.

But government is government, and while they will make you jump through endless hoops to get what you want; all the while they will ignore THE LAW when it is convenient for them.

It is every American citizen's responsibility to fight, protest, and if need be, flout ridiculous laws. The Free Zone law you're suckling on does not make sense in THIS CASE.

So if the state decides all houses must be pained bright neon orange to improve safety and visibility, would you be outside painting your house? No, you'd go apeshit.

But because this doesn't affect you directly, you're going to kick your fellow American citizen under the bus.

Posted by: Hardwyre at March 29, 2011 02:18 AM

You conveniently forgot the fact that DelDOT *FAILED* to reply to multiple inquires making the matter of the hoop a no-action item until it is all resolved.

I "conveniently" forgot nothing. There's no mention in the article of such "multiple inquiries." If there is now, it has been updated.

What you conveniently ignored is the tone of this post -- that I can sympathize with both aspects of this story.

Posted by: Hube at March 29, 2011 07:00 AM