Chris Graham: Bah, humbug
Scrooge City is run by self-styled libertarians who shout from the tops of the Blue Ridge that they want government run like a business and tear up on public-access TV over their concerns for the little man. And then there’s reality. Big Government is alive and well in Waynesboro. Just ask Christian Critzer.
“It’s against the law to do it. End of story.” Those were the words of City Councilman Frank Lucente, speaking definitively to The News Virginian about a case with a bit more gray area than he’s letting on, involving Critzer, a local Christmas tree farmer who was trying to raise money for a hospital foundation by selling trees on his front lawn.
After being told by the city that he couldn’t sell the trees, no matter where he said the money was going, he shifted to a tree giveaway while encouraging donations to the charity, the Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Center Foundation.
That also was met by the hammer of local government nailing a notice of violation to his trees.
Bah, humbug, right?
“It’s not about what he is doing, it’s about the location he is doing it in,” Lucente told The News Virginian.
Ah, yes, the location. Numerous permanent yard sales create nuisances for denizens of residential neighborhoods citywide, but try to set up a Christmas tree sale to raise money for cancer patients on a main thoroughfare that happens to be zoned single-family, and Scrooge tells you to go to hell.
There’s your gray area. Enforce the zoning ordinance for everybody, or you risk your enforcement strategy coming across as selective at best or at worst like we’re run by a city of Scrooge-inspired bureaucracy-loving minions.
Something that is much more black and white to this story is what we see reinforced to us about our supposed libertarian City Council. Neither the noun nor the adjective accurately describes the Council majority, which famously spent $3.4 million on scrub brush owned by campaign contributors with nothing in the way of a concrete business plan for what is purportedly one day in the distant future is to be an industrial park.
It neither runs local government like a business, and now it’s evident based on its penchant for using the long arm of the law to come down hard on a guy named Christian aiming to raise money for a cancer charity by selling Christmas trees that it’s not even the slightest bit interested in protecting the little man.
Merry Christmas from Scrooge City.