Nanny State

Who Is John Hamilton?

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John Hamilton is my new hero, that's who:

SANDUSKY, Ohio -An Ohio man arrested for mowing unkempt grass at a public park said he just wanted to make his city look nice. John Hamilton said he took control of the situation because the grass in Sandusky's Central Park was about a foot high. According to a police report, a witness said Hamilton was blowing grass onto the sidewalk and shredding trash in the park that had not been picked up.

Police said they arrested 48-year-old Hamilton after he refused to stop mowing and charged him with obstructing official business and disorderly conduct.

Not John Hamilton

Sandusky, which (like John Lennon's solo career) appears to have peaked in around 1970, can go just go straight to hell. I neither demand nor expect my city government to do that much (which spares one from eternal disappointment in places like L.A. and D.C., if nothing else), but aside from maybe lifting the occasional finger to combat the occupying rat population, one chore I wish to God the District of Columbia could handle is mowing the damned grass in city parks maybe more than once a decade.

Here you have all these handsome little squares and circles and triangles, usually featuring some Civil War general from the North (though not my great-great-great grandpappy, you Germanophobes!), and instead of ringing the space with nice green nature-carpets on which one might sit, you have foot-high thickets of filth more appropriate for hiding a dead body. Even my polite relatives from Oregon were muttering "cut the damned grass" after a few days of tromping around our nation's capitol. It's shabby, is what it is. Save us, John Hamilton! Your money's good in D.C.!

Thanks to Nicole Hamilton for the tip.

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  1. Here you have all these handsome little squares and circles and triangles, usually featuring some Civil War general from the North (though not my great-great-great grandpappy, you Germanophobes!), and instead of ringing the space with nice green nature-carpets on which one might sit, you have foot-high thickets of filth more appropriate for hiding a dead body.

    Now Matt, you’re just making things up now. The grass in almost every park downtown, at least along K St., has been ground down to a nub, or simply destroyed, by the homeless and lunchtime office crowds. I would kill for some grass in DC (and for them to clean out the fountains too. I like mine not smelling like a bus terminal men’s room). Where you gotta this grass?

    Hey, you gotta Civil War relative? Me too. No damn statue of him either. Bastiges.

  2. Well, no statue of him in DC.

  3. Yet another example of how no good deed will go unpunished.

  4. The grass in almost every park downtown, at least along K St., has been ground down to a nub, or simply destroyed, by the homeless and lunchtime office crowds.

    While this is true, I am talking chiefly about Logan Circle, Thomas Circle, Scott Circle, Square Circle, and the Circle Jerks.

  5. …and instead of ringing the space with nice green nature-carpets on which one might sit, you have foot-high thickets of filth more appropriate for hiding a dead body.

    In the murder capital of the U.S., that’s a feature not a bug.

  6. Wow. Sandusky made “national” news.

    I grew up near there and actually lived a few blocks from Central Park for a bit over a year. I’m not surprised the grass was so high since Sandusky has very little tax base. Everyone who could afford to do so relocated south of Perkins Ave. to escape (frankly, modest) city taxes. And recently, they’ve lost their blue collar jobs.

    I’m a bit surprised about the arrest since the Sandusky cops are pretty much live and let live. Perhaps they’re trying to make a quota. It is the end of the month and all.

  7. I’m surprised you missed the critical line in the story:

    “According to the police report, he was seen mowing the grass by Penny Randleman, a forestry department employee.”

    Who wants to bet that the city employees are deliberately leaving the grass unmowed, to “dramatize” the fact that their funding is very important and shouldn’t be cut?

    And that Hamilton’s real crime was to disrupt this little bit of slow-motion political theatre?

  8. There is so little crime in Sandusky that when someone finally breaks a law, the police can’t wait to jump into action.

  9. The police were just trying to prevent this.

  10. A highly trained AFSCME professional Park Maintenance Technician (Level three) would never, ever run over bits of paper, or allow the clippings to fall on the sidewalk.

    This man is a menace, and MUST BE STOPPED.

  11. Fluffy is probably right. He’s interfering with Ohio political policy of doing everything they can to dramatize the “need” for tax increases.

    Apparently Columbus police officers are responding to burglary calls and telling the victims that they will no longer be able to respond to any calls if taxes aren’t doubled.

  12. I look forward to the documentary about John Hamilton. God knows this story is vastly more interesting than the one about that old coot who drove across the country on his lawnmower…

  13. Ceder Point!! Oh the sun burnt memories.

    God it’s Ohio. It’s not the asshole of the world, but you can smell it from there.

    Here’s a good example of the entire fucking state.
    CLEVELAND

  14. How many times have we heard “well, who is going to build the roads, dam the rivers, put out forest fires and clean and beautify the parks?”

  15. Someone needs to get him a litter pick up stick (broom handle with a nail) and a bag and send him on his way. Mowing over trash really does turn a small mess into a giant mess.

    Couldn’t this have been an exquisite non-story.

    Park Superintendent:
    Here Mr. Hamilton. Here’s a litter stick and a bag, can you spear the trash and bag it so it doesn’t make a larger mess while you mow and then toss the bag in a the nearest dumpster. Oh, and here is a blower, feel free to keep it and use it as you see fit as long as you keep mowing here. Just please blow off the sidewalks when you leave. Thank you for the public service sir.

  16. Best Sandusky citizen since Thomas R. “Tommy” Callahan Jr.

  17. Jesus Christ! And I mean that as an expression calling for him to come down as a lion instead of a lamb and shred these fuckers.

    God, I hate government employees. Please deal with these fuckers. And by ‘deal’, I mean cause them lots and lots of pain in this life and the next.

  18. How much you wanna bet that part of his probation will be mowing the lawn in the city parks?

  19. Parks should be private. I don’t see anything about parks in the constitution. And if poor people want a park they should just get a job and buy one.

  20. When Tony tries sarcasm he hits the truth.

  21. “All rights are reserved, Callahan!”

    “What about the rights of that little girl?”

  22. Well, waitaminnit. Wasn’t it somewhere in Ohio the mayor was playing the lawnmowing hero by taking his own mower to the city parks? And asking for citizen volunteers to help?

    Sandusky, I suppose, frowns on such volunteerism.

    Somebody should tell the POTUS about this oppression of the volunteer spirit. Mr. Hamilton could get a Presidential Pardon and maybe even a Medal of Honor.

  23. ‘Somebody should tell the POTUS about this oppression of the volunteer spirit. Mr. Hamilton could get a Presidential Pardon and maybe even a Medal of Honor.’

    I presume you mean the Governor of Ohio, who can grant pardons after conviction (Has Hamilton been convicted yet?).

  24. Damn, I really sounded like an asshole in that last post. Well, I suppose the secret is out.

  25. Tony, there are plenty of private parks open to the public. As an example, see the Trustees of the Reservations in Massachusetts.

  26. Sandusky, which (like John Lennon’s solo career) appears to have peaked in around 1970…

    I wondered about that, because I remember Double Fantasy being huge. The Wiki link shows it was (arguably) his greatest work, even if he let his wife do part of it.

    A much better Beatle example would be Ringo, whose career highlight after 1972 was Caveman.

    Well, Caveman and screwing Barbara Bach.

  27. Hell, I’ve been screwed by Barbara Bach . . . so tha’s no accomplishment.

  28. Winter Soldier, assuming what you say is true, it still doesn’t detract from my point.

  29. Excuse me, but despite being a libertarian, I don’t think an individual has the right to alter public property to suit his own liking. Perhaps other people in Sandusky like the grass to be long.

  30. I mean, I wonder what Mr. Welch would think if I decided that the Washington Monument would look better painted light blue with little yellow ducks on it, and grabbed a ladder and a paintbrush and set to work. Would he be complaining about that after police asked me to stop and then arrested me for refusing to do so?

  31. I suppose that, if Sandusky’s public policy was to let the grass grow long, you would have a point. *Is* this the case? Or do they have a public policy of cutting the grass but simply fail to carry out that policy?

  32. I doubt they have a written public policy either way. But you don’t have the right to alter public property on a whim without going through the democratic process (or some appendage thereof).

    Also, it appears that the person who reported him (as well as the police) did not want the grass to be cut. So he’s already outnumbered at least 3-1.

  33. I mean, I wonder what Mr. Welch would think if I decided that the Washington Monument would look better painted light blue with little yellow ducks on it, and grabbed a ladder and a paintbrush and set to work.

    He’d probably think you were a fucking loon, and based on such an inapt analogy he might be right. Cutting the grass in a city park is much more akin to picking up trash than making semi-permanent alterations to a monument. It takes no special skill, makes no permanent changes, and generally makes the place look nicer to most people.

    I doubt they have a written public policy either way. But you don’t have the right to alter public property on a whim

    They probably don’t have a written policy about picking up litter either, so can we “alter” public property by picking some up, or do we need to get permission first?

    Also, it appears that the person who reported him (as well as the police) did not want the grass to be cut. So he’s already outnumbered at least 3-1.

    I doubt this even matters, but if you’re going to try that argument you might want a bigger sample size than the three people you chose. I think we all know damn well that most people prefer to have litter picked up and to have the grass cut in city parks to keep it from looking like Detroit.

  34. No, Mad Max, I meant POTUS. He’s so gung-ho about volunteerism, I assume he’d consider Mr. Hamilton a hero and would trample all over the law to make him a poster boy for his national volunteerism campaign.

    But thanks for sounding like an asshole and missing my point.

  35. You’re welcome – always glad to be of service!

  36. Lots of places in America are holes in the wall — how did they get that way?

  37. “But you don’t have the right to alter public property on a whim without going through the democratic process (or some appendage thereof).”

    Do you think that people there democratically decided that they wanted garbage piling up in their parks? Part of what he was doing was picking up and shredding litter. Maybe the people collectively decided that health risks from the trash he was discarding are a public good?

  38. chronic,

    Well, it’s a slippery slope. Who decides what type of vigilante yardwork qualifies as beautification and what qualifies as defacement of public property?

    And even among those on the pro-mowing side of the issue, there are potential differences of opinion. How low does he cut the grass? If you cut it too low you can actually harm the grass by increasing the water loss to evaporation.

    Fed Dog,

    As far as the litter goes, it sounds like he was actually making more of a mess. Assuming we’re talking about pieces of paper and the like, for every unsightly bit of litter that was in the grass before mowing, he was creating like twenty more little unsightly bits of litter.

  39. They probably don’t have a written policy about picking up litter either, so can we “alter” public property by picking some up, or do we need to get permission first?

    Well littering is against the law pretty much everywhere, so it’s clear what the public policy is on that issue. In the absence of a law against grass growing beyond a certain length, the same isn’t true here.

  40. Who is John Hamilton? *I* am John Hamilton.

  41. Tulpa is a nitwit and no libertarian. Since “public” property is a bogus creation, then there can be no legitimate legal basis for what happens to said property.

  42. Who is John Hamilton? He is Edmond Dantes. And he is my father and my mother… my brother… my friend. He is you… and me. He is all of us.

  43. Sandusky, which (like John Lennon’s solo career) appears to have peaked in around 1970

    WTF? You gotta reach pretty deep into your asshole, all the way up to your shithead, to yank out that irrelevant non-factoid.

  44. “As far as the litter goes, it sounds like he was actually making more of a mess.”

    The account suggests nothing of the sort.

  45. Fed Dog,

    True, unless you read it:

    According to a police report, a witness said Hamilton was blowing grass onto the sidewalk and shredding trash in the park that had not been picked up.

  46. You are (intentionally?) misrepresenting the facts. Shredding trash is done to make it more compact, and thus accommodate more in trash bags. The account pointedly does not say that he was strewing or leaving the shreds anywhere.

    The authoritarian mindset is fascinating and appalling. The last sentence of the account identifies the purpose of the arrest, as a previous commenter noted above.

  47. “””Who wants to bet that the city employees are deliberately leaving the grass unmowed, to “dramatize” the fact that their funding is very important and shouldn’t be cut?”””

    Probably.

    But what’s the odds that his sentence, if guilty, will be to mow the grass and clean up trash at a public location.

  48. “””As far as the litter goes, it sounds like he was actually making more of a mess. “””

    The guy was there to clean up, not make more of a mess.

  49. Well littering is against the law pretty much everywhere,

    In most places, failing to maintain your lawn is treated as creating a public nuisance, and is also against the law.

  50. In most places, failing to maintain your lawn is treated as creating a public nuisance, and is also against the law.

    That’s what I was thinking too.

    This guy deserves a medal, not an arrest — and I say this as the person who has volunteered to mow the lawn for our condo association. I fucking hate mowing the lawn.

  51. Shredding trash is done to make it more compact, and thus accommodate more in trash bags. The account pointedly does not say that he was strewing or leaving the shreds anywhere.

    The witness was (pointedly!) referring to the shredding of trash that occurs when you run it over with a lawnmower. Hence the reference to “shredding trash that had not been picked up“.

  52. For those unwise (white males?) with little lawnmower experience, I’ll let you in on the fact that the first thing you do when you’re going to mow your lawn is pick up any trash or leaves or such that exists on the lawn, so as to keep from making a mess. This guy apparently did not do this.

    Of course this isn’t really the point — the point is he was taking it on himself to make alterations to public property.

  53. Tulpa:

    As others have pointed out, the ‘slippery slope’ to which you refer is merely the reflecting side of the slippery slope your point prescribes. Surely there is a balance between allowing vandalistic painting of historic monuments and disallowing assumed positive maintenance in the context of neglect.

    As blight laws are commonly applied to un-mowed lawns and people routinely pay good money to lawn-care companies, it only follows that this guy is pretty close to the centre of this balance.

  54. This dovetails nicely with Obama’s State of the Union when he read the letter from the little girl who asked him to paint her school. There are 6,000 people in her town. Why does she ask the president of the United States to get it painted? Why did Obama think this was a good idea?

  55. Sounds like something that escalated out of control (ie, a pissing match). If an unauthorized mower is mowing the park, one would expect the city to say “thanks” (if he’s doing a good job) or “please don’t do it that way” (if he’s screwing it up). If the guy is honestly trying to help and they suggest doing it differently, he would be expected to say, “sorry, I was just trying to help” and either do it the way they want it done or stop doing anything. The fact that this escalated to an arrest suggests that one and probably both of those involved got an attitude up. Mostly what we need in this country is fewer laws and lawsuits, less attitude, and more cooperation and common sense.

  56. Homeowners should refuse to cut their own grass. Then, when the city threatens to cut your grass for you (and bill you an extraordinary amount) you can tell them you were afraid you would get arrested if you dared to cut your lawn.

    Talk about another double standard for those in government!

    chicopanther

  57. I cannot believe people have missed the obvious:)

    Hamilton is GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY we should make the punishment fit the crime and sentence him to community service – make Hamilton mow Central Park and pick up the trash in the park for as long as he feels like it, that will teach him a lesson.

  58. Here’s an idea. Lay off the town forester because that position is unnecessary if you can’t keep “central park” mowed. Take that money and hire a private company to pick up the litter and mow the grass. Sandusky has beclowned itself.

  59. And even among those on the pro-mowing side of the issue, there are potential differences of opinion. How low does he cut the grass? If you cut it too low you can actually harm the grass by increasing the water loss to evaporation.

    Yes, because heaven forbid the grass might be cut .013 millimeters too low according to subsection A of Municipal Lawn Height Ordinance 1971-3.5(k).

    You sound like a bureaucrat, Tulpa–someone who values “the rules” more than the people they allegedly serve, not to mention more than common sense. If you polled the readers of this article, i bet you’d find that the opinions of a bureaucrat aren’t welcome here; And if you truly are in that disgraceful “profession,” please go back to school and learn an actual trade. The recovery of this nation depends on the rise of the productive class, not government (which is anything but).

    Mostly what we need in this country is fewer laws and lawsuits, less attitude, and more cooperation and common sense.

    VA Teacher wins the thread thus far, IMHO.

  60. Maybe the shredded trash wasn’t picked up because John Hamilton was. Last time I tried it was really hard to pick up shredded litter with hand cuffs on.

    I think this illustrates the crime perfectly. Doing a job claimed by a government worker makes the government worker feel very insecure, and another government worker will toss you in jail for it.

  61. What! Are you nuts!

  62. Service:

    My grandfather was buried in the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home Cemetery in Sandusky in 1942. My father came home from Air Corps flight training at Kelly Field for the funeral. I was born in 1943 and enlisted in the Navy in 1961. Somewhere in there I was in the Boy Scouts.

    For some endeavors it is advisable to coordinate your services, but for many it is obvious what needs to be done, easy to do it, and uncivil to leave it undone.

    You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to do a good deed daily.

  63. Right now in NYC the subways are plastered with advertisements for the municipal employees union DC 37 condemning Mayor Bloomberg for using outside consultants when all their unionized civil servants are ready willing and eager to help. The ads all claim that the consultants are more expensive than the government employees. So why is the administration willing to hire outside consultants instead of using its own civil service staff? The answer is simple to an economist. The price difference between the two workers is a measure of just how inefficient and unmanageable the civil servants are. Rather than try to get any work out of the existing staff the administration can get better results using the same money to hire fewer but better motivated outside consultants.

  64. Two rules for subverting a bureaucracy:
    1. Do the best you can.
    2. Don’t get caught.

  65. It’s apparent the government does not want our assistance or involvement in their problems.

    Let us all remember this decision when they come to us, hat in hand, for our assistance in bailing out their underfunded pensions. I will kindly remind them that per their own decision, they are on their own.

    Not one more damn dime for the government!

  66. He didn’t get arrested for mowing the park’s grass. He got arrested for disobeying law enforcement. Makes you wonder who the snot-nose rookie cop was who told him to stop his offensive behavior.

  67. I have been mowing the grass in the (publicly owned) traffic circle in front of my house in Alexandria, VA for the past 11 years. My next door neighbor plants the flowers. Are we now subject to arrest?

  68. I hope he is convicted and must do community service. Maybe say mowing the grass in the park.

    1. As for “Big Ben”, perhaps he should change his moniker to “Small mind”.

  69. Well done John Hamilton of Sandusky!
    you have civic pride, which is more than can be said of your critics.
    yours sincerely, John Hamilton of Shrewsbury UK.

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