Monday, December 8, 2008

I Need Your Advice

I've considered writing to Dear Abby, but I think my readers are at least as smart and will respond faster.

Let me preface this by saying that my across the street neighbor, an elected official, constantly snow blows their snow into the street, which is against village code and I've had conversations about this matter with them before. Additionally, I do not want to cause problems in my neighborhood. I appreciate that keeping peace amongst the neighbors is good for everyone.

Saturday morning, as I was shoveling my driveway after the latest 3 inches of snow, my neighbor came out and snow blowed the snow from the apron of his drive into the street for the second time that day. Directly in front of me. So I walked across the street to have a polite conversation. Here's how it went.

Me: Hi! Would you mind not snow blowing your snow into the street?

Neighbor: Why?

Me: Well because it creates a dangerous situation for you, your wife, me, and any one driving down the street with black ice and because it's against Village Code.

Neighbor: The Village will be out to salt the street.

Me: Maybe and maybe not. It's been all over the news that the cost of salt has almost quadrupled this year and towns are cutting back on their salting. Plus, with the recession, the towns do not have the money to act as aggressively as they have in the past because they aren't collecting as much in taxes. So it would be great if you could toss your snow onto the parkway, like the rest of us do.

Neighbor: It's not dangerous! Are you looking to cause problems? Why are you over here just creating something to complain about? GO AWAY!

Clearly, my neighbor dislikes me, but I honestly have no idea why. I also have no idea why he thinks he can speak to me this way. I was polite and never once raised my voice to him. His wife is an elected official and he is a former fireman in this town. They must both know how dangerous black ice can be.

After this conversation, I came in and called the Public Works department and asked them to come have a conversation with my neighbor. They were sympathetic, agreed that it creates a dangerous situation and that it's against Village Code, but they have no enforcement power and will not come over.

I was also told that the Village doesn't enforce this code violation. WHAT? This is a public safety issue and should be taken seriously by the Village. Furthermore, in a time of economic difficulties for my town, when the Trustees are looking at cutting services in order to balance the budget, this could be a gold mine. If there are 10 snows this winter and 1000 people (out of almost 80,000) violate the Code each time and receive a $25 each time, that's $250,000 into the village coffers. Not only does that entirely cover the cost of the person writing the tickets, but it would easily generate over $150,000 in revenue (assuming that they paid the ticket writer $100,000).

Why do people have so little regard for their neighbors, common courtesy, and public safety?

Any suggestions you have for how I can get my neighbor to cooperate would be greatly appreciated.


  1. This couple smacks of entitlement... elected official and a former firefighter? Have to obey the law? Pishtaw! And I highly doubt the manly man would be inclined to listen to the little woman, aka his wife, should you find her a more receptive audience. They are never going to change their ways unless forced to do so. Which means you, if so inclined, are going to need to cause trouble.

    As a former journalist, may I suggest videotaping his snowblowing idiocy and then sending the tape to the local media outlet most likely to want to give an elected official a blackeye? Or to the town board and show up to speak a complaint during open comment time? Or, more drastically, hit the black ice in front of their house one day and make an unanticipated visit inside their house? having to rebuild part of their house would sure get them to change their ways....

  2. GG,

    You give GREAT advice!

    I agree with you that they smack of entitlement. The ironic part? They are staunch GOPers (which may explain why they dislike me) and we all know how much the GOP hates government handouts (except to big banks!). So that they are so hell bent on waiting for the government to clean up their mess (e.g., "the Village will salt") really irritates me. Isn't personal responsibility and taking care of your own the foundation of the GOP?

  3. Hah! Personal responsibility is all well and good until you actually have to do it. Most of the GOPers I know have the mindset of "give nothing, get all." Taxes are teh EVIL, but I want smooth roads with no potholes and a oplice officer to rescue my $1000 pillows when I leave them on my porch when I go on my 3 month round the world cruise! ugh ugh!

  4. What a dick. I'm not polite enough to offer you advice that would be helpful in any sense.

  5. Go to the next village meeting and speak to the Board of Trustees and Mayor about this problem Village wide and your incident with calling PW and being told that they do not enforce the code. Then ask them what other codes they do not enforce so we all know which ones we are allowed to break. Media won't touch this kind of thing but to go on record saying that they told you they do not enforce will put the board and administration on thin ice. I wouldn't mention the trustee specifically at that point. But the next time it happens after the meeting I would hold nothing back. Attend another meeting, be professional and compliment them on something well done and then bring up the one that lives across the street.

  6. I agree with the parts of the first and fifth comments. Video tape it because otherwise it's your word against theirs and you should not be put in that position. If you feel uncomfortable video taping them in the act, at least get a tape of the result--the snow blown in the street and their plowed driveway apron. Make sure it's time and date stamped in your camera. Then, go to the village. The only thing I'd do differently than Northern Trustee said is that first I'd call the Village and without telling them the identity of whom you are complaining against, ask if there is a procedure for making a formal complaint on the particular issue. Then, I'd follow that procedure following up by going to the village meeting. It seems to me unless you follow their procedure, they could prevent you from speaking at their meeting and they'll treat you like you did something wrong, a position you should not be forced into because you are not the perp here. It's classic northern suburbs GOP behavior to believe they own the place.

  7. Err, what is this ice and snow you speak of?

    I'd blow it back into his driveway. What's he going to do? Call the cops?


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