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Two issues were recently raised in the Carrollton City Council, and both are disturbing.
First a councilman and councilwoman both argued for weakening enforcement of laws which mandate that citizens clean up their yards, and don’t park unlicensed junk cars on their property. While both council members are fine people, they are just wrong on this issue.
Last summer when the city hired Art Zook as a code enforcement officer, I took a tour of the city and found dozens of yards filled with trash and junk. Frankly, I was ashamed at the accumulated junk and blight imposed on the whole community by a few people who felt no shame in blighting their community.
Recently, I took another tour of Carrollton to see if any progress has been made since the city hired Mr. Zook and directed him to inspect code violations and seek enforcement of the laws. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed a vast improvement. Literally dozens of yards had been cleaned up. Junk cars were gone, and a lot of yards had removed trash and debris.
We should remember that Zook isn’t making up the rules, he was hired to seek enforcement of the existing zoning laws. Those who want a blighted city should seek to change the law and not attack the officer who is merely enforcing the law.
The second issue raised at the council meeting was the chauvinist argument that Zook was a newcomer to Carrollton. He has lived in Carrollton for six years and is married to a lifelong resident.
The council members mentioned are suggesting that he shouldn’t be supported in his work of cleaning up our neighborhoods “because he wasn’t born here.”
These arguments are attempts to suggest that citizens who have moved here from somewhere else should not merit the respect and credibility of the City Council and are second-class citizens. This is an effort to divert our attention away from the yards full of trash and junked cars and to try to focus the issue on “outsiders.”
Every current doctor, lawyer and dentist in Carrollton moved here from somewhere else. Several members of the City Council and many city employees have moved here. I represented this county in the state Legislature and in the District Court, and I moved here from somewhere else.
Former Mayor Charlie Webster presided over a period of the most productive economic development of the city, and he moved to Carrollton from Northern Kentucky. I know of at least two other former mayors who moved here from somewhere else.
We should be thankful for the new blood that has enlivened our community and who have chosen to bring their families here, to open businesses here, to employ people here, and to share the tax burden. People who move to Carrollton have made the lives of everyone here better. I would suspect that there are many registered voters in Carrollton who have moved here from somewhere else who will remember these slights at the next city election.
If there are two classes of citizenship in Carrollton, will “outsiders” like myself get a refund on our property taxes?
Let’s not be distracted. The argument isn’t about Enforcement Officer Zook’s length of residence here, it’s about a few council members who believe arguing for a blighted community will generate votes at the next election.
Judge Stan Billingsley, retired