Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good, bad, and ugly news in Oak Park's "War on Veggies"

In the previous installment, I described how Oak Park's "War on Veggies" went viral. The resulting brouhaha had the effect it intended--the prosecution against Julie Bass for her raised garden beds in her front yard--but Oak Park has found another way to continue waging war against her for daring to fight city hall. Watch.

So the good news is that Julie Bass is no longer facing charges. All of you who raised a stink by reporting and blogging on the issue, commenting on blog and news posts, signing the petition, and sending in letters and emails to the city of Oak Park can pat yourselves on the back. Your efforts succeeded.

The bad news is that the way the story is being reported, not only in the Fox 2 Detroit clip above, but also in the Detroit News article and on Julie's own blog, indicates that the city dropped the charge by asking for it to be dismissed without prejudice. That means that that the city could reinstate the charge any time before the statute of limitations ran out. Note the coda of the report was that the city prosecutor was going to re-examine the language of the statute. If he figures out a defensible reading of the statute that allows him to go after Julie, he can file those charges again. As Julie herself describes it, it feels like her own Sword of Damocles hanging over her.

The ugly news is the city resuming their prosecution of Julie for her dogs. The sequence of events makes it look like the city is being, as Julie wrote in her most recent post, "malicious." Julie's lawyer Solomon Radner elaborated in this quote from the Detroit News, "This is really nothing other than a personal vendetta against the Basses either because somebody doesn't like them, or because they had the nerve to fight this unjust prosecution." I think the answer is mostly the latter.

Since I believe in closing circles, I think the good news is that Julie and her lawyer will appear in court on July 26th, present the proof that the dogs are licensed, and those charges will be dismissed. Even so, this entire affair has made the city of Oak Park look even worse in my eyes than it already did.
When my wife and I were looking for places to live in Oakland County, my co-workers who lived in Oak Park tried to convince me to move there. Unfortunately, when my wife and I looked at houses in the city, we were less than impressed. We got a very conformist, unfriendly, and not-at-all fun vibe from the place, so we decided to look in Ferndale and Royal Oak, which were more to our liking.
When I played the Fox 2 Detroit clip to my wife, she said that we were never going to live in Oak Park. She didn't care if we found the ideal house there at a perfect price in a great neighborhood, we won't move there. I completely agree.

Finally, stay tuned. This isn't over yet.


  1. Thank you for the great article! I am a friend of Julie's and the person who made the raised beds for her. I will make sure that Julie sees your post about possibly coming into your class to speak. If you are interested please just send me your contact info at Julie is a wonderful person and I am a better person to have known her. Thank you for your support. Ryan

  2. You're welcome, and thanks for offering to introduce me to Julie. Look for an email from me no later than Monday afternoon.