Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hero rebel, or scofflaw?

Sometimes the blizzard of laws, ordinances and regulations become so ridiculous, a man has to stand up and become an outlaw.

Meet John Gladwin, outlaw.

  "Chaparral-covered hillsides dotted with oaks surround both sides of a barbed-wire fence with signs reading: "U.S. boundary." John Gladwin, whose Australian cattle dog, Molly, runs freely through the idyllic Simi Hills on a Sunday afternoon, is careful not to cross this border into the federal territory called the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area."
  "If he's caught with so much as a foot in the park, which stretches 50 miles from the Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu, the 69-year-old retiree will go to jail. Even more unusual, Gladwin cannot leave a seven-county area, for any reason, without permission from his probation officer."
Sounds extreme, doesn't it.   It turns out that Gladwin, rebel and outlaw, simply refused to follow the convoluted laws in this area, and by so obviously doing so, poked the authorities right in the eye.  Can't have the lumpen disrespect the elite!
  "The crime for which Gladwin has twice been convicted is a dog-leash citation, violation of Title 36, Volume 1, Section 2.15, Part 2 of the National Park Services' remarkably detailed regulations."
  "It's not that Molly, 3, or  Gladwin's elder dog, a 14-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named WeBe Jammin', have ever menaced hikers, equestrians or wild animals inside the park, whose meandering eastern border practically engulfs the Old Agoura home Gladwin shares with his wife and two dogs. It's that he has violated the leash laws six times in five years on the land several hundred feet from his home."
  "Last year, Gladwin refused a plea bargain put forth by a federal prosecutor over a dog-leash violation and insisted on a trial. While awaiting that trial, Gladwin in October got yet another citation. Now park rangers are intent on ensuring that Gladwin learns his lesson, even if that means jail time. Today, even if he enters the park without a dog, he can be arrested."
And there you have it.  Rather than tag him for a fine each time, now they are threatening him with jail, and using public resources to monitor his movements.  If they catch the rebel again, how much will it cost the government to put this guy behind bars?
Practically speaking, he and his dogs have harmed neither a person or an animal, but  no matter. He's the nail that's standing up, and must be hammered down.
  "Supervisory Park Ranger Bonnie Clarfield, of the U.S. Department of Interior, testified against Gladwin at his November 2013 and April 2014 trials. Colleagues have teasingly dubbed her the "dog narc" — for her strict enforcement of leash laws during her 33 years on the job."
  "She did not return calls or emails from the Weekly. At Gladwin's April trial, she testified: "I'm tenacious about enforcing the park regulations. I do a lot of regulations, give a lot of warnings and, as warranted, I give citations."
On much of a power trip, Ranger Clarfield? And here is the real problem for citizens like Mr. Gladwin:
"The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area isn't most national parks."
  "The area is unique in that four agencies own a piece of it: California State Parks, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and U.S. National Park Service. Each, save the conservancy, employs its own rangers and issues citations."
  ""We have different rules about dogs depending on what agency land you're on," Kuykendall says, acknowledging that the "patchwork" can frustrate the public. The National Park Service owns only 15 percent of the 155,000 acres. Roughly half of the park is privately owned, and most of that land is protected open space."
So it all depends on what bit of ground you are standing on as to whether the "Dog-Narc" can cite you for the way you are behaving.   Having different rules for different parcels, requiring the public to learn to be aware of which plot of dirt is administered by which agency, does not make for smooth interface between all of us, and those with a badge and a desire to show you who is boss.
This is how it should work:
  "His five-year battle began in July 2009, when rangers Clarfield and James Herbaugh cited him in Palo Comado Canyon with a leash-free WeBe Jammin', who is now too frail for mountain runs. Gladwin paid his $50 fine and moved on."
A reasonable fine for a very minor infraction.  If you wanna do it again, then pay another 50 bucks.  But then Gladwin did it again and insisted on a trial when the "Dog-Narc" caught him just inside the park gate without a leash on his dog.  That's likely the real issue - the insistence on a trial - and now the government will teach him that he can't insist on his rights by using the equivalent of a nuclear strike on his freedoms.
There are two ways to look at this.  One commenter summed up one view very well by stating this:
  "This guy sounds like a teenager... blame everyone else for something he is doing. He should be happy to take his dog on a lease into National Park areas... many of the National Parks; Zion, Death Valley, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon, don't allow dogs on most trails except the few marked "Dog Friendly" which have also been the "Handicap Friendly" trails." 
  "Why? It's because the 1% of dog owners that don't put them on leases that attack another person or they don't pickup after them. If he continues with these violations, I wouldn't be surprise if his actions will effect other dog owners use of the park because he is selfish. This is a repeat offense... sure, a single offense would be I didn't know... the sixth time being caught (don't know how often he does it and isn't seen) is selfish."
But is this the question?  Or, is it rather how far the government should go in the case of a repeat offender of minor infractions?  
The other way to see this is well put by this comment:
  "Classic civil disobedience, bringing attention to bad laws by making himself an example of the injustice of the state's prosecution of those laws. He didn't set out to make himself and example but that's how it usually is with civil disobedience. One becomes aware of the injustice of a law by being caught in violation of it."

  "Of course it is his own eco-side that is primarily responsible for the injustice of the laws about how public lands can be used. Public lands should opened to maximize USE, but the eco-left is always trying to bar even the most benign uses in the name of preservation, by which they mean "untouched by humans." It is an anti-human movement, driven not by any rational assessment of sustainable use, but by an anti-human AESTHETIC."
I'm mostly with the second comment. When bureaucracies act out in this sort of tyrannical way, resistance is mandatory. If the rule on dogs was consistent over the whole park, so folk could easily understand, then that would mitigate, but here, with the jumble of different rules, it's simply stupid.  Couple that with a small time law enforcement officer who is just looking to make someone pay for flaunting her tiny bit of authority, and you have a bigger problem than one guy who likes to run with his dog off leash.  
Another way to look at this is to ask what damage can the government show that his dog has done when he is running with it in an area where there is no leash law?  That answer is none. If so, then what is the purpose of the law anyway?  If there is a legitimate rationale, then what is a rational punishment for violation.  Certainly, it's not to incarcerate a 69 year old retired dude who just likes to run with his dog, and whose actions cannot be shown to have harmed anyone or anything.
A better way to deal with this situation would be consistent law park wide, a fifty dollar fine if violated, no matter how many times, and a provision that any damage caused would be the liability of the owner of the unleashed dog.
No jail time, no probation, and no ridiculous cost to the taxpayers for such a minor issue.


  1. Gee, the ranger on a power trip is female.

    I'm shocked.

  2. When you give bully's power they WILL abuse it.every chance they get.
    "Whatever you tolerate will always continue". Want this to end? Start
    killing the JBT's who cream their jeans from ecstasy at the fun from wielding
    their power then start killing the petty apparatchiks who grant them this power.

    Nothing improves till the blood starts being shed. History professor this.

  3. Having your dog off leash in a public place is rude and dangerous. I was nearly killed by an off leash dog. I have physical limitations from this attack. The owner told me his dog was safe. After the attack the owner said I am shocked my dog has never acted that way before. I later found out, I was the third attack and the dog bit several people after me. The only reason the dog stop biting people is because this unleashed dog ran in front of a car and died. So when I meet an unleashed dog, please excuse me if I ask you to leash him. I no longer hike, no longer visit parks and no longer go to the beach because of the epidemic of unleashed dogs. I have the right to safety in a public park. I don't want your dog running up to me, I don't want your dog near me. Just obey the law. Dog owners do not have the right to have their dogs run free in public places. I'm sure if someone was growing pot out there, Mr Gladwin would expect the laws to be enforced. A law is a law not an option.