Remember Julie Bass, the Oak Park woman who was cited by city authorities for having an illegal front yard vegetable garden? (July 8th)
Well the good news is that Julie and her garden suddenly got some breathing space from the city, and the hearing and potential 93 day jail sentence are on the back burner. Julie’s case went viral and it seems like the 30,000-plus Facebook supporters plus email and petition campaigns helped to put some pressure on the city.
It’s important to note that the charges have not been “dropped” as many media outlets are reporting; the charges have been “dismissed without prejudice,” which allows for re-filing the case in the future.
The apparent reason for the dismissal without prejudice is City Prosecutor Eugene Lumberg’s desire for more time to consider the circumstances.
“I want to look at it, I want to see the facts, I want to see where this vegetable garden is going and make a determination of whether or not to prosecute under the existing ordinance, write a new ordinance and (examine) the public welfare…She may decide to grow a cornfield. If she plows up a compost heap, what are (we) going to do?” (Eugene Lumberg quoted in The Detroit News 7/15)
We can only hope that Lumberg will also use some of this extra time to get a little general education on gardening!
The bad news is that even as the City dismissed the garden charges, they simultaneously reinstated charges against Bass for her (formerly) unlicensed dogs. Back in June, as city officials were investigating the garden, they also ticketed Bass for the dogs (although the city ordinance states that owners of unlicensed dogs receive a warning prior to a ticket). The Bass family paid their fines and licensed the dogs, but she still has a hearing – now for TWO misdemeanors (one for each dog) on the original garden hearing date of July 26th.
There’s some speculation that the city is attempting to paint Julie as a habitual petty offender (you KNOW what an unlicensed dog does to your reputation) and waiting for the media blitz to die down before re-filing the case against the garden.
But no worries; we won’t forget about you Julie!
If you’re in Oak Park, there’s a City Council meeting tonight: Oak Park City Hall, 3600 Oak Park Boulevard, Oak Park, MI 48237-2090
You can also check out “Oak Park Hates Veggies” on Facebook, Julie’s blog: http://oakparkhatesveggies.wordpress.com/ .