Notes from Last Night’s Meeting of the Whole Committee in Elgin, Illinois
Editor’s update: I failed to mention, and so did council members apparently, that part of the registration requirement for so-called “vicious” and “dangerous” dogs (including “pit bulls”) is that there must be
“completion of an inspection by the city of the property where the Dangerous Dog or Vicious Dog is to be kept which confirms that the Dangerous Dog or Vicious Dog is or will be confined in compliance with [the ordinance]…and which identifies the number and locations of the signs for a Dangerous Dog or a Vicious Dog required to be posted by the Owner as set forth in [the ordinance]…as applicable.”
How else can you describe such a requirement but as duress? You either move, get rid of your dogs, or submit to an inspection of your home and property. The 4th amendment guarantees,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
While technically Elgin “pit bull” owners would be submitting to this inspection, they may have no other choice, which is why such a requirement constitutes duress and should be deemed unconstitutional. Plus, the wording is so vague it’s hard to determine if the inspection would also include the inside of the home wherein an inspector could nail you for any other violation of the law s/he sees.
It’s taken several days to be able to get through Elgin, Illinois’ breed-specific legislation (BSL) proposal because it’s just that muddled, vague, and confusing. But after having gone through its pages several times, what I can conclude is that it is one of the most unreasonable, unconstitutional, and egregious pieces of legislation I have ever read. Worse, those so forcefully pushing the ordinance don’t seem to even know what the ordinance contains.
For instance, at last night’s Meeting of the Whole Committee meeting, Elgin City Attorney William Cogley asserted that the 6-foot high fence requirement for dogs deemed dangerous, including “pit bulls,” would only be required if a person let their dog out in their yard to run. If however, the dog were muzzled and leashed, according to Cogley, no 6-foot high fence would be required. Yet the ordinance proposal very clearly states,
A Dangerous Dog on private premises must be kept indoors or outdoors either within an Enclosure or within a fully-fenced yard on all sides by fencing that…is at least six feet in height…
Nowhere does it say the fencing requirements aren’t required if the dog is muzzled and leashed. So, it seems that Elgin city officials are just as baffled by their own ordinance as Elgin residents are sure to be.
Before the vote was taken to pass the ordinance proposal out of the Committee of the Whole and on to the City Council for a vote at the next city council meeting, Cogley was also certain to read out loud the definition of “gameness” as defined by the 21-year old court case Vanater v. Village of South Point. The Vanater decision itself states that “gameness” is “not a totally clear concept,” but that fine point appeared inconsequential to those councilmen who were chomping at the bit to manhandle their fellow councilmen into a hasty vote in a very square-peg-round-hole sort of way. Also omitted was the fact that there has been more recent legal precedence which has long since negated the “evidence” given in Vanater. (Click here for a list of pertinent but omitted case law.)
Cogley also stated that Denver’s “pit bull” ban had withstood legal scrutiny which is not true. In the case of Denver v. Margolius (2004) Mr. Margolius proved at trial that none of Denver’s Animal Control officers could discern what was an American Pit Bull Terrier as defined by their own ordinance. Cogley also mentioned that the city of Elgin had a supposed “rational basis” — public safety — for proposing BSL. Yet, if the only proof that city officials can offer are two widely discredited “studies,” the one of which is a CDC study that the CDC itself has discredited and used to argue against BSL, then they haven’t a legal leg to stand on. If you want to understand how the rational basis test is a diluted legal argument that has not withstood scrutiny, please click here.
Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” That certainly seems to be the case with Elgin’s breed-specific ordinance proposal which would unfairly punish owners of “pit bulls” (whatever “breed” that is, and even the ordinance and the council members themselves don’t seem to know). An estimated 100+ people showed up to last night’s Meeting of the Whole. The majority, excepting a handful of people, were adamantly opposed to Elgin’s breed-specific ordinance proposal (even though Councilman John Prigge continues to maintain that there is more support for BSL in Elgin than there is against it). Mayor Schock had to bang his gavel and threaten some in the crowd with forced removal if they didn’t quiet down. Why? Because the audience clearly knew they were hearing lies. The biggest groans came when Councilman Prigge, the force behind this rush to get BSL passed, claimed that he wanted to work with the citizens of Elgin. If only I had a snapshot of the rolling eyes, the harumphs, and hisses. What I do have is the vote tally which follows. Be sure to jot down the names of the people you’ll be voting out of office in upcoming elections:
Voting ‘yes’ were Mayor Ed Schock and Councilmen John Prigge, Robert Gilliam, and the Mayor’s yes man, Mike Warren.
Voting ‘no’ were Councilmen David Kaptain, John Steffen, and Richard Dunne.
I leave you with the quote in its entirety from Joseph Goebbels. Take from it what you will:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Read more about it: