September 12, 2009 in City

Lawlessness rampant in our fair city

By Correspondent

‘You can’t make a law you can’t enforce.” – Spokane city councilman, quoted Friday.

Are you kidding me? I applaud that sentiment, but we have tons of laws we can’t enforce. Or don’t enforce. Or have deemed too ridiculous to enforce.

In fact, just this week I witnessed so many egregious violations by upstanding citizens (such as myself) that the question does not seem to be whether we can make a law we can’t enforce. The question is, how many laws do you violate every day?

I’ve been making a list:

No liquor in a city park: I was at the Spokane Symphony’s Labor Day Concert at Comstock Park, knocking back a glass of Arbor Crest Riesling. Then I looked at the little notice on the corner of the program: Alcohol possession or consumption prohibited in city parks.

I took another swig and pondered this information. Then I looked around.

The people in front of us had killed a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck. The people to our right were serving margaritas from a pitcher. The people to our left were popping a champagne cork.

A cop could have put half the South Hill in the hoosegow that night.

No animals allowed: That’s what the sign said at the entrance to Pig Out in the Park, yet apparently the half-dozen pooches I saw can’t read even a simple sign. Granted this is more like a rule than a law, but I will point out that the law specifies that people must follow park rules and regulations.

Do not feed the ducks: I was standing there pondering this message when a couple walked up right next to the sign. They started showering the entire goose-and-duck population of Riverfront Park with a loaf of whole-wheat bread. Again, this may not be an actual law. But surely it’s more than a suggestion.

No handheld cell phone use while driving: I was standing at my bus stop, watching commuters zip by on their way to work.

“Hey,” I said to myself. “I may be wrong, but I think I saw a driver not talking on his phone.”

I was impressed, because the three drivers in front of him all had their cell phones jammed to their ears.

Yes, I know that this is considered a “secondary enforcement” law.

Still, these drivers can be ticketed for it if they get pulled over for some other infraction, such as getting distracted and running over a guy at a bus stop.

No walking on a “Don’t Walk” light: I witnessed a pedestrian blatantly, and without remorse, start across an intersection against the light. Everybody else on the corner followed his scofflaw lead, after noticing that he did not end up as a hood ornament.

And I can’t even keep track of the other violations I witnessed this week: the jaywalking, the sidewalk cycling, the unauthorized skateboarding and the cigarette-smoking in the park.

The latter issue spawned the quote at the top of this column. The Spokane Park Board this week decided to reverse its ban on tobacco use in city parks, apparently accepting the reality that cops have better things to do than hide in the bushes, waiting for someone to torch up a Marlboro.

Meanwhile, I’m still shaken over a legal incident this week. I was eating popcorn at Riverfront Park when I accidentally knocked over the bag. A goose charged in and grabbed a kernel.

Damn. I’ve been trying to go straight.

Reach Jim Kershner at

There are two comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email