by Mel Griffith
It appears that a well-intentioned effort to make Bradley county cleaner and more attractive through enforcement of environmental laws has gone berserk and threatens people's livelihood. A law intended to prevent people from piling up garbage and trash has been carried far beyond its intended purpose and is being used to force people to get rid of supplies and materials kept for future use.
Recently a gentleman from the southeastern part of the county appeared before the County Commission to ask for help. When not working on a job, he has a sideline of doing welding and repairs at his home. He or other members of his family have been doing this since 1968. During those years he has accumulated a considerable amount of iron for potential use or resale. Last October he was suddenly ordered by the county environmental officer that he must get rid of all his supplies. Despite taking off from work to clean up and getting rid of 10,000 pounds of scrap iron, he was cited to court because his remaining supplies of iron was supposedly a danger to the environment. That raises an interesting question. If his small supplies of iron are a danger to the environment, then the Simpson Bridge lot on Waterlevel Highway with its acres of iron beams must be a disaster waiting to happen. Besides, it is in full view of a major route into Cleveland, while the gentlemen being harassed lives on a side road rarely traveled by anyone except those who live on it. Why not go after the really big fish instead of the little working guy? The answer, of course, is that if you go after the big operators, you will have a high-priced lawyer on your doorstep, while working people can't afford one.
To its credit, the Commission made some effort to correct the situation, asking the county attorney to see if he could help. For some strange reason the Commission's effort to do the job it was elected to do aroused the ire of the District Attorney, who is apparently unaware that supervising the Commission is not one of his duties. He issued a "reprimand" to the Commission for discussing a case before the courts. He apparently failed to understand that the basic problem wasn't that the Commission discussed the matter, but that it was in the court system in the first place. It is interesting to note that right after the Commission discussion that got the DA in a huff, the city Council did exactly the same thing that the Commission did, that is, discuss an ongoing court case and pass a motion about it, this case being about the Ft. Hill Cemetery. After this report appeared in the August 14 Daily Banner, I have been looking in the paper daily in order to read the DA's reprimand of the City Council. So far I have not seen it. Does anybody know what is holding it up and when we might expect it?
The Weekly reported that the DA was "troubled" by my statement that the environmental officer is doing more harm than good. I still consider this statement correct. I believe if the DA were troubled by the mistreatment of citizens instead of by my efforts to help them it would be more in the public interest.