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Halloween: Lack of Common Sense

Update: Halloween sign edict banned by judge

Update: Steve Sojka has said that the Council needs more common sense and says that it is going to cost a lot of money to defend this law. Steve Sojka article. The question is why did he vote for it.

Typically I don't agree with Barbra Williamson, but in the case of the Simi Valley Halloween ordinance, I have to agree that the right thing to do was to vote against it. This is just another example of the Council not doing the right thing, in the right way. It has been reported in the newspapers that Mayor Bob Huber pushed this law. He is an attorney, so I have no idea as to why he would push and vote for such a poorly written law. Sadly, many people will instantly react badly to any negative comments on the law, instead of reasonably and rationally looking at the issue. This is also an example of how the Council uses emotional issues to their own favor.

It is poorly written and shows that there is a complete lack of common sense with the Simi Valley City Council. Please note that the law does not say that the lights have to be off, just that the person on the list has to leave them off, meaning that automated devices or other people can turn them on. Also, there is NOTHING in the law which prohibits the person from giving out treats, they are ONLY prevented from ANSWERING the door. There is NOTHING in the law which prevents the house from having decorations, only that the person must refrain from decorating on October 31. Laws are not about what they intend to do, but what is actually written. If the house has lights on and is decorated, how do you prove who did it and when?

While the concept means well, that is not enough to justify a bad law. I also suspect that the law was pushed through due to the election coming up. It was mentioned that this issue came up from citizens. I have to wonder who exactly these people were and why the Council did not seem to care the the Chief of Police said that this has never been an issue. Are those people campaign donors? Friends? And why is it that it does not seem that the Council is able to say that this does not appear to be an issue? Oh, it must be because the Council has to look like they are doing something, especially just before an election.

It is also quite clear that the City of Simi Valley does not care about the cost to defend a lawsuit regarding this issue. It is free money after all, or at least that seems to be the way they view tax payer money.

I personally spoke to Mike Judge about this law and his responses were interesting. I asked about what if the person was out of town. Mr. Judge replied that the person could inform the police, but the problem is that is not written into the law. This means that the person could be charged with a violation when they are not even around. It also means that if the person put up a sign and left town, but someone stole the sign, they could also be charged. Mr. Judge did not care about any of the issues and told me that he would prefer that those people leave the City. In other words, the law is about trying to drive them out of town. Mr. Judge also did not care of the effect of anyone else living at that location.

Now, let's talk about safety and security. The law states that the person must leave ALL exterior residential lights off starting at 5pm until midnight the next day. So, that means that the person can't have a light on at all, which could be hazardous if they come home when it dark. Automatic lights would have to also be disabled, since that would be a violation if the light came on. Often the police recommend having outside lights since criminals tend to like dark places since it makes them easier to hide, that that is also a security issue. Motion sensor lights can warn others about criminals wandering around places. Also, one could ask when midnight the next day is. It could be viewed as being on 01-Nov, 11:59:59 pm, which is the next day, not until midnight that night. Then again, since the law only applies to October 31st, it might actually mean midnight that night, not the next day. Yet another sign of how poorly written the law is.

Another example of how badly this law is written is that since aspects in the law are limited to ONLY October 31. This means that the person can not decorate their house with Halloween decorations on the 31st, but they can do prior to that. There is no requirement that have not have any decorations on the 31st of October. The law also does not prevent others from decorating the house either. The law also says the the person must refrain from decorating his or her front yard. If the person lives with others, then those people can still decorate the yard since only the person on the list is prohibited.

Is it legal, or right, to prevent others who live at the same address to not be able to give out treats to children? This law would not affect others living at the house, so it seems like it could easily be a problem for enforcement of the law. The police would need to prove who did the decorating. It is also quite interesting that the law prevents the person from answering the door to children who are trick or treating, which means that the person could sit out on their front porch, their driveway or anywhere else as long as they don't answer the door.

I have to wonder about the sign requirements as well. If the person is renting a room, which door is required to have the sign on it? How about if the person is renting a guest house?

There are many aspect to this law which should have been resolved before it was passed, but the Council was in a mad rush to get this done before Halloween. In all the years prior, why did it need to get done this Halloween? Is it because things are not looking good for the incumbents?

The only aspect which is reasonable is to prevent such a person from answering the door to children who are trick or treating, but the simple fact is that it was reported that there have been no cases in which this has even been an issue. So, what is the real reason for this new law? Personally, it sounds like it is to help those on Council to get re-elected by people who don't know what the law really is nor what it really means.

Comments from Mike Judge

There has been a discussion on facebook about the law, including Mike Judge, a Simi Valley Council member. He posted a picture which says "Forget CHANGE, Bring Back Common Sense", which is really needed, especially with respect to Simi Valley City Council. What I find quite interesting is that he does not want to discuss the actual issues with the law and when backed into an corner about it, it resorts to trying to attack the person asking serious questions. It shows that he has to defend his mistake at any cost and can't admit that it was a big mistake to vote for such a poorly written law.

Below is his original response. He edited the response and removed the "Listen Up!", perhaps because it showed his arrogant, agressive attitude.
I responded with: Below is his response. Please note that he does not attempt to address any of the issues nor answer any of the questions. Mr. Judge is clearly better than everyone else since even though no one knows of a crime due to children going to a house on Halloween, he doesn't buy that. He KNOWS it is an issue and facts will not change his opinion. Notice the Mr. Judge claims that there are men taking pictures of children that come to the door, but when asked to back that statement up, he is completely silent. It sounds like he is just making things up out of whole cloth.

For some odd reason Mr. Judge seems to think that unless a person has children, goes trick or treating or has experience enforcing the law that they should not have any opinion on the "wonderful" work the Council did with this law. Remember, Mr. Judge is a LAPD officer, so perhaps that explains his arrogant, agressive attitude towards people. He is the judge and jury on this matter, without any real facts and refuses to back up any of his statements. Perhaps we should call him "Judge Dredd" with his attitude.
What does this have to do with the issues? Nothing!! What it does show is that Mike Judge can't defend his position and is willing to do anything in order to not to admit that he made a mistake.

I wrote: He then responded with: He never answered any of the question nor addressed any of the issue. He claim that I am "spinning" it is absurd and without any merit. I am bringing up the issue with the law, how is that spinning anything? This is the problem with the Simi Valley City Council, they are lacking in common sense and are not able to do the right thing, in the right way.

It shocks me that Mike Judge, a LAPD Officer, would consider that such a law could be enforced. Perhaps he does not care what a bogus arrest would do to a person, nor the cost to defend against a bogus charge, not to mention the total cost to everyone involved.

To paraphrase a line from a movie, Mike Judge can't handle the truth.



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Written: 03-Oct-2012

Updated: 14-Sep-2014

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