What is the world coming to? Things are just going to pieces. A recent read of the local police blotter reveals a disturbing spike in criminality around here. It's really quite alarming. Why just last week an innocent, God-fearing woman on Deer Valley Drive was violently assaulted on her own front porch. By a magpie! A magpie chick had fallen from the nest as was on the front porch. When the woman stepped out of the house, the mother magpie came at her with malicious intent and pecked at her.
The woman did the right thing and promptly called 911. For some reason, the police responded. Instead of hanging up, they dispatched an officer (or given the work load this time of year, probably several officers and a SWAT team, with a world-renown magpie behavior specialist). The officers quickly gained control of the situation. The magpie, who had no prior record, was let go with a warning. The homeowner was advised to use the back door until the magpie chick had recovered from the fall. The chick, after an evaluation and MRI at the poshpital, was sent home in good condition.
Week after week there are disturbing reports of people standing on the Masonic Hill water tank. The tank has been there for many years, and it is a popular spot to stop on a mountain bike ride and enjoy the view of Old Town. It's one of the better views in town. After twenty years or so of people pausing to enjoy the view from the water tank, the City has decided that it is a serious criminal offense. They have video surveillance on the tank, and don't want anybody loitering about there.
Obviously, we don't want people scuba diving in the drinking water, or tampering with it in any way. There are already enough unpleasant chemicals in the drinking water without somebody adding any more. But it seems like a decent padlock on the hatch and the video camera should solve it. The terrorists have a list of targets—the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, next up, is the Masonic Hill water tank. You can't be too careful these days. So when you bike or hike along that trail, and every natural urge says you need to stop and enjoy the view and comment that you live in one of the world's incredibly beautiful places, resist. Keep moving, or you will be doing 90 days for loitering with intent to enjoy the scenery.
The City is not alone in this outbreak of lawlessness. There was a report that a man was seen riding a horse on S.R. 224, while leading two other horses. The Equine Incident Response Team was dispatched, and the man was told he was blocking traffic. This one hit home. I spent the better part of a morning this week after an equine jailbreak at home. Four horses got out and were running amok on the highway. Fortunately, the highway at my house doesn't carry much traffic except on the weekends. But it took a while to gather them up and get them back in the pasture.
There was a time when it was normal to see horses on 224. You don't have to be ancient to remember when we all got our cars undercoated with the manure from the dairy cows parading across the highway to get milked. And there were at least a few incidents where people rode their horses through the front door and right up to the bar at the Alamo. Reports vary as to what the horses were drinking.
The County Council has opened the Pandora's Box of leash laws. It's hard to imagine a more fruitless endeavor than that. If they try to put a single ordinance in place that subjects the shiatsus of Deer Valley and the Pyrenees sheep dogs of the east side of the County to the same regulations, they are doomed to fail. I've never yet seen a rancher rounding up cattle with his border collie on a leash.
In typical form, they are looking at some options that are downright Baroque in their approach. Dogs could earn a special license by demonstrating their good behavior, and earn the right to be off leash. Already dog owners are lining up to get their pets into prestigious dog training academies, so they can claim that their mutt is not only fifth in line to the British throne, but has a diploma from Harvard's dog obedience program.
They will regret the day they ever took this topic up. It would be far more popular to raise taxes than regulate dogs. Meanwhile, nobody is doing anything about the growing magpie menace.
Stay vigilant out there.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.