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Stanger Wants Kinder, Gentler Nazis in COTHNA Neighborhood Association

May 1st, 2007 by Halli

Today Kathy Stanger, member of the “readers’ advisory board” for the Idaho Falls newspaper, responds to our posts, The Gestapo Comes to Idaho Falls, Part I, and Part II. The area of Idaho Falls in question is known as COTHNA, or the Crow’s & Original Townsite Historic Neighborhood Association. It is important to identify this group because the newspaper article never refers to it by name.

In our posts, a COTHNA publication is quoted which urges residents of the area to report to the city any neighbors whose property may fail to meet city code. If found in violation, the reporting will result in citations, fines, etc. for the property owner. It was observed that the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, employed similar tactics in urging neighbors to report on each other to expose anti-Nazi sentiment and illegal behavior in the lead up to World War II.

While never denying the obvious parallel, the author of the newspaper article opines that there is justification for such reporting. Several of her points simply cry out for response.

1. The article asserts that the formation of COTHNA was intended to return the area to the “friendliness and safety” of her childhood.

I experience a variety of feelings when I suspect my neighbors of watching my property for code violations in order to report them. “Friendliness and safety” are not among those sensations.

2. The author observes that “our success has been heartening…in our search for a sense of community”.

Apparently her sense of community is based upon the ability to personally supervise neighbors and enforce compliance with city code.

3. And yes, “We’re talking about city code,” the article reads, “not city proposition. In other words, it’s the law.”

That’s right, and all citizens of Idaho Falls are glad you feel that way. Can we also count on COTHNA board members to report our curfew-defying teens, police the restrooms at Kate Curley Park (located in your neighborhood) for vandalism, and rid our streets of gangs? Best left to law enforcement, I believe.

It is important to note what the law is NOT. The law does NOT require citizens to report those who fail to comply with city code. The only lawbreaking that REQUIRES reporting (of which I am aware) is abuse of children. And that is not city code.

There are even some lessons from Kindergarten that can be applied to this situation. Do you remember how everyone hated the bossy little girl who had her nose in everyone else’s finger paint? She was the first to remind you to keep the paint on the paper, and the first to “tell teacher” when you accidentally dripped it on the floor. We didn’t like her. She didn’t make the class feel friendly and safe. We didn’t feel like a “community”. We resented her actions.

4. The article states, “It’s also a way of finding the elderly and challenged who can’t help themselves and need the help of their neighbors.”

Let’s see, “it’s” in this case must refer to reporting neighbors to the city for failure to comply with code, because that is what this entire discussion concerns. So, I report overgrown weeds in a yard down the street, and the elderly and/or challenged property owner receives a citation from the city enforcers. I’ve done my civic duty, according to this reasoning.

Perhaps we could leave government out of this altogether and simply invite neighbors to help the elderly/challenged neighbor clean up. Wouldn’t the desired result be obtained, without making the neighbor feel like a criminal outcast? Government does very few things well. Charity and compassion are best left to individuals – neighbors, if you will.

In conclusion, a humble suggestion is made. If, as the author claims, she wishes to feel friendliness, safety and a sense of community, I suggest she sell her home, which (we learn from her comments) is located in a deteriorating and dangerous section of Idaho Falls. It is clearly beyond the ability of the City or the neighbors to improve the situation.

Then, for peace of mind, she could move into a more controlled community, with gates, armed guards, and a strict Home Owners’ Association (HOA), where she will feel more comfortable.

The article contains a scripture reference, 2 Timothy 1:7, to describe the author’s attitude towards her neighborhood. I do believe, as claimed, that she feels the spirit “of power” – over her neighbors as she seeks to force them to comply with city code. However, I believe COTHNA residents may justifiably feel the “spirit of fear” referred to in the same verse as they await possible code enforcement, fines, or worse, as a result of neighborhood reporting.

I suggest another verse of scripture, found in the 7th chapter of the book of Matthew.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Some folks call this the Golden Rule.

But the bottom line is this: We do not have an argument about the validity of city code. The argument is about method of enforcement. Kathy Stanger has issued and defended a call which pits neighbor against neighbor in order to force compliance with government regulation (which, incidentally, will ultimately improve her own property values).

She cloaks the call in warm and fuzzy terms designed to evoke happy childhood memories and visions of happy neighbors interacting on the front lawn. But the result of complying with her request to turn in neighbors will be hard feelings, suspicion and isolation.

I issue a call to Kathy to seek non-governmental solutions to real problems, to be forthcoming about her personal goals, and to be intellectually honest with herself and others.

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Posted in Family Matters, General, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. David Says:

    Ah – there you go again. You have never been to any COTHNA meeting I have been at. If you had you would have been obviously pleased to note that the line in your article that refers to talking to your neighbors and inviting them to help each other is exactly what the city zoning person says we should do first. Open lines of communication with our neighbors, discuss politely with them any problems. Even the zoning people do this when they see a problem. Tickets and fines are not their first action. They use patience, encouragement and education to try to make our community a nicer place to live in. Why do you continue to slam their program? Have you talked to them about their program? Are your points based on any kind of factual information? And when there ARE dangerous or unsanitary conditions, would you really belittle a person who brought that to the attention of authorities who are better equipped to deal with it? You’d really just look the other way and figure somebody else will take care of it? COTHNA’s purpose is to provide opportunity to meet your neighbors, get to know them, discuss issues with them, and yes – look for solutions to help our neighborhood stay together as a place we can all continue to be proud to live in. If you lived in this neighborhood or came to our meetings you wouldn’t take the meaning of looking out for our neighbors and turn it into something nasty as you have tried to do. Again I say, these meetings are not secret, we are not out to get anybody, and I take great offense at being compared to the Nazi secret police. As far as I can see, you don’t live in my neighborhood, don’t come to meetings where we talk about what issues are of concern to us, and don’t have any correct information about what the city is doing to help us solve some of the problems that we, as neighbors, have identified. What do you do in your neighborhood if someone is pushing drugs across the street or letting the weeds grow to be a fire hazard to your property? Do you put your head in the sand? Do you just figure the police will take care of it? Someone once said that if you are not willing to be part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Get involved in a positive way. It is NOT beyond any of our abilities to improve our community. Sure Kathy could leave if she chose to, but instead she stays and tries to effect positive change in the neigborhood. Looking out for others is really what the “Do Unto Others” part of the Golden Rule is about.

  2. You two are hate mongers Says:

    The fact that you would even use terms associated with the slaughter of 40 million people in comparison to what a homeowners association is doing is pathetic and shows just how hateful you two are. You two should be ashamed and you are despicable.

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