It’s nothing to sniff at

People complain that our national politicians are a bunch of self-righteous thieves who aren’t responsive to the people, but I disagree.

Sure, they are self-righteous thieves, but they’re also responsive to the people — especially if “the people” are lobbies, corporations and the obscenely-rich.

As for state politics? National Politics Lite.

But I want to believe our local politcos (and politicas) are a different ilk. Because everything’s in plain sight, I’d like to think they’ll address and solve our problems as soon as they come to light. And because They’re also in the light, it keeps them from straying into the darkness.

While I almost never pollute my page with political polemic, I recently made a couple of exceptions. I didn’t do it for kicks — these are literally life-and-death matters.

One, which was last week’s column, was about our new National Pastime — cell phone addiction, especially while driving.

The other was about an apparently-unknown law that, while on the books, is never enforced in Saranac Lake. It is the quaint idea that pedestrians have right-of-way, especially in crosswalks.

I haven’t heard of any action taken on these issues since I wrote about them, but I could just be out of the loop. More likely, however, I’ve heard nothing because nothing’s being done. But while I’m bummed out about inaction with those issues, something IS being done by our local movers and shakers that gives me real hope for the future of My Home Town.

As reported in March 22 Enterprise, the village board has committed itself to The Great Canine Crap Crusade 2018.

The board decided enough was enough, if not too much. No longer will Fido, Fluffy and Frenchy be allowed to sully our streets, and our reputation. Uh-uh, your dog drops a deuce in the village and you stroll away without bagging it, then Saranac Lake’s finest are gonna bag you.

At least that’s the theory, and I have no problem with it. What I do have a problem with is figuring out how it’ll work — if it’ll work at all.

The only way to fly

The police department has said it’s the owner’s responsibility to clean up after their dogs. Anyone not doing it will be fined $50 the first time, $100 the second and $250 the third.

That’s as clear as it gets. But so what?

The pedestrian right-of-way law is on the books and there ain’t doodle-squat being done to enforce it. Ditto for drivers on cell phones. So the real issue is how will the anti-doo-doo law be enforced?

Face it, it can’t be done from inside a patrol car.

The only way to enforce it is with boots on the ground (but watch where you step!). So will we have police foot patrols? That makes perfect sense, but since we haven’t had cops walking a beat in decades, I doubt we’ll have them in the future.

Cops on bikes are a viable option. They’d have great mobility and the element of surprise. And catch this: We even have a couple of cop bikes. But at last count they were languishing away deep in the bowels of the PD … where they’ll no doubt continue to languish.

So if the cops won’t be on foot or bike, how can they catch the perps in flagrante defecation?

Good question. And luckily I just happen to have the answer. It’s The Doo-Doo Dirigible.

OK, so it wouldn’t be real dirigible, but it’d be the 21st Century equivalent — a drone. They can be controlled from thousands of miles away, so controlling them from a few hundred yards would be a cinch. It’s a perfect set-up: We’d have the eye in the sky … and the cop in the shop.


Bust from above

Here’s how I imagine it: The drone’s in the air, sending a live video feed to a cop, Officer X, in front of a console in the police station. Given those cameras’ resolutions and range, the cop can see a whole lot of the town while the drone cruises. When it hovers, she can zoom in on anything she’s interested in.

So let’s say the drone is cruising the Riverwalk – or more exactly, what’s officially called the Riverwalk. In reality, if you’ve ever tried to walk it, it’s less a Riverwalk than a Fecal Free Fire Zone. There are bag dispensers along the Riverwalk, but apparently most people walking dogs there vowed never to use them – and have kept the vow.

Anyhow, some guy’s walking his dog by the FFFZ. They stop, the dog deposits a pile of recycled Ralston, and the two of them then walk away. Or at least they try to, because they’re in Officer X’s sights. She then radios Car 54, tells the driver the situation, gives the coordinates, and before the scofflaw knows it, the long arm of the law has him – and Bowser — in its grasp.

It think this is a brilliant solution to the problem, and I’m not just saying it because I came up with it. Oh, maybe I am saying that because I came up with it, but I still think it’s the most effective solution. Naysayers will argue we can’t do it because it’d cost so much, but I’ve already got that covered.

It’s in the bag

We can get all the extra expense of the drone and its operator easily taken care of by a few simple changes.

First, instead of a $50 fine for first offense, we make it $500, plus court costs (another five C’s). Second offense? No piddlin’ $100, podnah. Make the fool cough up a cool thou, and another thou for court costs. As for third offense? Don’t sweat it, because there won’t be one.

On top of that, we have our cops start busting drivers for brushing people off crosswalks and for using cell phones.

Finally, our judicial branch will be throwing book after book at the offenders. I have faith in this, since I know The Law East of the Pecos, the Honorable Ken McLaughlin, will apply both Solomonic wisdom and Draconian punishment in equal measure.

The results? At last, it’ll be assanitary to walk on our streets, as it will be safe to cross them.

Put my plan in action, and I’ll bet in no time at all you’ll see some major changes.

People will clean up after their dogs.

Drivers will obey traffic laws.

And if they know what’s good for ’em, the damned pigeons’ll start flying over the village upside-down!