Category Archives: Limited Government

Throwback Thursday: Ferguson Troubles Began in Garden

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Three years ago today, I shared news about a man in Ferguson, Mo., — yes, the same town where the Michael Brown incident took place in August 2014 — who was fighting for the right to grow food in his garden without first obtaining permission from the city. Below I share that story again, along with an update and some observations.

Karl Tricamo received a citation for gardening without permission.

On April 23, 2012, Karl Tricamo received a citation from the city of Ferguson, Mo., for gardening without permission.

During World War I and World War II, it was considered one’s patriotic duty to plant a “victory garden” in order to reduce food costs.  Doing such a thing today, however, could result in one man having to pay a hefty fine or worse if officials in the backward city of Ferguson, Mo., get their way.

According to a news release from Dave Roland at the Freedom Center of Missouri, Karl Tricamo never imagined that it would be especially controversial when he decided to plant a garden in his yard in order to secure cheap, nutritious, organic produce for his family.  Just to be sure, however, he looked up all of the relevant ordinances in the city just north of St. Louis and confirmed that he would not be violating any laws.

Tricamo found that nothing in the ordinances prohibit citizens from growing healthy, organic produce on one’s property.  In fact, the city’s zoning ordinances specifically allow residents to cultivate community gardens and urban agricultural uses in residential areas.

Because he planted the garden in front of his house instead of behind it, Ferguson city officials soon began to pester Tricamo, going so far as suggesting that his garden was illegal.  Roland described the chain of events that followed:

In March, shortly after he had tilled the garden in preparation for planting, the city sent a letter commanding that the yard be covered in straw and planted with grass seed – even though nothing in the city ordinances requires yards to be planted with grass or prohibits the planting of a garden on residential property.

Six weeks later city officials sent another letter demanding the removal of the vegetables from his yard because the property was not zoned for “agricultural” use, but of course the relevant section of Ferguson’s zoning ordinances explicitly allows gardens to be grown in residential areas.  Then the City sent Mr. Tricamo a notice (below) alleging a violation of Ferguson ordinance number 7-133 – but that ordinance addresses the structural elements of residential buildings such as foundations, walls, windows and doors, stairways, chimneys, gutters, roofs, and buildings’ exterior surfaces.  It says nothing about yards.

When Mr. Tricamo confronted the City about this violation notice, they rapidly backtracked and claimed that it had been sent by accident!  The City said he should disregard the notice, but have continued to insist that Tricamo’s garden is illegal.

According to Roland, this situation illustrates a common practice among some city officials; when all else fails in their attempt to control citizens’ behavior, they sometimes just make stuff up.

UPDATE: Barely three weeks after publishing the article above, I received another news release from Roland. Dated July 26, 2012, it contained the paragraph below which summed up the outcome of the case:

The Board of Adjustment took up the matter on Wednesday evening and heard arguments from the City, Mr. Roland, Mr. Tricamo, and several members of the community. In addition to the legal arguments that the Freedom Center advanced, the testimony pointed out the growing movement in favor of organic, locally-grown produce and the well-documented challenges that low-income families face in finding reasonably priced vegetables in grocery stores. In the end, four of the five members of the Board of Adjustment agreed that Ferguson’s zoning laws do not prohibit citizens from growing gardens in residential areas. Ferguson’s residents are free to grow vegetables in their yards as long as they are not violating a specific ordinance or endangering the public health or safety.

In light of events that put Ferguson on the world map for all the wrong reasons some 25 months later, I suspect many city residents and officials wish this gardening fiasco had been the worst of their troubles.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Book Excerpt: Nation’s First Latino President Takes Office

Coming only days after the passage of a controversial trade agreement, recent Supreme Court Decisions on gay marriage and healthcare have many Americans upset with the folks in Washington, D.C., who claim to represent their interests. If you count yourself among them, I think you’ll enjoy the timely excerpt below from Chapter 11 of my recently-released crime-fiction novel, The National Bet:

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

With the line of succession to the presidency obliterated, surviving members of the U.S. House and Senate met for five days straight to discuss a one-time, extra-Constitutional means for resolving this never-before-experienced crisis. They were joined by a select number of individuals from outside the legislative branch who had been instrumental in securing the top-level resignations. Together, they worked to select a successor to serve out the remainder of President Obama’s second term.

Minus any smoke signals, several rounds of papal election-style voting took place during an exhausting three-day period until one man, a proven leader without the baggage of a Beltway insider, emerged from the pack.

Governor Franklin G. Rivera was a second-term governor from Wyoming who some people—but not the man himself—liked to refer to as “FGR.” Far more conservative than the three-term president who, decades earlier, had been associated with a similar three-letter acronym, Governor Rivera’s public approval ratings were higher than any other statewide office holder in the country.

With much trepidation, the governor accepted the job just a few minutes before noon Saturday, July 4, 2015.

After taking the oath of office behind closed doors and without fanfare, the nation’s first Latino president addressed the nation at 3 p.m., delivering the first of many difficult messages he would be called upon to share as Commander- in-Chief:

My fellow Americans, many of you have suffered tremendous losses during the past several months. To you, I offer a sincere apology on behalf of every elected official in Washington.

Members of Congress have, with the cooperation of too many American presidents, gotten away with robbery for far too long. They’ve allowed taxing and spending to get out of control. And they’ve allowed government regulation to trample common sense and decency. As a result, we’ve all paid a price higher than most of us care to calculate.

During the next twelve months, I pledge to work tirelessly to establish legal safeguards in our system via which we will do more than simply prevent members of Congress from increasing the national debt. The safeguards I propose will involve imposing stiff financial penalties on individual members of Congress who choose to waste taxpayers’ dollars on any projects or programs that increase the national debt and the burden on our children and grandchildren.

Even more important than that, however, is my top priority—ensuring that all of your assets, taken from you illegally by the previous administration, are returned to you as quickly as possible.

I’ve set July 4, 2016, as the date by which your money, the money that is rightfully yours, will be returned, with interest, to your bank accounts, to your 401K accounts and to your other retirement savings vehicles. It will be a Financial Independence Day when government no longer has its hands on your money.

President Rivera’s speech resonated with the justifiably jaded American people.

After learning more about the energetic sixty-year-old president’s background via biopic news and feature reports that surfaced following his appointment, most Americans seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact his legal-immigrant parents had set a good example for their oldest son and his five younger siblings, all of whom had been born in the United States.

Not surprisingly, they liked knowing Rivera’s parents had realized success as farmers, growing mostly wheat and soybeans on the flatlands of eastern Colorado. And they liked the fact that the new president’s four adult children seemed to be decent, well-educated people not seeking to ride their father’s political coattails.

In addition, they liked the fact he had become successful through hard work, determination and a steadfast refusal to run with the pack when the pack was heading in the wrong direction. And they liked how he seemed to take time to think before opening his mouth to speak and refused to compromise his Christian faith.

Most importantly, they liked how President Rivera’s early actions spoke even louder than his personal history.

In addition to signing an executive order on Day One that banned the use of taxpayer dollars on inaugural activities, he signed another that prohibited all federal employees from participating in inaugural activities, public or private.

The new president also completed the process of appointing cabinet members within two days and warned members of Congress not to waste any time in approving his nominees, saying, “We have important business to take care of!”

During his first year in office, President Rivera worked too hard and slept too little while waging a gallant effort to restore stability. Not a single round of golf was played, and vacations were off limits for White House staffers and all who remained employed on Capitol Hill.

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from The National Bet. Beyond that, I hope you’ll share it and order a copy to see what happens before and after this presidential moment.

Click here to read other excerpts from The National Bet and my two nonfiction books, The Clapper Memo and Three Days In August.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

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