VETO STATEMENT • Ordinance 2014-1
I am vetoing this ordinance on this date, July 16, 2014.
This ordinance “prohibits the positioning of basketball equipment in such as way that play will occur on city streets or sidewalks.” I take issue with this change to our city code for several reasons:
1. There are already laws on the books that address interference with the flow of traffic, noise, and unruly or disruptive behavior. The Amsterdam Police Department may manage these situations readily if called upon. This new ordinance is unnecessary and is punitive with respect to the majority of respectful and law-abiding children.
2. The ordinance presents an uncomfortable bias that targets at-risk and impoverished neighborhoods . Those playing basketball are frequently on streets that do not have space for level driveways. Many times, these properties serve multiple families and existing driveways are needed for parking, are in poor condition, or there is an absence of an accessible driveway altogether.
3. The stated reason that the ordinance is for “the safety of the children,” is illusory. There have been no injuries reported and other play in the streets is not restriced. Basketball is not any more of a problem than skateboarding, roller skating, touch football, pick-up Frisbee or just walking in the street. The author of this ordinance points to discourteous behavior of youth when a car attempts to pass. This ordinance will not suddenly change the behavior of these young people any more than it will teach parents and guardians proper parenting.
4. It has also been suggested this is a safety hazard, when in fact these sports and activities have gone on for generations in the streets and there has not been one instance of reported injury in memory.
5. This ordinance sends the wrong message to our youth. We need them to engage in positive neighborhood play rather than become involved in less productive activities. It is important that our city provide recreation opportunities for all of our residents, young and old. In general our residents are tolerant of each other – this ordinance is an act of intolerance.
I agree with the aldermen that advocate for improvements to our parks. I am optimistic that they will provide the funding necessary for materials and labor to upgrade our recreational facilities and meet the needs of our constituents.
In light of the aforementioned points, I hereby veto this ordinance.