One of the most wonderful things about America is our system of government, despite how tediously terrible our day-to-day relationship with politics is. We are well-represented, for the most part, and the biggest complaints we’ve had as of late is about how far to the right or the left we’ll wind up.
We’re lucky, at least in that regard.
But there are still some awful, bureaucratic nightmares out there to be managed, and there are several strange, spiraling situations that should never be allowed to happen.
An example of these sorts of messes has just manifested itself in sunny Florida, and the sheer inanity of it is almost mesmerizing.
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Sandy Martinez has a car. So do her two adult children and her sister. When all four cars were parked at Martinez’s home in Lantana, Florida, two of them sometimes extended slightly beyond the driveway, which is flanked by her lawn and a walkway. Because that violation of Lantana’s municipal code is punishable by a fine of $250 per day, the city is demanding more than $100,000 from her, plus another $63,500 for cracks in the driveway and a fence that was blown over in a storm.
Martinez is fighting back.
In a lawsuit that Martinez filed today with help from the Institute for Justice, she argues that such an enormous bill for trivial code violations—amounting to nearly four times her annual income—runs afoul of Florida’s constitution. “The government cannot lock you into a lifetime of debt and cripple you financially for minor infractions that do not threaten health or safety,” says Institute for Justice attorney Ari Bargil. “Florida’s Constitution forbids fines that are ‘excessive’ or ‘shock the conscience.’ And that’s exactly how to describe six-figure fines for petty violations—unconscionable.”
She was also on the hook for another $47,000+ after an insurance claim delayed the repairing of a fence on her property.
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