Friday, January 6, 2012

Willowick mayor's verbiage aids ordinance alteration

One of my favorite moments of 2011 had to have been the surprising and truthful quote Willowick Mayor Richard Bonde gave me last fall.

“I’ve said over and over again that if an ordinance is on the books, we’ll enforce it, but this one is just stupid.”

Even though my story wasn’t solely about Willowick or the ordinance in question, I knew there was no way that would simply remain a quote in the report. It was headline material for sure. I mean, when’s the last time your mayor spoke that candidly?

The law he spoke of was one established in 2004 that made it necessary for the operator of motorized scooters to have a driver’s license. It wouldn’t be an issue if those who rode scooters like the Razor weren’t in the third grade.

In essence, Bonde saw the potential for youngsters throughout his city to be cited for having fun. He pushed council for an ordinance alteration, and he finally got it on Tuesday.

The new language lifts the prohibition of motorized scooters for those without licenses. Under the revamped ordinance, citations will only occur if the operator is using it in “any willful or wanton disregard or without due regard for the safety of persons or property.” The law is now in accord with those in most communities surrounding Willowick.

Bonde credited the city’s police department with the research and legwork needed for city council to make the best decision.

“We really thought having it under reckless operation made the most sense,” he said. “We’re talking about safety anyway, and it’s the kids who are riding those things.”

This always seemed to be more Bonde’s mission than that of council’s. Following that initial article, one council member indicated as much and seemed displeased it received any attention in the first place.

Understandable, but when a small suburban mayor calls a law “stupid,” the media’s usually going to listen.

-- Brandon C. Baker

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