The question reads, “Should St. Paul force Tuan Pham to take down the statue that rises 17 feet and violates zoning rules?” with two choices:
Yes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s yard junk or a religious icon, it has to conform to zoning laws.
No. Neighors aren’t complaining and it should be protected under the First Amendment.
“Yes” is the sensible answer, obviously. “No” is the one for people who want to claim Pham’s free speech (read: religion) was on trial at the same time.
The City Council decided to make him move it or lose it.
During the discussion, some council members noted that more than 40 neighbors had signed a petition in support of the statue.
Members called Pham a popular, likable fellow whose name appears on a plaque outside council chambers. He made the “St. Paul Neighborhood Honor Roll” for his good works in the community.
“This isn’t a popularity contest,” said council president Kathy Lantry, noting that she, the council and Pham were all bound by law. “It doesn’t matter who signed a petition or not.”
Council member Dave Thune recommended that Pham’s appeal be denied, and the council voted 5-2 in favor of Thune’s motion, with Dan Bostrom and Pat Harris opposed.
The family’s now bitching that they were unaware their side would only get 15 minutes to present their case. The “popular, likeable fellow” spent most of that time chatting with council and telling everyone present how much he loved the country. Nobody on his side got to snitch on everyone they know that leaves stuff within the “forbidden” zone.
Huy Pham said he never got the chance to share evidence he collected showing legal precedent for allowing “minimal disturbances” along the bluff line, including several existing structures.
They haven’t been forced to move their stuff so why should we, etc. Yeah well, I bet a cookie this lot is the only family with a 17 foot high statue ten feet from the edge of the bluff. Makes it a wee bit more noticeable for the City than the next door neighbour’s garden shed, even if it does sit on the other side of the invisible line between Can and Can’t.
Did you check out the poll and vote? I did.
The Yes votes: 482 (39%)
The No votes: 742 (60%)
I wish I had the power of P.Z. Myers to break this one. Isn’t that stupid? Laws are laws and they aren’t insisting he take down all his religious nuttery. They just want him to move the statue away from the edge. Why does this become a big deal as soon as a “holy” figure winds up being part of the story? Laws are laws. Follow or pay the price.
Quick edit: wish I would have thought of this before hitting publish. Grabbed a picture of the statue via My Fox Twin Cities which has a video up about the family’s plight (such as it is).