In 1788, Thomas Jefferson sounded a warning to generations of Americans to come when he wrote these words in a letter to E. Carrington:
“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
On May 23, 2011, democracy committed suicide in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A democratically elected government willingly voted to limit the privacy, liberty, and security of citizens.
That evening, by a majority 6 to 1 vote, the elected governing body of Cedar Falls — its City Council — passed Ordinance 2740.
Ordinance 2740 is an amendment to Chapter 11, Fire Prevention and Protection, of the Code of Ordinances relative to adoption of the 2009 Edition of the International Fire Code.
Translated from bureaucratese into ordinary English language, Ordinance 2740 allows the city government to have the keys to privately-owned properties, including commercial businesses, apartments, and some rental houses — all in the name of fire prevention and protection. The twisted reasoning is that if the government has those keys, it could gain quick entrance to properties should there be a fire. [Read the city council’s meeting minutes here.]
The amended code reads as follows:
Subsection 506.3 A fire department key box shall be installed in each commercial or industrial building in the city which is equipped with a fire detection, fire alarm, or fire suppression system that is monitored by an alarm company with direct connection to the dispatch center of the city, and in each building equipped with an unsupervised local alarm system, and where immediate access to the interior of the building by fire department personnel is necessary for life-saving or firefighting purposes. A fire department key box shall also be installed in each residential property consisting of six (6) or more residential dwelling units. Each fire department key box shall be of a type and shall be installed in a location that is approved by the fire chief or his or her designee, and shall be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. Each application for a fire department key box shall be submitted to the fire chief or his or her designee. The cost of purchase and installation of each fire department key box shall be paid by the building owner.
Each fire department key box shall contain the following keys:
a. Keys to each locked point of egress, whether on the exterior or interior of the building.
b. Keys to each locked mechanical room in the building.
c. Keys to each locked electrical room in the building.
d. Keys to other areas as determined by the fire chief or his or her designee.
A “fire department key box” means a secure box installed on the exterior of a building, containing keys to various locks on the premises of the building, to which only the fire chief or his or her designee has access.
If the building owner changes or causes to be changed any locks such that the keys located in the fire department key box will not unlock any of the locks described in this section, it shall be the responsibility of the building owner to furnish to the fire chief or his or her designee replacement keys to be placed in the fire department key box, at the owner’s expense.
Ordinance 2740 was championed by Council members Susan DeBuhr and Kamyar Enshayan. 6 out of 7 Council members voted in favor of the ordinance, all in the name of government protecting citizens. Only Councilman Nick Taiber voted against the ordinance. Here are the members of Cedar Falls’ City Council:
Tom Hagarty, 1st Ward
Susan DeBuhr. 2nd Ward
John Runchey, 3rd Ward
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Although the ordinance was undertaken by an elected city council, that doesn’t mean it’s right. Imagine if an elected body voted in favor of murder or theft. This 6-1 vote by the Cedar Falls City Council is an act of democracy committing suicide. As Americans, we should all be appalled. Here’s what you can do:
We may not live there, but we can vow to never visit this community. Call the Cedar Falls City Hall and give them a piece of your mind. They may not listen to their citizens at this point, but if they recieved thousands of phone calls in one day from people stating they will boycott Cedar Falls and/or the entire state of Iowa, maybe they will listen. Here’s the contact info:
- City Council members (see above)
- City Hall: phone (319) 273-8600; voice mail box 6981.
- Mayor Jon Crews: phone (319) 268-511; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
H/t loyal Fellows, May and Sunnydupree.
~Steve & Eowyn