Napoleon complex: 8 small towns sticking it to the people

By Andrew Collins and Bre Payton│Watchdog.org

Every campaign season, eager politicians boast about their ability — or desire — to fight back against the nation’s ever-growing and bloated federal government.

Yet, out-of-control government, a trademark of Washington, D.C., isn’t limited to the Beltway. Big government can trickle down to small towns like Preston, Idaho, Augusta, Ga., and Ada, Okla.

Here are eight smaller towns trying to throw their weight around:

1. Air fresheners, tassels, and rosaries beware!

The tiny town of Mountain View, Colo., issues more “obstructed view” citations than the much larger Denver, Aurora and Boulder combined! The town expects 43 percent of its budget — a whopping $575,000 — to come from court fees!

2. Ponds over people

The town of August, Ga., used its eminent domain powers to seize 370 parcels, which it plans to use to build a detention pond. However, local residents weren’t the only ones hurt. The cost to taxpayers is expected to top $18 million!

3. Cash cams gone wild

Since 2011, the township of Piscataway, N.J., has used red-light cameras to issue 55,396 citations, collecting something to the tune of $4,710,415 in ticket revenue.

4. Like it never happened

The city clerk in Pleasant Hill, Calif., failed to produce City Council minutes for a whole year, leaving residents unable to reference or track official city actions.

5. Town not as sleepy as it seems

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An audit found that officials in Huntington, Texas, population 2,118, collected pay for thousands of hours they either didn’t work or weren’t supposed to. Records found that officials also falsified traffic citation records to collect fines higher than those imposed by the court.

6. Hooray for consistency — or not

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The city of Ada, Okla., has banned the use of tobacco products on public property. Also lumped in with the ban, however, are e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco.

7. They’re watching you

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Police in Alexandria, Va., snapped and saved 16 photos of a Watchdog.org reporter through the past six months, despite her virtually spotless driving record. They captured images of her car at work and even on her way to church!

8. A very big vehicle for a very small town

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The police department of Preston, Idaho, recently acquired an mine-resistant ambush protected — MRAP — vehicle, a military-grade vehicle previously used on the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems an odd fit for a tiny town of just more than 5,000 in southeastern Idaho, where the crime rate is far below the U.S. average and the town went about eight years in between homicides.

Contact Andrew Collins at Andrew.Collins@FranklinCenterHQ.org and Bre Payton at Bre@WatchdogVirginia.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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