4.27.2008

PA Man Arrested for Complaining

Watch out, DPUD, you're probably next. Marshall Pappert, a resident of the Pittsburgh suburb of Bridgeville has learned a valuable lesson about government effectiveness. He, speaking for both himself and his fellow neighbors, has taken the government to task for not dealing with a ready-mix concrete company in their neighborhood guilty of air pollution violations. According to the neighbors, the company begins running trucks at 2am, and the dust the company produces is so bad that residents can't even open their windows. The city and county officials have finally dealt with the problem:
The breaking point came when Pappert left three voice mail messages at the office of borough Manager Lori Collins.

"I'm asking you as a Bridgeville resident of 56 years to resign and get off of your position. Do the right thing," Pappert said in one message to Collins.

His messages accused the borough manager of going back on a promise to collect dust samples from homes and have them tested.

"You never did that. You said you were going to come over here with (Solicitor) Richard Ferris within a week. You told me that you were going to take a silicate sample, and that was it. And for four months, you left me wondering why you didn't," Pappert said.

Bogats said Pappert's messages gave him cause for concern because of "his voice tone, his voice influx, the anger that was present in his voice."

Bogats arrested Pappert on a charge of harassment, which is a criminal summary offense.

"In that voice mail that he left, did he curse?" Parsons asked.

"No," Bogats said.

"Did he threaten?" Parsons asked.

"No," Bogats said.

"What did he do that rose to the level of a crime?" Parsons asked.

"In section 2709 of the Pennsylvania crimes code, dealing with harassment, it specifically states that when a person, they harass, annoy or alarm an individual based upon the conduct, then it's harassment," Bogats said.
Emphasis mine.

They've quoted a Pittsburgh-area ACLU lawyer who feels this is a violation of Pappert's First Amendment rights, and I'm inclined to agree. Any small government-minded lawyers in the area feel like helping the guy out?

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