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When Government Doesn’t Work, Private Citizens Should Shame It

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Unread 07.12.13, 01:53 AM
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When Government Doesn’t Work, Private Citizens Should Shame It

07.11.13 09:01 PM

What do you usually do when a route you frequently commute is littered with axle-busting potholes? Maybe you call and complain to your local officials, or perhaps they really don’t bother you all that much. If you’ve ever resorted to the former course of action, you’re likely aware that government road crews don’t often move quickly.

Well, a Jackson, Miss., man got fed up with his local streets being littered with potholes, despite promises by elected officials to take care of the problem, and decided to take matters into his own hands.

Ron Chane, who is described by local media as a mild-mannered small-business owner, headed to a local municipal site where road-repair supplies are stored, stole several buckets of asphalt and set about filling more than 100 potholes in his community.

“I’m probably stealing from the city, but there’s not a sign saying ‘Don’t take this and put it in potholes,’” Chane told the Clarion Ledger. “So I’m putting (the asphalt) back where it belongs.”

The Pothole Patchman, as he has become known by locals, also marked each of the holes he repaired with large white lettering saying, “CITIZEN REPAIRED!”

Some city officials, undoubtedly embarrassed by the citizen activist, did call for his arrest for stealing; but no charges have been levied.

“We applaud anyone who commits to making reasonable improvements within their communities, but we do not accept any use of the city’s resources without going through the proper legal channels,” the city’s mayor said in a recent press release without directly addressing Chane’s repair of potholes.

While the city’s mayor may not of directly addressed what the Pothole Patchman is up to, it seems his neighbors applaud the effort.

Chane’s efforts are a demonstration in civic responsibility that cash-strapped governments throughout the Nation ought to note: Private citizens can provide, often faster and more effectively, many of the same services as red tape-laden bureaucratic agencies.

“I think that kind of thing is fabulous,” Virgi Lindsay, executive director of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation, told local media. “I would like to say ‘thank you very much,’ to this citizen.

“The city cannot do everything,” Lindsay said. “The government can’t take care of everyone, so I applaud any citizen for stepping up to fix the problem.”

Chase said that the idea to fix the potholes himself came as he drove behind a “hippie van” and was repeatedly jarred by potholes on a trip to the local Denny’s in May.

On the back of the van in front of him was a bumper sticker that said, “Quit your (fussing) and do something about it.”

So he did.

Chane said that he has been contacted by Mississippi Department of Transportation officials to talk about the State-owned asphalt he used to fix the holes, and was told MDOT did not plan to prosecute in this case.

After all, it’s not like he was trying to recreate Kramer’s “two lane comfort cruise.”

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