John and Melissa McCafferty are parents and residents of Radnor Green, Delaware, a quiet suburban neighborhood. In their front yard was a basketball pole and hoop that had been there for 60 years.
Last fall the McCaffertys received a letter from DelDOT (Delaware Department of Transportation) informing them that the placement of the pole was in violation of state law by being within seven feet of the public street, and that the pole had to be removed. They were working with DE State Rep. Bryon Short to contest the removal of the pole due to alleged traffic violations.
Before the matter was resolved, a truck came rambling through the neighborhood yanking poles out of yards. Melissa McCafferty beat the truck to her house, where she parked in front of her family’s hoop and climbed atop the pole in her fuzzy slippers to keep the killjoys from ripping her private property off of her private property.
Law enforcement officers had to be brought in to enforce the removal under threat of arrest. John McCafferty asked if they could keep their pole after it was removed. He was clearly told that he had the option of having the pole laid in his driveway after the removal. The pole was ripped out, and as the workers loaded it into their truck, John protested.
The woman that seemed to be in charge of the law enforcement contingent said, “They’ll lay it in your driveway,” after John asked to keep his poll. When they start to haul it away, he said, “That pole’s staying, please.”
“No, all of them are gone,” the woman responded.
“What??” John yelled in obvious frustration, “You just told me I could keep it! You lied.”
“I did not lie ... You can come and pick it up at a later date.”
“You didn’t say that, you said I could keep my pole!”
She did say that. The whole exchange is on video. Law enforcement lied to a private citizen about his rights. But wait! There’s more. She then tells the McCaffertys (with a pointed finger, as if she’s speaking to a belligerent toddler) that they need to go inside their house and not taunt the DelDOT workers. You know, because construction workers might get their feelings hurt or something.
This is government run amuck. Removing private property from private citizens and denying them their first amendment right to free speech, in their own front yards. Tom Blythe must be happy, since he’s one of the few that complained about the poles in the first place. It seems that kids were actually using them to play basketball instead of other popular teen activities like fooling around, smoking pot, or shoplifting. According to Mr. Blythe, the kids were “making all kinds of noise and disturbing the peace.”
Paraphrased: “Get off my lawn!”
This is the perfect opportunity for a little bit of PR activity from a certain First Lady. Michelle Obama has made childhood health her priority, and what better way to get kids active than playing neighborhood sports? She could have a little sit-down with Tom Blythe and explain about shared sacrifice, something she and her hubby support whole-heartedly. She could talk to the kids about getting out of the way quickly for cars passing through. The community could probably use the morale boost.