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Tanner Andrews

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Tanner Andrews

Let me be upfront about it. In this age of political correctness, many people are reluctant to use the old common names for things.

For instance, Jewfish are now “Goliath grouper.” Three thousand years ago, David slew Goliath; I guess this is some sort of belated revenge.

Tradescantia ohiensis, formerly Ohio bluejacket, is now known as Ohio spiderwort. It may be that some animosity toward the blue remains from the War. The plant itself appears to be purely decorative, not bearing edible fruit.

Even worse is what I have recently seen under the name Bidens alba. We used to call it Spanish needles, but the term “Spanish” is now associated with the Spanish Inquisition, Spanish flu, and Spanish Ticklers.

Spanish needles are a terrible pest. Brush by after it has bloomed: Your pants legs are thoroughly covered in long, thin seeds, each held on by two nearly invisible hooks on one end. I pull the plants up as soon as I see them.

Still, they are said to provide support for butterflies, and to have some medicinal and nutritional value. So, as long as it is your yard, I have no complaint. And I certainly have no complaint about spiderwort.

DeBary sees it differently. They are fining a retiree $500 per day for having these things in his yard. Since the guy survives on $650 per month, the city claims nearly a year’s income every two weeks. Some people might deem that excessive.

DeBary uses a code-enforcement magistrate to assess these fines. The city hires the magistrate, who is keenly aware of where his paycheck comes from. That makes him particularly eager to impose huge fines at his employer’s request.

The city spokescritter explained, “The bottom line is, you have to comply.”

When the city wants something, you must obey. Forget pollinators, avoid unapproved flowers, bother the gophers. The essential thing is that you must obey.

The spokescritter also claimed that the wild plants are a “health issue.” That is where spokescritters differ from you and me. They can tell such porkies and keep straight faces. They also goose-step more gracefully. Do not try these things at home.

Naturally, if you do not obey, DeBary will try to take your house. It is easy to figure out what the folks at City Hall are thinking because they explain it themselves — “we need to ensure there is a penalty.”

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize

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