Friday, November 04, 2011

Proposed Sarasota County Ordinances

Two new ordinances are under consideration by Sarasota County Government. The ordinances concerns second hand dealers and recyclable metals. The present text of the ordinances can be found here.

I am against these ordinances. Whether you agree or disagree, you have an opportunity to comment by sending an e-mail to

Here is what I sent in:

Dear Sarasota County Commissioners:

My name is Adam Tebrugge. I have been a resident of Sarasota County since 1979. I purchased my home in the City of Sarasota in 1986. I operate my law practice, Tebrugge Legal, in the City of Bradenton, though I practice extensively in Sarasota County. Though I am a member of many organizations, I am writing solely in my role as a private citizen.

I appreciate the work effort of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Sarasota County Attorney's Office in drafting the proposed ordinances. They have invited me to make recommendations for improving the ordinances. However, for the reasons I give below, I am recommending that you vote against each of the proposed ordinances.

The Ordinances Are Duplicative Of State Law:
I work primarily as a criminal defense attorney. Every day I defend persons charged with burglary, criminal mischief, theft and dealing in stolen property. State criminal law already provides for substantial punishment for each of these crimes. I do not understand why Sarasota County would need to pass ordinances on the same subjects.

The Ordinances Are Not Needed:
In the preamble to each ordinance, I find the statement: "Sarasota County citizens and businesses have suffered recent losses in excess of $7.9 million." No foundation or citation is provided to support this assertion. Even if true, I do not understand why a separate ordinance is needed when theft and dealing in stolen property are already crimes.

The Ordinances Will Likely Have a Severe Impact Upon Existing Businesses:
Honestly I am astonished at the number of regulations that these ordinances will place on existing businesses. The amount of record keeping and compliance that is required will be extremely burdensome. Essentially these ordinances require intense work by private businesses solely for the purpose of aiding law enforcement investigations.

Second Hand Dealers and Recyclers Are Already Cooperative With Law Enforcement:
In practicing criminal law in this area for the past 27 years, I have learned that businesses in Sarasota County routinely go above and beyond the call of duty to assist law enforcement with investigations. Ordinances of this type will discourage voluntary cooperation because of the mandatory compliance requirements and threats of penalties.

Enforcement of These Ordinances Will Unnecessarily Burden Sarasota County Government:
From what I understand, Sarasota Sheriff's Deputies and Sarasota County Code Enforcement Officers will have mutual enforcement responsibilities. I am of the opinion that members of each of these departments already have enough to do. Therefore, it appears to me that Sarasota County would have to undertake significant expenditures to hire additional staff to ensure compliance with these ordinances.

The Ordinances Will Discriminate Against the Poor:
I have worked with indigent citizens for my entire legal career. I know a lot of people who have worked collecting recyclable materials or second hand goods in order to maintain a meager economic existence. I am very concerned that the requirements of these ordinances will have a disproportionate impact upon those citizens of Sarasota who live below the poverty line. Many of the people I work with have no identification or bank account. I do not believe that Sarasota County is allowed to prohibit cash transactions as the ordinance appears to do.

The County May Be Incurring Substantial Legal Fees to Defend These Ordinances:
I have reviewed the ordinances carefully and had great deal of difficulty understanding the purpose behind them, the requirements upon our citizens and businesses, the enforcement mechanisms and the punishment for violations. I believe that if these ordinances are passed, Sarasota County will be paying to defend them in Court for years to come. I sincerely believe that money could be better spent on other efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

Adam Tebrugge

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