We assume that everyone, including government officials, exercise common sense when making decisions.
So much for that assumption: recently, a local government took an action that could destroy the dreams of a young girl for apparently no good reason.
Tiffany Miranda is a 10-year-old girl from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., who suffers from a rare, serious and incurable disease called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Because of this condition, she frequently experiences seizures. Some can last all day.
Her parents, Jessica Torres and Felix Miranda, were concerned about bringing her to public parks. So they were thrilled when the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided them with playground equipment so Tiffany could play in the safety of her home.
“She’s gone through so much,” Tiffany’s dad said. “It really touches both my wife and I,” Tiffany’s grandfather remarked, “It’s a dream come true for her. I just love to see that smile.”
But not everyone loved to see her smile.
According to CBS Los Angeles, the city government of Santa Fe Springs issued citations that ordered Tiffany’s parents to tear down her playground–claiming the storage of items in the front yard and backyard playground area were a “public nuisance” (which is different from an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool without a fence around it).
“When I asked the city, ‘So where do you expect my daughter to play?’ they said ‘Well, the city’s not responsible for your daughter’s disability,’” Tiffany’s mother, recalled. “They said ‘Your Tiffany is not our problem.’”
After media reports of the incident began circulating, the city government quickly backtracked. Santa Fe Springs city manager Thaddeus McCormack told CBS Los Angeles that the city just wanted the family to clean up around the play set.
The tickets issued to Tiffany’s parents, however, state the exact opposite, and it appears the playground area is enclosed by some sort of fencing.
Crushing the dreams of children seems to be a routine action for some government bureaucrats:
- In Leawood, Kan., the city government tried to force a 9-year-old boy to tear down the little library he built in his front yard as a Mother’s Day gift. The city claimed it violated an ordinance which prohibited freestanding structures in residential areas.
- In Holland, Mich., a zoning official shut down a 13-year-old boy’s hotdog stand because he was supposedly competing with nearby restaurants. The young boy had planned to sell hotdogs to raise money for his disabled parents—his mom has epilepsy and his dad has multiple sclerosis.
- In Dunedin, Fla., a nosy neighbor petitioned the local government to shut down a 12-year-old’s lemonade stand because he claimed it was a nuisance. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the city took no action, despite the neighbor’s insistent calls to do intervene.
Abuse of the law resulting from a monumental lack of common sense is not limited to discrete segments of society or isolated government officials. It seems to be, if not pervasive, certainly not purely episodic. Whenever it occurs, it can seriously affect every facet of the lives of the parties involved—including children who suffer from serious diseases and just want to enjoy playing outdoors.
Tiffany’s parents say they will continue to stand up for their daughter: “I’m not going to let this go. I’m not going to remove the playhouse and I’m not going to remove her canopy and I want them to stop picking on my Tiffany,” her mom said.
Memo to local governments: If you are trying to shut down a child’s dream come true from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you’re probably doing something seriously wrong.