The Couch Enforcer

One week ago, someone claiming to be from CITY OF KEENE “Code Enforcement” threatened me over a couch in my tenants’ yard. They use the couch for birdwatching and it has been there for longer than I can remember. Now the Blue Light Gang has a problem with it? Whose property is this, anyway?

Today, 08/26/08 he returned and I had my camera ready.

What’s that on his chest? A DEA logo with a skull in it? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about a man that would wear something like that. Turns out Carl Patten Jr. was a Keene Police Detective, now retired. That means he’s collecting a sweet government pension while still working as the “Housing Inspector” for City of Keene Code Enforcement. I don’t know if he’s worked for the DEA or just worships them.

Not that I have agreed to their services, but let’s take a look at his ticket just for fun, shall we? He’s got the address, but who is he ticketing? Bureaucrats can be so lazy they don’t even fill out their own forms correctly. Oh yeah, he didn’t bother to circle the hundred dollar fine or anything else.

Cameras plus questions make Blue Light Gang members very uncomfortable. Will Carl return next week with another of his tickets? Watch for the latest.

Discuss on this forum thread.


  1. Keep up the good work Ian, you didn't pick this fight, the government picked it for you. I fought the city a few years back over a window tint violation, and I remember some of my libertarian friends bitching to me that it was not worth it and I needed to find a better cause. The fact was that I didn't "find" the cause, it was foisted upon me. The same situation here, you didn't place the couch to be a nuisance (it isn't even your couch).

    What the bureaucrats don’t seem to understand is that you are not breaking any law if there is no victim, and a couch or a tinted window or any number of so called “laws” are illegitimate because there is no victim and everyone of them should be fought as hard as you know how to fight them. If every victimless “crime” was fought as hard as possible, even the most trivial “crime” would become more of a nuisance to the government than it is worth and you might start seeing these laws repealed as they simply become more costly in both dollars and publicity than it is worth.

  2. To follow on to Cynthia,

    first find out what local ordinance or clause is the basis for this "illegal" couch. Then trace back to see if it is actually authorized by state statute.

    NH is not a home rule state. Towns and cities have no powers at all except as granted to them by the state legislature.

    But people in towns and cities, especially the ones most involved in town government (which includes me) don't like to acknowledge this. Especially in towns with town meetings where they think they are like a little Congress or something.

    I find it hard to believe that they could nail you anywhere in NH for a couch on your lawn that is in active use. And I would go so far as to say that even if it were junk, one piece of junk does not a junkyard make.

    I always say that the most important legislative body in my town is the General Court, not my town meeting. And I'm thankful for that. I know most of you all hate government but our state laws are actually pretty well thought out and reasonable. The problem is often that locals want to enforce what they think the law says or what they would like it to say, not what it actually says.

    Also if it is worth it to you, hire a lawyer to say what you could say yourself if you did the research. Local grandees behave when a lawyer walks into the room with you or if you give them a written opinion from a law office.

  3. I am a resident of Keene who (reluctantly) filed a complaint back in April with Keene Code Enforcement against a neighbor for having an unregistered truck on our property line, as well as running a business out of our quiet, residential zone…not to mention filling up our deeded right of ways with his unused camper and business equipment. My complaint was passed to Carl Patten who called me on the telephone and in a very condescending manner told me that our neighbors were within their rights to park as many trucks as they wanted and that he 'didn't see' the engine block sitting in the driveway, or the pallet of bricks and stone that are strewn about the driveway…nor did he notice the unregistered truck in their yard. Next thing I learned, Carl is FRIENDS with this person who is clearly violating our deeded rights. Our Realtor was told by code enforcement last week that I called to have the file closed a few months ago(which I did not). So….now that I hear about your situation, I can clearly see that Mr. Patten brings favoritism into his work ethic…hmmm, perhaps he would allow you to put a couch in MY front yard and you and your tenants can do all the bird watching you would like because obviously, on my street, this stuff is allowed. We may be on different sides of the political track but we obviously have a similar gripe about how a city employee handles his job…Good luck to you…I am definitely staying tuned.

  4. I love how people comment on 'all the FSPers' and how they are 'invading'.

    Have you met many FSPers? How do you know that many of us don't vote, join the rotary, join the PTA and volunteer in our towns?

    What a blank statement!

    Do all Democrats love the war? (they must I mean most of them voted for it back in 2003)

    Do all GOP hang out in bathrooms tapping their feet at airports?

    All FSPers are young huh?

    Ignorance hurts.

  5. Not that this should be a reason to celebrate but Ian's video was shot on my birthday. My boyfriend surprised me with it a few weeks later, a belated gift, but one of the best yet.

    Can't wait to move to the SHIRE.

    Rock on, Sylvia

  6. Wow. I never noticed the couch. I guess someone is trying to substantiate their job.. Sounds like upper management calling useless meetings to prove their worth.

  7. That code enforcement guy looks like a drunk !

    In the end this is about the love of money in America taking presidence over all other meaningfull values.The purpose of most codes and code enforcement is to safe gaurd not quality of life or human safety but the monetary value of the property in question.Here in the land of the free,we have traded freedom for commercialism.The results as you can see are devistating.Natural rights are confused with privaleges of wealth,and people are frequently incaecerated for petty violations of codes and the such for the sake of financial concerns,as if a price could be attached to a mans freedom.

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