When I get out of the car in the morning, I dump my coffee on the street. That got me thinking: Am I violating the city's littering laws? I see a lot of fellow commuters toss the last cold remnants of their morning joe. Is this prohibited? - RB
In addition to running red lights and failing to leash dogs, Durangoans should include "illegal java discharge" to the list of shameful, illicit behaviors.
It's in the city code. Sort of.
Dumping black coffee or brown mocha is a gray area in Durango's regulations. Section 25-176(a) of the city code covers the "prohibition of illicit discharges."
Runoff from lawn sprinklers, overflows from charity car washes and drainage from firefighting activities are allowed.
Dangerous chemicals, oils, paint, cleaning liquids or harmful fluids, however, cannot be dumped on the street.
Coffee could fall into that latter category, especially Action Line's daily foul brew, a bitterly strong French Roast decaf tamed by several glugs of flavored creamer.
Mrs. Action Line still shakes her head every morning. "How can you drink that?" she asks.
Well, it's a heck of a lot better than Action Line's former swill.
A couple years back, Mrs. Action Line noticed a commonly available vanilla-flavored creamer left a suspicious permanent film on stainless steel coffee mugs.
"If that junk is sticking to metal, imagine what it's doing to your insides," she exclaimed, and then promptly forbade the purchase of anymore "disgusting coffee stuff." She also called it "cancer creamer."
Domestic harmony was restored by a soy-based creamer that mellows Action Line's overly strong decaf, yet removes nicely with dish soap and water.
On that basis, one could classify the remnants of morning coffee as a noxious or offensive liquid.
Shane Roukema, a city code-enforcement officer, agreed and pointed to some sneaky legal language in the city code.
The code uses the phrase "including but not limited to" before listing prohibited liquids. Thus, just about anything could qualify as an "illegal discharge" if someone complained.
And that's the key, Roukema said. Someone has to get steamed over cold coffee.
"I have not received one complaint about dumping coffee," he said with a chuckle. "Since code enforcement is a complaint-driven organization, I really doubt this will come up as a problem anytime."
But it could. If you really want to be java jerk, you could spill the beans on latte-swilling scofflaws who brazenly discard their morning-mug backwash into Durango's pristine gutters.
Action Line advises dumping your old coffee on lawns, plants and trees to avoid stirring up controversy.
Some late additions came in for the Name That Bridge.
* Frank Klein writes: "Been out of town for a while, so maybe it was submitted, but how about 'Wits End.'"
* An anonymous reader says: "If we're going to name this bridge, shouldn't it be named after the people who began building the project without planning the whole project? Maybe we could call it something like 'Let's take our head out from where the sun isn't shining CDOT bridge.'"
****The Mea Culpa Mailbag contains an interesting historical insight from longtime reader Michael Black regarding the recent column about Social Security and socialism:
"Social Security, as well as national health insurance, was originally instituted in Germany by that well-known socialist (sarcasm intended) Otto Von Bismarck," he writes.
"Some time in the 1880s, it was specifically designed to prevent the socialists from taking power," he adds.
"So unless you want to call the Iron Chancellor a socialist (smile when you say that, stranger), Social Security is not a socialist program. And certainly not instituted in the United States by socialists - unless you also want to label Franklin Roosevelt a socialist. Not quite as inaccurate as Otto, but close."
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