At Large Councilmen, Eric Turner and Jim Montelongo are once again hoping to parlay public fears into a parental responsibility ordinance. The recent ongoing crime wave is being used as impetuous to hurry through a ordinance that will hold parents accountable for the crimes their children commit. Just last week, the practice was deemed unconstitutional in Davenport, Iowa. However, Councilmen Turner and Montelongo are mindful, yet hopeful that their ordinance will make it here in Peoria. You know, Peoria is unique.
There are so many questions:
Will this ordinance tie into the District 150 truancy program? Will this ordinance also go after parents of children who are ticketed for underage drinking? Will this ordinance go after parents who children receive traffic tickets? Will this ordinance go after parents who children have illegal drugs at school? If the parents fail to comply in whatever way, what will be the final consequence? If fines are imposed, do we really think parents would be capable of paying hefty fines in this economy? Will the parent be required to serve community service? If so, what of the parent’s other children who may still be in the household?
What services will be available for a parent who can't control their child? If the parent is away from home paying for the problem child’s crimes, what of the problem child then? Will they become a ward of the State–an orphan, or they will be tried as adults because their parents couldn't control them.
Is the April 6th Forum just so people can come and complain, or will the Councilmen have some answers to the tough questions that surround an ordinance like this?
I am all for parents being held accountable, however, I am not so quick to believe that this is the answer. This parental responsibility ordinance is a slippery slope, that will cost the City money to enforce. Will the numbers for the cost of enforcing this ordinance be available at the Forum on April 6th.
Before Councilman Turner and Montelongo proceed down this route, they should try talking with the Police Chief, isn’t there something he could do to be more effective? How about that Race Relations Commission, couldn't they offer a suggestion on something by now?
As far as Peoria’s image that Councilman Turner is so concerned about—that image is a result of the decisions and/or indecisions of the Mayor and City Council. And while we are trying clever ways to stop the young troublemakers, let’s not forget about all of the adults who are committing crimes. Who will City Council hold accountable for that?