Charges NOT Dropped For Growing Garden

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

While it only appears that the City of Oak Park, MI dropped charges toward Julie Bass for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard,  she wants to clarify that charges have not been dropped. She may not be spending 93 days in the slammer for growing veggies, but she faces similar punishment – for her dogs! But the garden fiasco is not over, more on that below.

Did the canines have run-ins with the police and attack pedestrians? No, they were simply unlicensed at the time she was ticketed for the garden. So the Bass family immediately got licenses after being cited for them, showed proof to the prosecutor and then it seemed that the issue was cleared. That is, until the case was recently reinstated. Even though her pets are current and licensed, she faces two misdemeanors and possibly over 93 days in jail. Political posturing at its finest.

Be sure to watch the news clip below. Their attorney is going to subpoena all other city citations regarding these ordinances to find out just how selectively enforced they really are.

Listen to Oak Park Prosecutor Eugene Lumberg digress and ask the news anchor if she would like to have her neighbors plant corn stalks next door (or have a chicken coop!). Kudos to the interviewer for setting him straight and directing the conversation back to the point.

Another reason the garden charges are not necessarily dropped is because they were strangely “[not dropped but] dismissed by some judge we have never heard of or seen. we hope this person is a real judge, and had the real authority to dismiss our case, but we are going to double-check on that today.”

Also, a “dismissal without prejudice means that the prosecutor can come back at any time and reinstate the garden charge” as witnessed with the reinstatement of the dog case. Julie says, “there has been no final disposition of the case, so we can’t take a deep breath and relax.” She continues, “the prosecutor wants more time to review the ordinance. not that he has given up on the garden charge. to the contrary, he wants more time to look things over.”

So, it is still mysteriously unclear whether the vegetable garden charges have actually gone into complete remission.

Julie shares more on her blog:

i can’t think of anything else to clarify, but please keep the word out there that we are not off the hook. a lot of places have been printing and posting “charges were dropped!”- but that’s only part of the story, and gives the incorrect impression that we have won. that’s not true, and i really worry that if the focus goes away, they will renew their prosecution/persecution of us. please take it upon yourself to correct errors in other places and to spread the truth.

we can’t do this without you!!!! thank   your continued support!!!!!!!!!!!! -julie

Is Oak Park targeting her? The city prosecutor says “it’s all about being fair” and “nothing personal.” But lo and behold, the standards do not apply to everyone in Oak Park. We truly hope the defending attorney, Soloman Radnar, finds more on how and who the city decides to punish and why. Then, just maybe, the city will back off and peace can be restored in the Bass home. Julie truly appears to be a victim of selective enforcement.

While she may or may not go to jail for a garden, they can’t let this renegade go unpunished for nothing. After the story became an internet sensation known the world over complete with blogs, websites, and petitions, the city needed to cool the flames. They have to slap her around with extra “dirt” they dug up in the form of unlicensed dogs. The ol’ switcheroo…or bait-n-switch?

Julie Bass still has the same court date as before, July 26th. But this time it will be for two misdemeanors for the dogs, instead of one for the garden.

One more word to city planner Mr. Rulkowski who deemed that Webster found the word “suitable” means “common.” We’re not sure what copy you’re using, but it actually means “appropriate.” Common might be a random synonym but I haven’t come across it in a definition (or a synonym yet). Another main definition is “adapted to a use or purpose” as in this dirt and land is suitable for growing.

Note: It appears that “suitable” is becoming one of the most checked out words on There are 62 comments, as of now, from people explaining what made them look up the word suitable.

We leave with you with a poem of her plight by a gifted poet known as the Bard of Murdock:

The Oak Park Outlaw

The scofflaw, Julie Bass,
Rejected trees and grass,
And took to life of crime
With parsley, sage and thyme.

Her crime is avant garde:
The beds in her front yard
Contain illegal greens,
Like peppers, peas and beans.

Thank God the planner saw
Within the public law,
A means to prosecute
Before she planted fruit.

The plaintiff, Kevin R.,
The Oak Park planning czar,
Will see the line is toed
By pointing to the code.

But folks can misconstrue
What’s ‘suitable’ to do,

So Kevin has deferred
To ‘common’ as his word.

And what is more unique
Than cucumber or leek,

When planted in a bed
Where grass should grow instead.

Uncommon as they are
Outside a mason jar,
She’ll need to clear her yard
Of broccoli and chard.

Then justice will prevail,
And Oak Park can exhale,
Devoid of squash and kale,
With Julie safe in jail.


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