‘Egregious Idling’

by Jay Nordlinger

No matter where I am in the world, readers feed me news of Ann Arbor, my dear old lefty hometown. Yesterday, I was sent this article titled “‘Egregious idling’ harmful to children, Ann Arbor City Council told as draft ordinance is presented.” Idling like loitering, hanging out purposelessly? No, the idling of cars and other vehicles: Creates pollution, you know.

Ann Arbor has an “environmental coordinator” (although I prefer the word “commissar”), who “said a major driver of the discussion around an idling ordinance was a complaint the city received about school buses idling at the Hands-On Museum downtown.” Ah, I can just see the complainer now. I grew up with her (occasionally him).

Let’s talk punishment: “The proposed ordinance would make a $100 ticket the minimum punishment for a driver who leaves a vehicle running while unoccupied for any amount of time or running for five minutes while occupied. For commercial vehicles, that minimum fine increases to $500.” Seems a little light, don’t you think? Ann Arbor should put a little lead in its pencil: Tar and feathers can’t be all that hard to obtain.

One more thing, before I cease my snarking about Ann Arbor: That phrase “egregious idling”? It somehow reminds me of the infamous charge lodged against conservative students at Dartmouth in the 1980s: “vexatious oral exchange.”

P.S. If you were to make a list of a thousand things harmful to children in America — would the idling of cars and buses make it on? How about the way the Ann Arbor public schools teach, say, history?

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