It is a very sad state of affairs when a 2-year-old gets fined for littering! That’s exactly how mom Theresa Westover felt when her young daughter Harper, also known as ‘Harpy’ received her fine.
Harpy’s parents, Theresa and Chuck Westover, insist she is the tidiest, sweetest girl in the whole world, and would certainly not litter anywhere. Officials at the Department of Public Works have however found another name for the 2-year-old. She is now called a ‘Violator’.
The letter said that Harpy was being fined $75 for littering at the end of her alley. A discarded envelope was included with the violation, the envelope being addressed to Harpy. Strangely Theresa also received a $75 fine with an envelope addressed to her enclosed.
Theresa called the person who had issued the ticket and asked her to rescind it due to Harpy being only 2 years of age. The official refused, stating that evidence was found with the child’s name on and therefore she was a violator, along with Theresa.
“The inspector’s response was there was a piece of trash in the alley with Harper’s name on it. I said, ‘I understand that, but she’s only 2 years old. Are you willing to rescind the ticket?’ She said ‘No,’ ” Westover recalled. “They list Harper as a ‘violator.’ As a mom, it bothered me.”
On further investigation, it seems that the refuse collection truck cannot back into the alley, so they send a team of men ahead to pull all the refuse bags to the pavement, where they are then thrown into the garbage van. Perhaps one of the men forgot a bag, or split one open so that some rubbish fell out? The Westovers insist that they are not litterbugs.
Posting on his social media platform, Chuck added a picture of little Harpy holding her violation letter. The results and comments came in thick and fast, and some were quite amusing.
One ‘tongue in cheek’ reply said that it was a good thing that young offenders were not getting away with anti-social behaviour, that her allowance garnished for three years should teach her a lesson.
“I’m glad we’re not letting these young punks get away with this kind of antisocial behavior,” someone wrote. “Garnishing her allowance for the next three years will teach her an important lesson!,” one said.
“This is idiotic. What this is basically saying is that if a [U.S. Postal Service] worker accidentally dropped or purposely threw your mail on the ground, you are responsible for littering. Or if a thief stole a package and threw the packaging on the ground, or if the trash truck driver dropped some trash containing something with your name on it,” another commented.
The question was raised on just how far the city would go in assuming that someone was littering, just because they had found an envelope with a name on.
Basically what the city was saying was that if one of its collectors accidentally dropped a piece of rubbish with someone’s name on, the named person would be held responsible for that rubbish, and be fined.
The issuing inspector Cheryl Satchell also saw the response and decided to investigate the situation further. Calling Theresa, she said that on receipt of a valid copy of a birth certificate she would rescind the charge. Theresa sent the birth certificate, but felt that it should not have been her responsibility to prove their innocence.
“I have to send them a birth certificate,” Theresa Westover said. “I shouldn’t have had to wait for someone in the communications department to call me before common sense takes place.”
Soon afterwards, a public works official swung by the house, just as mom and daughter were preparing for an interview with a local news station. The official reported they the city had decided to rescind the fined for both Theresa and Harpy. They were going to waive both violations.
Finally the litterbug incident was behind them, although Harpy still insists that she was innocent. She has been brought up to never litter.
When the wrongly accused litterbug was asked where she had been at the time of the offence, she smilingly replied that she had been playing ‘hide-and seek’.