*** BREAKING NEWS ***
Magistrate Drops All Violations and Fines
All of the code violations and fines levied on Retired Army Sergeant First Class Gene Chaput by the Town of Howey-in-the-Hills were dropped by Magistrate Heather Christman when she sided with the Chaput family as to “no intent.” The special hearing to impose fines and liens was held this morning by Magistrate Christman at 10:00 a.m. in the Commission Chambers at Town Hall. When the hearing began, Howey-in-the-Hills Police Chief Rick Thomas suggested the matter be dropped and that a fine of only $20 per tree be levied on Mr. Chaput. Chaput’s son, Jim, spoke on his father’s behalf and told the Magistrate his father had “no intent” to violate any town statute and suggested his two trips to town hall were proof he tried to follow the rules. Magistrate Christman agreed with Jim Chaput and dropped all of the violations and fines.
This victory is because of you. The Right Side of the Lake is the largest conservative website in the Lake County area and this story received the biggest response by far. Thanks to your willingness to stand with this American Hero by calling town officials, they realized they had gotten caught bullying a real American hero.
We know from conversations that elected officials will be looking for scapegoats to blame this on. Please do us a favor. The ladies who work in Town Hall are not responsible for an overzealous code enforcement officer and city officials who do not have clear guidelines for tree trimming. If the ladies who told Gene Chaput that he did not need a permit to trim his trees are made the scapegoats for this debacle, please let us know—that would be another injustice.
The Town of Howey-in-the-Hills has a leadership problem that its citizens must reconcile. The Chaput family tried very hard to resolve this matter quietly, but town officials were unresponsive. Why is it so hard for people in local government to admit they made a mistake? Even this morning, the Police Chief demonstrated his lack of understanding by asking for a $20 fine for each tree. Is a bogus fine in the amount of $40 worth your town’s reputation and the disgrace it brings by harassing a real American Hero?
Finally and most importantly, Retired Army Sergeant First Class Gene Chaput—thank you for your service to our country!
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