February 7, 2023

The Nerve

Where Government Gets Exposed

Update: Guy Still Won’t Pay Biz License

code enforcement

Is he actually winning?

Readers may remember John Dalen, the Westminster native and contractor who won’t pay for a business license on the grounds that government can’t force you to pay money to exercise guaranteed right. Last we heard of him, he won his  case at LLR by default. But it’s not over. Below is his latest update.

Just to be clear: We don’t condone anyone’s refusal to pay any fee or tax required by duly ordained governments. But we also think Dalen raises an excellent question: Why should anyone have to pay governmental bureaucracies simply in order to do what it’s your right to do – namely, run a business? And why, furthermore, do state agencies treat the failure to pay this fee as if it were a violent crime, to the point of sending out shaming press releases boasting of crackdowns and arrests?

Anyway, here’s Dalen’s latest.

If you know me, you know I take my God-given rights seriously. And so, when the City of Clemson attempted to convert my right to work into a privilege, I strongly objected. The City of Clemson has an ordinance requiring individuals to obtain a business license and this is counter to the principles of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court calls the right to work a fundamental right. I went to court to defend rights protected by the constitution. You may recall that I won my case when the City Attorney failed to appear for the hearing.

Well, they did it again! But this time I was not present at the jobsite. My brother and a friend were there to start the job and I was to join them the next day. A Clemson code enforcement officer happened by and requested a business license. He was informed that he should contact John Dalen and given a contact phone number for me. He told my brother that he could not write a ticket to me – John Dalen – because I was not there. The officer then proceeded to write a ticket to my brother’s wife, the registered owner of the truck in the driveway. She wasn’t there either; he was assuming that the female friend who was there was the registered owner of the truck. As far as I know, the officer never made any attempt to contact me.

I wrote a letter informing the city attorney of the code enforcement officer’s error. I requested the ticket be voided and the hearing canceled, but I received no response. So I went to her office to see if we could resolve the issue without a court appearance, but she would have none of it. On the hearing date, the four of us – my brother, his wife, our female friend, and I were met at the courthouse entrance by an apologetic code enforcement officer who informed us that the ticket had been dismissed.

This isn’t the end of it, however. Last November I filed a restraining order against the city attorney. The hearing for that restraining order was scheduled, but was rescheduled when the City Attorney suffered an illness a week before. Our new hearing date is Monday, February 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the Pickens County Magistrates court. I am asking the court to order the city attorney to cease her harassment of me and to stop interfering with my right to work.

But there is more! I suffered a monetary loss. The Code Enforcement Officer summoned police to the jobsite. Their presence so upset the homeowner that I was forced to cancel our contract and refund her deposit. I have requested the Pickens County Sheriff to arrest the city attorney, the code enforcement officer and his boss, the city administrator. According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Chapter 5, Offences Against Civil Rights Sec. 16-5-10, it is a criminal felony to “violate the person or property of a citizen…or obstruct a citizen in the free exercise and enjoyment of any right…secured to him by the Constitution.”

The sheriff’s chief deputy has informed me that he has delivered my complaint to the district attorney’s office in Greenville and that the DA has assigned two attorneys to look into this case. A lawsuit under Sec. 16-5-10 is forthcoming. I will keep you posted.

If you have a story or complaint about governmental authority run amok, send it to us at news@thenerve.org. (Anonymity protected on request.)

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The Nerve