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home : opinions : opinions January 25, 2015

6/19/2013 6:00:00 AM
LETTER: City's demand for insurance questioned

For some time now the city of Blythe is requiring families who want to celebrate the birthdays of their children/grandchildren and other community functions in the city parks, to get permits and provide certificates of insurance in the amount of one million dollars, adding the city of Blythe as additional insured.

The one-, two-, three-day insurance policies cost from $300 minimum premium, even for one hour, and as high as $1,000 for a weekend. Most families can't afford it and I get tired of seeing mothers and grandmothers leaving my office with tears in their eyes from having to forget their plans.

I have one request for such a policy on my desk at the present time for a birthday party in Todd Park.

When I insured the city of Blythe from 1980 to 1989, such a requirement was not made and I never once had a claim made against the city resulting from such events, and I haven't heard of one since.

First and foremost, the citizens of this community pay taxes for the upkeep/maintenance and use of these city parks. They belong to the people, not the corporation known as the City of Blythe.

The very purpose of the parks is for fun, play, relaxation and recreation for the people. Such includes parties, celebrations, picnics, various sports activities, etc.

It is not the responsibility of the people to insure the city of Blythe when a park is wanted to be used.Why? Because the same taxes that are paid by the people into the city also pays the premiums on the insurance policy(s) the city buys for protection against bodily injury and/or property damage arising from the city's negligence, and in such cases as just mentioned.

In order for such a claim to occur, the city would have to be proven negligent in some way or another. That is very unlikely to ever happen. Also, the families that use the park for such events generally have homeowners insurance whereas the liability from that policy would extend to the personal activities of the family in the park(s). The medical coverage in the homeowner's policy would pay for a family's guest if hurt and the family's personal medical insurance would pay for an injury to any other covered family member. The liability would pay for property damage due to the using party's negligence. The City of Blythe's exposure is very infinitesimal in such cases.

Some families rent "jumpers" for the children to play on at these parties and celebrations. That is one of the reasons for the demand for insurance by the city. This still does not justify the need for a certificate of insurance from the family.

What I have written above still applies and the owner of the jumper has a general liability policy to protect him/herself/business from a negligence lawsuit. If they don't, they should have. In such cases as this, should a lawsuit occur, the city would be the third party in line to pay, and only then if the city was someway proven to be negligent for the use of the jumper.

While I am at it, banners should be hung across Hobsonway free of charge for the local churches, civic and service clubs, schools and college for the same reasons given above concerning the parks. These groups serve the community and promote the city of Blythe either directly or indirectly, through their volunteer efforts and activities. The city's costs are paid from the taxes collected from the members on the regular tax rolls. I hasten to add that charges are appropriate for businesses and "for profit" groups, since they are private enterprise.

I would hope our city council can see this as being positive - not negative. It will make for a more friendly atmosphere and could help in the revitalization of the city in whole.

We are going to survive through working together rather than continuing to divide the people and the city government. I have mentioned this in the past to those who have run for a seat on the city council but no responses have ever been forthcoming after the seat(s) are taken.

With such times as we are experiencing now, it seems to me it is time for a coming together. What I have suggested in this letter would be a good start. It is the right thing to do.

- Jere Allan, Blythe

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Pence

Questions:Do other cities demand insurance for requisition of parks for use? I can understand having to file/ get a permit for a day just in case two people have parties on the same day or whatever. That seems reasonable.

But if the city already has an insurance policy then they additionally require it to be insured by individuals, would it not follow that this insurance apparently is not good enough for protecting it from lawsuits by itself? But wouldn't the next logical question of the city be to up(raise) the level of protection on their insurance that ALL taxpayers already in essence equally pay so as to guarantee equal access and avoid discrimination lawsuits?

If everyone is equally paying taxes, then why are even the supposed "wealthy" who can afford insurance policy even being discriminated against by the city through having to pay extra for insurance when there are others who use the parks anyway without permits and still others who are granted access before you? It reinforces a negative small town social hierarchy where you have to have money (even that is not enough)and have special access or know the people who can "do favors" for you. That is very bad for the perception of the city. On the other end which is worse perceptually is you have "poorer people" who can't afford the insurance who are deliberately being kept away by the city and discouraged from using public parks for activities. This in essence is like a poll tax where you require people who should already have the right to do something(use a park, vote ect.) to pay what they can't afford in order to have access to that which they rightfully should have.

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Pence

An interesting angle to look at this is not simply that some families can't afford it (bad enough) but also what secondarily flows from this city policy. It almost feels like a double tax by the city to use a public park which you already pay taxes to have access to. To be fair, I suppose if each group/ person paid equally (and were taxpayers) and was then granted equal/ fair access to the public facilities requisitioned, then that would be one thing in theory. I mean... I guess, whatever right? But... what ends up happening (de facto) is certain groups get "preferred" over others when they ALSO have paid the million dollar insurance premium. THAT is a problem. So that when you follow the rules and get insurance and then are not allowed access you feel even more embittered towards the city. And when you see the same groups get access over and over while your request for access is ignored, looked over, or forgotten it makes you not want to use public facilities at all and find other creative ways to do things privately. I'd be curious to find out which individual is responsible for the policy who approved it and why after 1989.

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Have faith

Things like this are not necessarily known by many people, you know. If all we do is write comments and/or letters, things will not change. Mr. Allen did the right thing. Now a number of people see the situation. Somebody needs now to go to council meetings and make a strong case. Notice that Bell Lane finally, after a number of trips, is repaired. You gotta have faith, patience, and determination.

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Nice Column. Maybe it should be you, and others like minded people running for office.

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Article comment by: Here's Why They Won't

Well said. But recent history of Blythe's "caretakers" shows the most likely thing is there will be no change. The last one. "It is the right thing to do."

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