A "living Hell" for Paul Sturtz merits 18 months probation for street musico
COLUMBIA, 4/12/12  (Beat Byte) -- The story you are about to read is true.  The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.   These are the stories of the men, the women, and the downtown safety cameras of law enforcement we call "COPS & COURTS:  CoMo." 
The Case of the Busted Busker
True/False co-founder and former First Ward City of Columbia Councilman Paul Sturtz, readers may recall, became so fed up with a street musician -- aka "busker" -- busting a move outside his office window that he busted that busker big time.    
As the busted busker, Patrick McFarland, tells it, the story seethed with bitter irony.   Buskers form the musical heart and soul of Sturtz's famous festival.   They play for mere donations.  How could such a champion of the filmed arts...?   Is Columbia, Missouri really Salem, Mass.?   What would Dickens say?    The saga continues with this gaol-house missive from Mr. McFarland. 
Dear Mike,

The first round of the Columbia witch trials are over and the witch burners darn near made a clean sweep.   Those wanting a visual representation of my trial are invited to view the cult classic, "Bambi meets Godzilla" 

The judge, Robert Aulgur, disallowed my primary evidence.   He then pretended to misunderstand the main point of my defense even though I stated it plainly in my argument.   To his credit, judge Aulgur mentioned at the beginning of the trial that I had the right to ask him to recuse himself since Paul Sturtz was effectively his boss when he (Sturtz) was serving on the Columbia City Council.
In retrospect I should have done this.

I was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months probation, during which time I am forbidden to play within 150 feet of 9th & Broadway, except from 11am to 1pm Monday through Friday.  
This one concession was due to the many letters of support from downtown business owners (thanks folks!) that I was allowed to present during sentencing.  
In addition, I have to pay court costs and a probation fee.  I'm a bit surprised I wasn't forced to wear an ankle bracelet.

The breadth and vagueness of the ordinance I was charged with violating are truly astounding.  So here's your chance to do a little burning yourself.   It's your right as a resident of Columbia. 
As the ordinance specifies, anyone playing a radio, phonograph, tape player, compact disc player, musical instrument or any similar device is susceptible, as long as it "unreasonably disturbs" your "peace, quiet or comfort,"  whatever the Hell that means.
All you have to do is call the police, sign a complaint and appear in court at your victim's trial.   Presto, he's guilty. It's that easy.  
Describe to the judge in lurid detail the living Hell your victim's music has created for you.   Watch your victim squirm as he tries in vain to defend himself against 16th century illogic.

I suggest that you, Mr. and Mrs. CoMo, use this law to go after those hearing-impaired individuals who drive downtown with their car stereos cranked up so loud it makes their windows rattle.   Then at least some immediate good might come out of all this nonsense.
Of course you wouldn't use this law against any of the numerous street musicians Mr. Sturtz employs to promote the upcoming True/False Film Festival, since I'm sure they never disturb anyone.

So grab a torch and join the fun.   The more silly cases that flood the municipal court the sooner this witch law will be repealed and replaced by a sane noise ordinance based on a set sound level at a set distance, such as prevails in every major metropolitan area in the U.S.  
This is the 21st century, you know.


Patrick "Brennus" McFarland