The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Friday, July 01, 2005

Permit Me Please 

Today's edition of Permit Me Please focuses on my neighbor to the east, and the city where I work... Milwaukee. I was paging through their license and permit page to see what I could find... and found a few interesting examples of stupidity (and believe me there are a lot more).

For instance, did you know that in the City of Milwaukee, you need a license to be born or die?

Birth and Death License?

At least that's what this page says. Now in all fairness, if you click on the individual links, it leads you to a page where you can get a birth or death certificate... but I find it interesting that they choose to call them licenses in other places. Milwaukee also grants a "Domestic Partner" license. Did anyone else know this? Granted I don't have a problem with that myself... but I don't remember seeing this one in the news.

The one I found curious was that you need a license to be a Professional Photographer according to Chapter 84-33 of the City Ordinance:

84-33. Professional Photographer. 1. LICENSE REQUIRED. No person, firm or corporation shall engage in the business of professional photography without first having obtained a license therefor.

Even better is what is required after you submit for a license:

4. INVESTIGATION TO BE MADE. Whenever any applicant for a license shall have complied with all the conditions and regulations relative to the filing of his application, it shall be the duty of the city clerk to forward said application to the common council at any regular or special meeting. Such application shall be referred to the utilities and licenses committee of said common council. The said committee shall refer all applications to the chief of police and to the commissioner of neighborhood services, each of whom shall cause an investigation and a report thereof to be made to the committee. The said utilities and licenses committee shall report on each application to the common council, together with its recommendations. The common council by a majority vote of the members present may authorize or deny the license at any regular meeting or special meeting. Upon approval of the commissioner of neighborhood services, the common council may authorize the transfer of a license from one location to another.

Why? And what do "neighborhood services" have to do with it? Are you saying that there should only be a certain number of photographers per geographic area? Why? We're not just talking about paying some money... you have to be approved to take pictures for a living. Oh... but we're not done yet. There is a completely different license required to become a "Street Photographer":

2. DEFINITION. A "highway photographer" shall be defined as any person who takes pictures, photographs or snapshots by any process whatsoever for the purpose of offering for sale to any person a copy of the picture so taken for a consideration in any form. The passing out of written, printed, typewritten or mimeographed matter or the giving of any information orally concerning the means by which a copy of the picture so taken may be obtained is defined to be an offer to furnish a copy of the picture taken for a consideration. This definition shall not be deemed to include the taking of a picture solely for personal use or for the purpose of reproducing it in a book, newspaper, magazine or periodical. Nor shall this definition be deemed to include the sale of any book, newspaper, magazine or periodical containing any such picture.

So if I take a picture and print it on a piece of paper and ask you for money in exchange, I need a permit. But if I take that same picture, go to a publisher and have it printed on a page of a book and ask you for money in exchange I don't. Can someone smarter than I explain this to me? Not only that... but you have to carry a special badge:

4. REGULATIONS. In addition to other grounds of revocation contained in this chapter, the following shall also be grounds for revocation of said street or highway photographer's license:
c. Failure to carry the license card and to wear the badge with photograph of photographer plainly displayed on the badge, which license card and badge in suitable form shall be issued to each licensee by the city clerk.

Of course if you're a disabled verteran... you don't have to pay a fee.

5. DISABLED VETERANS. Any exsoldier of the United States in any war who has 25% disability or more or has a cardiac disability recognized by the United States veterans bureau shall have upon presenting proof to the city clerk that he satisfies such conditions be granted a special license without payment of any fee.

My head hurts.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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