My children used to play “The Oregon Trail,” an early computer game where one navigated the amazingly dangerous wagon trip out west — often dying of dysentery or drowning while crossing a river.
Oregon remains treacherous.
Yesterday, we bemoaned the cancellation of a parade because a Republican Party group’s participation elicited threats of violence. Now, we find that writing a thoughtful letter to public officials about problematic traffic lights garners a $500 fine.
Mats Järlström, a Swedish electronics engineer, made the mistake of moving to Beaverton, Oregon, and then compounded his error by sending an email to Oregon’s engineering board alerting them to a traffic light problem that put “the public at risk.”
The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying responded by informing him that statute “672.020(1) prohibits the practice of engineering in Oregon without registration . . . at a minimum, your use of the title ‘electronics engineer’ and the statement ‘I’m an engineer’ . . . create violations.”
Mr. Järlström expressed shock at the bizarre response. “I’m not practicing engineering, I’m just using basic mathematics and physics, Newtonian laws of motion, to make calculations and talk about what I found.”
After a red-light camera ticketed his wife, Järlström investigated and discovered that the yellow light didn’t give drivers slowing down to turn at the intersection enough time.
He wasn’t disputing the ticket, just attempting to right a wrong. Which is apparently against the law, when bureaucrats are committing the wrong.
The Institute for Justice accuses the licensing board of “trying to suppress speech.” Thankfully, they’re helping Järlström sue in federal court.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.