Council to crack down on baggy pants?
By Patrick Yost
The Madison City Council is considering adopting an ordinance that would make it illegal to appear in public with pants hanging below the waistline.
At Monday’s council work session, the council addressed an agenda item marked “Baggy Pants Ordinance” under the direction of Council Member Fred Perriman.
Perriman, who said he expects to receive “criticism" based on the ordinance, said the driving force of the ordinance was to change behavior. “We see young men wearing pants (below the waistline), that’s unpresentable. We need to get their appearance to be decent.”
The council received a packet for review outlining similar ordinances in the cities of Bainbridge, Dublin, Eastman and Stone Mountain. Penalties for wearing pants below the waistline in those cities ranged from monetary fines to court-ordered community service.
Council member Whitey Hunt suggested community service would be a better punishment than a fine.
“It's trying to tell people they need to be decent when you’re out in public,” said Madison Mayor Bruce Gilbert.
“Isn't that the job of the momma and daddy?” questioned Council Member Joe DiLetto.
Madison City Attorney Joe Rietman said freedom of expression concerns may arise from the ordinance but he also said the city should be on firm legal ground. “I’m not sure how being overexposed in public is expression,” Reitman said.
The Eastman ordinance defines inappropriate clothing as pants “secured at the waist to prevent such pants from falling below the hips causing exposure of the person’s skin or undergarments.”
The Eastman ordinance also makes offenses punishable by a $25 fine on the first offense and up to a $200 fine on subsequent offenses. It also stipulates that parents who “…intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly permitted the minor wear clothing in violation of (the ordinance)… a citation shall issue to the parent…”
Gilbert said Madison was not alone in seeking a remedy for the issue. “There are a lot more cities than this that are concerned with this issue and it’s not just in Georgia.”
Further discussion on the issue is expected at the Monday, Dec. 10 meeting of the Madison City Council.
Printed in the November 29, 2012 edition.