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Dateline Dixon: No pinball allowed in city

DIXON – The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” is not welcome in the city.

According to city codes, it is unlawful for any person to keep or use a pinball machine in any public place.

Or as the code says, residents are prohibited from keeping “any game played with any number of balls or spheres upon a table or board having holes, pockets or cups into which such balls or spheres may drop or become lodged and having arches, pins, and springs, or any of them, to control, deflect, or impede the direction or speed of the balls or spheres put into motion by the player.”

Maybe readers missed it, but the Dixon City Council repealed Monday its ban on allowing fortune tellers to advertise, leading me to ask if there are any other odd codes on the books.

City Attorney Rob LeSage said the city has done its best to stay in front of outdated codes, but some slip through the cracks.

In this case, a fortune teller showed up at City Hall asking what she needed to do to open a business, and the city clerk discovered the odd law.

The tone was light when commissioners voted in favor of repealing the code that LeSage told them was unconstitutional.

Upon inspection of the city’s codes, nothing seems as strange as the city’s advertisement ban for fortune tellers. Most of the codes make sense.

However, I learned an arcade or youth center may have its work cut out for it installing a pinball machine.

At one time, and maybe still, it was common to gamble on pinball in taverns. Points tallied could be turned in for money.

Old hat games, such as bagatelle and pigeonhole, also are outlawed. So is any sleight-of-hand or card trick game used to swindle people.

For many obvious reasons, swine cannot be kept within the city limits, but any person may keep up to 3 Vietnamese potbellied pigs, a pet craze popular in the 1970s.

Upon some research, these types of pigs that reach as much as 150 pounds can be house-trained, and make decent pets.

It is unlawful for any pig owner to build a barbed-wire fence to keep them on their property, or any resident for that matter.

Perhaps my favorite city code really nails it to those dawdlers holding up the brisk walkers of the world like myself.

Anyone standing upon any sidewalk except as near as reasonably possible to the building line or curb line, cannot do so if such standing interferes with the use of the sidewalk by other pedestrians.

A $50 minimum or $500 maximum fine awaits.

Surely, each of these codes had a reason for cracking the books when they were passed, but as time goes by, they have grown outdated.

Now, Dixon will allow fortune tellers the same right to advertise as other businesses.

And as Commissioner Dennis Considine said in jest Monday: “The city could have used a fortune teller.”

Stop by

Derek Barichello's “office hours” will be from 1 to 2 p.m. today at Books on First, 202 W. First St. Feel free to stop to ask questions, suggest story ideas, or just chat.

He also can be reached at or 800-798-4085, ext. 526.

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