Entries Tagged 'Code Enforcement' ↓

City only follows their own code when they are ‘Busted’

Have to laugh, the city only follows it’s own rules when they are embarrassed into it.

The city is taking steps to hide its dumpsters after a business owner complained he was fined for not having his enclosed.

Darin McDonnel runs the Gas Stop on East 10th Street near Interstate 229. He brought his concerns to the City Council after he received fines adding up to $600 for not having his dumpster behind a screened fence.

He came to the council with a list of dumpsters on city-owned property that were out in the open: at City Hall, Sioux Falls Stadium, where the Canaries play, and several parks.

His presentation got snickers from Councilor Kermit Staggers, and Mayor Mike Huether promised he’d follow up on it.

Here is Darin pointing out the city’s hypocrisy;

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Arresting people over their yards

I think a better approach would have been to mow her lawn and send her a bill, instead they decided to waste a lot of time on courts, lawyers and such, initially wasting more tax dollars to make an ‘example’. But hey, like the Bruce Danielson case, let’s blow tax payers money on frivilous lawsuits, and even if we lose, who cares, it’s not our money;

According to Knoxville’s WVLT, Karen Holloway was cited by the city last summer for her failure to maintain a neat and orderly yard. She received a citation in the mail, but was too consumed with other things to pay it much mind.

“With my husband going to school and working full time, me with my job, with one vehicle, we were trying our best,” said Holloway.

The working mom said that she would be the first to admit that the yard around their house could use some maintenance, but she was utterly shocked on Monday when Judge Terry Vann handed down a five-day jail sentence.

“It’s not right,” Holloway said. “Why would you put me in jail with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes, because I haven’t maintained my yard.”

Holloway made an additional appearance before Judge Vann to plead for clemency. Vann reduced her sentence to six hours in the county jail, but would not dismiss the charges altogether, nor would he allow her to serve the time by performing community service.

She turned herself in to authorities at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

This was not the first time that she has been served with code violation citations, she told WVLT. When her husband was stationed overseas, she fell behind on the yard work due to “personal, family issues.”

“This opens a floodgate to everybody in Lenoir City being put in jail for silly things,” Holloway said.

A gigantic floodgate of giving absolute authority over what your private property should ‘look like’.

 

The Harassment continues

This is the kind of ‘stuff’ Bruce Danielson has to put up with from his neighbors. He shot this photo last night of one of his neighbors charging him with her car and screaming at him, an almost daily occurrence. And of course the city enables it by allowing his neighbors to use city resources to harass him with supposed code violations.

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Is this going on in Sioux Falls?

Maybe more frequent then you think. Ever since Danielson won his criminal case against the city, people have been coming out of the woodwork about the procedures of the city code enforcement office and city attorney’s office.

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Sioux Falls Apathy Council

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Mr. Danielson’s case is NOT the only one. Several citizens have been coming out after the verdict on Friday that they are also being ‘criminally’ charged for violations. So now we have a code enforcement department that is treating people who have things ON THERE OWN PROPERTY like common criminals instead just civil code violators.

Man Bites Dog

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Surveillance of the surveillance (This is a shot of one of Bruce’s neighbors taking pictures of his yard, but you know, the city claims only the code enforcement officer was a ‘witness’)

To those interested in the Bruce Danielson case, try to understand some of the underlying issues at play.

The City of Sioux Falls has established itself as a Home Rule Charter form of government. The Home Rule Charter form of city government was designed for small villages with a limited number of people to help make decisions. It can be a benefit in emergencies to quickly make survival decisions but many safeguards must be in place to keep authoritarians in check.

Since 2010 city election, we in Sioux Falls have seen the rise of a dictator-like form of ‘efficient’ government. Our city government does not brag about trains running on time but we do have a city government bragging about cutting corners to get things done (Take the cuts in Paratransit, for example). The civil rights of ANY individual are not to be stripped from anyone for the expediency of another, tell this to a subprime credit card salesman turned mayor, practically overnight.

Do you know what it is like to be arrested and put in jail? I certainly do. I was arrested over 7 years ago. It was normal operating procedure to arrest me for what I did. I spent about 2 hours in jail before I paid bond.

We are seeing abuses in the operation of Sioux Falls and a few of us are willing to speak up.  For speaking up Bruce Danielson was arrested and put in jail for over 6 hours, not for a serious traffic violation, like myself, but for a ‘code violation’ (too much building materials in HIS fenced in and locked backyard).

The administration of Mike Huether has decided they do not need to follow the US Constitution, it’s Bill of Rights, the Laws of the United States, State of South Dakota or the Home Rule Charter of the City of Sioux Falls. We the people have no rights to question their authority or decisions.

This issue is not ‘piles’ of junk sitting around the property. This case is an example of a code enforcement system becoming an all-powerful entity onto itself, able to have citizens arrested without due process. It’s offensive and SICK.

The Sioux Falls code enforcement officers under the possible direction of superiors are to pick and choose one citizen over another. We are learning more everyday how this system works.

The Honorable Judge Joni Cutler saw through the city’s illegal activity.

Cutler showed she had the ability to listen to the witnesses, weigh the evidence and control the courtroom in order to perform the responsibilities of her office. Cutler decided the city had no right to interfere or set a ‘speed’ claim for project completion.

It is also the policy of the City of Sioux Falls to NOT work with possible offenders. As you can see in Darin McDonald’s public testimony to the city council and mayor, he tried several times to work with the city, only to find out they fined him anyway. And to add insult to injury, the city failed to comply multiple times with their own property for the same thing they were fining Darin for.

Code enforcement officer Todd Rhinehart admitted in court he never attempted to call Mr. Danielson, personally visit or return a telephone call in his process of building a case. He never supplied any information to help Bruce understand what the issues were. He also admitted to the unconstitutional, illegal service of notices and citations.

By Rhinehart’s court testimony admissions, It is the policy of the city code enforcement system to pile on without assisting or guidance to possible problems or corrections.

Mr. Danielson had proven an almost 20 year track record of working with the City of Sioux Falls. Prior to the administration abuses demonstrated in this case, Danielson never had any citable or serious violations. He always worked with the city to make sure everything was safe and presentable. I was actually witness to it once with councilman Staggers. Ron Bell from the city’s code enforcement office came out to inspect some repairs Bruce had made, and he approved the repairs and assured Bruce their would be no fines. That was probably the last time anyone from the city worked with Bruce on his home.

The reason Mr. Danielson began to seriously get involved in Sioux Falls politics was to have a voice in correcting the abuses of the personal liberty of the Huether administration. And apparently they like to bite back.

Breaking: Bruce Danielson found NOT guilty on all 3 criminal charges

Read the background here.

One of the counts was dismissed.

As you know Bruce is the person who started Citizens for Integrity. Bruce was also instrumental in helping SON, Save Spellerberg and the Snowgate petition drive. Bruce also has filed several ethics complaints against the mayor over pre-election presentations. He also helped file two complaints about the municipal election ballot language.

He is a man of integrity.

As for the case. Bruce’s neighbors have used city code enforcement for over  20 years to harass him while he has made improvements to his home, which has enraged the neighbors. They lost today, and rightly so. It is neither the city’s business or his neighbors on how he chooses to work on his house. In fact Joni Cutler, while giving her decision, commended Bruce for his ‘Passion’ in improving his property.

The city tried to prove that he held a criminal ‘public nuisance’ with his construction materials stored in his locked fenced off back yard. As judge Cutler pointed out, in the 20 years he has worked on his home, no health nuisances have occurred and the city failed to prove that one is imminent.

At one point in the trial, the city attorney became enraged when Bruce’s attorney brought up how Bruce was arrested and made to strip down and wear ‘stripes’ for 6 & half hours with common criminals over ‘building materials’. Bruce’s attorney, Charles Dorothy said in his closing arguments that being arrested for this was ‘offensive’. The city attorney ranted that this was brought up to fuel a civil suit against the city and the the media was ‘called’ in to report this. John Hult from the Argus Leader was at the trial all day, and I am sure he will write a long story about it.

Bruce has believed that this was a vendetta by the city for all of his involvement with the different petition drives and ethics complaints, and also bringing to attention that the EC siding was put on wrong.

There is much more to come. This is only the beginning.

Today the GOOD neighbor WON and the BAD neighbors lost.

I agree with Mayor Huether, let’s end bullying in Sioux Falls, let’s start at Carnegie & City Hall

I have a little different perspective on it then he does, as I am sure you suspected.

While I do agree with him that work place/school discrimination and domestic violence is intolerable I do draw a line with freedom of speech. While saying ‘naughty hurtful words’ should be discouraged, the 1st Amendment is pretty clear about our constitutional rights. In yesterday’s press conference, Huether referred to a FB comment he read that said (in reference to the man getting punched outside of Wiley’s) “LOL. Maybe he should have minded his own business.” While the LOL was not needed (Lot’s of Laughs, is what Huether said it meant, which made me LMFAO*) I kind of agree with the rest of the comment to a point.

If it was a different situation, I would have definitely said something to the lady, but since the situation occurred while everyone involved was probably tanked outside of Wiley’s (a place known for it’s fighting problems) probably not a time to take a stand. For example, last night me and about 5 other people got doused with beer when someone behind us threw a cup. I turned around and saw some wannabe bikers laughing. I certainly could have went over and asked who the f’ing wise guy was, but you know what? I minded my own business, and guess what, no one got hurt. Did the gentleman outside of Wiley’s deserve to get punched? Nope. Violence is never a solution. Do I commend him for sticking up for himself and friends? Definitely! But like I said, if you put yourself in certain situations, there can be unintended consequences, especially when fueled by alcohol. Just look at the problems associated with drinking at Van Eps Park.

There are situations where you need to turn the other cheek, or you just might get punched in the face. It’s your choice I guess, like I said, the 1st Amendment guarantees us the right to pretty much say what we want as private citizens. It is clear though that employers can’t discriminate in this manner, and assaulting your spouse or bystanders is not included in this right. Please, let’s all stop punching each other over ‘words’. What an incredible waste of time and energy, and also, let’s stop crying over spilt milk.

This is where I disagree with mayor Huether on bullying. He seems to think this is about school kids, minorities, domestic assaults or gays, it is much more encompassing then that.

He lacks to mention peer bullying (most people think of this kind of bullying going on in school between classmates). It is also an issue in the workplace. In fact I believe it is an issue at Carnegie Hall.

I have seen city councilors, the mayor, city directors, city employees and citizens all bully each other at the meetings. In fact on one occasion, which still irks me to this day (the mayor says it is okay to get mad about bullying) is when Councilor Erpenbach bullied the snowgate petitioners and shut down public comment in support of an early election. Each week I have also watched several city councilors bully citizens when they say something they don’t like in public testimony. The mayor on several occasions has cut off councilors during discussions and asked for a roll call vote. They are all guilty, including myself, when I offer ultimatums during public testimony. I apologize.

I have also witnessed bullying by code enforcement officers, police officers and the city attorney’s office. In fact, a former city attorney bullied one of my friends for seven years which cost him over $40K.

Like I said, I am all for free speech, citizens have a right to address their government about concerns, but public officials don’t have a right to bully citizens when we bring up these concerns. I saw this recently when the city refused to pay for damages the SFPD SWAT team created. In another incident a guy is being taken to small claims court over not building a dumpster enclosure fast enough. So if city officials are going to hold press conferences to tackle the problem of bullying, they must first look in the mirror and get their own house in order.  I’m glad the mayor brought this issue to light, and I hope he looks at the bullying going on by the employees he manages. If Huether believes in leading by example it is imperative he sets a good example to city employees and directors. The same goes for the council (None of them attended the press conference yesterday).

BTW, Huether mentioned bullying that goes on on blogs. So I thought it would only be appropriate to comment on his press conference, on my blog.

*LMFAO. Which means ‘Laugh my funny arm off’

Code Enforcement out of control

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I have suggested recently to a city councilor that complaints should be filed on a form at the code enforcement office or an online form. You must write the violation you think exists, YOUR NAME, address and phone number. I think the ANON complaint system leaves room for abuse and harrassment and it is unconstitutional to have an ANON witness. If someone chooses to appeal a code violation, the complaintant should have to appear at that appeal hearing as a witness to the alleged violation.

When speaking to a councilor about it, I compared it to being a witness to a car accident. There is a good possibility that you would have to appear in court.

Enough of the anon tattle-tale system. Put your big boy pants on, and own up.

SF City Council Public Input 9/9/14

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