Here is my second rant about the City of Dayton's Building Services Division and their total lack of professionalism and their inability to communicate effectively with their customers. On June 10th I received the following document from the city with the attached photographs. This is for a rental property that I own that is occupied by a widow and her three children. She was widowed a little over a year ago.
The picture shows the front of the house and the area between the house and the adjacent vacant house. Within two days I was over there ripping the ivy off the walls and pulling up weeds. I took the brush to the City landfill site and went home. Then a month later I get the following bill from the City. Ignore the wife's handwriting and see if you can determine what it is for ...
It clearly states the due date for me to pay the City $75 for an unknown previous balance is August 15th but then around the 1st of August I get the following.
A court order. The reverse states that I can pay a fine and avoid the court. You can see that they sent 12 pictures to the judge but I only get to view one of them and it is from the back alley. I can't read the handwriting very well but nothing about the back of the property was indicated in the June notice. I went over to the house and cleaned up the mess. My tenant had not cut the grass since her husband died. For one month this winter the City trash collection did not empty her trash which may have been retaliation against me for this post.
So she had placed her garbage along the garden path and animals got to it. Anyway, I cleaned it up and placed a pile of brush on what used to be raised beds in the back yard. I stacked some cut wood at the back of the property and attempted to exercise my abatement option. I called to find the status of that option on the morning of August 5th and again on August 10th. They left a message for me to call them back at 4:50 PM on August 11th. The court case being the next day. When I called in the AM nobody answered the phone. Here is what you will find at the Clerk of Courts site. I was being charged with a criminal misdemeanor and you can see the fine amount posted so before the arraignment I am presumed guilty. I haven't seen evidence of what I am accused of either.
So I go to court and there are many people there accused of similar things. Eventually I get called to go to a back room with a City employee from the housing inspection department. He presents me with four pictures. None of these are the original 12 taken in July that they sent to the judge. The evidence has changed and the crime that I am accused of has changed and they want me to go in front of a judge! Let me please ....
The above picture shows the same area of the back alley as the one in the court order after the grass was cut.
So I made it very clear that I was willing to go to trial since it was now part of the public record that I have been charged with a criminal misdemeanor and that public record will NEVER go away. The crime that I was charged with is not what these photos present and there was never any mention of any issue with the back yard with the original warning in June. Had there been any indication of such then it would have been taken care of. I presented all the above papers and stated that the communication was lousy and the whole process very unprofessional. I also presented a lease and all of a sudden the demeanor changed. The case was withdrawn, I was free to go.
So it appears that Dayton Housing Inspectors have the power to accuse you of a crime and change the evidence for their case to either force you to compliance or get you fined as circumstances change to meet their objectives. The way I see it, if the inspector didn't like my clean up job she should have sent me another warning with photos instead of wasting my time to appear at an arraignment. I planned to meet with the new city manager about this process and had a few ideas on how to improve communication by creating a checklist type of form (that the city already uses with it's "Dayton is Yours" citizen inspection program) so the inspector can check boxes like Front, Side, Back. Weeds, paint, gutters and I don't have to second guess where the problems are. However he left this week after just 9 months on the job without a new position to go to and the commission approved a severance package so his resignation is a little suspect. I know the interim city manager won't bother with improving customer service because she was disrespectful to me a few times when I was mayor and now I am simply Joe Citizen she could care even less. However, Joe Citizen has a voice and I choose to tell the story here so everyone can see it who searches.
Labels: court, Dayton, housing inspection, mayor, professionalism