Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Damn. The News Journal Nails It on Wilmington's Proposed Draconian "Nuisance Property" Scheme

There is obviously much I could say, and have, about the excessive, abusive government of Wilmington, Delaware.

They actually believe "due process" means that the same agency prosecuting you is the only one to which you can also appeal.

It doesn't take a genius to see how a system of fines and penalties for which your only recourse is to appeal to the people who are assessing them to you is fundamentally totalitarian, especially when it implicates the seizure of property.

The premise that 'no party should be judge in their own cause' is a cornerstone of our notions of due process and impartiality in proceedings brought against a citizen.

How about double jeopardy? Under the insane proposed scheme, you get fines and points for violations, and then fines for accumulating points themselves.

The absurdity of a city point system for nuisance properties

It's understandable that Wilmington City Council wants to address the growing complaints of residents about the so-called nuisance or disorderly properties that bring down nearby property values and can make life in general miserable for neighbors. But, as city landlord Mark Bunitsky so aptly put it at a public meeting on a proposed law the other night, the proposed version is full of "absurdities."

It's mysterious that veteran City Councilman Charles Freel, a usually level head on the sometimes zany council, put forward the proposal that angered some 100 people at the public meeting. Many, like Mr. Bunitsky, were landlords who complained that tenants could use the law to lodge complaints or simply harass the landlords whenever they felt they were being treated unfairly.

The proposal includes a bizarre system in which points are assigned against a property for various types of nuisances. For instances, a homeowner or landlord would be assigned six points if police determined there had been a rape, riot or drug sale on the property.

A murder on the property would result in an eight-point assessment. Why only two points more for a homicide? If the property accumulated 12 or more points in a six-month period, it could be considered "disorderly" and be shut down by the License and Inspection commissioner. As if Wilmington's L&I department hasn't over the last 30 years already branded itself as a jack-booted bully agency.

Does it now need the power of "points" to shut places down?

As for Councilman Freel's opinion that landlords should be responsible for their tenants' action, he should read the state's Tenants' Bill of Rights, which protects renters' rights to the detriment of landlords.

This proposal is off the wall and Councilman Freel needs to start over.

Read this insane proposal here. No need for conviction to be found liable. Even knowledge isn't necessary. The Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections is literally given singular and dictatorial powers to short circuit due process.

Meanwhile, city government stooges Gerald Brady and Harris McDowell ready the trap at state level, as legislation works its way through the General Assembly to allow schemes exactly like this proposal to be grounds for sheriff sale of your property to recover fines and penalties racked up under this kangaroo system.

Coincidence? I think not.

The Wilmington government head bully Baker has stated he will escalate every possible fine, fee, tax, and other-revenue source he can. In his administration's eyes the property owners are easy targets with deep pockets to be targeted for mining.

Even Baker's bullies know they are skating on thin ice and need cover under state law.


Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this 'ordinance' should be fired, without the right of appeal. My guess it was 'Tubby Rosie'. It's time for her to go...she's just sitting around waiting for Sheridan to retire and Budman to become mayor so she can be named City Solicitor. Scary.

Tyler Nixon said...

Agreed, anon. She is a particularly nasty one of the bunch.

I am gradually being driven to just move out of the city at first opportunity.

Anonymous said...

oh right the tenants will complain: When I ran for the house and actually went to a majority of homes....I was invited in and was pointed to the roof caving in, to windows hanging by a thread, to stoves that had one burner that actually worked. Refrigerators so old they were that old green color and the freezer didnt work. Porches so unsafe to walk on, you felt like you would fall through just getting to the door. Roofs leaking, gutters down! These slum landlords are protected by the city and you wouldnt believe how many of those homes are owned by city employees, retiring police officers and firemen.

The absentee landlords will collect the outrageous rents, and you better have yours on the first or you will be in the street quick.

I wonder how many of those slum land lords will be applying for weatherization funds? They shouldnt get a dime, all that money should go to homeowners who own their homes, the elderly and single women raising their children alone. Lets have some priorities.

Tyler Nixon said...

Sorry, anon, but this is more "tax/fine" the problem without ever solving it.

It is a revenue measure and they are simply trying to normalize and expand the dragnet.

If the city is protecting slumlords, why are they constantly cracking down more and more on property owners?

And if there is anyone getting a free pass a la 'protection' then this is serious corruption within the very system doling out this scheme's punitive measures.

Handing them more power is then absolutely not the answer.