City vs. Citizen

One man's stand against the bureaucrats from hell

I have to add something here--a little detail that tells me a lot about the mentality of the city employees in this case, all of whom work for the notorious Code Compliance division. You remember: That's the unlovely city agency in which 70 employees were fired or reprimanded recently after citizens complained about receiving citations on property that either wasn't theirs or didn't remotely match the descriptions on the tickets.

OK, I asked the city staff to let me come listen to their tape of the URSB hearing I had attended so that I could verify a few things. They went through this enormous review involving everybody from McGill on down, because they believed that a tape recording of a public hearing could be construed as a secret document that they might not have to release.

I tried to point out that public hearings, by their nature, are never secret. Public. Secret. Two different things. But McGill and his people just weren't sure about it and apparently wanted to get a legal opinion.

City officials have hounded Jim Bryant for 25 years to repair or demolish the house at 319 Starr St. He says he can't, because it's not his house.
Mark Graham
City officials have hounded Jim Bryant for 25 years to repair or demolish the house at 319 Starr St. He says he can't, because it's not his house.

I have a legal opinion for you. You're idiots.

A week later, long after my deadline, they decided I could hear the tape. I have no idea if the deadline thing was deliberate. That may give them too much credit.

What this experience reinforced was that these are people whose existence is hermetically sealed and self-serving. They come to work only to take care of themselves and each other. A guy like Jim Bryant is an object, a nothing. That's why you don't care if you've been causing him misery for 25 years unfairly.

Most people would have caved long ago. The only reason Jim Bryant was standing in front of this obscure panel the day I happened to look in is that's he's an unusually determined man. And smart. He summed it up for me in the corridor.

"I believe they did not respond to my letters or look into any of this over the years because they did not feel it was in their interest to do so."

This makes me very, extremely, exceedingly angry. Maybe you could tell. Maybe you agree.

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