The demolition of structures in Jackson continues unabated. Take note of the lead filled dust cloud settling over the neighborhood.
Reprinted from The Jackson Independent Monitor December 20, 2012, with permission.
The City is using an unconstitutional building code and blight ordinance to condemn perfectly decent houses owned by tax paying citizens so they can "get rid of the blight."
The "blight" is the low income housing or other low cost excess housing inventory that is interfering with Mayor Marty and Laura Schlecte's real estate business. The City are applying the building code in such a way that it makes it economically impossible to comply with by requiring property owners to spent 2-3 times the value of the property on improvements, many of which are unnecessary.
On top of that, the City is entering many of these properties without the consent of the owner, a warrant or other lawful authority. In the really bad cases, the City and it's employees or agents are actively working against good citizens who are trying to comply with their orders of abatement by unlawfully shutting off the power to the premises or cutting the utility wire.
In the really, really bad cases, the City through their agents or contractors is actually causing some of the damage to the properties and allowing third party demolition companies to enter the property, without a warrant and prior to the entry of a final condemnation order for the purpose of removing valuable commodities such as copper or aluminum, from the residence. They then use the missing pipes and aluminum window frames in Monkey Court to obtain the Board's approval to issue an order of condemnation.
Why is the City doing this? Because they are crooks. These low cost properties are everywhere creating a supply problem when there is no offsetting demand. It's hurting the bottom line of Schlecte and Marty's real estate businesses. Plus, who wants these low income type folks living in our city anyway?
The City of Jackson, through it's administrative sub-committee, the Building Code Board of Examiners and its employees, agents and contractors are engaged in a systematic, intentional, unlawful, unfair, unreasonable and downright evil and inhumane application of the City of Jackson's building code. The apparent intent or desired outcome of these unlawful activities of the bad guys is to get rid of the surplus supply of cheap housing in Jackson which, along with the more stringent lending policies of the banking industry, has decreased demand for more expensive housing to a level that does not allow people like Councilperson Laura Schlecte and Mayor Martin Griffin to make as much money as they would like to in their respective day "jobs" as the owner of a real estate brokerage and a realtor. Furthermore, no one is moving to Jackson so there is no demand for real estate.
How does the City doing this and why is it illegal? In most cases, it's not legal but the victims are generally poor and do not have sufficient resources to challenge the City. The typical victim of the City's demolition court is a low income person who bought a bank foreclosure to fix up and live in or an individual who bought a home at the County tax sale.
The County is literally selling some of these properties for $100-$500. Once the tax sale is consummated, the tax debt is satisfied so the City doesn't have to be worried about being on the hook for County taxes. So in these cases, they typically slither around in the grass around these homes until some sucker buys them at the County tax sale like many folks did this September.
With the tax issue all out of the way the City is clear to break into the home, make their trumped up list of code violations and tell the new lucky owner that they have to spend 2-3 times (some times as much as 10 times the fair market value of the property in order to bring the property into compliance with the Monkey Court's interpretation of the Building Code. Most of those folks don't have that kind of money any way but no one would spent $300,000 to fix up a house that would only sell for $80,000. But under the Monkey Court's interpretation and application of the Building Code that's what you have to do to avoid condemnation. If you don't, a condemnation order is entered, there is a 20 day appeal period and if no appeal is filed the house gets knocked down and the lucky owner gets sent a bill for the demolition which seems a bit higher than market rate. Or the City pays for the demolition with our tax dollars and then keeps the property for itself. For what? I don't know.
What about the right to appeal? An aggrieved property owner can appeal the Monkey Court decision to the circuit court but most appellants haven't had much luck. We spoke to one gentleman who seemed to have a pretty good case but that was thrown out by Judge John McBain. More recently a group of citizens, most of whom had purchased homes at the County's September 2012 tax sale all had their properties ordered condemned and demolished by the Monkey Court.They filed a joint appeal of the decision to the Jackson County Circuit Court and a hearing is scheduled on June 28, 2013 in Judge Richard LaFlamme's court room. Another appellant, who had owned her property since 2002 also had the property condemned and filed a timely appeal on the same day as the other Plaintiff's/Appellants. This appellant's claims was summarily denied by Judge Ed Grant who is filling in for Judge John McBain temporarily. Legal counsel for this appellant returned to court the following morning at approximately 9:30 am. only to learn that the timely appeal had already been summarily denied by Judge Grant. The court clerk explained that the appeal was denied because it did not include an order which is not required by the Court Rules. In chambers, Judge Ed Grant denied that the appeal was denied because it lacked and order. Judge Grant stated that the appeal was denied because it "was a little too late." Counsel for appellant presented the original appeal document to the judge which evidenced a timely filing at which time the Judge changed his reasoning for the denial and explained that despite the clerk's time stamp indicating that the appeal was timely filed he declined to change his decision to summarily deny the case before any due process or hearing because if he accepted the case it would require a hearing and other time consuming processes which he did not deem necessary. There is no authority in the Court Rules or Michigan law for a judge to deny a well-plead and timely filed complaint on his own prior to hearing and a motion or other request from the opposing party to dismiss the case. The appeals filed earlier that day which were accepted by the clerk, assigned to Judge Laflamme were the same form complaint used by all appellants. The only apparent difference was the judge who was assigned to hear the cases.
In cases that are appealed to the circuit court from the Building Code Board of Examiners there is no additional appeal available and the presiding circuit court judge's decision is final. What are the practical short term and long term outcome of the City's action with respect to these cases? The short term damage will primarily be to the aggrieved property owners. With respect to those property owners whose appeals were accepted they will at least get a hearing but it is likely that the fate of there properties will b in limbo at least until the hearing set for June 28, 2013. For the appellant who timely filed an appeal on the same day which was summarily requested by Judge Ed Grant she likely has no additional remedies available to her at the state court level. In order to this appellant to save her how she will need to seek a court order from a federal court and argue that she was denied due process of law because she was not afforded a hearing and other constitutional claims my apply.
The potential long term impact of this new policy of the City is not positive. In some cases, the taxpayers are bearing the costs of these demolitions, the City is now the owner of the property and will be obligated to pay the expenses associated with ownership. Perhaps most importantly, the City used hard earned tax dollars to demolish a property that may have been rehabilitated and put back on the tax rolls. As is the City incurred another liability and lost a tax paying customer.
The other potential adverse consequence of this policy is that the owners of these properties may become homeless and sooner or later, via the public health system or criminal justice system another liability for the tax payers of the City of Jackson. For a city that is losing residents and income almost as fast as they can know down houses this policy seems silly at best and has some serious clues that would lead one to believe that something other than the public interest is driving the decisions.
Are there any other adverse outcomes or other remedies available to affected citizens?
Upon information and belief, an additional outcome of this illegal application of the Building Code is that, either by design, or as a desirable and predictable additional consequence of the bad guy's actions, a lot of GOOD folks are losing their homes. In many cases, they are losing their homes despite the fact that they are doing whatever is humanly possible given their resources to comply with the Building Code. However, because the Building Code Board of Examiners is applying a facially unconstitutional building code in a disgustingly evil manner these good folks are not able to comply with the building code.
They are not able to comply with the building code, in many cases, because compliance would require that they make an unreasonable and plain stupid investment in the property which is often an amount equal to 3-5 times the fair market value of the property even if it were improved to a safe and habitable condition. In fact, the bad guy's application of this unconstitutional ordinance is so disgustingly evil in some instances that certain public officials, employees and/or agents of the City of Jackson are doing any or all of the following to ensure that no good human who owns one of these properties can comply with the City of Jackson's monkey/demolition court's unlawful interpretation and application of the Building Code:
What can concerned citizens do about it?
VOTE THE SCOUNDRELS OUT OF OFFICE