Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Building Department, Corruption, and not enforcing the rules

I was at the building department recently to get a permit. It was my first time in awhile (I've been kind of busy campaigning, getting married, etc.). Anyway, there was yet another form we had to fill out now additional from the last time I obtained a permit. So, it took even longer to get a permit than usual. Didn't the Mayor have some big announcement in the spring about how he was going to speed up the permitting process???

Anyway, it was great to hear many of the people giving me words of encouragement, that they had seen my signs or read about me. The people who work for the city usually are very nice, and want to do a good job. However, they are uninspired or thwarted by a lack of leadership. The new "temporary" building department head is supposedly a pretty nice guy, he has been friendly to me, although I don't believe he has any training or experience in the construction field. Just like his predecessor, Kevin Joyce who was universally not liked, also had no experience in construction and would have staff meetings where he would liken himself to an Army General or Dictator. He was finally gotten rid of after trying to force a subordinate to pay too much money to an outside contractor I believe in a no-bid contract situation. She said no and reported him. That only cost the city $500,000 in legal and settlement fees. Allegedly he was having an affair with her as well, but that is quite another story. Another excellent department head choice by the Mayor.

One of the former guys at the zoning review counter once said to me, "kevin, you know so much about the corruption on your side of the should see how much goes on behind the counter!" I believe him.

But I digress. While I was at the building department I went on one of my usual rants about how the rules aren't enforced in the city, unless you get the ear of city hall. I was reading about the whale on newbury or boylston street that the Back Bay Architectural Commission was trying to remove (it is for charity i think) after just a month at an outdoor restaurant. I started to tell everyone out loud in the permitting department about an illegal roof deck in the south end. The person building it actually asked me how to build it. I told him that he needed a permit and he said he was just going to do it on his own without a permit. So, I let the building department and the historical department know about the deck:

Before he built it, that he was going to build an illegal deck
While he was building it, that he was building an illegal deck
After he was done, that he had built an illegal deck

Neither the building department nor the historical department has moved to force anything to be done.

The people at the permit department asked "did you make a formal complaint?" I said let's look it up in the computer and they looked it up and sure enough they had the complaint lodged in the computer. The complaint was 4 years old and they still haven't done anything about it. This is yet another reason I'm running for city council. We shouldn't just enforce the rules if you live next to the mayor or some other city official. Equal enforcement for everyone in the city, not just the rich and connected. This is yet another example of the incompetence of city government. Why should people play by the rules, when the rules are ignored or selectively enforced? This breeds disregard for the law.

Not good!

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