Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Into the king's court

When paid city employees fail to deliver, to where do you appeal? To the elected representatives of the people, the city council. Just prior to this time I started attending city council meetings on the first and third Mondays of the month. My rationale soon became "I could stay home and watch Two and a Half Men, or I could go to City Council meetings and watch."

I prepared two binders of copies of all previous correspondence, refined and restated my case, and delivered the binders to city hall - one for the Police Chief and one for a city councilman - on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, May 27th.

Then I waited. One thing I became acutely aware of was that every time the case was given to another person, two or three weeks were automatically tacked onto any previously desired time frame.

When June 11th arrived, I could wait no longer and emailed this reminder:

Mr. Vince Hernandez, Councilman, City of Manteca
1001 West Center Street
Manteca, CA 95337

Dear Mr. Hernandez,

On May 27th I delivered a letter of request for your help in enforcing certain provisions of the November 2007 noise ordinance. All previous actions and correspondence regarding the matter were included in the binder. I believe “[doing] the right thing the first time” was not done in this case.

I need immediate and enforceable nighttime noise abatement. Because of four (4) more “all-nighters” in the last two weeks, I have had to vacate my bedroom at some point during the night in order to get some sleep.

The weather is heating up; we have already had a small taste of summer’s simmering temperatures; ice production is going up. In the eighteen days since my last tally there have been seven (7) more instances of uncontrolled nighttime operation, ten (10) more deliberate, manual startups between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m., and only one (1) more quiet night – for a 94% daily violation rate!

Get the immediate done first. After that – and based on my neighbors’ pattern of lies, manipulative actions, and stubborn refusals to comply with the simplest effective remedies - I will entertain any long term solution that removes the icemaker machinery from its present location next to my house.

Again, I would be pleased to meet with you at any time regarding this matter. As yet, not one City official, except Police Officer Hooten, has invited me to do so.

Respectfully submitted by,

Richard W. Behling

cc: Mr. David Bricker, Interim Chief of Police

A secretary called and an appointment with the councilman was set for June 16th, around lunch time, before the council meeting that night. He was pleasant, but noncommittal, and allowed thirty-five minutes for me to brief him. At the meeting that night, he transferred the binder of correspondence to the Deputy City Manager to "look into." At least its at a higher level than the boys down in code enforcement. But there goes another several weeks!

I tried to hurry the process along with a quick reminder and summary via email.

June 18, 2008

Mr. John Nowak, Deputy City Manager, City of Manteca
1001 West Center Street
Manteca, CA 95337

Dear Mr. Nowak,

I was pleased to meet you at the City Council meeting two nights ago. Mr. Hernandez and I had a 35-minute conversation earlier that day, and he passed on the letter and binder, submitted earlier, and five other pages, consisting of two maps, one spreadsheet, my proposed public statement, and a page titled “Order of Abatement.”

Unsure of what he passed on to you about my schedule, here it is again. I will be on vacation, out of town, starting this evening (Wednesday) and returning Saturday evening. A daughter, son-in-law, and a very young granddaughter will be staying with me until next Wednesday. It would be wonderful if we could have the machines silenced before we return.

If your concern is to again research everything and give my neighbors the benefit of “due process,” please be aware that that furrow has already been ploughed. On April 28th my neighbors were warned by code enforcement personnel and agreed to comply - due process has already been served. The first item on my “Order of Abatement” is a request to have the City issue a cease and desist order to my neighbors, again prohibiting operation of the icemaker within the 10 pm to 8 am curfew. Despite their stories and their promise, they have deliberately operated the icemaker more than forty nights since April 28th in willful violation of the noise ordinance. Make the noise stop.

After #1 is done, then we can move on to #2 and #3 of my “Order of Abatement.”

Respectfully submitted by,

Richard W. Behling

There were a couple surprises waiting for me.

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