Saturday, July 26, 2014

How To Steal Property From Poor Homeowners

A work of fiction... sorta'.

Let's say you've got your eye on a piece of property that isn't in the best part of town but has the potential to become a great commercial property. Only problem is about 400 mostly sick, elderly and poor people live in 170 separately owned condominiums there and you're not willing to pay the kind of money it would take to convince them to sell.

Now let's just say that you're an attorney, retired state senator and partner in a business that manages homeowners associations and the homeowners association for that very condominium project just happens to be among your portfolio.

Add to that your wife is mayor and a well known city councilman and attorney along with an often controversial retired county commissioner and commercial real estate salesman just happen to be investors. Oh, and the disbarred attorney husband of a city councilwoman is also an investor. Nothing can go wrong because the daughter of the city councilwoman is the assistant district attorney so even if you get caught it never goes to court.

The first step might be to pocket the money paid by the homeowners and skip paying the water bill until the city water services department department starts making waves about the long overdue bill.

The second step might be to divert the city's code enforcement department's attentions elsewhere so that problems there go unnoticed for far too long.

The third step might be to leak the story to an ambitious local blogger/activist with a history of writing about social issues and blight, even perhaps pushing the issue into the local newspapers to get folks all stirred up. You know, make yourselves available to the blogger for interviews so the local newspaper will want to run his story even though newspapers don't like to run stories written by local bloggers.

The forth step could be to release a press release overstating the number of police and 911 calls to that address so that it appears to be the most dangerous place in town.

The fifth step would possibly be to force everyone, even those who own their homes, to leave declaring the place a public nuisance and taking the property for the water bill without taking anyone to court or serving any sort of due process.

Only problem is: the blogger you slipped the story to found out about your little plan and started making threats. What to do, oh what to do?

You could offer him a piece of the deal but unlike the rest of you who are all living in mansions and taking European vacations the blogger is living in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, a single parent begging for rides to city council meetings because his car is out of gas. He isn't going to wait until you sell and cash in on your new project as that might take years.

So what do you do? You have city staff create a request for proposals and give him a make work contract that can be renewed every 6 months at the taxpayers' expense.

Is that pretty close to the way it all happened?

Ben, Mike? Nancy? Don? Yvonne? Skip? Paul? Jim? Anyone?