Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ogden Lawn Nazis Hound 83-year old Ogden Resident

More evidence that Ogden mayor Boss Godfrey is not human
And... a few qustions for the Lawn Nazi Department's Gordon Sant

Thought-provocative article in this morning's Standard-Examiner, regarding an elderly Ogden lumpencitizenette, who's drawn the ire of Boss Godfrey's Code Enforcement Lawn Nazis, according to this morning's fine Charlie Trentelman writeup. In our usual lazy journalistic fashion, we link the pertinent paragraphs below:
OGDEN — Ella Williams’ very neat but very dead lawn could cost her $125.
Her lawn is immaculately trimmed, one of the neatest lawns in the block. The sidewalk is swept, the gutter in front is pristine. Her whole yard is one of the best kept in the neighborhood.
Her lawn is just dead: brown and crunchy.
Which is why the city of Ogden gave her a notice: two weeks to either bring her lawn back to life or face a $125 fine.
Her neighbor, Verna Price, is angry that Williams got the notice. From where she sits, Williams, 83, does more to beautify the neighborhood than anyone else.
“Every day she gets up and sweeps the gutter from her house, which is on the corner, down to the ditch,” Price said. That means she sweeps to a point several hundred feet south of her own home in the 1200 block of Mountain Road, including the gutter in front of an apartment block next door.
According to Charlie's report, Ms. Williams' in-ground sprinkling system went "on the blink" this summer, (presumably we'll assume, due to freezing pipes during our harsh 2007-08 winter. ) We'll also take the liberty of assuming that the cost of bringing in a backhoe and a plumber crew, and locating the presumably leaking pipe, digging it up and replacing it doesn't exactly fit onto this fine and gentle woman's retirement budget.

Nevertheless Boss Godfrey's "Lawn Nazis" are doggely bearing down on this unfortunate woman, and suggesting that she be fined 125 dollars, even though she can't water her lawn without flooding her basement. Undaunted, Ogden City bureaucratic Godfrey Nazis nevertheless treat her like any other Ogden City Gangsta. This qoute from the morally/ethically-challenged Keith Morey, one of Godfrey's foremost Lawn Nazis, is particularly notable:
Keith Morey, head of Ogden Neighborhood Development, which includes code enforcement, said he sympathizes with Williams’ problems, too, but the city can go only so far.
“It depends on where you want to draw the line in the sand,” he said. “Can you say we want green lawns, but only if you’re in your 20s and 30s and 40s, and after that we don’t want green lawns?”
The Little "shite' Keith is no doubt somebody Godfrey recuited to an Ogden City job from one of the local wardhouses... somebody who will lay down and die in defense of the "blessed" little Godfrey twerp.

Obviously the little shite has no recognizable human "soul." 'Tis is of course a common personality defect among Godfreyites/Gondolist a-holes.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Wouldn't it be reasonable to cut this eighty-something woman a little slack? The little shite C-smoker Keith blindly but surpisingly poses the "Real" question: Where exactly does a humane society "draw the line?"

Isn't it a little STUPID of us, who reside in a mountain desert to insist everybody in MattGodfreyWorld should have continuously green lawns?

What part of "desert" do local people not understand?

Is there anyone here who would oppose the Ogden City Council in passing an ordinance requiring Boss Godfrey to be hauled to the nearest red antihill, and be buried up to his neck, just for fun? That would be desert justice indeed.

Ogden City Council, please take note.

In that connection we ask Chief Ogden Godfreyite Lawn Nazi Pawn GORDON SANT just what's happening, exactly, with regard to this Ogden City scofflaw:

Gadi Leshem

What about it, Gordon, we limpencitizens ask. Have you sent thirty-plus letters to Gadi Leshem regarding his series of thirty-plus neglected properties?

Are you indulging in selective enforcement?

Have you sent 14-day letters to Gadi, regarding his 35-plus rundown Ogden properties, or not?

Or are you just being a Godfrey Code Enforcement revenue raising Robot?

Enquiring minds need to have the answer to these questions.

[END OF RANT]

29 comments:

Disgusted Citizen said...

I to am appaleed at the treatment of Ms.Williams by the Ogden lawn Nazis. Although until today I had not met Ms.Williams I have long admired her home and yard as I live in her neigborhood. This woman spends a tremendous amount of time keeping her home and yard well kept and this type of behavior by our misguided code enforcement department is ridiculous. I called the code enforcement division last month asking many of the same questions regarding equal treatment to all. I was rudely told it was none of my business who in the city received warnings vs citations vs fines. I also asked about city owned properties that were in non compliance and was told it would be silly for the city to fine itself. This type of behavior toward an elderly tax paying citizen is over the top even for the little lord and his minions. Although the city has many fine and dedicated employees, the closer to management you are like Mr. Sant the more you take on the sleazy traits of their leader ? Where is the city council when the citizens they represent are being threatened and intimidated by the Mayor and his henchman. On a positive note my faith in the average Ogden citizen is alive and well. I stopped at Ms.Williams house this morning on my way home from work after reading the article in the SE. Two gentleman were already there talking to Ms.Williams and offering to help fix her sprinklers so the lawn police would not return to harass her. These gentleman were also blown away by the callous unfeeling way Ms.Williams had been treated, How many more despicable acts are we to be subjected to during Godfreys remaining 3 year reign of terror ?

what will it cost us said...

What number can we call to report violations? Drive down 25th from Harrison and see the weeds and dead lawn growing on the old Golds gym, closed Wheelwright Lumber yard, and the apartments on Monroe that are being renovated? So who chooses which property to cite? After walking 25th street today what happened to the renovation of ther Windsor Hotel. The hotel has many windows open but it doesn't look like any renovation is going on, and one of the reasons the old owner couldn't get city backing or money was that he wasn't moving fast enough. Didn't they recieve a grant to renovate the hotel something like $260K?

Curmudgeon said...

Sorry, gang, but piling on the enforcement office is not the way to go here. If they ignored a brown lawn [which apparently violates the city's ordinances], and it turned out the lawn was owned by someone related to or connected to the Administration, cries of "special treatment" would instantly go up, charges of favoritism, and so on, regardless of how old the owner was.

Nor should we be encouraging selective enforcement of the city codes, telling the enforcement office to pick and choose and to look the other way whenever they felt like it. Perhaps there ought to be a "hardship exemption" for code violations that do not threaten the health or safety of anyone else [brown lawn would fit]. But then we need to have some procedure for applying for, reviewing, and granting such hardship exemptions. [I'm assuming from the story there is no such exemption procedure in place now.]

At least Ogden didn't cuff her and haul her in as that other suburb, down near SLC did to an elderly woman with a lawn she couldn't afford to water some months ago.

But lay off the enforcement office on this one. We have not given the people there discretionary powers to, at their whim, suspend the codes. Maybe we should. Maybe the whole idea of a "beauty code" for lawns and parking strips is a bad idea all around and needs to be dropped altogether.

Here's what should happen, and I hope will: some public spirited folk in the construction or plumbing or lawn servicing industry will step up, find the leak and fix her pipes as an act of civic good will [which will, not incidentally, bring a great deal of very good PR].

But to craft out of this incident some kind of "Godfrey Lawn Nazi" outrage is... well, going over the top.

The SE did what it should have done: brought the matter to the public's attention. We'll see what happens now. But, again, piling on the code enforcement office is out of line, I think. It's their job. Fix the code, put in some exemption procedure, whatever... but I don't want city employees picking and choosing which homes they will impose the codes on and which they won't. The potential for real abuse if that happens is great.

Disgusted Citizen said...

Apparently Curm you did not read my first post adequately. There is currently selective enforcement going on, hence my call last month to address it. Across the street from Ms.Williams is city owned property that is always in non compliance and I've lived in this neighborhood for 25 years. Has Gadi been fined? Ask city administartion how much they collected for each property at $25.00 a day. Also, I and the other 2 gentleman did show up to help fix her sprinkler system. My point was and is the code enforcement officers are picking and choosing on a daily basis who to cite. Where does there direction come from ? Yeah the same guy who has shown an 8 year propensity for back door dealings and special interest. I defended the majority of Ogdens employees but I couldn't sleep at night citing people like Ms. Williams. Maybe you could.

Police Officer said...

As a private citizen, if you see a violation of any statute, whether its federal, state, or local, you can sign a complaint to have charges filed against the offending person. This includes such things as reckless driving, and any other type of violation, even if it is a city ordinance. You can actually have a police officer issue the citation as long as you are willing to sign as the complainant. Does anyone have the guts to file the complaint and push the issue on Lesham's property?

Curmudgeon said...

disgusted:

We're not disagreeing at all, Disgusted. Selective enforcement is precisely what I'm opposed to, as are you. The SE, many here, myself included, have been asking for a long time if Mr. Lesham's decomposing little village by the river is in compliance with city codes.

It may well be that the Mayor's office has directed the compliance office to give Lesham a pass on his decaying slum. [By the way, are the code rules the same for commercial properties as for residential properties? I don't know. Am asking.] If the Administration did, or is now doing that it should be royally roasted for it. Or more.

These "beauty" codes are a doubtful business in any case, IMHO. A revision of them may well be in order. And under NO circumstances should selective enforcement be tolerated.

How about a hardship exemption? You support that idea? Seems a reasonable way to deal with the all but inevitable periodic case or two or three that would result in real hardship, and injustice, if the code were applied to them.

Curmudgeon said...

PO:

Lesham's deteriorating slum-in-the-making is in the River Project RDA and is now, I think, commercial [rather than residential] property. Are the codes [lawn cutting, etc.] the same for both kinds of property? I don't know. Figured you might.

Wm M said...

Should worse come to worse, I will be more than happy to pay Ms Williams fine ... better yet, if someone can suggest a contractor willing to partner with me, let's get her sprinkler fixed ...
Bill Parker

Wm M said...

Should worse come to worse, I will be more than happy to pay Ms Williams fine ... better yet, if someone can suggest a contractor willing to partner with me, let's get her sprinkler fixed ...
Bill Parker

clyde the gluide said...

Hey Bill, I'll go over there tomorrow, and see what she needs. I am pretty handy at sprinklers and plumbing.
I am pretty sure I can fix her up.

Clyde the gluide said...

Bill, just buy me a cool one if I can fix her up.

dan s. said...

Curm, the Leshem property east of Wall is now zoned "mixed use", which requires that any redevelopment include both commercial and residential elements.

I don't know how the city's lawn and landscaping ordinances depend (if at all) on the property's zoning and/or current use. But you can look up all city ordinances by following the link from the city recorder's web page.

on the inside said...

Disgusted, you asked what is the City Council doing -- I've been told that they are in the process of having a management audit done of Ogden's code engorcement because of the numerous discrimination complaints they have received from citizens.

Councilwoman Jeske did ask the Administationk to see that Gadi Leshem's properies in the river area were cleaned up. (I heard that Godfey filed a complaint about her yard last year when he was out campaigning. I understand that she wouldn't water [because of the drought] the weeds that grew last year after grubs and cut worms destroyed the lawn.) I drove by her place this year and she has a beautiful yard!

I understand Godfrey was sued a few years back about wrongful ticketing and the he lost. Then the vindictive little man couldn't leave it alone, he really dogged the man and tickets were written on the most rrivial issues until the guy sold his property and moved out of Ogden. What a great mayor Godfrey is! His character coincides with his phusical stature!

Police Officer said...

A law is a law and it applies to both commercial and residential entities. The person(s) responsible for the commercial areas would be held accountable for violations of law made by their companies. The law does not distinguish between the two. Look at the coal mine in Central Utah. Criminal charges against a company for violating the law, of course, the charges will go against Crandall himself, even though his company runs the mine. Same thing would hold true for Lesham.

More action, less talk said...

I would be more than happy to donate time and supplies to help Ms. Williams. What do we need to do to get this problem taken care of for Ms. Williams? Don't be surprised if they try to haul her off in handcuffs like they did that poor lady down in Orem. Let's pick a date and a time and let's go take care of this situation. This would be the best way to tell Godfrey to ram it in his a**. Enough talk, let's get busy, just post when and where and I'll be there with helpers and supplies on hand. Anyone have any green paint? Just Kidding. Let's get to work!

Tec Jonson said...

I got one of those hair-trigger Sant letters last year for a measly 250 sq ft parkway patch that unfortunately did not have irrigation installed when I bought the property. Previous owners never tended it and never got fined. Now the city wants my property relandscaped and gutters and drainage and driveway replaced at MY cost(over $10,000) before any business can use the property and get a conditional use permit. I look around the city at many other commercial properties that have opened with new businesses and they have the same shabby driveways, minimal parking, broken up gutters and lack of landscape. There is a bias at city hall and at Sant's office. This year he apparently keeps a close eye on my place since I understand he drives down the street to work, I get a letter to clean up some 2x4's in back while other back yards have similar junk. My place is cleaned up, the parkway mowed, and watered with city water(Pineview water is not piped in while i still pay for it.) I could have a tenant in there tomorrow if I did not have to jump through these hoops for a cond. use permit. The city allowed the corner to deteriorate over the years now I have to repair it. I will when I can afford it.

Wm M said...

Clyde ... cold beer or cold cash - either way, let me know what I owe you ... thanks ...

Bill Parker

crochety young drewmeister said...

curm, sorry, but with all due respect, you're being a schmuck. There *IS* selective enforcement going on. All I have to do is look across my goddamned street at the boarded-up houses with wilted, parched lawns that just got the parking strip trimmed properly last WEEK.
I don't really care if it's dry so long as it's trimmed within reason.. but Lesham's fines would be in the tens of thousands of dollars if he were being charged the fees every other Joe Blow resident gets threatened with.

My wife and I got citation warnings each season the first four years we lived here.. one year I had to fight with the lawn nazis on the road from 900 miles away when they did issue a $125 citation to us because my wife didn't meet the deadline on one warning (she got confused because two different nazis issued warnings with different dates). Luckily I had spoke to the nazi's supervisor who was very kind and understanding.. but I'm afraid that supervisor is an exception in the code enforcement department. (and was likely replaced since he actually had a soul).

Jeebus christ, curm, how much prozac do you have to take to be that placid when it comes to these sorts of issues? I'm on the strongest regiment of antidepressants in my life, and I can't achieve anywhere near that sort of tranquility. I am truly jealous.

Who cares if the lawn is yellow? We're in a DESERT. This lady has "vegetation covering 95% of the area" so it doesn't violate xeriscaping ordinances. Whether that vegetation is in a dormant state because of the intense heat and lack of water is an entirely different matter.

I guess she needs to water at 12:30 in the afternoon like most businesses and parks around here. That'll teach those crazy, drought-obsessed naysayers.

danny said...

I gotta:

Totally agree with Curm, with Gordon Sant, and Godfrey on this one.

Totally disagree with Rudi and most of the rest of you.

It's a desert. You don't have to have grass, but you do have to have more than a dead lawn. If you own a house, you keep the lawn nice. If the old lady can't afford to do that there are plenty of condos she could move into that will take care of the grass for her.

I totally support the city's efforts to force people to keep up their property. Selective enforcement on this is better than none.

To report a violation regarding weeds or dead grass, you can log onto the city's web page or call the city. And please do so.

Code enforcement is one of the few legitimate government functions and it's one of the only things keeping this city from going further down the skids.

End of counter-rant.

Curmudgeon said...

Crochety:

You wrote: There *IS* selective enforcement going on.... Who cares if the lawn is yellow? We're in a DESERT. This lady has "vegetation covering 95% of the area" so it doesn't violate xeriscaping ordinances. Whether that vegetation is in a dormant state because of the intense heat and lack of water is an entirely different matter.

Take a little more prozac, and go back and read my posts again. No where did I say selective enforcement is not happening, particularly with respect to Mr. Lesham's slum village.

And I did ask if these "beauty" ordinances are a good idea. But if we want, as a city, to remove "brown lawn" from the code, then we need to do that via the Council. We should not do it by embracing selective enforcement by the compliance office, by giving the officers therein the option of looking the other way when they felt like it.

Again, we do not seem to be disagreeing about much, here.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

You wrote: If the old lady can't afford to do that there are plenty of condos she could move into that will take care of the grass for her.

Sorry, Danny, but on this point we disagree. It ought to be possible for such a person to stay in her home when the only violation she's engaged in is a cosmetic one [i.e. one not involving the health or safety of her neighbors]. Perhaps hardship exemptions would be a reasonable solution to this kind of occasional problem. More likely, civic organizations and/or public spirited citizens/companies could step up and help out in these occasional situations, and that would do it as well. Perhaps when someone files for a hardship exemption, the city could go to work finding service clubs, church groups, businessmen, volunteers willing to help out. I would hope so.

But forcing a woman out of her home of possibly many years for a cosmetic violation? Telling her "if you can't keep your lawn green, M'am you'll have to move," no. If her sewer line was bleeding into the lawn, that would affect the health of her neighbors, and I'd be with you on that. But for brown lawn in the summer? Sorry.

danny said...

Who would disagree with people helping her if they want to?

But the responsibility is hers, and no one else's.

Taking care of property in an urban area is one of the aspects of ownership.

She needs to fulfill those responsibilities. An increasing fine is a pretty mild way to encourage people to comply.

My comment about moving was directed to her. If the house is getting to be too much for her and she is becoming so disabled that she can't take care of a leaky pipe (sheesh) then maybe condo living is more her speed. She should think about it.

Should we let her off next when she can't get the roof fixed, or make her dog stop barking all night? If a person is old, retarded, or lazy to the point of disability, do we give them all pass?

It's her choice whether to move. But wherever she lives she should comply with her responsibilities to keep her yard nice like everyone else, and that means green grass or other appealing covering, not dead grass, not weeds.

danny said...

. . . and what great neighbors she has.

They feel sorry, hug her, and knock city officials, but will one of them grab a shovel and a pipe wrench?

I've done a lot of work for neighbors over the years. It takes sweat and toil to have a nice yard. Callused hands show concern a lot better than hot air.

If people would work more and hug less, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Monotreme said...

I have been through the city code and I fail to see where this woman is in violation of any code provision. I'm looking at Title 12, Chapters 4 and 8.

Could someone point me to the regulation that she's violated?

I also have a problem, just in general, with an unmowed yard being a "health and safety" violation. Unless the weeds are tall enough to harbor rats, I don't see how having a brown, unwatered lawn endangers anyone's health and/or safety. It may be some sort of aesthetic violation, but I'd wager that my sense of lawn aesthetics doesn't match that of anyone else on this list.

I have a problem with the city writing unenforceable regulations and then enforcing them sporadically and in a manner that appears to be punitive. I think we should have fewer regulations, and spend time making the ones we have really count.

Tec Jonson said...

Danny, You may not have elderly parents but staying in the home that you raised your children and the home that has been your pride for decades is one of the last wishes of the elderly. Many who are moved out by well meaning siblings or friends often slip quickly into a convalescent state. The comfort and security of your own familiar home is what keeps many alive and thriving. I have thought that my 90 year old father might have less worries or responsibilities by checking into a smaller condo with no yard. It is the memories in the long time family home that continues to satisfy his sense of self responsibility and keeps him sharp.

I think the code enforcement letters are heavy handed despite being in agreement with the code. Their is no reason to include punitive threats in the letter when you are trying to encourage people to live up to community standards. Perhaps a 2 letter system of first an encouragement letter and followed by a punitive letter if there is no action. This is how you have a civil government that is an extension of the citizens instead of Big FUCKING Brother.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment bumped to front page

OgdenLover said...

Another factor is that it can be impossible to get a sprinkler repair company to even return phone calls, much less come out to fix things. It took us 2 summers of active trying to find someone before learning how to fix these things ourselves.

I'm somewhat surprised that no one from Ms. Williams' ward stopped to see what the problem was. That's even if she's not LDS.

danny said...

The city usually asks you to fix the problem, then starts a system of fines.

Big Brother??

EVERYONE has a "good reason" to violate the law. Just ask any of them.

anonymous employee said...

Danny-

An audit of the Ogden Fire Department showed that the floor of the station at Third and Washington is being held up by 4x4's propped up in the dirt, a violation of city codes. Do as I say not as I do?

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