Jun 17, 2011

City Hall Insults The Neighborhood


This is a post which I spend a week trying not to write. It is a story of favoritism and abuse of power. About four years ago a homeowner, in a quiet south side neighborhood, moved out and rented the house to his brother. Under Allentown regulations this property hence became a rental property, and subject to license and inspection procedures. As it turns out, these brothers are childhood friends with an Allentown inspector. The second brother, the tenant, has been disruptive in the neighborhood by every criterion relevant to code enforcement. The property became unkempt and subject of numerous police calls, including the SWAT team. All calls for relief from surrounding properties seemed to end up with the family's inspector friend, and brought no relief from the problems. Allentown has been very pro-active with problem properties. In the first eight months of 2010, 342 properties received orange tags, forcing the property to be vacated. Most tags were issued for problems significantly more minor than those occurring in the subject of this post. This past October, the bank foreclosed on the property. The tenant legally became a squatter. A neighbor's complaint resulted in another inspector discovering that the bank owned property was an unregistered rental, and he issued a 30 day to vacate tag for illegal occupancy. It appeared that finally the neighbors would get relief from the trash, noise and police calls. The childhood friend inspector intervened, and the 30 day notice was never enforced. My efforts with the inspector on behalf of the other property owners (including myself) were to no avail. I have spent the week documenting the problem up the chain of command, right to the Mayor's office. Although the property is in gross violation of code, the illegal tenant is allowed to remain. Although in the last eight months police have surrounded the property several times in complete violation of the disruptive tenant ordinance, the occupant remains. In typical City Hall fashion, they have circled the wagons around the inspector, around their own. They are now actually trying to work with the bank and make him the homeowner. The top photo is the back yard on May 9, 2011, with years worth of garbage. You will be happy to know that a city contractor has now been hired to clean the property and cut the grass, at your expense. The City's course of action is a total insult to the neighbors. I did see some inspectors today, they were walking around my property.

UPDATE: I understand that the occupant is a disabled US Veteran so that may have played into the equation. City Official June 16, 2:02pm

Mr. XXXX, I understand that he is a disabled veteran. I don't know if you have received all my emails, first to the inspector, then XXXX, then XXXX. Two years ago I had to treat his unattended green swimming pool with bleach, (because the city complaint was repressed) last year I had to paint his totally peeled porch.... He has no legal basis in that house whatsoever..... Frankly, the situation is an outrage. You may want to check the police reports. Twice police have surrounded the house in the last 8 months alone... Is this social work or code enforcement? Michael Molovinsky
p.s.. he is not physically disabled, and I don't know if his mental health issues are military related, nor is it relevant to code
enforcement. I do know that he is family friends with an inspector who has put myself and other neighbors off for years. He is the same inspector who has issued hundreds of orange tags to other properties in the same period for much less problems.

Being a disabled veteran is not the reason for this favoritism, but the excuse now being used. I have no doubt that at least some of the hundreds and hundreds of units vacated by the same inspector, also housed a few disabled veterans.

44 comments:

Looking To Escape said...

Mike, for what ever it's worth, you have my sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Code enforcement is in disarray. Many building are unfit for human habitation in the city and the ones that are tagged are rarely vacated. Take a drive down 12th and see if all the orange tags are still there. Allentown’s downtown neighborhoods(and now others) are a disgrace and all the mayor can focus on is grandiose projects that reflect on his own supersized ego.
There is also a go along get along to survive mentality amongst city workers. Anyone who felt compelled to do the right thing for the city residents is long gone.

Scott Armstrong

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

This is a perfect example of corruption in government.

I would directly contact the Morning Call and ask them to investigate and write about it. Don't wait for them to see the post and pick it up.

It's a much too important - and obvious - example of what's wrong with the city.

Monkey Momma said...

That picture looks like a scene out of hoarders. I can only imagine the vermin that found a home in the house you're featuring. I am sorry to hear that cronyism is alive and well in the city's inspection services. It would seem the city is spending more time and effort in helping out a "friend of a friend" than just doing the right thing.

Sorry to hear about your troubles. I hope it gets better soon.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michael molovinsky said...

anon 8;59, I am taking your comment and reprinting it without inspector names. you may have noticed that I wrote this post avoiding those specifics, at least for now.

I am a property owner in Allentown, and have to agree some of the city inspectors are completely unprofessional and just plain awful at how they do their jobs (XXXX is the worst,just an #$@#$) . Although i have never receivced an orange tag on a building, I do know that some guys, XXXX and XXXX, are completely unlawful in tagging some buildings without proper cause. The inspectors need to realize that they work for the owners; not the tenants that could care less about the building, and in some cases damage the property to try and get the building tagged so the city will pay for them to relocate.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The Allentown is a bloated corrupt agency.
In the past 20 years it has gone from a secretary and a couple inspectors to a monstrosity with an entire floor full of agents trying to find enough problems to keep their department ever expanding.
Just make one of these city employees mad and experience retribution at its best.
There isn't one property in this city that can't be cited for something - unless you are one of king Eds shillminions.
And they will provide you with citations from many and varied departments from within our city.
A Shameful disgrace!

Anonymous said...

sorry.
The Allentown city code bureau is a bloated corrupt agency.

michael molovinsky said...

again, i must paste up another comment mentioning a specific inspector. If you wish to cite specific names, you must sign with your actual name. all future comments citing specific names will be deleted with no paste up. it's easy to make accusations, none of which I dispute, under a blog with my name, not yours!

michael molovinsky said...

comment from anon 9:13

XXXX XXXX should be investigated and fired. He has had some "special" tenant friends and has worked together with them to get their landlords in trouble

Jeff Danvers said...

mm
lonnie glase in post 9:13

thanks for bringing this to the publics attention

Anonymous said...

Don't hold your breath waiting on the Morning Call. They are too busy 'promoting' the Iron Pigs (some 'journalists, huh?). Paul Carpenter is too busy worrying about bicycle helmet laws and post-war discrimination agains Asians; Bill White is a not-so-thinly-veiled liberal whose main targets are unsophisticated but earnest politicos like the guy in Mt. Bethel.

Anonymous said...

Building standards raised inspection fee 7x now they have 2 inspectors go out for inspections . . . What a waste of our $$ how inefficient could that department be. The sweeps dept is a joke too. They shoud fine the people who put the trash there instead of blaming the owners for everything. Where's the accountability?

gary ledebur said...

right on, Tribune!

Anonymous said...

Heh - Many of the cities plans are excellent in theory.

The only thing is they just cannot seem to manage anything.

It just keeps getting worse and worse when we are told it is getting better and better.

Ed please donate our dog park to the people of Haiti when you are there.

You really did not think we would loose the contest, did you?

Anthony M. Marcum said...

I agree with the comment on inspector Lonnie Glase. He has his own rules and never bothers to follow the actual written codified ordinances of the city of Allentown. I'm a property owner and Lonnie has cost me and my family thousands$ for no good reason. I just can't understand the man and noone in that departmant can give me a straight answer when Lonnie does something illegal.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Anthony. He's been there the longest and is worst of them all. . . completely incapable of doing his job correctly.

Anonymous said...

As a former renter in Allentown, I'd like to say how great it is not having to deal with this garbage(no pun intended). I have had some run-ins with code enforcement. First off let me say that my place was always well kept and had no violations whatsoever. Lonnie Glass knocked on my door one day and asked how many people were living there and if he could come in. There was no inspection scheduled nor were there any complaints from other tenants. After basically forcing himself into my apmt, Lonnie kept asking what was wrong with the place as he went over it with a fine-toothed comb to no avail. I found out later that he had a personal grudge with landlord from another building and was trying to put more violations on him!
What a complete waste of tax money and time that this guy has to take the law into his own hands rather than responding to other complaints from other citizens
I called building standards and expressed my disapproval with him barging into my place without any reason and his superior, Carmen Dragotta, was completely rude,had no explanation,and hung up the phone on me.
I'm happy I left and don't have to deal with people in government positions like that

Anonymous said...

Intimidation and threats are part of their job description.
Can't leave my name due to another tool of their trade: retribution.phothyd

Anonymous said...

Lois Berger for last post, sorry it posted anonamously

Anonymous said...

Again the liberals with their codes are the problem. End the codes. Let the market determine these issues. Get government off the back of all of us including disabled veterans. Molovinsky, shame on you for supporting government and being against our vets!

Anonymous said...

property code enforcement is as bad as the parking authority. We taxpayers don;t need bureaucrats in our lives. If I want to have a messy yard, it is my right.

kelly said...

anon 11:31...you do not live in a bubble...

When you infringe on other people's rights...then you must be accountable.

Messy yards, unkempt properties bring down the value of the properties around it...and eventually the whole neighborhood is affected...

Be courteous, stop being lazy and clean up your mess! Isn't that what our parents teach us at the young age of 2--as soon as we can walk and understand--pick up your toys...clean up, clean up, clean up...

there's even a child's song for goodness sakes!

ironpigpen said...

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Power corrupts.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Too bad things like The Constitution and concepts like "checks and balances" and "limited government" are now merely the sorry Legacy of some despicable "old white men", some of whom were, in fact, slave owners...

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:00 AM

Are you kidding? MM support the government and being against a Vet?

What rock do you come out from under - Palowski shale?

If it is a vet and this is true, should there be a different standard?

If anyone really cared about "The Vet" it would have not deteriorated to such a substandard and deplorable condition.

Realize an act of convenience and doing the right thing are often in total opposition of each other.

If the bureaucracy exists and rules are in place, they should apply equally to all. That is exactly the issue MM is bringing to light.

Government is not the hand maiden of a few select individuals, or at least shouldn't be. But then not necessarily in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Father's Day
Most importantly, Happy Father's Day to those terribly important dads across the city. See them at parks, playgrounds, swimming lessons, grocery stores and more.
They're the best and no one can do without them!

Now, permmission to add to your post:
MM-
This is an ongoing exhaustive process that more residents than you can imagine have struggled with over the years. City code enforcement, now called building standards. But standards by whose building? Last week drove next to a city code enforcement car that drove by numerous visible code violations including broken steps, litter, cars parked on grass with for sale signs and more. If Allentown's mayor would demand a sweep of the city, street by street, (remember his Hall of Shame) what happened with that?

Anonymous said...

I rarely have problems dealing with neighbors.
I always have problems dealing with the city of Allentown and the Allentown Parking Authority.
Unlike the neighbors, The city of Allentown continually searches for more ways to extract money from already strapped residents and harrasses us all at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

"treat vets like everyone else?" My father died in Italy so that Molovinski could have the freedom to defend his views on this blog. Many of the readers never served and take full advantage of our freedoms fought for us by our sailers and soldiers. Anyway the point is that the city has no business telling anyone, especially a vet, how to keep his property. Get the bureaucrats out of our yards!

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:43, it is not his property. would you want to share a twin or row house with a yard full of garbage, a swimming pool full algae, and have the police terrify your wife and children because of a squatter next door? would you like to see the city vacate order be fixedby another inspector?

Anonymous said...

defending bureaucrats again----the city has no right to mess with other people's property. period

Anonymous said...

MM
Maybe your readers can do something about this.

I/78 Lehigh Street exit has been missing its off-ramp speed sign,
think it's 35MPH for at least two years. Also, do not see even one
speed sign on either side of Lehigh Street from that exit ramp to Queen City Diner and Parkway Shopping Center

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:22, in the real world the city does mess with people's property all the time. the issue is the degree of fairness and consistency used. please do not reply, i had enough of your anonymous drivel.

Anonymous said...

Someone writing about Lehigh Street. We got question too. Isn't there some type of set-back requirement for businesses? The new car dealership across from the fire station has its trucks one inch from the sidewalk. If a pedestrian slips, they'll smash into these trucks. Isn't that illegal if not dangerous to have displays so close?

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 7:00 -

I saw the trucks there and I have to question the placement as well. Although the sidewalk is up against the street (no planter strip), I would venture to guess that the trucks are still parked in what is considered the public right-of-way. I don't think that's allowed.

Given that the city cannot/will not enforce even the most blatant code violations that MM has documented in his post, I doubt they will be looking at the new dealership anytime soon. The owner is, afterall, a Friend of Ed.

I would imagine that the situation takes care of itself as the trucks get damaged by those passing by on bike and foot.

P.S. - I find it telling that the city did not require the planter strip and some sort of tree plantings along the frontage of the site. Another lost opportunity to improve a major entryway to the city. But then again, that would require a little vision - something Ed is desperately short of.

Anonymous said...

I live down the street from this wackjob. I watched as the SWAT team surrounded his home (he wasn't even home, way to go APD). I have seen his unleashed pack of dogs chase an elderly man down the street. I hear the incredibly loud yelling and screaming coming from the property at all sorts of odd hours. This man and his woman-friend are a menace and a threat to all in the neighborhood. BTW the police said he was suicidal and had a firearm the night the SWAT team was called in.

God Damn you Allentown for forcing this monster upon us.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:13, although i never took action against the property, (except to complain about the swimming pool) i was relieved to see the 30 day vacate notice on may 9. it was issued by an sincere inspector who was indeed going to enforce it. currently, there is another vacate tag on the door, put there on monday, june 20th. that tag is a sham, put there by the occupant's inspector friend, in an attempt to pacify me. the occupant hasn't torn this one off, because he was tutored by his inspector friend to leave it there, to fool me and the neighbors. In reality, the city is currently attempting to make him the legal owner. please consider printing a copy of this post and giving it to your neighbors,( click on post title to separate from blog, and then limit printer to page 1 and 2 to avoid all the comments) or contact me for copies.

Anonymous said...

MM
June 24, 2011 4:03 AM
Please explain.
Is the "city" attempting to take from one and give to another?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:58, the bank foreclosed on this property back in october. it is still occupied by a tenant (who was not the owner). this tenant is very disruptive and the property was never licensed as a rental. although one city inspector tagged the house with a" must vacate order", another inspector, a friend of the tenant's family, interceded and stopped that action. the city is now allowing the "tenant" to stay there in an attempt for him to buy the property from the bank. they have retagged the house with a new vacate order, but it is just a decoy to quiet me and the neighbors. in short, they're circling the wagons around the second inspector, at the expense and tranquility of the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

What's the name of the inspector, the tenant's friend? Or the address to the property so that I can see who it is

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:53, comments such as yours on older posts have to be approved by me before they get posted here. so if you care to send again with your name and email, or phone number, and you live in the neighborhood, i will give you that information. otherwise, i have omitted those particulars intentionally, and will not post them at this point just for the curious. i may post the details in the near future, but would still rather that the city enforce their existing rules in equal fashion.

Anonymous said...

Who is watching the fox watching the henhouse?

Anonymous said...

Mike,

We should add Allentown Inspectors to the Hall of Shame by using first name and last initials or vice versa. A true statement about what placed them there (e.g. Unethical behavior...etc.) would also be helpful. Such as the picture in your newsletter and the person(s) who inspected the site.

Anonymous said...

Mike, Please post this if possible. Inspector L.G. is finally under fire from his management. I sent a letter to the Office of Inspector General, his supervisor and director. Someone is starting to pay attention. If you or anyone have incidents or complaint letters that my attorney can use to get L.G. out or to retrain other inspectors, this would be helpful. Email: dejavu292@aol.com