For the People? Hardly.
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017
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April 11, 2016 7:51 pm ET

Councilman’s office, county turn back on senior’s cry for help

Source: For the People? Hardly.

Photo credit/JPestcontrol.com

There is a term in our society, “a good Samaritan,” that applies to someone who provides care or comfort to a fellow human being, despite there being no personal gain for doing so.

Today’s question is: What is the opposite of a “good Samaritan?” Is there such a thing as a “bad Samaritan?”

If so, I have some candidates for that position.

Today’s blog post will cover a variety of topics, but specifically how the county responds to citizen complaints regarding serious issues.

(Spoiler alert: the county’s typical response is to not respond to those complaints.)

Another subject we will cover today is how a community president got involved in a situation and found some significant problems.

Are you ready to go to school, class?

First, let me remind you that my policy is to protect individuals against retaliation; to that end, I will not name the person impacted in the situation that led to this blog post—a rental property with a serious health threat.

Our story begins when a senior citizen discovered an onslaught of roaches in the home where she has resided for almost 60 years. Up until that time, she had no issues other than the typical situations with which homeowners deal.

The roach infestation seemed more like an invasion, especially since it stemmed from a rental home—one that, by the way, is not registered.

We’ll get to that situation in a moment. First, let’s understand the real issue aside from the roaches—lack of government intervention.

I get many calls and e-mails asking for help when people hit a brick by way of the governmental system, whether it deals with a particular councilman’s office or Baltimore County in general.

The issue at the heart of this blog post deals with both. Specifically, the heart of the problem lies with the lame response often heard: “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.”

Our various politicians and county authorities should form a choir, because they all seem to be singing this woeful tune of incompetency in perfect harmony.

I will explain that meaning in a moment.

A shocking development is that this story transcends into other areas where the county is inept at even offering a suggestion regarding how to deal with a simple problem. That is if those responding bothered to take the time to do the job expected of them.

Simply put, the answers are there—one just has to refer to the law.

You see, we have a number of laws in this country (and this county) that deal with a host of issues, including quite a few that pertain to rental homes.

Yet, when the senior citizen who is the subject of this blog post attempted to contact the councilman’s office, at least two of her phone calls were not returned.

She then went to plan two, which was to call the county’s Code Enforcement Office. That office’s reply was to instruct the senior to hire an exterminator to rid her house of the roaches and, if the pests returned, to watch where they came from. Only after this (clearly) “scientific approach” was done could the code officer take action.

Digest that silliness a bit, folks.

As mentioned earlier, the particular rental unit at the root of the problem is not registered according to the community association president Karen Cruz, who did her duty and contacted the county’s rental registration section.

Thanks to Ms. Cruz’s actions, the owner of the rental home has until May 6, 2016 to file the necessary registration forms before a fine is levied for the violation.

Hardly a solution worth celebrating.

To add insult to injury, Ms. Robin Clark from code enforcement said there was nothing else that could be done.

Out of sheer frustration, the senior citizen then reached out to Councilman Crandell’s office for a third time and spoke to an assistant, Mr. Ron Metzger, who muttered the same response: there is nothing that can be done.

How many times have we heard those words before?

That was when the senior citizen contacted me. Needless to say, she did not get that same response.

I decided to look up the law by using a computer (which we have nowadays) and found the following:

Renting Property in Baltimore County: County Laws for Landlords and Renters

http://www.peoples-law.org/special-landlord-tenant-laws-baltimore-county#rodent

How hard was that? The website even discusses bad bugs that carry disease and germs. Here is a quote:

Insects

The owner or occupant of a building must not allow the building to be infested with disease to human beings such as but not limited to cockroaches, fleas and lice…

Violations

Failure to comply with any of these requirements is a

Misdemeanor.

You can read more by going to this link:

Baltimore County Code § 13-7-314

So, we went from “there is nothing we can do” (times two) to a whole law that deals with this specific issue, as well as a ton of other rental property issues.

I contacted Code Enforcement myself and was transferred to the voice mail of Ms. Clark, a code supervisor, who (surprisingly) did not return my call.

Folks, it only gets worse from here when I take a look at the Section 8 statistics in Baltimore County.

Here’s a preview:

· Number of Section 8 units in Dundalk and Essex: 1,189.

· Number of Section 8 units in White Marsh: 1 (that is not a misprint).

· Number of Section 8 units in Woodlawn: 0.

Stats provided by Greater Dundalk Alliance, reference meeting on Section 8 in Baltimore County.

Despite the rat protest, as covered by one of Baltimore’s local TV channels, Dundalk still holds the number one slot for the most rat complaints in the county.

Things haven’t changed much on the east side, and I will keep you posted on the plight of the senior citizen who is fighting a system that could not care less.

If any government official would like to chime in and take issue with me, please be my guest. Send me your propaganda, limited to 1,000 words. I am happy to engage in some good old solid public discourse.

As the old saying goes, Put up or shut up!

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