Thursday, March 5, 2015

Zimmerman proposes Austin 'code compliance' put skin in the game

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

City Council Member Don Zimmerman has proposed a unique punishment for the city’s Code Compliance Department when it loses a case in Municipal Court: It will have to pay.
Zimmerman, who has made no secret of his disdain for the department’s involvement in minor matters, has distributed a resolution that calls on the city manager to reimburse attorney’s fees to any citizen who is found not guilty of a code compliance issue at Municipal Court. The resolution says the fees would be “deducted from the budget of the Code Compliance Department.”
Zimmerman said the intent of his resolution is to get the department to focus on important matters and stop enforcing minor regulations such as those related to the height or composition of fences.
Zimmerman is particularly angry about the case of Matthew Palmer, a District 4 resident who went through a long and convoluted argument with Code Compliance about a fence surrounding his RV. Palmer, whose fence was sometimes alleged to be illegal — and sometimes not — won a jury trial at Municipal Court last month.
Wait; it gets better:
Casar said he was not a sponsor of the resolution, but was in favor of influencing the department to focus on important matters. “My interest in code enforcement is I would like to make sure we direct our resources so landlords will keep up their complexes, so people live in safe and sanitary housing, (instead of on) the smaller cases. Also, it’s interesting what happens when a particular employee’s interpretation is incorrect.”
Casar added, “I know Palmer is frustrated, but I of course want to hear the city’s side before deciding any next step. Right now, I wouldn’t be supportive of this resolution. I’m more interested in structurally making sure the Code Compliance Department is working the way that District 4 residents want it to.
“I just want to understand … what ways we can make code compliance more effective.”
Bottom Line: Not only is Don Zimmerman blazing a new trail of accountability for the petty tyrants of central planning, he's also picked a battlefield where even Battleground Texas' 2014 consolation prize can't oppose him.

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