New Government Regulations
GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)
About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words
Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.
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At its May 16, 2022, the Gardner City Council adopted Mayor Nicholson’s legislative action unanimously, and without comment. When we say without comment, we mean – as in zero mouths opened on that City Council, other than to dispose of it as soon as humanly possible.
That’s right, several new Government Regulations that apply to all City Homeowners and City property owners were passed by all 11 City Councillors – without one word of debate and without any discussion whatsoever. The cat got all 11 tongues.
That’s nothing new. We don’t get debate in our Legislative Body of City Government. We don’t get discussion. But, then again, that’s not entirely true. We don’t get discussion or debate when important or critical matters are at issue – things like legislating Government Regulations, for instance.
These new Regulations from Mayor Nicholson, and adopted in silent, herdlike fashion by 11of 11 City Councillors, include extra obligations on the part of Gardner Homeowners and building owners.
Now, if your property looks “abandoned,” “vacant,” or “blighted,” according to the Unelected Building Commissioner, you’re in big trouble. With the new Regulations, the City overlords have given absolute power and authority to unelected City officials – including the authority to “inspect” the inside of your homes and buildings if they decide that you are not “maintaining” your property up to their standards.
What “standards” are those? We have no idea. Whatever they want, apparently.
Under these new Government Regulations passed mutely by the City Council, if your house looks like no one is living there, or is not “properly maintained,” the City Government has the right to make you do things (like at the amusements that used to exist in our country called “Circuses” – the Ringmaster made the animals jump through hoops).
For one, you can’t “board up” a broken window for more than 45 days. We don’t know what “boarding up” means because it is not defined. We presume it’s when you screw in some plywood to cover the hole that nature blew into the side of your house.
So, if a hurricane blows out your window, you have 45 days to find a craftsman to fix it with a new window. You better have the money, and you better be able to find a craftsman. Imagine that, the City Clerk can’t even put together the minutes of a 20-minute City Council Meeting together in 45 days so that the Citizens can read what’s going on at the City’s legislative level – but you have to come up with the money to fix a hurricane hole, and get it fixed, in that amount of time.
Also, during that first 45 days, you can’t just use plywood to cover the hole. You have to use a perfectly-sized piece of material that fits exactly into the hole (just as if it were a window, but without the translucence) – and it must match the building’s “color scheme.”
Hopefully Ralph Lauren’s or Benjamin Moore’s style and color professionals will be available to you after the hurricane passes by.
But, maybe you are one of the fortunate ones. If you are a correct person, or popular at City Hall, or have other clout or importance or a family relative in appropriate city circles, the unelected Building Commissioner may afford you his grace – at his sole discretion, of course.
The new City Regulation also requires every Homeowner to “maintain the condition” of your home so that it does not appear to be “blighted.”
What does “adequately maintained” mean? It means “blighted.” Yeah, but what does “blighted
mean? It means “not adequately maintained.” Pure tautology, and splendid circular reasoning. The perfect amount of nonsense to drive a sane person insane.
That means the Government controls how your yard and house looks.
The City’s broad and vague definitions of “abandoned,” and “vacant,” and “blighted” trigger the Government’s right to come into your life and your home – and to tell you what to do with your own house and property.
It means, among other triggering factors, that the owner can never “fail” to “maintain” his or her property up to the City’s subjective standards of aesthetics and appearance.
The new City Regulations also do not identify whose subjective views the City will use to decide what a “vacant” or “blighted” house looks like. But, whoever it is (we presume it’s the Mayor and the Building Commissioner, Roland Jean), their subjective sense of style is final.
Imagine that? If the Building Commissioner treats you unfairly, and doesn’t like how your house is “maintained,” he’ll issue his judgment against you. Oh, you can appeal that judgment. Guess who hears your appeal? Correct – the Building Commissioner. Perfect governmental balance in a crooked world.
The Citizens are completely at the mercy of the Building Commissioner’s personal sense of judgment. The Building Commissioner is the judge. Imagine – an unelected employee with that much power over you?
You might think at least one City Councillor would have opened their mouth. But, no.
Moving on, the new Regulations also give the unelected Building Commissioner the right to issue an order to the Homeowner to pay for and have erected a 6-foot fence 30 feet around the entire house – if your house looks, well, “blighted” according to the Building Commissioner’s own personal sense of aesthetic standards.
That doesn’t sound too, well, democratic. Should our judge, jury and executioner be some partisan appointment of the Mayor? Shouldn’t our judge, jury and executioner, in a self-governing democracy, be someone one who the majority of Citizens actually elected?
So, you must “maintain” your house and buildings in “good repair” – because if you don’t, the Building Commissioner will think it looks “blighted” to him. How do we do know if our house is in “good repair”? We have no idea.
Your rulers think there are adequate safeguards to protect against a petty and arbitrary (or highly judgmental) Building Commissioner. The Building Commissioner must first get the Fire Chief and Police Chief to agree that the 6-foot fence 30 feet around your entire house is a good idea. Obviously, that’s just a government rubber-stamp.
Next, the Building Commissioner must find one other person somewhere in the United States of America (we assume it has to be an American, but we are not sure) who agrees with him about the necessity of ordering you to pay for and install a 6-foot fence 30 feet around your entire house.
But, this stranger-confirmer can’t be employed by the City of Gardner. Phew, that’s good. So, the Building Commissioner can’t just get his secretary to sign off on his Fence-Around-Your-House Order, but he can simply show a screen shot of your house to a stranger in Fall River, or New York City, or at the bar, and this “safeguard” is satisfied. Who’s the genius who thought up that safeguard?
Also, the new Government Regulation gives you, the Gardner property owner up to 7 days to list all the contents of your house in the event that your home is vacant. You have to make the list of all the stuff you have in your house, and submit the list to the Building Commissioner, Roland Jean. Also, the New Government Regulations also give Roland Jean the unfettered power to shut off all your utilities is he thinks your house or building looks “vacant.” Oops, sorry, didn’t know you were in there. Next time, leave the porch light on, and mow your lawn better.
How does the Unelected Building Inspector determine, as a matter of law, that your house or building is “vacant”? What is the legal process of reaching that determination? What are the criteria and analysis that must be applied in this procedure? Why isn’t there a fair appeals process? We have no idea what the answers are to any of those questions. Therefore, again, it’s simply up to the personal and subjective discretion of the infallible Roland Jean (or whoever replaces him).
The Building Inspector can also enter into your house for “inspections” any time he feels like it – well, as long as the internal mechanisms of his mind decide on any given day that your house looks “blighted.” Just read Section 500-7 (and 500-4A).
No Government employee (never mind an Unelected one) should have that much power over our lives and freedoms.
I wonder why not one Councillor, not one, felt it might be a good idea to tell the Citizens their views of these Regulations, or even what these Regulations entail and mean – or why they are necessary. I wonder.
Instead, the Councillors at the same meeting were pleased as punch to go on and on and on about the destructive onslaught coming our way in the form of, wait for it . . . e-scooters (when that matter was not even properly on the table for discussion).
The nonsense is getting deep. As they say, elections have consequences.
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