Imagine yourself as the mayor of one of America’s top ten cities wakening up Sunday morning and opening the newspaper screaming that one of your city police officer’s is the owner of ten derelict or problem houses.
That was the situation for the mayor and city council of Raleigh North Carolina. N&O staff writer Josh Shafer got his article on the front pages with one picture.
Additional pictures of houses owned by Sgt Tommy Newman were shown on page 12a.
For the mayor and council this is an embarrassing situation as according to a Monday follow-up article, the council had just scaled back the in 2006 on some elements of the Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit requirements related to noise.
Under this permit a landlord who has properties that receive and excessive number of nuisance or code violations are required to purchase a permit for $500.00. Each permit covers a two year period.
Josh Schaffer credited researchers David Raynor and Paulette Stiles with contributing to the article.
One very telling quote in the article attributed to Pastor Velma Champlain who said, “They say, ‘Who are you going to complain to when the police own everything?'”. It appears from the article that at least one of the buildings has been boarded up for more than a year in violation of city code.
One of the houses, 1002 S. Blount Street is identified in the article as a center for the drug trade in the downtown area. Neighbors reported in the article that in addition to seeing drugs passed out the window of the house; the area around the house has been the seen of shoot outs. The shoot outs they describe sound like the ones you see on cop shows with the opposing sides shooting from behind parked cars.
An item in the article that may well irk many people throughout Raleigh is the presence of trash and refuse in the properties front yards. As many of us, including myself, have had $50.00 fines levied against us for leaving a trash can in the front yard, this is definitely going to open some eyes about how city inspectors have been doing their job.
The fact was revealed that Newman received $320,000 for two buildings that he permitted to decay.
A spokesman for the North Central Advisory Council indicated that landlords like Newman are just sitting on properties waiting for development come in and provide similar rewards.
The Blount Street houses are located just across Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd from the Progress Energy Center .(Raleigh’s main theater with Broadway plays).