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Council's auction vote got the attention of landlords, but not necessarily in a good way

By Howard B. Owens

A number of local landlords are deeply concerned over the Batavia City Council's decision a week ago to deny Michael Pullinzi the chance to buy a piece of property he won at city auction.

The 5-4 vote punctuates a growing frustration with the code-inspection process, which they say puts an unfair burden on the landlords without holding tenants accountable.

Jeremy Yasses (pictured), an Oakfield resident who owns eight properties in the city, as well as several other tenant-occupied buildings outside of Batavia, describes himself as a budding entrepreneur who is trying to build a real estate business.

The 13 citations mentioned by the council against Pullinzi as the reason for denying him the chance to purchase 9 Willow St., is piddling compared to other landlords, according to Yasses. Other landlords, both on and off the record, say much the same thing.

Yasses, for his part, readily admits to getting between 40 and 50 citations a year from city inspectors.

Almost all of them, if not all of them, are for things tenants have done.

And that's the problem, according to Yasses. Tenants are not held accountable, so there's no motivation for them to change. If a tenant puts his garbage out on Wednesday, Yasses gets a notice, so he goes and picks it up on Thursday to correct the violation. Then the same thing happens the next week, and the next.

"Did we get to the root of the problem?" Yasses asks.

"I own the property. I’m held accountable," said Yasses. "I’m not passing the buck, but have the tenant standing right there next to me (in court). That’s how you hold them accountable."

Terry Platt, who operates one of the largest residential rental businesses in the city, said he's no stranger to receiving violation notices for things tenants have done, and he's concerned, also, that the current system isn't really helping to address the problem.

"There's no tenant responsibility," said Platt, who also serves on the city's Neighborhood Improvement Committee (NIC). "We can kick them out, but if they move out, they just move to someplace else in the city and do the same thing over again. How is the city going to clean up the city if there is no tenant accountability?"

(Point of disclosure: Platt is my landlord.)

From the city's perspective, the only option is to hold the landlords accountable. They're the ones who own the property and the only recourse for the city is to cite property owners for any problems outside a house or apartment.

City Council President Marianne Clattenburg said residents want to live in a cleaner city and the citations landlords receive is, at least in part, just the cost of doing business.

"We really don't have a lot of recourse as far as the tenant goes," Clattenburg said. "The only person responsible is the property owner. That's just the way the system is."

Clattenburg is no stranger to getting cited for violations she didn't cause. Two years ago, then-City Inspector Mike Smith wrote her up because her garbage can was next to her house, rather than behind it. The notice came, said Clattenburg, on a day the staff was conducting a citywide sweep on code enforcement. Her trash had been picked up that morning and she was at work, when her father-in-law, who lives next door and has health problems, moved her trash can from the street just to help out.

Still, Clattenburg, a school teacher, thinks landlords need to do a better job of policing the conduct of their tenants, perhaps offering incentives, such as rent breaks, for not getting citations.

"The landlords are in business," Clattenburg said. "If it wasn't a business, if they weren't making money, they wouldn't be doing it. Every business has obstacles and faces difficulties. That's just part of owning your own business. You figure out ways to deal with that."

Yes, it is a business, landlords will tell you, and because it is a business, solutions don't come as easily as city officials seem to think they should.

As we spoke while standing in the front room/kitchen of a house the 33-year-old Yasses is rehabilitating on Thorpe, Yasses said the best he could hope for from that piece of property was $250 per month net profit. That's after mortgage, flood insurance and taxes are paid, and only if the tenant paid the water bill and pays rent on time and there was no maintenance on the 100-year-old building.

“That’s not a lot, especially when you look at the fact that I’ve got four vacancies and I just spent five grand here," Yasses said. "If you take all that into account, that’s two years income all right here in one house.”

Meanwhile, he's grappling with the city over a tenant's car that has no license plate. The tenant, Yasses said, is a essentially a single mom (her husband doesn't work) who works part-time at a fast-food place. She can only use her mobile phone for text messages because all she can afford is a $10-per-month plan. She couldn't afford insurance on her car, so she had to remove the license plates. The city cited Yasses and said it needed to be covered with a tarp.

"So I hounded her, 'put a tarp on it, put a tarp on it' because Ron (Panek, city inspector) hounded me, 'put a tarp on it,'" said Yasses. "She went and bought a blue tarp, covered it. It’s not good enough. You need to have a tarp that’s fitted to the car. I didn’t even know that. So Ron goes, 'we’re going to have to go to court then.' I said, ‘fine. We’ll go to court.’

"Now wait a minute," Yasses added. "We paid a guy to make three visits and make two phone calls, and now we’re going to pay the city attorney to take me to court for a tenant’s car? And we’re hurting for money in the city? Maybe we need to tighten up our belts and our shoelaces a little bit and figure out what’s going on. That’s my point – I think we’re wasting some money and we’re just masking the problem"

Yasses thinks city officials and some NIC members don't have enough experience dealing with low-income people to really understand what many landlords are up against.

Eviction, of course, is an option, but it can also be difficult and expensive, especially if a tenant has been paying his rent on time. It begins with $500 in legal fees and ends with cleaning up the apartment (which can be especially costly if the tenant took vengeance on the evicting landlord) and then searching for a new tenant. The process can take months, especially if a good-paying tenant fights the eviction.

And in the end, a landlord may not even have improved his tenant situation.

"The new tenant is going to be the same pool of tenants," Yasses said. "The next tenant is going to be the same quality – and I don’t mean it that way, because they’re good people, just down on their luck – the next tenant isn’t going to be any better than what I had. We need to train them and teach them and hold them accountable, along with us."

City officials, NIC members and his Fifth Ward Representative Kathy Briggs need to come down on Thorpe and meet some of his tenants and see what he's doing to rehabilitate his buildings, Yasses said. He repeated several times that his tenants are good people just having a hard time, and that he's doing everything possible to improve the quality of his holdings as fast as he can in order to attract, hopefully, better tenants. But it takes time and money, he said.

“I’m doing the best I can," Yasses said. "You can’t get anybody decent to come down on Thorpe Street. When I bought this about four years ago, there was a ton of drug activity right here and right next door, bad, bad, bad. I got fed up, thought I could be the hero and forced these landlords to sell me these houses to get rid of the garbage. I can say right now, I have no drugs down here."

The property Yasses owns on Watson, Thorpe and Maple were probably bad investments, Yasses readily admits. He's losing money on them and gets by only because his investments in other jurisdictions are doing well.

And that's part of the problem -- Yasses said he doesn't have issues with municipal officials in other jurisdictions that he has in Batavia.

“I rehabilitated a four-unit in Middleport and they absolutely love it," Yasses said. "I’m putting my money where people appreciate it. ‘Wow, Jeremy, you put a new roof on, you painted, new windows – this looks great.’”

If he could walk away from his Thorpe area properties and take a $10,000 loss on he each, he said he would, but he doesn't have that kind of money. So he's committed to doing the best he can with them. He has no choice.

“I don’t want this to be a negative thing on the city," Yasses said. "The main problem is, you’ve got to have tenant accountability. I’m not the one putting the trash out. I’m not the one with the vehicles. If you really want to change, that’s what we need to do. Not by fining me. You can fine me. I can go before the next judge next Friday (on the car/tarp case)  – I hope he doesn’t take offense if this gets out there – but he could fine me five grand. He could put me in jail. But at the end of the day, the car still isn’t covered or taken care of because we didn't go to the source."

Brenda Ranney

Personally if I was a landlord I'd come up with a well worded (legal) clause in my rental aggreement where I could charge a tenant for infractions such as trash cans out too early.
Consequences can be a great modifier.

Feb 15, 2010, 8:40am Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

Thank you Jeremy Yasses and Terry Platt! It takes guts to speak out even if it is the truth. Jeremy stated he would have 300+ citations in the same 7 year period that Clattenburg and Briggs are criticizing me for having 13. This demonstrates my point well that I was totally unfairly slandered and libeled in this matter by this group of five Council members. Jeremy's situation is much more the norm and I would even argue that this higher number should not disqualify him from being able to invest more money and rehab more property in the City. Like the citations or not, he is pouring thousands into fixing up property in the City and I see him along with myself at all the building supply auctions. While others are enjoying their weekends we are usually working on our rentals. Without such people, the properties remain in disrepair and that is bad for everyone especially the neighborhoods.
In 20 year of being a landlord I have made my share of mistakes and it is a learning process like anything else. There have been times when neighbors have had good reason to be upset, but I encourage contact when there are problems and no one can honestly say I do not respond. Anyway you look at it, ALL my properties are far better than when I bought them and are huge improvements to the neighborhoods. That is true of Jeremy and most landlords too.
Clattenburg, Briggs, and Pacino don't have a clue on what it is to be a landlord and what we deal with nor do they seem to care. The fact is that many years you have to be happy if you make no money and just are able to pay your mortgage, taxes, and have the tax advantage of owning a rental.

At least Clattenberg has admitted she too has had a citation. (It would be interesting to check ALL five Council member's files for the same seven year period) I was told she also had another citation for a matter involving her porch. Even if she only has the one citation, that would put her almost on par with my citations that she is criticizing me for so harshly and I guess this too should eliminate her from purchasing in any City auctions? Perhaps that rule should be expanded to not allowing people to run for Council if they have citations? I have 10 units and 13 citations (only 8 really as 5 were not even for my property and were given to me for neighboring property in error) That gives me on average 1.3 (really only .8) citations for each unit over a seven year period. Clattenberg has 1 citation and maybe more so she might even have a higher ratio than me. Additionally, Briggs reportedly has a history of calling Police on numerous occassions yet somehow feels my tenants are not allowed to do the same? Briggs also had a problem with roof shingles all over her yard, neighbor's yard, and the street for about two years. I am glad she has finally put a new roof on now, but I would have had a citation for that immediately. Unknown if this Council member was cited for this.

The truth is that some people look down their noses at renters and I think that is part of the problem with these Council members. There is a distain there and lack of understanding or caring. Tenants deserve the same respect as any other citizen in this community and deserve the same respect and attention by Council members. I would challenge any of those Council Members, that were blindly critcial of me, to put their money where they mouths are and invest in their City, lay down $50K+ for a fixer-uper in the City, do the work, do the rehab, rent it out for a few years, and then come talk to me. Sometimes an education is enlightening.

Feb 16, 2010, 6:32am Permalink
Peter O'Brien

The city's position is flawed. That would be like the (taking today's blotter as an example) charging the board of directors at Batavia Downs for the actions of the patron who flipped a desk.

Until landlords can evict tenants for repeated violations there will be no justice.

Feb 15, 2010, 9:24am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Until certain members of council, and NIC are sent a message, that renters are HUMAN, as well as landlords, and that we were all created equal, and that there are "Bad Eggs in Every Walk of Life", will we get the Justice we demand.
It burns me up how "all" renters are painted with the same brush, and Demonized, by those who hold city positions, who think they are better than everyone else. I have "No Use" for people like that. I for one, "Will Not" lay down, and take it from them.
I am a PROUD person, with a Beautiful family, who has rented from the same Wonderful Landlords (and dear friends) for 16 years. We also own, and pay taxes, on 6 acres, of pristine land, that we plan on building our home on. This is Our American dream you see.
I certainly would not let council, and NIC (pillars of society) defame my charector, or that of my wonderful family, without in return exposing their injustices. Its very sad to me, that those who abide by the law, live a good clean life, have to have, the fact that they rent, embarrass them, and be "dragged through the mud" by council and the all mighty NIC. Thats right Peter, "Justice for all deserving"! This is America!!

Feb 15, 2010, 10:06am Permalink
John Roach

For the record, no Council person said anything about renters. A few landlords have brought up renters as part of the problem.

The original issue is, and what got lost in all this is: Should landlords who have city property and documented code violations and/or police activity at their properties, or owe back taxes, be allowed to buy more property being sold by the city?

Then the question should be how many violations in what time period, what kind of violations and what was the nature of the police calls (drug activity or medical emergency as examples).

And again, if Councilman Ferrando had not held up the new code reforms for over 4 years, this might never have happened to Mr. Pullizi.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:11am Permalink
Karen Miconi

John, then council, and Jason should apologize for their disfunction. They should rectify the situation, instead of hiding under Maryannes skirt. Headhunting should not be allowed. Would any of them done this to one of their Friends or family with a few minor violations or even big ones?? Hell no, God forbid, and No way....The Old Double Standard.. Gotta love it

Feb 15, 2010, 10:18am Permalink
Dave Olsen

Here's a good question for someone. If most landlords have many citations as was said in the article, then who will buy the properties the city wants to sell? Not me.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:23am Permalink
John Roach

The Council could call up the proposed law Ferrando had kept tabled for 4 years, and pass it. But Council decided last year to start over and gave the task to the NIC.

In my opinion, the NIC has taken too long.

My point was no Council member brought renters into this. But that is part of the age old blame game. Renters blame the landlord and landlords blame renters for problems. That is not new here in Batavia, or anywhere else.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:34am Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Having come from another city with a large renter pop. I wanted to make a few directed comments...

Brenda... Adding clauses to leases sounds like a fine idea, however its just that. To enforce it costs money and time in court, then you have the renter move out leaving the property owner responsible anyway, but with additional problems then he started with. Like Yasses pointed out we all have had financial issues as of late and for some landlords it is much easier to make allowances for the tenants then to go thru the processesses and costs and have to start over from scratch.

Mr.Pullinzi correct me if I am wrong but it is best to know your tenants and communicate with them. In my former job I was a property manager, I was the middleman that was the "bad guy" sometimes between the landlord and tenant. I was sent to inform tenants of issues and try to get compliance while the landlord was able to be the "good guy" insulated from the conflictual contact and offer "solutions". In the market I was in we had very different rental market as most were Ivy League Students who moved every year, which compunded some of the issues Batavia faces here as they Tenants attitude was one of disposability.

Karen I sympathize with your point on the generalization of tenants, but the city is also painting landlords with that same brush. No landlord really wants to hurt tenants or have the city breathing down its neck. But we are seeing the city isolating itself and dumping the issues down on landlords. But in my experience they are trying to move their job of "enforcement" to the landlords and not considering it further. Landlords are not the tenants parents, nor are they police, but they are expected to do this job with no support or power except to keep their properties empty so that they comply with code. Even with codes and evidence landlords hear from the police.....its a civil matter take them to court cause we can do nothing. And the city says, if they dont comply then evict them. Its another of societies vicious circles.

All in all the council does what most councils do.... interprete the codes and laws as they see fit to, blindly relying on the words on the page( in the code, on the books etc )Not wanting to take any effort or do any work to do what they are SUPPOSED to do, make the city a pleasant place to do business, work in or live in regardless of your social or economic status. We hear promises when they want to be elected to their positions but once in they go on with business as usual for them.

We need to raise this issue again and keep it in the spotlight when time comes to choose new council members.

Feb 15, 2010, 12:10pm Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

Kyle: Exactly. While I always want to be involved with my properties and do respond to problems, how some seem to feel that landlords should be held responsible for all their tenant's actions, like a parent, is beyond me. Mrs. Clattenberg and Mrs. Briggs are teachers, should we blame them when one of their students fail a test or is arrested or does some wrong? Where does someone become responsible for their own actions in this world? Instead everyone loves the blame game. Like the song goes "It wasn't me." Adding a clause in a lease is useless because Judges rarely even enforce a lease when things go to Court and you can't force someone to pay a fine if they haven't even paid their rent. If my tenant puts an extra bag of trash out then they really should be responsible for that. Why doesn't the City do that? Because they would never get their money just like the landlord who would try to do that with his tenant. Sooo the City passes the buck to the landlord because they can threaten to add it to their taxes etc. Frankly, I would just love to see the whole trash system returned to complete collection service like it use to be. Then all citizens could put out whatever they want and it is ALL taken away and everyone is better off as things get cleaned up and disposed of. That action alone would remove a huge chuck of these citations.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:09pm Permalink
Michael T. Johnston

If violations are caused by the tenants and the landlords are charged because the tenants rented the property and didn't follow the rules then it sounds like this would make sense too:

1) Enterprise rents a car- that person speeds, blows through a stop sign, doesn't obey other traffic rules so the cops don't pull them over to ticket them, but rather they go to Enterprise and ticket them instead.

2) Rent-A-Center rents a television- the renter has the volume as loud as they can, some calls the police, Rent-A-Center gets a ticket, they don't even go to the house where the problem is.

Make sense? Sounds rediculous i think, but based on what the Council says to them this seems as though they would support the above to then...if they believe in equality. how is a house any different?

In regards to the statement in the above in article------
"The landlords are in business," Clattenburg said. "If it wasn't a business, if they weren't making money, they wouldn't be doing it. Every business has obstacles and faces difficulties. That's just part of owning your own business. You figure out ways to deal with that."------

I would love to see her say that to other types of rental companies and see what they say...

Feb 15, 2010, 2:23pm Permalink
John Roach

Those companies put clauses in their agreements right?
That's my point, put clauses in the lease, and if you don't use a lease, start.

If rent property and you don't have a lawyer, get one. Or, maybe get a better one.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:27pm Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

John: You sound more and more like this "group of 5" council members and are making a lot of assumptions. I think Mike Johston's point is that you could never put a clause in a car rental to make Hertz responsible for your traffic violations, but the City has made landlords responsible for tenants that don't comply with City rules. How do you know it is working in those other communities? Have you asked any landlords in any of those towns? I'm telling you point blank that when you get a bad tenant you can have 100 lease clauses and the Judges rarely enforce anything. I just evicted someone a month ago. They owed two months rent and the Judge gave them another month to get out. They left the place a disaster and the Judge never even gave me a Judgement against them as he handled the eviction as a separate matter with me having to file again to obtain the judgement. The problem with that is once they are evicted you have to track them down to then chase them to serve them, get them to show up, and then try to collect on any judgement. They give them years and years to pay and you have to keep tracking them down with no obligation to keep the Court or Landlord infomed of their current address etc. On top of that you have to take off work for Court and if they don't show up they postpone it and you have to take another day off the next time and so on. They tell you to be there at a certain time, but you wait hours to be heard. On top of the owed rent I had hundreds of dollars in legal costs. It is all a circus. Lots of things sound good in theory, but... I will repeat my challenge to Council and anyone that is cavalier about landlords. Put your money where your mouth is. Invest in the City like those you have criticized and put down $50K+ to buy a fixer-uper. Do the rehab, the work, the time, etc. then rent it out a few years. Then come talk to me. An education is enligtening.

Feb 16, 2010, 6:22am Permalink
Chris Charvella

John, I understand where you're coming from, but most local landlords don't have the cash in their coffers for constant litigation against bad tenants. A lease is great, but if a landlord has to enforce it against a bad tenant he/she will have to do so in court. The court fees will typically be more than what recoverable damages would be.

It would be laughable for a landlord to take a tenant to court in the case of a minor code infraction and unreasonable cost-wise to do so.

The idea that a landlord should have to head to court just to keep his/her good name is a little silly and I think shows that this can of worms opened up by the Council President may have been ill-conceived and poorly executed.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:06pm Permalink
John Roach

I talked with the attorney who does the legal work! That's how I know.

Do you use an attorney (no names), or do this yourself?

I think you and landlords need a bit of protection if the renter causes you to get a fine. And leases seem to be one way to help. Right now, you get the fine if you are at fault and if the renter is at fault.

You keep mentioning local judges. Are you saying "local judges" are one part of the problem?

Feb 15, 2010, 3:09pm Permalink
John Roach

True, but if you own a number of properties, and get fined for something that is not your fault, over and over, you can either buck up and pay the fine and keep the tenant or have a way of getting them to pay. If they don't pay, having a 30 day notice could/might help. It's just an idea.

It may not work for everyone, but then it is an idea/suggestion. Since I don't rent or own property, the lose of money to the landlord does not effect me.

I called an attorney who was good enough to give me his take on what he does. And, while he does work for large firms, he also does work for small business people like the ones on this site. He says it works and I have no reason to think he lied.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:40pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

It works if you have the money set aside for litigation.

Toward the end of my time in the Air Force, my wife was the Resident Manager for the apartment complex we lived in. The company she worked for was of medium size and owned quite a few rental complexes and individual rental properties. She always had a tough time getting folks evicted when it was necessary (broke the terms of their lease, failure to pay rent, danger to other residents, etc..) Her company had a team of lawyers on retainer for the purpose of eviction and other renters issues.

The point of that seemingly pointless story is that enforcing leases is difficult and expensive. Many landlords in Batavia are working hard just to break even on their properties and many of them would tell you that the only way to make money as a landlord around here is to own as many properties as you can afford, keep them in good repair so you can keep them filled, juggle them judiciously, and pray every day that no surprises pop up. Court fees aren't a part of that equation so most of them choose the DIY route when it comes to dealing with tenants outside of extreme cases.

One part of the equation was to own as many properties as you can afford and Mr. Pullinzi was trying to do just that. It looks like he pays his taxes on time, hasn't had any major issues with tenants and for the most part, keeps his properties in good repair. He seems like a guy who is trying to earn an honest living and I was sorry to see the City make what I truly believe was an uninformed decision simply to push a new policy.

I really wish there was a process for Mr. Pullinzi to file a grievance and get this decision overturned. Also, if what he says about the number and accuracy of code violations is true he is owed an apology. I wonder if the background check had uncovered only eight violations instead of thirteen if the City would have allowed him to purchase the property...

Feb 15, 2010, 3:57pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

I think Jason, and Council should have done a background check, and gotten their information, and procedures straight, before blatently, unprofessionally, discriminating against Mike. Why havent they come out, and addressed the public, with a logical explanation? Maybe, they dont care what we have to say? What does this say about Them, to all of You???? (Flags a Flying)

Granted there are bad tenants, ones that dont pay their water bill, rent, utilities, and live in squaller, but there are also hard-working families, that deserve respect. Generations of GOOD people, that maybe Rent, instead of Own, but are deserving just the same. Great landlords, that may only own one or two rentals, and who's tenants(human beings) work together with them to maintain the rentals.

As far as Maryanne and Kathy, it was said they are teachers? Well public schools,and Catholic, are the worst when it comes to drama, and gossip, and Blatent Favoritizm. I can only hope the kids whos families rent, and arent on any "Committee",and dont own a home, were given the same privilege, and respect, as the familys that do.

Feb 16, 2010, 12:29pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Marianne and Kathy are not former teachers, they are teachers. They work for a living and volunteer for Council work. Marianne is a Catholic school teacher and is far above any of the mud you’re trying to sling on her. Neither of those women are of privilege nor have they been given any favoritism.

As for the NIC committee members, there is no privilege there either. They are just a group of neighbors who look for ways to make the city a better place to live. There are also landlords on that committee, in fact one of the biggest in the city.

Karen, it is fine to disagree with people and share your viewpoint. It’s quite another to cast aspersions on people you don’t know.

Feb 15, 2010, 5:43pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

I think Council's idea here is correct, it just needs a bit more refinement. Landlord/Tenant matters are rarely black and white, and we are learning very quickly that neither are code violations.

Feb 15, 2010, 5:20pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

There Charlie, I fixed it. As to them coming out with an apology, I think we will never get it. Charlie I speak out of frustration, and embarasment over the way people who rent are being portrayed. It really stinks, and I have taken MUCH Offense to it. I just cant stand it. I wont beat, this renting horse anymore..I hope my points were made. But they have fallen on Deaf ears....
P.S. Are there any "Renters" on the Neighborhood committee? After all, they ARE part of the "Neighborhoods".

Feb 15, 2010, 5:30pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

There are no conspiracies going on here. This is a complex issue and everybody is grappling with it as best as they can. We all want a solution to, or protection against, trashy yards and unruly residents (whether renters or owners). The fact that this issue is so contentious, with so many well meaning people on all sides with strong opinions, shows just how complex of an issue it is. To cast aspersions on people for standing up for what they believe in, regardless of how wrong you think they are, is really counterproductive to a civil discussion. And only a civil discussion will help us reach a common understanding and a mutually acceptable solution.

Feb 15, 2010, 5:29pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

The word you guys are trying so hard to come up with is: Aspersions.

Dispersion is what makes light into rainbows and aspirations are what Howard has when he's coming up with new ways to beat the Daily's numbers :)

Feb 15, 2010, 5:38pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Karen, I understand you get emotional, I am not immune to that either but, Howard is right. If you’re looking to convince people to change their mind the worst thing you can do is make it personal.

Marianne and Kathy being school teachers isn’t a negative, it’s a positive. It still shows that local government is run by everyday people. Marianne, Kathy and the NIC members are not upper crust snobs and it is unfair for them to be portrayed like that. The NIC members are just common people who volunteer their time for free.

Chris, Thanks for the help with the grammar. Not even Sister Crucifessa and her ruler were able to beat that subject into me.

Feb 15, 2010, 5:51pm Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

Karen your words and all of those posted here have not fallen on deaf ears. I personally greatly appreciate all the words of support that have been posted here by people I do not know and have never met and by a few landlords that have thrown themselves into the fray in today's article at great risk to themselves. Howard has said it well on conspiracy theories whether supported or not and pointed out that there are a lot of good people here with best intentions to work together for real solutions. Problem is that Council was not among them and didn't act too professional in this case to facilitate that. Karen, your question on if renters are on the Neighborhood committee is a great one. Perhaps you can make an official inquiry and ask that you be allowed to join? I for one think your input would be valuable to real solutions. The strength of our system is diversity and when that is lacking we get bad government.

Feb 15, 2010, 11:08pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Chris, I corrected my comment. Thanks.

And as far as beating the Daily's numbers -- no worries, at least not in the number that really counts, local online audience.

Feb 15, 2010, 5:53pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Charlie, By the way, Im not "emotional" as you put it, are you being sarcastic? Im cooking a wonderful dinner for my family. What are we supposed to think? No other explanation has been offered for the unfair actions by Council.
Peter, I attacked you? Where was I? Just simply responding to your comment. Good job trying to pounce in when you see an opening. You both are taking my comments to seriously and reading into them to much. Twisting them. Enough said.
Wheres the Love Pete?
Mike, Thank You, I dont back down for anyone, when I believe Im right., and neither should you.

Feb 15, 2010, 7:34pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Karen, I’m not looking to be sarcastic or pick on you at all. I just want to make sure the record is clear when it comes to my friends on the NIC, Marianne and Kathy. They all do the best they can with little or no reward for their time or efforts.

People are free to disagree all they want, that is what our country is about. We just need to keep the people out of the discussion.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:21pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Sorry Charlie I have to disagree with you on that. Your right about our freedom to disagree but as far as keeping the people out of the discussion, thats not a right they have. Its a noble thing for them to be in the local govt and comittees, but they arent forced to be there, they accepted the fact that they are going to be scrutinized by the public in doing this work, making comments to the public and being able to make such descisions that got them in this forum to begin with. If they dont like to hear opinions on the descisions they make or the job their doing then they need to step down and allow someone with a thicker skin step in.

Everyone in here is excercising their right to speak on this subject, using their real names (I am fairly sure of that) So when the discussion is about what people are doing? How do you keep them out of the discussion.

Council Members and NIC members dont have privilege, the most certainly do have privilege, they have the privilege of representing me and you and Karen and Michael....being new to the community I dont know them from a box of rocks, but so far the statements they make to the press have underimpressed me... Thats not meant as an insult mind you it's just a statement of what I see so far.

As far as John's ststement quoted below....

"If lease wording it works in Kenmore, Buffalo, Tonawanda, Williamsville, Amherst, etc., why not here?"

Thats very simple John.....this is Batavia, not Kenmore or Buffalo or Tonawanda. And coming from a town that has an overabundance of lawyers John, I'm absolutely sure your lawyer friend isnt going to go on record saying that leases are the tool thats gonna fix this....

A layman with the most expensive set of tools might still isnt gonna fix a problematic car. But a mechanic with the tip of a knife for a screwdriver, some duct tape and a few cheap tools could make it run like new.

Your friend the lawyer may be a whiz at leasing law, but not all lawyers are and if the real world has taught anyone...anything it's that everything doesnt always happen the way its supposed happens...period.

Feb 15, 2010, 7:38pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Kyle, your logic is a bit off; it is never OK to make aspersions or say untrue things about someone simply because they hold office or were appointed to a city committee.

I think God said something about not bearing false witness against your neighbor.

Feb 15, 2010, 9:34pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I'll just point out to Kyle -- we have a rule: No personal attacks.

It's get bent when it comes to elected officials and other public people because, well, being in public requires a suit of armor and no public person should be surprised at personal criticism.

However, a handy guideline is, for more useful discussions, keep people and personalities out of it -- discuss issues. The people/personalities/character of the people involved is rarely, rarely ever as relevant or important as the issues of the issue.

And I believe that was the original point Charlie was making.

Whenever you find yourself writing about a person, whether elected and public, or just another member of the site, you're probably going off the rails.

It's one thing to express opinions about the decisions of elected officials and committee members. It's quite another to make the topic about the person herself. Rarely does anything constructive come of talking about the personality and character of a person rather than an issue.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:12pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

I agree with you both Howard to a certain degree, however there is still the fact that these people are in public office and when they make decisions that affect the rest of us, alot is going to be read into them.

I believe that people can and do show several facets to their character and personality, people in public office such as this sometimes have masks. Like a mask however you get clues to the root personality/character the more you interact with these people, when you are a council member or a polictican you can say and show one thing with your friends, and another to the general public. Thats the point I was making is that people arent always what they appear to be and actions/deeds always trump words. Its not the way it should be, but it is reality.

Anyway in this specific intstance these points are still valid as not everyone speaking to the actions and comments of the council members know them personally. But these same officials get their remarks in the paper nonetheless and it is our right to speak to the percieved attitude and correlate that with past comments and behaviors dont you think?

I apologize if my comments were percieved as personal attacks but I was just responding to John and Charlie's comments.

Feb 16, 2010, 9:42am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Kyle, my comments about personal attacks weren't initially directed at you, but I did respond your seeming defense of things getting a little personal.

I agree public officials basically agree to some degree of rancor directed their way when they sign on to the job, but that doesn't mean that those who throw that stuff out are engaging in a productive conversation.

Feb 16, 2010, 11:01am Permalink

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