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  1. #1

    Default Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: WI

    I just got a letter yesterday from the Department of Public Works stating that they received a complaint that my sidewalk was snow or ice covered and that I hadnít cleared it. City ordinance here says people have to clear their snow within 24 hours of a snowfall. But in fact my sidewalk had been cleared for quite awhile and we hadnít gotten any snow for about a week. They were completely clean. But the date they say it was inspected was only 2 days before I got the letter.

    The letter also states that I have until Wed, Feb. 16th to clear my sidewalks. Well, if they were clean before and they send me this warning letter, what could I possibly do to improve things before they do another inspection on the 16th?

    The letter does not state who the complainer was, or who the inspector was or what part of my sidewalk (or other part of my property) had snow and ice on it. But it does say that if it doesnít pass their next inspection, I will be fined $213 plus cost of them cleaning it, and if the anonymous complainer complains again, I will be fined again with no advance notice each time they complain for the rest of this season.

    But wait a minute! What happened to due process? I donít know who accused me of not having my walks clean, I wasnít present during the inspection, there havenít been any photos of the problem to prove there was a problem.

    I plan to call them tomorrow. I will record the call and ask who the complainer was, who did the inspection, where the snow or ice was, and if they have any photos proving the accusation. I will also say I want to be present for the second inspection. However, none of this would prevent a fine if another complaint is filed. I would simply receive a fine in the mail.

    Now, is there anything else I can do or say when I make that call that could help me? This whole situation seems totally ridiculous and it kept me up most of last night imagining how the city government can simply issue fines and take my money based on nothing but someoneís word even though Iíve done what Iím supposed to do. When I make contact with the Works Department, I want to make sure I say the right things.

  2. #2
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    I'm in NYC, and on most of the advertising for citizens calling in on the 311 hotline, the city promised "anonymity" for the people calling. The 311 line is for any type of non-emergency complaint, such as unplowed snow.

    Many years ago, that wasn't the case, names were revealed. More recently, one of the more common complaints are for "drug dealing" in the neighborhood, and when the names were revealed, the drug gangs simply went over and murdered the "complainer".

    In one famous case here, the local police station was infiltrated by the drug gangs, and the identity of one confidential informant was revealed. When the police found out about it, they had to station patrol cars outside 24/7 before they can re-locate the informant. But before the informant can be re-located, however, the officer guarding the "snitches" house outside was shot in the head and murdered.

    At least in NYC if we give everyone due process, I don't expect any citizen to call in a complaint.

    In cases where confidential informants have their identities revealed at trial so the accused can "have his day in court", usually the informants go into the witness protection program afterwards. And I don't think municipalites can afford to put everyone complaining about unplowed snow into a witness protection program.

    In fact, I myself called in a 311 complaint about someone plastering "we buy car" posters with his phone number, hundreds of them in the neighborhood. It is illegal, and the city imposes a $50 fine for each, and someone was in fact ordered by the city to pay a $12,000 fine and take the signs down.

    Unbeknowst to me though, it was some big 300 lb guy down the street who did it, and he came into my business one morning, mad as hell, but did not know I was the one who called. He said if he ever finds out the name of the person who called it in, "he is dead !!!".

    Now, these signs are all over town, with his phone number on it, and all anyone has to do is drive down the avenue and see it. Fortunately, I can call it in confidentially. Now, what purpose would it serve to give this guy my name so he can come by and kill me??

    The evidence of the crime is everywhere.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2010
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    CT & IL
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Quote Quoting SChinFChin
    View Post
    I'm in NYC, and on most of the advertising for citizens calling in on the 311 hotline, the city promised "anonymity" for the people calling. The 311 line is for any type of non-emergency complaint, such as unplowed snow.

    Many years ago, that wasn't the case, names were revealed. More recently, one of the more common complaints are for "drug dealing" in the neighborhood, and when the names were revealed, the drug gangs simply went over and murdered the "complainer".

    In one famous case here, the local police station was infiltrated by the drug gangs, and the identity of one confidential informant was revealed. When the police found out about it, they had to station patrol cars outside 24/7 before they can re-locate the informant. But before the informant can be re-located, however, the officer guarding the "snitches" house outside was shot in the head and murdered.

    At least in NYC if we give everyone due process, I don't expect any citizen to call in a complaint.

    In cases where confidential informants have their identities revealed at trial so the accused can "have his day in court", usually the informants go into the witness protection program afterwards. And I don't think municipalites can afford to put everyone complaining about unplowed snow into a witness protection program.

    In fact, I myself called in a 311 complaint about someone plastering "we buy car" posters with his phone number, hundreds of them in the neighborhood. It is illegal, and the city imposes a $50 fine for each, and someone was in fact ordered by the city to pay a $12,000 fine and take the signs down.

    Unbeknowst to me though, it was some big 300 lb guy down the street who did it, and he came into my business one morning, mad as hell, but did not know I was the one who called. He said if he ever finds out the name of the person who called it in, "he is dead !!!".

    Now, these signs are all over town, with his phone number on it, and all anyone has to do is drive down the avenue and see it. Fortunately, I can call it in confidentially. Now, what purpose would it serve to give this guy my name so he can come by and kill me??

    The evidence of the crime is everywhere.
    And yet you cannot own a handgun in NYC .. tsk tsk tsk

  4. #4

    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Quote Quoting SChinFChin
    View Post
    I'm in NYC, and on most of the advertising for citizens calling in on the 311 hotline, the city promised "anonymity" for the people calling. The 311 line is for any type of non-emergency complaint, such as unplowed snow.

    Many years ago, that wasn't the case, names were revealed. More recently, one of the more common complaints are for "drug dealing" in the neighborhood, and when the names were revealed, the drug gangs simply went over and murdered the "complainer".

    In one famous case here, the local police station was infiltrated by the drug gangs, and the identity of one confidential informant was revealed. When the police found out about it, they had to station patrol cars outside 24/7 before they can re-locate the informant. But before the informant can be re-located, however, the officer guarding the "snitches" house outside was shot in the head and murdered.

    At least in NYC if we give everyone due process, I don't expect any citizen to call in a complaint.

    In cases where confidential informants have their identities revealed at trial so the accused can "have his day in court", usually the informants go into the witness protection program afterwards. And I don't think municipalites can afford to put everyone complaining about unplowed snow into a witness protection program.

    In fact, I myself called in a 311 complaint about someone plastering "we buy car" posters with his phone number, hundreds of them in the neighborhood. It is illegal, and the city imposes a $50 fine for each, and someone was in fact ordered by the city to pay a $12,000 fine and take the signs down.

    Unbeknowst to me though, it was some big 300 lb guy down the street who did it, and he came into my business one morning, mad as hell, but did not know I was the one who called. He said if he ever finds out the name of the person who called it in, "he is dead !!!".

    Now, these signs are all over town, with his phone number on it, and all anyone has to do is drive down the avenue and see it. Fortunately, I can call it in confidentially. Now, what purpose would it serve to give this guy my name so he can come by and kill me??

    The evidence of the crime is everywhere.
    Well, I guess people accused of something no longer have the right to due process anymore, and anyone who wants to call in an anonymous complaint against someone they want to get back at will get their way just because the accused "might" get murdered. And if the city wants to collect money from people, all they have to do is start accusing people of code violations without confronting the accused with any evidence of it and then they can collect fines without due process.

    Maybe the Egyptian protesters were on to something.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Confrontation only really exists in criminal matters. Due process in civil matters is different. You're not even been charged with anything yet. You were given a warning to clean your sidewalks.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    Confrontation only really exists in criminal matters. Due process in civil matters is different. You're not even been charged with anything yet. You were given a warning to clean your sidewalks.
    Yes, but with the threat that they will cite me again without notice or evidence each time after this based on nothing but an anonymous complaint. I've never even been offered the chance to be present during any of the inspections and I have no idea what time that will take place. The original inspection (which supposedly happened) took place without my knowledge there would be one, and they tell me there was snow on my sidewalk on a day when I know for a fact there wasn't. No evidence, such as a photo, was ever shown to me.

    If due process is really different in civil matters, then I'd be able to demand a settlement against anyone I wanted to and it would be granted to me by the court without a trial if I were to do to someone else what the city has done in dealing with me.

    I wrote my OP hoping someone could help me with what I can do in this situation and what I should say when I call the Department of Works. I haven't called yet because I wanted to get some advice about it first. I hope you're not telling me that there's nothing I can do or say other than to make sure my sidewalk is clear and hope the inspector is more honest for the 2nd inspection and hope the anonymous complainer doesn't do a repeat performance.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Its a Bret Farve law...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Every law has the THREAT of citation or other enforcement. Just consider it a courtesy that they gave you a warning.

    You don't get any due process over what "might" happen. You only are guaranteed due process against the loss of life, liberty, or property.

    You've got no cause of action. You can write a letter saying the sidewalks are clear now and they were clear at the end, but I can pretty much guarantee you it will just get circular filed.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    Quote Quoting Aldebaran
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    Well, I guess people accused of something no longer have the right to due process anymore, and anyone who wants to call in an anonymous complaint against someone they want to get back at will get their way just because the accused "might" get murdered. And if the city wants to collect money from people, all they have to do is start accusing people of code violations without confronting the accused with any evidence of it and then they can collect fines without due process.

    Maybe the Egyptian protesters were on to something.
    Maybe I'm more used to to it than most people.

    When I moved into this neighborhood, I was told the original inhabitants were not happy with the newcomers. I am of another ethnicity, and I was told they would call in complaints just about any thing they can think of.

    So I have inspectors coming to look for illegal bathrooms. I was having a cement patio put in the back and someone called about the "unlicensed" contractor I was using. I remember this incident well because when the police arrived, the officer discovered the contractor happen to be a good friend of his. The officer then mentioned that someone across the street called.

    Here in NYC, I DO NOT WANT DUE PROCESS FOR MYSELF for the simple reason that if they do it for me, they have to do it for everyone else. People are crazy here, and if for any reason I have to file a complaint, I do not want people to know it is me, and then be able to come to my house, kick my door down, yelling "so you're the snitch", and kill my entire family.

    Can you guarantee me people won't do that to me if I file complaints and the police hand out my name and address??

    If the authorities give me and everyone due process, so if you go complain about the Mafia would you like the police to tell the Mafia "Aldebaran down the street said he witnessed illegal gambling and bookmaking here, and what do you have to say about it"?? If there was illegal gambling going on, and the authorities arrive and caught the people red handed, does it matter that you called?? Why is due process so important to get people killed??

    So if inspectors come and see snow and ice not shovelled, you in fact did not shovel it, then does it matter who called?? The only reason I can think of in getting the complainers name is the offender can go the the complainer and tell him "I better not hear you complain about me again".

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Unfairly Threatened with Fine Over Snow Removal

    The guy who reported the walk not shoveled isn't the acccuser in this scenario, it's the inspector who found it not shoveled. He's the only one you *MIGHT* have the rights to confront.

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