Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Team Delaney Stumbles on Enforcing City Codes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Team Delaney Stumbles on Enforcing City Codes

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

Several weeks ago, Mayor John Delaney bragged to City Council in his annual budget message how city government has been turned into a lean, mean machine under his watch.

"We can't tolerate low-performing divisions, employees or managers," Delaney said. "And as I said in 1996, any problem of performance, whatever it be -- from a ditch digger leaning on a shovel to a low-producing code inspector -- it is always management's fault. As the CEO, the buck stops with me. We're not perfect, but we are better. But I know that that still isn't good enough."

Actually, it's a long shot from being good enough, according to a just-released city audit, and the buck has thudded squarely onto Delaney's desk like a pile of -- well, you know.

I often get letters, e-mails and telephone calls from angry citizens complaining that the city isn't doing its job in forcing property owners to clean up trashy, overgrown lots and to take care of dilapidated buildings that drag neighborhoods down.

For example, a woman wrote recently about an area along one of the city's main roadways that's an eyesore. She said she had called the city's supposedly efficient one-stop complaint number nine times in the past year without getting any action.

Frustrated, and having already taken matters into her own hands to clean up another area along the roadway, she decided to attack the filth herself "until I realized the level of trash and that it was being used as a dump for large items."

"In addition to tons of bottles, cans and run-of-the-mill litter," she wrote, while illustrating the mess with accompanying photographs, "there are hundreds of tires, along with a car bumper, refrigerators, freezers, toilets, furniture, fence posts, dishwashers, washer/dryers, and lots and lots of other stuff."

She said she thought about making a 10th call to the city but decided against it because that "would seriously call my sanity into question. …

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