Response to Nathan Allen false statements:

Since you made some claims in the Postbulletin, I thought I would share what the actual conversation was. The bottom line is that you own property in Rochester, when you bought that property there was an obligation that you would be responsible and clear the sidewalks, you failed to do this and as such we cleared it for you at your expense.

Let’s run through your statements:

A little more than a month ago, I received a $40 fine and $150 contractor fee for failure to remove a half-inch of snow from my residential sidewalk. I contested this injustice to the best of my ability, but to no avail.

Nathan, You admitted many times that you violated the ordinance.  Your fine and fees are not an injustice but exact justice.  This picture shows how your neighbors cleared their sidewalk and you did not.  This might not be a big deal unless you are a senior coming off hip surgery.

 photo 10014AVESE201401032_zpse3308676.jpg

To me, this is no different than receiving a $190 ticket for going 2 mph over the posted speed limit and then stripping you of your rights to appear before a judge to make your appeal.

Not even police officers are granted this final authority, but apparently, RPW can function without higher accountability.

Funny thing Nathan, actually if you get a speeding ticket for under 10 MPH in Rochester you go through the exact same administrative fine process.

After research, I discovered that Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik is the driving force behind this ordinance. I asked him, “Why not afford the decency of a warning to first-time offenders?” He stated that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to do so.

I have been one of many champions for this policy, but it passed with the support of the mayor and all but 1 council member.

As Nathan knows here is what I actually wrote:

I can not explain why one property was fined and another was not (perhaps it is the direction the inspector went through), however what happens to another property does not have an effect on your own.  I do agree that this should be handled in a uniform manner.  If a complaint had been lodged against a neighbors house or if the inspector saw it,  it would have been inspected and dealt with in a fair manner.
The reason that we do not issue warnings is because we incur costs in enforcing our ordinances.  This same cost is present whether we do fines or warnings.  I do not feel it would be appropriate for other taxpayers to fund the expense of having inspectors deal with properties that are not complying with the rules.  The fines are aimed at covering this city expense.  We did our best as a community to highlight what the law is, but it has not changed since you bought your home.  Ultimately it is the property owner who is responsible for knowing and obeying the laws.

Wojcik also claimed that 75 percent of Rochester residents were in complete support of his ordinance.

I made no such claim, here is what I wrote:

My communication with you is not intended to insight you but rather explain my position.  I understand that we disagree on this.  In terms of the people that have contacted me for or against this policy those in favor are running ahead about 4 to 1. If there was a way for us to give a warning without adding taxpayer cost I would do it, but because we incur cost I am committed to try to recoup that cost.  I do thank you for writing, and I do understand your position.

I make no claim as to know what percentage of Rochester supports the policy.  People contacting me are in favor of this policy by about a 4 to 1 margin.  Not only is the statement incorrect, but the basic math is too (even if the rest of your statement was true, my math skills say that would be 80% :-))

I have a simple suggestion for you Mr. Allen, fulfill your civic duty and clear your sidewalk within 24 hours.

Most people who contact me are supportive of the safer walkways.  Here is a note I received today:

I am a person who enjoys taking long walks in Rochester as a part of my program for staying physically fit. In the past, walking along our city sidewalks became quite the challenge when homeowners did not meet their responsibility of clearing their walk in a timely manner after a snow event. Some folks NEVER cleared their walks. In the past three weeks, in daily walks that covered 5 to 8 miles, I can say that I have encountered only one stretch of sidewalk that had not been cleared: about 30 yards long in front of a house that is up for sale and had no one is living there at this time. I say, “Good work” on the part of the city council for establishing and enforcing the present sidewalk clearing laws. Do not give in to the irresponsible few who fail to clear their sidewalk and then complain when they must meet the consequences.

4 comments

  1. All I was asking for was a chance to plead my case before an objective tribunal or Judge. For someone who has lived on a corner lot for 11 years and still has yet to receive any form of complaint on his address should be afforded the decency of a warning or opportunity to explain himself (in hopes of a fine reduction). It is sad how so many people can point fingers and say, “shovel your sidewalk and shut up!!”, when they don’t even know the whole story. It was a 1/2″ of snowpack!! It happened on a Friday Jan. 2. This was the effect of 3 snow dustings that we had received over the course of the week. I may have gotten to one or two of those, I am not sure. It was well below zero. It was on the heels of the holidays, where I traveled in and out of town plus working full time. I had greatly anticipated shoveling on Saturday. I also work outside. 10 of my neighbors also received citations that same day. Why??? Are we all lazy care takers? I would think that the timing and the amount of it all played a role, and I know this to be true because many of my neighbors that got hit are equally ticked off (1 of them is suing the city). I have no respect for you Michael Wojcik, as one who holds a higher position and stoop to give me a shout out, “I have a simple suggestion for you Mr. Allen, fulfill your civic duty and clear your sidewalk within 24 hours…” suggests that you do not deserve to hold the position that you are in…but I will say kudos to you on correcting my math error – that is actually funny to me

  2. I am of the opinion that it is bullying 101 to put someone else down in order to make the light shine brighter on you. If you take your comments to me, and your attempt to belittle me with your headline “I Shouldn’t have to tell Nathan Allen to Shovel His Sidewalk”, it would suggest that you approve of bullying. I do not believe this to be becoming trait of someone in an elected position. For the record, I was told by RPW to contact you in order to bring about a change or amendment to this ordinance. I know several of the Inspectors personally, and they hate doing what is mandated of them. They have asked me to push to have this ordinance amended. I am a firm believer in the need for this ordinance, as there are some who do not shovel. I have lived at my residence for 11 years, and have existed in complete ignorance of this ordinance. Why has it never hit me before?? Well maybe I actually do shovel my sidewalk!! I would imagine that everyone reading this has at one point or another been guilty of violating this ordinance within the last 11 years…well meaning people at that…even some of the people that are now pointing fingers from their high horses. I am asking for the decency of a warning to the first time offenders, as the bill definitely does not fit the crime.

  3. I have accepted and posted your comments. There is only one reason this post exists, Nathan. It is because you wrote a letter attacking me putting words into my mouth that were false and misleading. You may disagree with me, but everything I wrote in this post is complete and accurate.

  4. Thank you! I believe that things can be settled through intelligent conversation, not attacking. Let the facts speak for themselves. It appeared to me that you were completely one-sided from the start of our conversation, and that was why I again appealed to the court of public opinion via Post Bulletin. If RPW would provide an opportunity to the citizens to appeal their case…guilty but with an explanation…then I would be satisfied. I just want someone who can make a difference to realize that this ordinance is incriminating well-meaning people. Trust me, now that I am aware of this ordinance, I am out there the second it stops snowing. So from the City’s perspective, mission accomplished! I know that $190 Fine isn’t much to most people, but to me and my family of 6 it is a lot. This is why I have been reaching out to anyone who can make a difference. I unfortunately have concluded that common sense and decency is not a part of the government’s agenda. Common sense would take into consideration the amount of snow, and also the fact of never having a complaint called in on the address. Common Decency would allow the citizen to acknowledge guilt, say lesson learned, and hopefully alleviate the fine through reduction. Perhaps I am used to relating to a Heavenly Father who is full of mercy. When I mess up, I acknowledge it, and He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins. I am not perfect. I failed the ordinance that week (not intentionally). But I know that for the absolute majority I am in full compliance with this ordinance. I just wish they would let someone explain their case if they absolutely cannot afford to grant a warning to these first time offenders.

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