They Have The Nerve To Say I’m A Safety Hazard

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July 1, 2016

Earlier this week, I was given a written lease violation by my apartment complex manager, citing me and my neighbor for illegally trapping and taking the life of rodents, which for the past several years have become out of control. These rodents like to dig up and destroy our flowers. Below is a copy of my response to the office manager, who declared our acts of murder to be a safety hazard. As you can see in the above photograph of a refrigerator which has been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk for two months, the entire apartment complex is nothing more than one big safety hazard.  The cement mixer has been sitting in the yard even longer.  Making matters worse, just to the right of these two items is the only remaining playground equipment left in the complex, a set of monkey bars.

The first month I moved into Pine Village Apartments fifteen years ago, I told the then office manager that my gutter leaked, and with if being winter, this caused the stoop right outside my front door to become an ice-skating rink. The office manager replied, “They all do.” Not only was her reply crass, but she was telling the truth, as I have found out over the years that indeed they all do.

A few weeks later, my next-door neighbor’s little girl came over selling Girl Scout cookies. As she stepped back when I opened the door, she slipped and fell on the ice-covered stoop. Being an habitual writer of letters, I wrote the owners of the complex, informing them that it was a miracle that this little girl did not bust her head wide open on the edge of the stoop, slipping on ice because the gutters leak. Fifteen years later, the gutters still leak. A few years back, the owners had to replace the roofs on all the buildings in the complex, because they too leaked. However, the owners had their landscaping crew replace the roofs as cheaply as possible. All they did was to lay sheet metal on top of a 1×1 inch framing they laid on top of the old plywood. The roofing fascia in which gutters are attached are all rotted, so they left the leaking gutters alone, re-hanging the old gutters. The fascia is so rotted; the gutters are barely hanging, as it is hard to drive a nail into.

When it rains hard, it’s like walking under a waterfall to enter an apartment. I have had my UPS man toss a package to me because of the waterfall on more than one occasion. And, because the gutters leak, it rots the storm doors. Belmont Properties, the owners of my apartment complex have replaced so many storm doors, that they now no longer replace them. When a storm door goes bad, they just remove it. Thankfully, I have a relatively new door. After it rains hard, I swing my storm door back and forth six or eight times to drain the water from it. The apartment complex looks quite cheap seeing every other apartment not having a door.

For three years, I worked as a part-time maintenance worker for the complex. I know what a safety hazard is. This apartment complex if full of them, and no, it’s not trapping rodents.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

June 30, 2016

Linda Midkiff
Office Manager
Pine Village Apartments
355 Clifton Road
South Charleston, Ohio 45368

Dear Linda,

In regard to your lease violation, dated June 22nd, I would like to reply in writing, as is my right as stated in the notification. You cited both David Hazlett and me for trapping rodents and taking their life, citing section XVII-2 of my lease agreement and section 17.G of the attached Rules and Regulations. Reading both of the sections, I see nothing specifically regarding the trapping of rodents. One might argue that it is the rodents who are both a safety and health hazard, not the trapping of them. Coming from an apartment complex that in the past has trapped and illegally dumped many cats, I find this citation ludicrous. Making matters worse is that one of your maintenance men actually feeds rodents during the winter months.

Ground squirrels, which are what David and I are attempting to get rid of, have become a nuisance in that they are destroying our flowers. The especially love lilies. We are not the only tenants who complain about rodents destroying our gardens. I have even heard you complain on more than one occasion about the problem. David and I both take great pride in our flower gardens and to see flowers destroyed every single morning is demoralizing, not to mention the cost associated with replacing them. You stated that the single rat trap in which we use to trap these rodents are a safety issue for children on the property. This could not be further from the truth, as neither of us has children nor do we ever have children visit. When a trap is set, it is always placed well out-of-the-way on our patios. No one ever knows that the trap is there.

What I find especially irritating is that for years, David and I have maintained the lawn and surrounding common area in the summer and shoveled snow from the sidewalks in the winter. Last summer, my eighty-year-old next-door neighbor bought a weed eater for us to use. David then bought a leaf blower so he would not have to sweep the sidewalk. Before David moved into a handicapped apartment a few months ago, he and I maintained the entire four-apartment side of our building. In addition to maintaining the lawn during the summer months, we also trimmed many of the trees around our building. One might argue that the low hanging branches of the trees are a safety hazard, especially the very low hanging dead branches of the big oak tree by the driveway. With no leaves, these branches are especially hard to see. They very easily could poke someone’s eyes out.

I will never forget how, last summer before Ken bought his weed eater, David was sitting on the sidewalk leading up to Ken’s apartment with a pair of scissors trimming his grass. While I was talking to him, you walked over to talk to us but said not a single word about David trimming Ken’s grass with a pair of scissors. After you left, I said to David “If I were the office manager, I would have told you ‘If you want, you can borrow our weed eater.” However, you said nothing, totally ignoring David’s act of kindness.

In the winter, David and I always shoveled the snow off the sidewalk running the entire length of our side of the building along with the sidewalk where they park their vehicles. Not only does David, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, shovel snow but he buys salt to make the sidewalk passable. Two winters ago, while at the grocery store, I saw David with a five-pound bag of rock salt getting ready to walk home, as his car was not running. As I have no vehicle, I walked home with him, which is roughly a one-mile hike each way. I kept asking him to let me carry the bag of salt, but he would not let me. He had to stop and sit down three or four times in order to make it home. I did not think he was going to make it home.

He and I have both been known to shovel water off the sidewalk when it rains, because the sidewalk has settled maybe an inch or two and when it rains heavy, not only water but also mud collects on it. I have seen David many times shoveling both water and snow from the sidewalk well into the evening hours. However, I think I can safely say for the both of us that the days of shoveling snow and water are over. This will not be a burden on me, but I worry about both David and Ken. However, it is not my responsibly to shovel the sidewalk. Nor am I paid to. In the summer, David and I will probably maintain the grass around our gardens, as we both take great pride in our yards. Neighbor Ken appreciates our work as well and he occasionally likes to cut the grass in his little front yard with his weed eater too. David says he no longer will cut your grass. He has recently given to his mother many of his flowers, as he is so disgusted with this lease violation. However, come next spring his outlook might change.

David and I spend many hours each week making our section of Pine Village look its very best. It is not our job to do so. However, to get shit-on for some trivial matter such as trapping a rodent population that is out of control, and destroying our personal property is asinine.

Belmont Properties should be embarrassed.

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring

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Corporate Welfare: Why Does The U.S. Government Inflate The Price Of Sugar?

When I was a young boy, Grandpa would give me a dollar bill and I would go down to the local grocery store to buy as many candy bars as I could for him.  Naturally, I would always pick the candy that I liked best.  It would always take me a very long time to decide what to buy, as at the time most if not all candy bars cost only a nickel.  Nowadays, you are lucky if you can get one candy bar for a dollar.  Granted, that was a very long time ago, however, since 1789, U.S. policy and thus the price of sugar has been determined not by supply and demand, which is true capitalism, but by our federal government when Congress first imposed a tariff on foreign sugar imports.  The original intention of this tariff was to provide much needed revenue for this nation; however, it has also resulted in the U.S. price of sugar being historically higher than that of the world market.  Over the years, the American price of sugar has been double, triple or even quadruple the world price.  At one time, the U.S. price was twenty-one cents a pound when the world price was less than three cents.

It was announced earlier this week that the Department of Agriculture is thinking of purchasing 400,000 tons of sugar to artificially support falling sugar prices, which have fallen nearly twenty percent since last fall.  The pending purchase is thought to be a means of helping prevent sugar processors from defaulting on nearly a trillion dollars in government loans under a federal price support program.  Falling sugar prices are the result of a bountiful crop last year of both sugar beets and sugar cane in this country.  This acquisition of sugar would benefit those companies that turn the cane and beets into granulated sugar.  Pierson Bob Clair III, CEO of Brown And Haley, a candy maker and distributor based in Washington state has been quoted as saying, “Clearly, the USDA has made up its mind that Big Sugar is going to trump the American consumer.”

We, as a nation, profess to worship at the feet of capitalism, yet once again, it is consumers and taxpayers who pay the price for government intervention into the corporate world, be it price inflated tariffs, bailouts, subsidies or tax laws that allow huge corporations such as GE, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Boeing, Mattel, ExxonMobil, DuPont or Verizon to pay very little if any federal tax.  I did not agree with Republican candidate Mitt Romney often, if at all during last year’s presidential campaign, however, I did agree with him when he stated “We ought to get rid of subsides and let markets work properly,” referring to the sugar industry during his campaign last year.   How does this industry get away with financial thievery?  The simple answer, as always the case, is money.  The sugar industry grows less than two percent of the total dollar valuation of all U.S. grown crops, however sugar lobbyists spend more than a third of the total of all American grown crops lobbying all the while Big Sugar campaign contributions to political action committees (PACs) are more than the total of all other American grown crops contributions combined.

For all the talk of welfare queens robbing this nation blind, living high on the hog all the while driving brand new Cadillac Escalades, it is corporate welfare that is truly a disgrace!

Steven H. Spring

How To Create Jobs And Turn Around The U.S. Economy

There is a very simple solution to solving this nation’s ailing economy.  And no, it does not involve giving millionaires and record profit earning, record bonus taking, tax avoiding corporations another round of massive tax cuts.  To stimulate the economy, the federal government has to create jobs that pay more than minimum wage that the business community has thus far refused to do so.  This is the ultimate catch 22 situation in that the private sector will not create jobs until demand of consumer goods increases, however, the demand of consumer goods will not increase until decent paying jobs are created.  The straightforward solution in which to turn around the U.S. economy is to significantly invest in our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.

In the past several days, major water mains breaks have occurred in Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Honolulu and the New York City/New Jersey metropolis region.  Every day, seven hundred water mains break throughout the nation, with corrosion being the leading cause due to the age of the system and the type of ground in which it was laid.  These breaks cost billions of dollars annually to repair, not including the cost of emergency equipment, traffic disruptions and time lost from work as drivers are stuck in massive traffic jams.  The American Society Of Civil Engineers recently give the nation a D- in the quality of our drinking water.  The total cost to fix the U.S. water system has been estimated to be nearly $350 billion and expected to take 20 years to rebuild.

In addition to replacing our aging water system, America needs to replace its outdated and deteriorating system of highways and bridges.  The American Society Of Civil Engineers also gave the nation a D rating for our highway, rail and air infrastructure.  Road usage is expected to increase sixty percent in the next twenty years while sixty percent of our roads are rated poor or substandard.  Maintenance  costs just to keep up with needed repairs are expected to cost upwards of $200 billion annually.

By heavily investing and updating our entire infrastructure system, which all are in extremely poor condition, America would put millions of its citizens to work earning a decent wage.  The price of raw materials are once again inexpensive due to the faltering world economy.  Borrowing the necessary money to pay for such an investment would be inexpensive as well due to record low interest rates.  Yet, just the opposite is happening as cities and states are finding their highway construction projects delayed for ten years or longer due to lack of funding.

Replacing our entire national infrastructure is how you stimulate the entire economy, this is the trickle down effect that tax cuts to the upper one percent of the nation do not, and did not provide.  This is how you put America back to work.

Steven H. Spring