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Letters to The Platteville Journal for March 13
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On city inspections

My fellow homeowners: you have the right to question the opinions of your city officials.

In 2012, the Common Council hired seasonal employee Jonas Bandy to drive around the city to find, in his opinion, maintenance issues on your property. The maintenance code violation letters you may or have already received does not describe your property rights.

The International Property Maintenance Code adopted by the City states that homeowners have the right to appeal a “notice and orders” of maintenance violations. The code states the City shall (mandatory) give the violations in writing, give a description of the violation(s), and why the notice is being issued, provide a time frame, and “inform the property owner of the right to appeal” and a statement that the City has the right to file a lien on your property. Therefore, citizens of Platteville, you have the right to appeal the inspection (violations) to the city Board of Appeals.

Approximately 200 properties were inspected in 2012. Out of those, 84 homeowners received property maintenance violation code letters. None of the letters informed the homeowners that they have the right to appeal Mr. Bandy’s opinions to the Board of Appeals nor stated that the City can place a lien against the property. You do have the right to appeal these orders under IPMC Section 111, Means of Appeal: The “Board of Appeals shall consist of 3 members who are qualified by experience and training to pass on matters pertaining to property maintenance and who are not employees of the city. The code official shall be a City council person but shall not have any vote on the matter.”

After further research on the IPMC, I stumbled across a somewhat alarming trend. From 2011 to 2012, the majority of the maintenance code citations (fines) were issued to people that were 64 or older, handicapped and/or living on a fixed income. For example, in 2012 there were 10 citations written and nine out of 10 fit this alarming trend. Strange, isn’t it?

I then called the State of Wisconsin Building Inspector Sectional Chief to discuss this trend and various IPMC issues. He told me that the State of Wisconsin will not and has not adopted these codes. During our conversation, he discussed problems for residents of a city in La Crosse County that also adopted the IPMC.

On Feb. 22, I sat in Grant County Circuit Judge Robert VanDeHey’s courtroom listening to testimony given by Richard J. Riniker, the City of Platteville’s building inspector, regarding city code violations. In April 2012, Riniker ordered a 67-year-old proprietor in the City of Platteville to reroof his business. Mr. Riniker stated that he knew that the roof did not leak (in other words the roof was in compliance); however, in his opinion, it was the “appearance” that violated the City Codes and IPMC. And since the roof was not replaced in a timely manner, he issued citations.

In addition, the city attorney stated that even though the city did not tell or inform the business owner, he had the right to appeal Mr. Riniker’s opinion. The Building Inspector also testified that he had the “authority” to enter the property on Feb. 21 without the 67-year-old business owner’s knowledge, to take further pictures of violations. (In my opinion, this is incorrect; the IPMC spells out the “process” by which the Building Inspector can enter your property). The business owner did not testify on that day because of the court’s time constraints — Judge VanDeHey ordered a continuance.

I encourage everyone to write a letter to the Board of Appeals (especially those that got letters) to explain your financial situation, concerns, or perhaps your outrage regarding these codes and how, when and why they are administered.
City Code Chapter 23.01 subsection (d), Enforcement Policy, clearly states: Enforcement … “shall be administrated reasonably and uniformly in accordance with the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of private property and due process.”

Did anyone get “due process”? Address your letter to Ric Riniker, 75 Bonson St., Platteville, WI 53818.

Protect your rights.

Debara Mayo
375 S. Chestnut St., Platteville

Mining and home prices

I am very concerned with the proposed frac sand mine going in near us in the Wisconsin River valley. We have been trying to sell our house on Old Highway 60 and had someone very interested in it. That was until they found out about the proposed mine and then they changed their mind. If we ever find anyone that does want it I am sure we will have to drop our price a lot! I am afraid what it would do to everyone’s property values that live near it.

It just doesn’t seem right that the DNR can tell people that they have to stick to certain colors to paint their homes, or can’t build anything that can be seen by the river traffic, in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, and yet can allow mining for sand so close to the river!!

Please do whatever it takes to stop the proposed frac sand mine in Bridgeport Township from happening!

Jean Bula
Town of Bridgeport

Bullying the council

When is it OK to be a bully? Is it OK to allow someone to be a bully if he supports your viewpoint? Is it ever OK?

I feel compelled to express my opinion on this point. It is never OK to be a bully! It is not OK to force your latest viewpoint on other people. Yes, you can say what you feel, but you cannot demand immediate answers. You should not call names as in “That Woman,” which is a very derogatory and demeaning statement. It’s the same in the schoolyards with kids calling names and badgering others who are different from them or have other thoughts and opinions. This behavior is never OK.

One of the Common Council candidates says everyone should be able to say whatever they want. Really — at what cost — civility?

In my opinion, Michael Mayo is totally out of line. He tries to force his opinions upon us on all of the latest city issues, most of which do not affect him. Certainly teachers and parents are teaching that bullying is an unacceptable behavior in society. We all need to listen to this message: It’s never OK to be a bully.

Mary Miller

Vote for incumbents

Attention Platteville taxpayers: a vote for Mike Denn and Barb Stockhausen will raise your property taxes. Both of them propose returning hourly employees to a 40-hour work week, and paying for it by hiring local contractors to do city employees’ work, instead of having city employees do the work.

Why should we return to a 40-hour work week and reduce the workload of hourly employees at a cost of more than $130,000 to the tax payers? And then spend more money to outsource the city employees’ workload? Wouldn’t that then allow three employees, instead of the current two employees, to ride around in the city trucks so they can try to look busy?

I am voting for Steve Becker and Mike Dalecki; both of them have not raised our city property taxes for more than the past three years. They know what fiscal responsibility is all about, they both do what’s right for the taxpayer, and they both make the hard choices by holding down our property taxes for the City of Platteville. Vote to keep this kind of leadership working for the citizens of Platteville.

Doug Duncan

Vote for Becker

I want to thank all of the residents of Platteville who took the time to vote in the city’s primary election. We live in a time where citizens need to be interested in their city government.

A key issue in the April 2 election, and one on which I differ from both Mike Denn and Barbara Stockhausen, is their opposition to the staffing plan that was approved by the council in 2011. They propose increasing the city’s hourly employees work schedules from 37 to 40 hours per week. They also propose returning city hall’s schedule from the current 4 days/37 hours to 5 days/40 hours. These changes will increase annual costs by more than $107,000.

How do they propose to pay for eliminating these savings and increasing the annual cost of operation of city services? Mike Denn has not yet offered a solution, and Barbara Stockhausen has proposed “contracting out work instead of having employees do work.” I fail to see how you can pay for the increase in hours by contracting out work.

In a perfect world, it might be possible to increase city employee hours, raise employee wages, increase city services and at the same time lower taxes. However, the reality is far different. We live in a world that requires us to examine what we really need — as opposed to what might be nice — and determine how to pay for it. As a city council member I have tried to do that. I have looked at our city budget, and I’ve tried to determine how we can move Platteville forward and find places where we can reduce costs and save money. It is my hope that Platteville will continue to be a city where not only its residents wish to live but also a city in which they can afford to live.

Ald. Steve Becker

Vote for Evers

Let’s be realistic. Tony Evers has earned our support for his leadership of the Department of Public Instruction. Tony knows education and understands what needs to be changed and what needs to be preserved. Someone who knows about farms should lead agriculture and someone who knows about schools should lead education. Tony Evers is the right choice for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Dean Isaacson

Veterans Park

The reasons for renaming City Park to Veterans Park is to honor the 43 people whose names are on the center monument in the park, names of those veterans and other citizens from Platteville who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for their country, and for the more than 3,500 names listed on the Veterans Honor Roll of those from Platteville who have served their country with honor.

We must not forget those who have sacrificed so much and some of those who are still suffering from their service-connected disabilities — sacrifices that they made so that other Americans can enjoy the freedoms that they have. To honor these Veterans is the reason for changing the name from City Park to Veterans Park or Veterans Memorial Park.

The park is special to many of us who grew up in this great place.  From the city band concerts and the strawberry festivals to the Memorial Day ceremonies — events such as these were held in the park and enjoyed by the people and continue to be enjoyed today. I just think it is wonderful to have this place to enjoy and remember not only the fun times but also to remember these guardians of our freedom.

Michael D. Myers
Chairman, Veterans Honor Roll Committee
Vietnam War Veteran

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of The Platteville Journal.