Monday, February 4, 2013

Picking Butt: When Not To Do It

TOM BUTT
Richmond Councilmember
So, based on the March 2004 letter from Richmond City Engineer, Rich Davidson, the owner of the commercial property at 5221 Central Avenue was responsible for the maintenance and the proper operation of the stormwater system in the neighborhood.  

In August 2004, five months after my visit to Rich Davidson, there still hadn’t been anything done to the drainage ditch. Vegetation over six feet tall prevailed as well as trash and detritus strewn everywhere.  It was at this time that we decided to contact a representative on the city council who could help us expedite action.  Easier said than done.

Richmond’s council is at-large, meaning there is no district representation.  However, the advantage to this was that we could “cherry pick” the person we felt would be the most qualified and responsive to our neighborhood flooding problem. So, we went to the city’s web site and researched its councilmembers.

We chose Tom Butt because it appeared that he would be most able to understand and most eager to respond to the problem because: 
  1. He's a licensed architect and has a Master's in Urban Design
  2. He's written articles like “Mold and Mildew - Emerging  Public Health Concern”, “Water Testing as a Diagnostic Tool for Building Leaks”, and “Water Resistance and Vapor Permeance of Weather Resistive Barriers”
  3. He had been a councilmember for several years already
  4. Last but not least, he was up for re-election

After describing our neighborhood ordeal to him over the phone he asked that we drop the letter off at his house so he could attend to it right away.  We delivered an eighteen-page letter describing in detail what had occurred our first winter and that although Richmond identified the commercial property owner to be responsible for the drainage system, there was still negligence on the owner's part in addressing the problem to the extent that no vegetation had been cleared and trash still remained. We also stated that it was Richmond’s obligation to enforce its code and demand the property owner to take action in fixing the problem.

However, we never heard from Tom Butt until he called the week before the polls opened during his 2004 re-election campaign.  When I asked him about the status of our letter and any action being taken by Richmond he said, “I gave it to them.”

With that, dear reader, your guess is as good as mine.

Stay tuned for more on the Cheeky Mr. Butt, his fellow councilmembers, and their contributors...

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