Government Run Amok

A few days ago, I was asked about my position on a city ordinance that required home and business owners to repair city infrastructure abutting their property. I must admit that I was totally unaware of the ordinance. Upon reading the ordinance, I felt astonished that the city would act with such hostility towards the members of my community. One of my colleagues recommended that I attend a special meeting regarding this ordinance. Upon my discovery of the flagrant property rights violations contained within the measure, I could not refuse.

I have taken the liberty, as a matter of portraying simple fact, to post the ordinance on this site. I believe all that visit this site are more than capable of reading and comprehending the "language" contained in the ordinance. I have warned many, that with politicians you must watch what they do and ignore what they say. In this context, our city representatives have failed in their obligation to respect the rights and property of the citizens and attempted to transfer liability away from the city.

Furthermore, I would like to remind all persons that this is not a matter of preventing blight, abandonment or neglected properties. The issue at hand is who is responsible to repair or maintain city (public) owned property. What follows is the statement I read to the assembly.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening. My name is Kevin Tunstall. I am a homeowner in this community and a business owner in Stafford.

I was made aware of this ordinance only a few days ago. Now, I have studied the ordinance and must agree with the concerned citizens of this community that this ordinance is overtly hostile to both our home and business owners. While I understand the desire to maintain a marketable appearance, this measure has too many problems and too much possibility for abuse.

Regardless of whether or not the ordinance has been effective, I would like to point out a few flaws I was able to recognize in my short study of the ordinance.

First and foremost, no member of this community should be forced to pay for the repair of property that they DO NOT OWN. Not only would this be unfair, it could also be construed as a violation of our rights under the Texas Constitution. Money is property. Having money seized without due process, is a violation of the Constitution. Making an appeal, to one who stands to gain from the seizure, can not be considered as due process.

Second, providing criminal penalties for what is essentially a civil dispute is a tactic utilized by autocratic regimes throughout history. These types of measures almost always target the less affluent. How can a property owner commit a crime when they have not violated the life, rights or property of another?

Third, the city has given itself the authority to apply liens and foreclose on properties whose owners fail to comply. This provision provides too much power to the government and invites abuse.

This ordinance perhaps was penned to address blight and neglected property. However, the fact remains that it IS NOT the responsibility of any property owner to repair "infrastructure" that is owned by another.

I appreciate the council members who have decided to revisit this issue. I simply can not help but question their motives. All council members, excluding Mr. Kolaja voted for this ordinance. However, Mr. Kolaja did not vote against the measure either. Could we be seeing a change of position due to the nearing election cycle?

I can only hope that the council will reconsider its current position on this ordinance. However, the time for making that decision is drawing to a close. For if our local government continues to remain this hostile to the property owners of this community, then the voters will be left little recourse than to replace those who have forgotten who they work for. I believe competition to be a good thing.

Thank You

Some council members seemed understanding of the implications surrounding the issue. However, one council member reacted with contempt towards the concerns of the citizens. He claimed that the ordinance in question had nothing to do with my statement, though evidence proves otherwise. He claimed the issue was about who would pay for sidewalk repairs, though the issue is one of liability. He admitted that SOMETIMES citizens "have valid ideas," as opposed to government employees. I suppose some elected officials no longer consider themselves citizens, but the "ruling elite."

What struck me as especially "haughty" was his statement that we (the citizens) shouldn't mind the increased taxes required to maintain city infrastructure. Additionally, this city council representative implied that we should be grateful that the city allows us to "use" the right-of-way located at the back of our property. Was he implying that the city should be charging rent?

As a reminder, Missouri City has an image problem. The city imposes higher taxes and more burdensome regulations than our neighboring communities. Recently the city government hired a consulting firm to "revamp" the city's image. Our government wishes to shed the "Misery City" image it now holds. Instead of wasting our hard-earned money on ridiculous endeavors, perhaps our local leaders should look into a mirror to locate the source of the problem. Making the city a more inviting place in which to relocate and live could eliminate the city's negative image and reputation. There is nothing wrong with the name of our city. There is everything wrong with a bloated unaccountable bureaucracy run amok.