Going to the Dogs
by Becky Akers
by Becky Akers: Supermom
vs. the Gutless Wonder That Is a Jury
descends, Our Rulers wax increasingly absurd. No particular of our
lives is too petty or personal to engross them; like a gossipy old
retiree with nothing better to do all day, they monitor every detail
of our existence, controlling and pitting us against each other.
Even a miniature schnauzer named Mikey is no longer beneath the
federal government’s scrutiny.
In a suburb
of New York City earlier this month, the Department
of Injustice extorted $58,750 from a "senior citizen complex"
on behalf of an
elderly widower. It seems the "complex" prohibited
pets, but when Jack Biegel and his 74-year-old
wife moved there, she refused to relinquish her "comfort dog,"
If you are
fortunate enough to reside someplace sane, you may not recognize
that term. Many apartments in New York City and its environs are
co-operatives or condominiums (shortened to "co-op" and
"condo," though both words can refer to either a single
apartment or the building as a whole). Residents own these rather
than renting them, and they elect a slate of their neighbors to
manage the building. These "boards" decide an astronomical
number of specificities; remember, no aspect of life is too picayune
to escape regulation now, especially in the Big-Bureaucracy-on-the-Hudson.
such minutiae as whether inhabitants may install washing machines
in their units; to whom they may sell (yep: if you receive an offer
to buy your property, you devoutly hope the board allows you to
accept it); the conditions under which one may sub-let; whether
owners may keep pets and if so, what kind. Nor do these diktats
originate with the boards: the feds, New York State and New York
City have compiled vast bodies of law and precedent that govern
virtually all of them. For instance, regulations define the grounds
on which a board may reject the sale of your apartment (acceptable
reason: the buyer, who must submit his tax-returns for the board's
perusal, doesn't earn enough to pay his share of the common expenses
each month. Unacceptable: he looks deranged, or he sexually assaults
people at airports as one of the TSA's leeches, and the board fears
he might pursue his vocation in the building's elevators).
such smothering regulation spawns industrious efforts to circumvent
it. "Comfort dog" is one of them. Say you fall in love with an apartment
in a building whose board has outlawed pets (which the law allows,
though it controls how that prohibition plays out). But you also
love your dog. What to do? Well, you claim that the dog is necessary
to your health and well-being, and under
the Americans with Disabilities Act, the board must exempt you from
its rule – regardless of whether other folks bought homes there
precisely to escape such nuisances as incessant barking, the cockroaches
drawn to open containers of dog-food, etc.
The DOJ admits
that the aptly named Mrs. Biegel suffered from an entire emergency
room's worth of diseases: "severe
respiratory problems, depression, anxiety, cirrhosis, diabetes,
and decreased vision and hearing." The New York Law Journal
adds that these maladies left her "very frail, … on oxygen twenty-four
hours a day and … unable to leave her home without an ambulance"
(the Journal does not post articles online; I take this quote
from its issue of Nov. 13, 2012). Predictably, Mrs. Biegel died.
But she had the prudence to do so one month after she and her husband
finally obeyed the board's repeated requests to honor its policy
you ask. Ah, dear reader, such naïveté is why you’ll
forever languish as a mere taxpayer rather than ascending to the
heights of gowned clown. Judge Arthur Spatt sided with the DOJ in
pretending there was cause-and-effect here. Clearly, a very ill
and elderly woman died not from her many infirmities but because
the hard-hearted board compelled her to relinquish Mikey. And if
you further demand, "Hey, now wait a minute. Did the board
force these opportunists to live there? Why didn’t they just
buy an apartment someplace else?", you further prove your complete
unsuitability for any position in government, even that of a lowly
Not only will
the grieving hubby make $58,750 on her death (and remember that,
like the State, buildings have no money but what they collect from
residents, so this greedball has robbed his neighbors with help
from the DOJ), but the Law Journal reports that the board
must henceforth "notify the office of the Eastern District U.S.
Attorney ... every time it denies a request from a resident for
an accommodation for the next three years." Which means that not
only will the board micro-manage the luckless denizens’ lives, but
bureaucrats at the U.S. Attorney's office will, too. Nor does
that satisfy the DOJ's lust for power: all the co-op's "employees
also will have to undergo training [sic for ‘indoctrination’]
in compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act..."
such utter nonsense, tyranny, meddling, and waste of time and money
is entirely normal in New York. The rule of law and all common sense
vanished decades ago from its intensively regulated real-estate
market. In their places reign bureaucratic and political caprice.
Very frequently, these conflict: for example, the New York State
Department of Human Rights ordered one building to construct a ramp
from the sidewalk to the front door after a resident complained
of discrimination against her wheelchair, but New York City’s Department
of Buildings prohibited the ramp because its requirements for the
slope of such things would have extended it to the middle of the
street. Funny, yes – but not to Ms. Wheelchair’s fellow residents.
They footed the bills as the co-op’s lawyers dueled with two sets
stranglehold on co-ops and condos also voids private agreements.
You may think you have moved into a building free of noisy mutts
only to discover that your neighbor upstairs needs three German
shepherds as "comfort dogs." This sows immense discord
– whose arbitration excuses yet more intrusion from the State, as
the Biegels demonstrate. Nor are dogs its only ploy: any issue,
from whether residents may place potted plants on their terraces
to the mold in the walls they claim the building hasn’t eliminated,
can become the next legal sinkhole. One disgruntled, avaricious
owner or a bureaucrat looking for something to prosecute can cost
each resident hundreds or thousands of dollars as the building pays
legal fees, awards, and fines.
But dogs remain
a favorite gimmick. In fact, attorneys specializing in real-estate
law joke that only a fool would argue against the canine’s side
in any lawsuit because "the dog always wins."
Akers [send her mail] new
is set during the American Revolution. Read it in paperback
or on a Kindle.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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