There is so much wrong with this story.
Peter Tubic ignored a $50 parking fine in 2004, and on Monday, it cost him his $245,000 house.
In what city officials believe is the first case of its kind, the city foreclosed on Tubic’s house on W. Verona Court after repeated attempts to collect the fine - which over the years had escalated to $2,600 - had failed.
First, why did he get a fine for not having plates on a car in his driveway? Last I checked, you didn’t have to register a car that was not being used on the public roads and was inoperable. I understand from the story that it was a city ordinance. If so, that ordinance is out of line and should be revised. There’s no need to force people to register a car that is inoperable and on private property.
Second, under no circumstances is it reasonable for the government to confiscate something that is nearly 100 times more valuable than the amount owed. Yes, the guy should pay his dang fine, but confiscating his house for it is completely absurd. There are other penalties, besides the interest that has already accumulated, that the city could levy short of taking the guy’s house. They could put a hold on any new permits. They could cease any city services. They could even impound the offending car. But taking the house is a grievous abuse of power by the City of Milwaukee.
Third, the man in question is clinically disabled.
According to the Social Security Administration, Tubic, 62, has been disabled since 2001. He has been diagnosed with psychological disorders that limit his “ability to understand, remember and carry out detailed instructions,” according to documents from the administration.
In addition he suffers from chronic pain caused by degenerative diseases of the knees and spine, as well as chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, among other ailments.
In several lengthy conversations with the P.I. Team spanning two weeks, Tubic frequently grunted in pain and broke down in tears.
“They’re trying to take my house away for a parking violation,” Tubic said. “I know it was my own fault for letting it drag on, I’ve been under mental duress. I haven’t been able to handle this.”
Clearly this man has some issues. That doesn’t excuse his not paying the fine, but it should be taken into account before taking his house away for a $50 ticket.
Fourth, the government’s proposed remedy will make it worse. This man is disabled and mentally incapable of handling his affairs. But at least he has a home that is paid off and some stability. If they take away his home, what will become of him? Will he be forced onto the public dole so that he can afford to rent a place? Will he become homeless and require space in shelters? How much more than $50 will it cost the taxpayers if the city takes his home away?
The City of Milwaukee is playing this thing by the rules, but somewhere along the line there should have been a little common sense injected into this situation.
$245,000 home - $2,600 lien = $242,400 available to pursue other options? (assuming that is total equity - worst case scenario, he has to purchase a lower cost home to maintain his present house payment).
That being said, the whole situation sure looks like “overkill” - the costs associated with selling the home, possibly selling for less than value, moving expense, etc will probably be at least 4 times the fine of $2,600. Now that is government inefficiency.
Someone should use ADA to challenge Milwaukee on this - sounds like a case needs to be made for “reasonable accomodations” for disabled people.
Shameful, but hardly a surprise. When we tolerate confiscation of cars, cash, and other property by administrative action because of suspicion of involvement in petty crime we have paved the way for this kind of thing.
Where’s the ACLU?
The good folks of Wisconsin should see that they have created a monster here that can eat anyone’s home and savings. How about just putting a lien on the property? Was there ever a court involved here, of just a rapacious bureaucracy?
A judge sanctioned the action, but stayed it to give the guy one more chance. Bear in mind that the city is acting legally, so the judge did all that was prudent to do in his role. The problem is that this IS legal at all and that the city officials chose this action instead of a more sensible one.
I feel bad for the guy, if all the MJS article says is true. The city or some private, social services organization should help the guy find an attorney and work this out. I’m guessing there’s at least one lawyer in Milwaukee County who would do it pro bono.
I don’t have a problem with the initial fine, though. The ordinance involved here is a standard nuisance ordinance, likely designed to keep individuals from piling up non-functional vehicles on their property. Those situations are about more than just aesthetics on one lot. They can encourage others in the neighborhood to also let their property go, so to say, which diminishes property values for others and can also make the neighborhood a greater target for criminal activity - which last I checked is the last thing Milwaukee needs more of. It only takes one blighted, ill-maintained property to start causing the rest of the apples to rot.
Or perhaps you think Milwaukee needs more old, beat-up, non-functioning vehicles piled up around town? If so, can I pass out some pink flamingos, old lawn chairs, and Dale Earnhardt flags so we can really make it look like rural Wisconsin?
“I understand from the story that it was a city ordinance. If so, that ordinance is out of line and should be revised. There’s no need to force people to register a car that is inoperable and on private property.”
Prohibiting unlicensed or inoperable vehicles from being in public view is common. Some places require them be garaged, others allow a tarp. Yes, even in Texas (e.g. Dallas and Houston). West Bend used to allow tarps, but it got so bad that neighbors complained and storage was required.
I’m not saying he should lose his house now, but all he had to do originally was put the van in the garage until he had the time and money to fix it. And if this is a property rights issue, then think about the rights of the neighbors who’s property values can be harmed when someone has a couple of wrecks on blocks in the driveway. Try selling your house with that tableau.
In the last 4 years there was NO ONE who could help him fill out the check to pay the fine? There was NOTHING in his Social Security disability judgment that allowed for the payment of public and private debts?
Sorry, but I have much less compassion for him than you want me to have. And I certainly dislike the liberal sob solutions in the paper that oddly enough involve more enormous expenditures by the taxpayer.
As for house seized versus fine, this was the only asset that could be seized to pay for it. So the disparity is irrelevant.
I am always hope that the compassion I show someone in an unfortunate situation is shown to me should I ever need it.
This poor guy has diagnosed mental disease IN ADDITION to physical disabilities. We have agencies that should be HELPING him. Taking his home away is NOT the solution and there is such a thing as making “reasonable restitution”. This is NOT it. We should not be “kickin’ ‘em when they’re down.”
I looked at the picture that was in the J/S and it did not look like his van was a junk vehicle to me.
Just because the guy did not have a license plate on his vehicle, now we want to foreclose on his house? This is justice? How can not having your license plate on a vehicle be a nusiance?
At the same time, they have young punk kids running all over town with their boom boxes blaring and shaking the ground that they drive on, but nothing happens to any of them.
Maybe this is justice Milwaukee style, if that is the case, it is no wonder that people are leaving Milwaukee in droves.
The bureaucrats in the City of Milwaukee are all very proud of themselves today, they are enforcing their stupid and ridiculous code for all that is worth.
What should happen is Barrett should fire every last one of them but that is not likely to happen.
“The bureaucrats in the City of Milwaukee are all very proud of themselves today, they are enforcing their stupid and ridiculous code for all that is worth. What should happen is Barrett should fire every last one of them…”
It’s not “their” code, Orv, it’s the city code. It’s there because their city council enacted it.
So the laws against spitting on the sidewalk do not belong to the Police Depts. they were enacted by the council.
Then why is the spitting on the sidewalk code not enforced as vigoursly as the code about having a license plate on your vehicle in your own driveway?
The answer is quite obvious, because the police are allowed discretion and they use what is commonly called “common sense” but the idiots at DNS have neither discretion nor common sense.
I don’t have a problem with a law against having a bunch of junker cars on your property, but lets make that the actual law so as to avoid tickets like in this scenario. Having a van in your driveway with an expired license is not a nuisance, the ticket should not have been issued.
This reported today at MJS Online: NewsWatch
Barrett to intervene in foreclosure case
Mayor Tom Barrett said today he will work with the city treasurer’s office to make sure Peter Tubic doesn’t lose his home over a $50 parking violation.
“While it is important to recognize the need to comply with rules and regulations, this is a highly unusual situation and I can’t sit by and watch a man who is clearly suffering from mental debilitation lose his home because of a $50 ticket,” Barrett said in a written statement. “I will work with the City Treasurer to resolve this matter. Foreclosing on a home is always, always a last resort and residents can avoid the downward spiral that comes with avoiding enforcements.”
Matt, that is the actual law. For reference, the relevant code is 80-49, which reads in part:
80-49. Nuisance Vehicles. 1. PURPOSE. Damaged, partially dismantled or junk motor vehicles upon private premises, except where permitted by a valid occupancy permit, constitute an eyesore and tend to depreciate property values contrary to the public welfare. Whenever such vehicles are junk motor vehicles or are partially dismantled, are unsafely elevated, are parked on unapproved surfaces or are rendered favorable to the harborage of rodents and insects, they may create a health or safety hazard or create a threat to the public welfare and as such constitute a public nuisance.
b. “Junk motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle meeting any 3 of the following criteria:
b-1. Has not been moved for 30 consecutive days.
b-2. Is partially dismantled.
b-3. Is inoperable.
b-4. Is parked on a surface that is not
an approved surface under s. 252-74-1 and 2.
b-5. Is unlicensed or improperly
It wasn’t just the licensing that got him in trouble. The vehicle was also inoperable and unmoved for 30 days. You can read the rest of 80-49 for context, if you’d like by clicking here.
Sorry Recess Supervisor, you must be a bureaucrat working for the City of Milwaukee.
Since you seem to like definitions, let me throw this one at you.
Webster’s dictionary defines a bureaucrat as “an offical who works by fixed routine without excersizing intelligent judgment”
That clearly fits the bureaucrats at DNS.
There are all kinds of stupid and ridiculous laws on the books. Every once in awhile a reporter will run across one of them and publisize it. Just because a law is on the books, does that mean that it MUST be vigourously enforced?
As I said in my previous post, just because someone spits on the sidewalk, which is clearly illegal, does that mean that the spitter should be arrested or given a ticket for every offense?
The Police all have a certain amount of discretion and most use common sense when enforcing laws.
That is also why we have judges and courts of appeal because the Founding Fathers knew that if we allowed one individual or even a group of individuals such as DNS to control all of the power, they would likely abuse that power.
Right now, DNS is completly out of control and the Mayor and the Common Council have allowed it to get that way. They are clearly an dept. that has only one mission, extract as much money from the City of Milwaukee property owner’s as possible.
Orv, I’m not disagreeing with you, necessarily. I was simply pointing out to a previous poster that this wasn’t just an issue of a guy getting a ticket because he had a car in a driveway without plates. I was offering the text of the ordinance to clarify, not to defend the actions of the city.
I do think the intent of the ordinance is fine. But as you point out with your spitting example, there is always some latitude in enforcement. I do wonder whether city employees were aware of the situation they were dealing with. If not, they may have thought they were simply dealing with someone who was willfully disregarding the law. It did take a number of years for the situation to escalate to this point. It’s not like any actions were taken in haste.
If they knew of his condition and still pushed ahead, I would be troubled by that. But like I said, it’s hard to indict city employees without evidence of what exactly they knew. Nobody can be expected to be clairvoyant, after all.
It is a stupid ordinance that lets the city take away your house for failure to pay a parking fine or move your car.
It makes more sense to allow the city to put a lien on the property for the amount fine. But if the goal was to get the car moved, a penalty in the future wouldn’t do much. Confiscating or impounding the car makes much more sense than seizing the house.
But until you know all the facts, cut the bureaucrats a break. They didn’t pass the ordinance. And if you were the guy’s neighbor and got tired of the broken down van in the driveway (and if that is neglected, there is probably more neglect), you might be pressuring the bureaucrats to do more.
There were probably other things the city employees could have done. But they may have tried them. The guy’s friends and relatives should have stepped forward. Maybe they did and were rebuffed. We don’t know all the facts and the only thing we can count on from the newspapers is to slant the “facts” toward a good story.
Barrett did the right thing. Now the city council should change the ordinance to prevent such an outrageous imbalance between the infraction and the penalty. But don’t bet on it.
The guy’s friends and relatives should have stepped forward
I think it was the guy’s brother (who wasn’t living there) who reported it. Sounds like their mother (who was ill & being taken care of by the guy) decided one morning that the van needed to be removed right that minute. Sounded like this was more of a family dynamic as opposed to neighborhood issue. Situation probably would have been more appropriate for Dept Social Services instead of Dept Neighborhood Services.