Journal Entries for July, 2005

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Sunday, July 31, 10am: Davis shares this link to an article on WJZ TV's website:

http://wjz.com/topstories/local_story_211175549.html

It's the same news the Sun covered about revoking the license of the drug infested Pall Mall apartments in NW Baltimore. It illustrates the widespread attention this tactic is getting, especially from frustrated neighbors like those next to Pedestal Gardens. It's about time we go after the landlords. It should not take nearly two years of effort to close a crack house as it did with Clarence Weston's.

The Pall Mall apartments look an awful lot like the Pedestal Gardens building across the street.

Pall Mall apartments

Both are boxes filled with cubicle, cell like apartments. And Pall Mall already has it's fence, I see. As if that really makes a difference. You need only ask the neighbors of Madison Park North if a fence has any positive effect. We still don't see any movement toward putting one up at PG. Now I'm pretty certain this is simply more foot dragging by property management. Something they do reliably. Even after getting our endorsement of the fence plan and that of the new Police Commissioner.

The six unit apartment house two doors north of us here sold a week ago for $190,000. They had been asking $179,000. The neighbors and I thought that price sheer fantasy. Apparently not. The new owner has several properties in trendy areas of the city, like Federal Hill. He's going to rehab each of the mediocre old apartments over the next few months and promises to find good tenants. Yes, I've warned him we'll be his eyes and ears here, for better or worse. The rents he intends to charge should discourage the type of tenants who are evicted every few months from 1700 Madison where the crack dealers to Pedestal Gardens hang out.

And of course I told you the city selected a "developer" for 1704 finally. His plans call for three condos, one on each floor, selling for $160,000+ each. The architects have been working on the plans. He says they will be "huge." I don't see it and still think he's confused us with Manhattan, but we sure wish him well.

There's just no room in the new Bolton Hill West for Pedestal Gardens or any poorly managed Section 8 housing. It sure will make a difference to have homeowner occupants here and market rate renters. Neither will like Pedestal Gardens and the trouble it creates.
Perhaps what police and neighbors have not been able to do, financial pressures will.

Friday, July 29, 10:30am: Sometimes nasty email exchanges are just a waste of time. Apparently not in this case ...

You won one fight. I will discontinue the Anti-Snitch Device shirt, which could be taken to out of context. However, the message in the other shirt is right on point. As for your fight against drugs, I can't say much about it. You've chosen to fight and you've chosen a direction which is better than I can say for most.

A shirt can't be evil though, Brian. Humans have a monopoly on that characteristic. A shirt just is or is not. In this case, the Anti-Snitch Device will no longer be.

Of course, it's a small victory. And I notice the posting is still up on Craig's List.  I suppose it doesn't matter. Plenty of others are making money from the anti snitching movement and from our drug problems in general, including some irresponsible, greedy landlords.

Thursday, July 28, 2pm: Some serious emails have been screaming to and from my computer in the past day.

I think the most telling exchange is the one I taunted from a guy selling t-shirts like this on Craig's List ...

such a healthy sentiment

His posting:

"Snitched Out and Anti-Snitch Device T-Shirts. For those that understand what it's about, the anti-snitch campaign is definitely in full-effect here in Baltimore and nationwide. Now, you can get two new authentic t-shirts from Baltimore's MODE One designs --- only $15.00. They can be delivered via mail or by paying a $5.00 delivery charge if you live in Baltimore.

Call Jay: 443-278-3845"

I should have just bit my lip and not written him, but just couldn't help myself. Apparently, he can't either. Parental Guidance is advised. I'm not editing this exchange.

"Really neat to profit from the hell these drug punks put out. What a whore you are!

Bryan"

His reply ...

D'Vo wrote:
FUCK YOU! You obviously only see things from your narrow, myopic perspective. We live in a paradigm that wasn't created by us, but by John Locke and Adam Smith. So, while corner drug boys (however stupid they may be) are the scapegoats for societies ills, that herpes bump on your face is caused by European thinkers who believed that the whole world is one big nipple to be sucked for profit.

And, if Im profiting off of it, Im the pimp - not the whore. And yes, Black men need to stop snitching each other out and copping pleas for lesser charges. This divide and conquer thing has been going on since we got off the slave ships. So, it is a campaign I fully support.

STOP SNITCHING!!!

If you're not Black, then perhaps you can relate to it this way. Suppose the early settlers had snitches and stool pigeons among them who went back and told the queen that the colonies were planning to fight for their independence. There would have been a Stop Snitching and start hanging campaign then too."

The hate is palpable, don't you think?

My reply ...

"I cannot imagine someone whose opinion I hate more. So sad.

I doubt you live in a drug market. Perhaps you only commute to work at one. You obviously don't give a damn about the lives I see ruined every day.

And why would you assume I'm not black? Because I care? Because I don't think crack markets on every corner is normal?

Arguing this does nothing but vent our mutual anger. Perhaps it's even anger at the same thing, but seen through different perspectives. Perhaps you can fathom that comment? I don't know other than my guess at who you are. And, yes, that's called prejudice. And has nothing to do with race.

Oh, you're right, by the way. You are a pimp, not the whore. I guess the whores would be the ones who pay you to wear your hateful, hopeless, evil t-shirts? But hey, that's the American way, make a buck regardless. From Bill Gates on down to you.

I've thought more than once of casting the crack vials I find all over my yard and sidewalk into paperweights with a saying like "a souvenir of the real Baltimore." Would be a big hit at Inner Harbor. Haven't done that yet. Don't have the stomach for it.

Actually, I don't have the stomach for hating you for what you're doing. Doesn't mean I'm not up for a fight. I've been fighting for this neighborhood for five years now. Not fun. Doesn't pay $ at all. And I'm not running, still.

So, best of fortune to you. I hope you make a bundle. And know that you will have done so fueling a fight that kills.

Bryan"

I imagine this guy and me having a really wicked fist fight. And if neither of us was killed, lying next to each other, panting, and coming to the realization we're angry at a lot of the same things. Underneath, I don't see much difference at all. I could claim slavery way back in my mongrel ancestry too, but that's got nothing to do with me. The phrase "don't go there," comes fast to mind, but still I think the comment appropriate. There's no less a slavery to crack and the drug lifestyle going on right now. And it's an equal opportunity destroyer. You need only go to lilly white Highlandtown to see the proof of that. I don't cotton to race as an excuse on either side. Excuses are just that.

Oh, my God, the emails I will get for those comments!

Vaughn replied to me and him when I cc'd him:

"And get this, he lives in Bolton Hill on the eighth floor of a fancy apartment building overlooking the Symphony Centre. The rents there start at $600 a month and go up to over $1,000. Talk about a Myopic Perspective. His view doesn't even face the Hood.

He's right, "Black men need to stop snitching each other out and copping pleas for lesser charges." They need to stop getting ANY charges. Stop blaming people who have been dead for hundreds of years for your problems. Many other immigrants who were either brought here by force or dumped here by other countries have made it and assimilated into the fabric that is this nation. For instance the Pols, the Irish, the Cubans, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Jews, the Ethiopians, the Africans that are coming here today and many others. . .

No, it's not a perfect place to live and there have been a lot of mistakes and social experiments that didn't work. But, stop whining and make something of yourself. Something you and your family can be proud of.

-Vaughn"

I guess I don't have the corner on political incorrectness.

On to other fronts:

Mr. Miller, the VP with Interstate Realty Management tried to call today. Apparently, he's reading the websites right along with the neighbors and HUD. His call was intercepted by that Verizon service that screens out anonymous sales callers. I declined to speak to him. Here's what I just emailed him ...

"Hi Don.

I refused your call earlier because I have nothing to say to you. You've said a lot and delivered nothing real. Conversation with you is merely a tactic you've employed for your benefit, not to help our neighborhood.

Our patience is gone.

Your charade of pretending security across the street from our home is over. Seeing a guy shooting a car in front of your property last week and then see him return time and again rather punctuates the end to my patience.

You're the one who makes money from our strife. And don't bother with that crap about you being a nonprofit. That you have a city officer willing to be your shill doesn't impress me at all, either. It merely disgusts me, as whores do...  We have mutually decided to have no further direct communication. I think you and I need to do the same. Unless in writing. Or, in court, as we were with Clarence Weston. A prospect I relish.

Nothing real has come of our patience and previous support of Pedestal Gardens.

You've often said it's just us who have problems with Pedestal Gardens. As I'm sure you've read recently at stopPGnow.com, that's not true. HUD and the state's attorney are reading many neighbor's comments now, too. The neighbors are tired of dealing with the property you've so grossly mismanaged.

We are joining together to do whatever we must to make our neighborhood a safe place. If that means the end of Pedestal Gardens, so be it. We will not be stopped. There is no doubt you will be.

As with Clarence Weston, your days here are numbered. We live here. You do not. We care. You've proven you don't.
 
Most sincerely,

Bryan Taylor
Vaughn Vigil
1706-08 Madison Avenue

www.rebuildingmadison.info

a personal account of bringing back a neighborhood

www.stopPGnow.com

a website dedicated to ending the scourge of Pedestal Gardens"


I think one would call this war. But hey, we've got right on our side! Heard that before I think somewhere, haven't you?


Wednesday, July 27, 11am: This morning's article in the Sun made my day, my week, maybe even my year. I'm thrilled. Check it out on the new website, stopPGnow.com.

The property managers at Pedestal Gardens must be shaking in their boots today. I wonder if the cowardly owner of the property has read the article. I hope so. I'd like to punch him in the eye for what he's done to this neighborhood for so long. I recall having to walk away from Clarence Weston a few years ago, for his own safety, when he told me "you can't do better here" than allowing crack and heroin dealers to sell off your steps ...  with a baby in their lap (as former Central District Major Gutberlet will attest).

Holding property owners responsible has been our theme ever since we moved in. We work with them. We try to cooperate. And when they prove themselves worthy of anathema, we go for the jugular. That's what happened to Clarence Weston at 1704 Madison Avenue, and that's what's going to happen to Pedestal Gardens (and Madison Park North if its neighbor's have their way, too. We're going after the enemy on both fronts). The time for playing is over.

The Machiavellian tactics of Interstate Realty Management have backfired. They thought putting up cameras only dummies see, a useless passcard system, a proposed fence and then hiring off duty police officers (who are rarely seen) would show they were fixing things, would appease the cash cows at HUD and us. We know better. I would say "this is war." But I really think the fat lady is singing for Pedestal Gardens.

And what a difference it will make. A huge difference for those who have lived near it for so long. And a huge improvement for those who live in it. We will work to make sure the residents have decent places to go. Places better than the cinder block cells of Pedestal Gardens which is no less than a prison patrolled by drug dealers and thugs.

Still, there's lots of work to do. The greedy mongers of Pedestal Gardens will likely not go quietly. But who cares? I will consider their protests fanfare.

If you'd like to join the cause, please visit the new website stopPGnow.com.

I've decided to join the Realtors who pretend this is upscale Bolton Hill or Roland Park: We now live in the Bolton Hill West Neighborhood. Just that moniker alone should add $50,000 to our property value. I wonder if the Mount Royal Improvement Association or the Madison Park Community Association will annex us. Perhaps they'll compete for us after so many years of this block being shunned by all.

Monday, July 25, 1pm: Got this email yesterday ...

Bryan,
Sorry I locked your computer up the other day. Everything is working now, though. I just wanted to say thanks for the cold water the other day. It was extremely hot out. It helped. Right now you have 4 officers in here using the facilities. Just in case there was any question of whether or not we use the sub station.

Thanks again,
Officer Atkins

Oh, you can share this e-mail address with the citizens if you want. You know, just in case they have any questions. Take it easy.

This is the officer I did my ridealong with last year. Officer Atkins email address is AtkinsBPD @ aol.com (remove the spaces) if you'd like an officer's perspective on the substation. He's frank, experienced and to the point.

One day I heard an officer say she had spent six hours on traffic detail. She was standing with her nose in the AC, a bottle of cold water in her hand. Standing out on the street
in a dark blue uniform, in the blazing inferno our summer's can be, must be rough.

back to usual for bullet car

Saw bullet hole car pull up to 1715 Madison, across the street last Thursday afternoon. He just sat there, then reclined his seat so no one could see him. I was getting ever more wary and suspicious. I think if someone had shot my car here, I might avoid the place, but that's just me. After about 20 minutes, I was pondering a call to 911, nervous the guy who shot his car might find bullet hole car driver himself an even better target. Then two guys and a girl came around from 1715, they all piled in his car and they drove off. Obviously bullet hole car man knows people in 1715. Not a crime, but curious nonetheless. Not that I have any doubts.

I've been pondering it, but I can't help but believe if the off duty officers supposedly assigned to 1715-1717 had been on patrol, had been seen or even better been at a good vantage point, they would have prevented this shooting. If they were on patrol, with their eyes open, they might have noticed bullet hole car man and his tenant friends, assuming they were even tenants, when he visited the other afternoon. I have not seen security at this Pedestal Gardens building in several days and I've been looking on both sides of the building.

Perhaps if they'd been doing their jobs, Pastor Jones' pickup truck would not have had its window smashed out where it was parked next to the vacant lot of Pedestal Gardens, either.

Assuming they're even here, one big problem has turned out to be the off duty officers too often act like they're on duty most of the time: that is, they hang out in their AC'd office in the basement or in their cars, waiting for a crisis, as if dispatch is going to send them on a call. Some do not understand that a security officer's job is be a visible deterrence, to prevent crime, not just respond to it. Someone who observes the whole area, makes notes, questions people coming and going from the building. Many have questionable business there ... and they should be questioned. Security officers there could even say hi to those who belong or even nicer, plays with the kids in the yard while doing their job as one off duty officer did a while back (as I wrote here).

I wonder if we even have off duty officers on most of the time they're supposed to be. I know we've often been assured by Mr. White and Mr. Miller of the property management firm that just this one building is supposed to have it's own security officer. And we all agree that's necessary, including HUD. I have to wonder if some time cards are being submitted, and paychecks collected, by persons who were never here. I'm sad to have to say that, but it's an obvious question to anyone who watches this building.

Like ball playing guy and Officer Jester, though, some have been seen doing their jobs. Just wanted to make that clear. Unfortunately, I think we don't have the same officers regularly and some are not familiar with the dynamics of this particular corner, as is Officer Jester.

I was told not long back about some other officers whose effectiveness I questioned, "those guys have 30 years experience between them as police officers," as though that makes them above question. 15 years experience as a police officer is an impressive accomplishment, but without local knowledge and an understanding of the job of a security guard, how can these other officers be effective? Several simply are not.

And I don't know what's happening with the cameras. I call them dummy cameras. I understand a lot of money was spent on them. They might as well be imitations for all their effectiveness now.

No progress with the highly touted fencing system the new Commissioner and we supported. Don't know if that's city paperwork or foot dragging by the property management firm yet again.

Last night, about 11:30, heard a familiar officer's voice over his car's PA system at the corner of Wilson: "Clear the corner!" He then swung into the substation to show a rookie. They used the restroom, grabbed a water and the senior guy grabbed a frozen squeezy popsicle. I always like the expressions on the face of rookie cops when they're introduced to the substation. I don't think the academy teaches that sometimes there are people who will go out of their way to accommodate and help. Too often I think they're taught it's the bad guys, the citizens and us. Reminds me how the troops in Iraq must feel.

It feels good to see a rookie smile at the realization many of "the citizens" are on their side.


I've often been accused by property management firms, crack house slumlords, (sometimes one in the same), security officers and their bosses, even angry, misguided neighbors, that my observations are wrong, That for some reason I lie about what I see.
My question to them always is why? Of course their accusations always come when I'm critical. When I've praised each of those people, my observations are the God's honest truth, nothing less. None of these people are here nearly every day and night, with two big windows aimed directly at Pedestal Gardens and the corner. Most have a financial interest in continuing what's been going on here for too long. Like the drug war itself, there's money to be made selling drugs and money to be made supposedly fighting them. We have no financial interest in fixing this block. Other than if it becomes a safer, happier place, our home might be more livable. I've never seen this house as an investment so much as a home.

We continue to be flooded with offers for the house. Everyone wants a piece of Baltimore's recovery now. I've had several calls and letters that start out, "I applaud your efforts and want to join you in the crusade to make your neighborhood a better place" Then they ask me where the real deal steals are so they can flip them. 99% are simply looking to make a buck and move on. They don't differentiate between our work and theirs looking to make a buck. I resent this sometimes.

I suppose we could make a buck on this place if we sell at the right time. But I don't think any profit is going to give us back the four plus years of effort we've put forth and the neighborhood we've endured with our neighbors over here. If we sold, it would not be the money I'd remember in years to come. We don't intend to be driven out of our home by dealers and thugs or real estate vultures. At least not yet.


Update, 2:45pm: Bullet hole car is now parked right where it was when it was shot at last week. Business as usual.

Wednesday, July 20, 9am: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I think that's the saying. I've decided our version here on Mad Avenue is ...

The price of safety is perpetual paranoia.

Monday, about two hours after my last entry where I wrote
" There's been not much to report. Dealing is down," I heard two loud pops. Not fireworks. You could tell. Looked out to see a pear shaped man putting a boxy looking gun in his pocket while getting into a car parked in the middle of the street. The car sped away. There were several people on the street, but none laying on the ground. Took the shotgun and the phone to the door while telling 911 we'd had a shooting.

911: "A shooting, sir, or the discharge of a firearm? There is a difference."

Me: "I don't know yet, but I saw the gun and heard the shots. We need police NOW."

As I came out my front door several people ran around the corner. There was a skateboard lying broken next door on the sidewalk. I had the horrible thought of a kid getting shot off his board, but there was no blood. About then, one of the off duty officers assigned to Pedestal Gardens came around from their building over here. This incident occurred in the street next to their property. I think he must have been taking a break from the extreme heat of that day in their air conditioned basement apartment "office." I suggested he go around the corner to see if anyone was hurt.

I found two spent .45 casings and an intact bullet that must have fallen out of the clip
in the street. Started looking at the front of the house. My theory had turned to trying to intimidate us by putting a few holes in the house. Something I've often worried about. Couldn't find any new damage. About then the other Pedestal Gardens off duty officer drove up in his truck and the on duty police arrived. That sentence is true in more ways than one. <g> The always impressive Foxtrot arrived, flying fast in ever widening circles. I explained what I'd seen. Unfortunately, seeing it from two stories up, I didn't see a face and I didn't have time to get all the plate numbers.

About then a car that had been parked in front of the house came back up, the driver looking startled. He pointed at the two holes in his fender. That's where the bullets had gone. Surprisingly, the bullets hadn't hit the tire as they broke through the plastic fender. He said he'd been at the phone booth on the corner. Odd. There isn't one.

car shot

I have no idea why he came back. Perhaps as he drove away he realized I might have described the car that got shot to officers. Perhaps he simply noticed the holes and wanted to help the police. Perhaps he needed a police report for his insurance agent. Perhaps the gunman thought the car was ours. Perhaps the driver was a fellow dealer and this was a warning to him to get off the other's turf.
Who knows? Still, better than the bullet in the head one of our Pedestal Gardens-grown dealers got a few months ago.

We watched as shot car guy chatted with several people who were milling across the street. Vaughn said to me "I wish we could read lips. I'm sure they all know exactly what happened and why." I swear I could see amused grins. From other "witnesses" the police officer got conflicting reports of the color of the car, the appearance of the gun man, etc. Fairly obvious effort to make apprehension impossible. Whether in cahoots or just scared, such people make an identification and arrest nearly impossible.

One of the officers who responded to our call was the same one who told us years ago "you should move" when we complained about the poor police response to a domestic violence incident we witnessed in front of our house. The same one who, with his partner in crime, was banished from the break room for spending half their shifts watching football, even after repeated warnings. I would not be surprised if he told his colleagues, "oh, that guy's just a sissy. I told him to move a long time ago. It was just a couple gunshots." The officer writing the report seemed nonchalant, but respectful and concerned. Having watched too much TV, we hoped to see the CSI team show up. It was a let down to see the officer simply pick up the shell casings and bullet to put in a small manilla envelope.

Then he drove off and things returned to normal in a small open air crack market across the street from our elementary school and two blocks from the Police Commissioner's house.

Someone told me yesterday, "you should go into politics." I told him "I don't have the patience for it." He said "you have a lot more patience and hope than most." It's not patience that's kept me here. Vaughn's the one who's got the corner on patience. He puts up with me. In my case, it's supreme stubbornness and the unwillingness to admit I made a huge mistake hoping things could change. I still have hope it won't be a mistake in the long run. It's just the length of the run that wears on you.

Susan brought another supply of bottled waters and a case of single serving chips for the substation officers. We go through the chilled bottled waters fast when it's this hot. Thank you, Susan. We all appreciate it.

The sidewalks along most of our side of Madison Avenue are being replaced finally. I'm proud of myself that I was simply elated, not angry it had taken dozens of calls and over three years to get it done. With the very courteous help of City Footways staff on the phone and in person here, we agreed to pay for some extra sidewalk work to make it all look uniform. The concrete will be poured in an hour or so. If the kids don't vandalize it too badly, it'll make a big difference in the looks of our street. I wouldn't object to some small Marilyn Monroe like hand prints. I'm tempted to put my mark in the concrete myself. Likely will be the most tangible mark I'll ever make here.

Monday, July 18, 4pm: Ten days. That's one of the longest stretches ever I've not made an entry here.

There's been not much to report. Dealing is down. Or a little less overt, except at the corner of Madison Avenue at Wilson Street and away from the dummy(?) cameras at Pedestal Gardens. I see on duty officers on patrol more recently. Still seldom see the off duty officers acting as security for 1715-1717. And I frequently look for them. Maybe they're just trying to avoid me like the dealers. Who could blame them? Regardless of who gets the credit, perhaps it's both, it's been nice to see. It could just be the brutal heat and humidity. All the dealing going on inside where federal taxpayers pay for the unlimited air conditioning.

Saw the architect and associates of the soon to be new owner of 1704 Madison this morning. Checking something out. Say they're going to close by month's end and begin work immediately. We'll see. The city doesn't usually move so fast, to say the least.

sidewalk before?

These bright red arrows appeared below our windows last week. They reference the many damaged areas up and down the block. I've been requesting sidewalk repairs every few months for nearly four years. We've seen people mark the damage before. But today there are cones and "no parking by police order 7/19 7am to ..." signs on trees. I put in a call to the city Footways department but they couldn't verify it for me. I guess we'll know if we're awakened by jackhammers at 7am tomorrow. We're hopeful.

The photo doesn't show how it juts up and trips the kids walking to school and my snow shovel. Looks crappy too.
I recall the time I jokingly mentioned to our Councilman, Keiffer MItchell, that we could sure use having our sidewalks fixed like they did a couple years ago over on his highfalutin block, two streets over in Bolton Hill, where they would not tolerate this. His reply was "they didn't match the concrete color right." The repairs are a shade off because they're new. I'll be elated if it's five shades off, but smooth, unbroken and safe. I sure hope they don't damage our tree or marble steps. I'll be watching.

I guess the city is finally taking an interest in the block. About time. Perhaps it's just to help the developer of 1704 sell his condos. I don't think I care.

Friday, July 8, 7pm: Was watching some kids hang out around the Madison side fire door at 1715 a bit ago. Seemed fine. Horseplay. Then I heard a loud banging, like heavy iron clanking. Looked around and saw some heavyset teenaged girls trying to break the streetlamp. Just a bit more effort and I think they could have. Went out on the my steps and scowled both at them and the lack of security, though they could have been on the other side of the grounds. The kids gave up and went around to the other side themselves. With nothing for them to do around here and absolutely no supervision, play turns fast into vandalism.

kids playing

Met the soon to be new owner of 1704 Madison. Nabil Sheikh. Not from around here. I believe it's DC. Intense, bright, lean fellow maybe in his forties. He was meeting with his architect, real estate agent and contractor. We visited for a bit. Apparently he's been quite successful at redeveloping places, though none in Baltimore City before. His estimate to do what they want is $260,000, architect and contractor agree. They expect to "break ground" on the project a soon as they've closed on it in about a month. I did tell him it'll be exciting to see it happen.

I guess it's too late to appeal the way his approval was flown through the board of estimates under their radars. He seemed like a nice enough guy, I just wonder at a behind closed door system in selecting him. Bureaucrats at Housing doing their best to avoid anyone from outside questioning or having input on the plan. What a grand recipe for corruption. Was working with Sheila Dixon's office on being informed when the board would be reviewing this deal. Even told by a Housing guy it would be going on the agenda soon, that I might need to talk to the person who handles that ... two days after they well knew it had been approved. Either the council president was not being straight with me or she did not know. I suspect the latter. How embarrassing for her. I hope she remembers that in future dealings with these bureaucrats.

Nabil and company actually do plan to make the house into three condos. The very plan I laughed at when suggested by two young guys who looked. Yes, three. They'll total about 900 square feet each unless you like to include all the space where the stairs are. He spent $30k to buy the property from the city, according to him. I recall clearly others sincerely telling me they planned to offer $50k. And get this, he actually plans on selling the condos for nearly $200,000 each. "Wouldn't be worth if I can't get $500 or 600,000 for it." I think he may have us confused with Manhattan or Fells Point, like some at city hall. There was a telling point about his understanding of this block. I asked him about plans for the garage in back. He said "what garage?"

I wish him the best of luck. If he fails the city will have screwed this block over again big time. I fear three luxury condos sitting empty or behind boarded windows. I told him I could be his best salesman for the homes. He looked nervous and said "not if you tell them what you've been telling me." Perfect. The house was misrepresented to the prospects and now the neighborhood may be misrepresented to the new homeowners. I'd rather not live next to people who feel ripped off. "Nabil, if only one owner occupant moves in who understands the challenges here and cares, this block would be ten times better."

Still a few people looking at 1712, on the market for $179,000. Anxious to know how that goes too. I suggested Nabil buy that and 1715-1717 next  to turn them into luxury condos. Why not?

propped open again
1717 Madison fire door.

The door was propped open as a vantage point and means for the dealers again yesterday. Heard the sound of the door alarm for hours. High pitched squeal. Seemed no one in the building heard through the cinder block walls, steel doors, music playing and air conditioners on high. Would have gone out and done it myself, but as I opened the door I realized an old friend was on the corner. Dealer who has threatened our lives more than once. Decided it was not worth it. Finally, someone shut it. Don't know whether it was a resident or security, but I do know it took some calls and emails to get it done.

Saw a sanitation enforcement officer taking a picture of the house this week. I couldn't see any trash issues on our property and asked her about it. We're finally being cited for those windows we still have boarded up. I didn't know sanitation enforcement did housing enforcement, too. Interesting timing considering the enemies I've made across the street and at Housing recently. I have no issues with being cited actually and told the officer. Seems fair. I was the one who got the sanitation people's attention in helping to clear up our alley dump. Many negligent landlords got cited for that repeatedly. Now they seem to care more. The alley looks pretty good.

Of course we will continue to rebuild the old windows and hope to have that done by fall.
I've been procrastinating about doing the windows in unoccupied rooms. There's other projects more pressing. We cannot afford complete prefab replacements and don't want that look anyway. We don't have any historical requirements on our block though. However, if we get cited every time she drives by we won't be able to afford to do anything but sell. Perhaps that's the plan. Those city officials selling the city off to the highest bidder don't like poor folk tying up their real estate. Would probably make several people happy not to have their doings, or lack of doing, aired in public as this site has been known to do.

As disgusted as I am with the lack of progress around here and those many players here who more often than not refuse to do the right thing, I'm thinking hard of seeing who'd be interested and how much for the place. Would be interesting to know regardless.

This site was referred to in the current issue of Urbanite in an article about bloggers. Got several hundred more hits than usual as we did when we were on the cover of City Paper and the Sun. At one point on the day the print version came out, the site timed out before it could load for me and we're on DSL. Most of the sites were blogs. I wonder what those expecting to read about my car, dating gripes and movie reviews thought of a site simply trying to foment some constructive change.

Independence Day, 2005, 1pm: Very quiet around here when the security is on duty.

Last night there were lots of noisemakers and a couple of aerials which came straight out of the main Pedestal Gardens Courtyard. No security to be seen here either for a long stretch. Walked around the building just to be sure they weren't at a spot out of my line of sight. They weren't. These off duty officers too often act as if they're on duty: They hang out in their cars, as if waiting for dispatch to send them on a call. Rarely are they on foot patrol, but that's too true of on duty city officers as well.

on "partrol"

Still, when they're here they must think it's a waste because nothing happens. The difference when they're seen is huge and we all appreciate that. I pray they'll be seen all night. That's part of the difference between security guards and police officers. One is to prevent. The other reacts.

This morning about 4:30 I heard the familiar ladder truck storm up to the our side of 1715-1717. Firefighters tried at first to get into the fire exits on this side again. I was about to go out to tell them why they shouldn't break down those doors (remember the rampant dealing from them?) when one of the security guys noticed the huge red truck and flashing lights. He came around to tell them they couldn't get through that door and showed them around to the entry doors. Didn't see an ambulance this time, but didn't see flames or smoke so who knows?

Found this in the Pit Stop this morning while making coffee ...
Happy 4th!
Noticed a few officers using the station overnight and several bottles of cold water were missing. Susan, this note's for you, too. Again just Saturday she brought another couple flats. They're not very expensive, but we appreciate all the help we can get. We may have to break down and buy another AC. Having trouble keeping the room cool enough and I expect this one's not very efficient. We're only using fans elsewhere in the house to save on the electric bill, but thank God we don't have to wear dark blue polyester uniforms in 90 degree heat. The off duty officers at PG dress like we do: shorts and t-shirts.


Update 2pm: Sometimes I've found when I bitch, things magically change. Few have ever admitted it was the influence or shame. And that's always been fine. But in the last hour, it's as if one of our off duty officers was reading my mind, though I know it had nothing to do with me.

Playing ball

I've never seen one of these officers playing with the kids, directing and playing a ball game, but could not be happier about it. I suspect he just got bored sitting in the car and saw all the kids running around with nothing to do. Conspicuous. A good influence to the little ones and a huge deterrent to the bad ones. I'm sure the moms in PG are happy to see this, too. He and his bosses should be proud of this gesture.

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