In 2003, I bought a multifamily home on Temple Street. Over the last five years, the city has seemed to be augmenting its revenue by issuing me one trash citation after another, often for no cause. I took this to my ward alderman, he told me that there was nothing that he could do. When I reached out to mayor’s office, I received no assistance. Subsequently, the Inspectional Services began targeting my property ruthlessly, especially Russell Koty, who issued multiple citations on the same day.
When I appealed these citations to the district court, the magistrate dismissed half of them. Instead of respecting the court’s decision, Russell Koty still kept all the citations in my account as originally issued. It was not after numerous phone calls, letters, and run-arounds between the city clerk’s office and the Inspectional Services, was the matter resolved.
A few months ago, someone dumped a used rug and some plastic bags in front of my property. I requested a hearing in response to the citation that I inevitably received. Three of my tenants attended the hearing with me, to give evidence that we were not responsible for the refuse left on my property.
Six other appellants were waiting to be heard, and all but one were people of color. And the fact that there were four people on the hearing board made me wonder how responsibly the $7,000 that I pay in taxes annually and $2,500 that I pay in water and sewer charges quarterly are being spent.
Ken Joyce, the hearing officer, stated in the presence of my tenants that he would dismiss the citation, but he subsequently sent me a letter stating that I was liable. When I tried to contact him, he refused direct communication. He then lied to the city clerk about his decision. Other members of the trash board supported his story.
When I took this matter to two other aldermen, as expected, they told me that there was nothing that they could do.
It has become clear to me that this city government is rife with nepotism and cronies who are willing to lie in order to protect each other’s misconduct and dishonesty. I can’t help but wonder if city government is corrupt as well, since these traits often go together.
Many Somerville citizens have been forced to tolerate real estate developments that bring down their neighborhoods because the developers are connected, or have been abused because they are willing to speak out, or are city employees who have been forced to work for the mayor’s election already know this. Those who don’t should talk to their neighbors.