I promised I would tell you how the advanced game is played. Here is my personal experience:

Today was my day to answer for my crime of “large amount of prohibited items stored outside on my back driveway”.

I got up at 6 a.m. to take my husband to Baylor Medical Center in Richardson for day surgery. I had to arrange for someone else to pick him up because we weren’t sure how long he’d be, and I had to be back in Farmers Branch for the court appointment.

Back home, at about 11 o’clock, I was gathering my information together and decided to go outside for a smoke. Well, no sooner had I sat down on my front porch bench than I hear a car start up, and look up to see the Community Surveillance truck drive by – with my dear friend Gabe at the wheel. Hmmmm. I live on the inside of a curve and the street wraps around my property on two sides. He drove around the curve – towards the side of my house.  On a hunch I looked out my back door and sure enough there he was – hidden away behind the bushes just like he was last week. He was even parked on the wrong side of the street! I went back inside and grabbed my cell phone. Then I walked toward his truck and took a picture of him sitting there. When he saw me he drove off. Darn – I should have given him a chance to get out and walk in my neighbor’s back yard again.

Okay – so that put me in a lovely mood to go to the municipal Court; full of respect for the city that is only concerned with the “Health, Safety, and Welfare” of its citizens. Got there at 1:00pm, as instructed. There was quite a crowd there, but we all had to wait for a while for the CE Gang to arrive. I took that opportunity to ask people about their “Sins against Farmers Branch”. One lady was there because there was a weed growing in her sidewalk. Actually it was the city’s sidewalk – but in front of her house, so it was her weed, and that is against The Code. One lady was there because she had a tree limb below the requisite lateral clearance. She had trimmed it once but apparently not enough. One guy was there because he had been working a lot of overtime and hadn’t had time to mow his yard. Two people were there to answer for the heinous crime of Not Having The House Number Posted on Their Homes. It’s not enough that the house numbers were painted on the curbs in front of their houses – it has to be posted on the house itself. Or else. Pretty pathetic bunch of lawbreakers.

By the way – the list of citations for this week was 87 entries long! That’s citations for one week – not warnings – these are actual “this is a Citation so pay a fine”. At an average of, say, $400 a pop the city has to be raking in some major money with these code violations, yet they still raised the property tax. Farmers Branch is going to be drowning in painted utility boxes, rose gardens, and fountains before very long. But hey -it’s all those important things that make a city “desirable”. Heck – maybe the mayor will even get his Chili’s, and a wonderful statue to show on television. I have a few suggestions on what the statue should portray.

I am still waiting for the City of Farmers Branch to explain how any of the code violations I saw are detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens. The closest thing to dangerous would be the tree branch, but I see plenty of trees that violate that code in the city medians on very busy streets , so it can’t be too awfully dangerous. Or, maybe the city thinks that only private tree limbs are safety hazards.

I had decided ahead of time that I wanted a jury trial. So when it was my turn in the spotlight I went up to talk with my good friend Gabe and whoever the lawyer guy was – I think he’s the assistant city attorney or something. According to their records the house is owned by my husband alone. News to me because the mortgage is in my name alone!  When I told them of that fact they argued with me, and said that the citation was in my husband’s name so he had to be the one to answer for it and they demanded to know where he was. I explained (again) that my husband was in Baylor Medical Center getting his throat operated on. Then they asked when my husband would be able to go to court. I said I wouldn’t know until after the surgery. But they insisted, so I said, well, I guess two months’ recovery would be a reasonable guess if everything goes okay, but since I’m not a doctor I couldn’t say for sure. So they gave me a court date of November 10 and told me to go sit to the side while the court clerk prepared the paperwork. They also had me sign a paper to prove that I promise to let my husband know about his court date!

Okay – I did get a parting shot. As I got up to leave I told Gabe that it was really muddy in the easement behind my house so he might want to wait a couple of days before going back there to take pictures.

Well, I sat down and watched while the court clerk chatted with one of the Code Officers for a very long time. Blab blab blab, but no paperwork was prepared. I guess she was going to show me who’s the boss!

As I am waiting for the Court Clerk to decide she has made me wait long enough my husband walked in with the friend who had picked him up from the medical center. As soon as Gabe saw him the court demanded that he come up and talk with them. I got up and protested that my husband was in no shape to make any legal decisions at that time. I mean – you should have seen him – his whole neck was wrapped in gauze about an inch thick, he had a drain sticking out of his neck and taped to his chest, and he still had that orangey antibacterial scrub streaking all over one side of his head. The city attorney kept telling me to sit down and I could see the bailiff headed my way. I decided it would be better to try to listen to what they were telling my husband, so that’s what I did.

What the court ended up doing was railroad my husband into accepting some sort of deal and I wasn’t able to hear the details. Then they hustled the judge in there and made my husband agree to the deal before the judge.

As we were leaving the courtroom I asked my husband what was said and he said “I’m not sure – I didn’t understand it all. I know that they said they could see that I was sick and that if I was in a financial bind they would make arrangements.” Yeah – I think I know what those arrangements will be.

Is the City of Farmers Branch so strapped for cash that they have to take 65 years old men right out of surgery (and under the influence of anesthesia and pain medication) and browbeat them into pleading guilty to one of their ridiculous Code Enforcement violations?

Every time the City Council has reached a new low they prove they can sink even further. When are we going to stop this?

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