Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Local Stories 2007

I Welcome your input and your ideas of top 5 stories. Here are mine:

1. Marines come home. I wanted this year's top story to be a warm fuzzy. There was no prouder moment than standing there and watching those Marines get off the bus. Mom's and Dad's pride, the nervous anticipation of brides, the glee of children seeing dad...some for the first time. It was an honor to be a part of that day.

2. The Ice Storm. A horrible event I still have nightmares about. It was a precious time and in a sense a seminal moment in the development of our radio station but at what price? I will treasure the moments of community that we shared but will try to forget the cold and desperation as the days wore on.

3. The Audit. Susan Montee came to town and for many of us provided the redemption we needed after fighting for so long. Now only the most myopic or those with vested interest could deny something is afoul in the kingdom. This story will have the most long term impact of any in 2007.

4. Heers Tower. It was sold, redevelopment started, stopped, the city "re-acquired" the building, ticked off one of the biggest developers in the state to the point he left Springfield and in the end were left over a barrel dealing from a position of weakness trying to keep the last potential investor interested. Are condominiums the key and answer to redevelopment on the square? I hope I am wrong but I don't think so.

5. Storage Container Ordinance. I chose this not because of the significance of the "story" but rather the significance of people for the first time standing up to and backing down City Hall. Brenda and Charlie Teeslink mobilized an army...a coalition of the willing...manufacturers, retailers, citizens and marched on city hall. I hope this becomes the norm.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

To the Moron known as Joe America

The spelling errors you are chastising me for...are in fact errors made by others. If someone sends me a note I post it verbatim.

I know you want to blame me for every evil that ever befell the earth but I am not the world's spelling teacher. I am not responsible for their poor spelling or your stupidity!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letter from Tamara


I have been so busy keeping up with this issue, I have not had a chance to talk to you. I am embarassed to say I still don't have a radio so I can wake up to you. That is on my "To Do" list. I hear you have been discussing it. Thank you. In case I don't get to touch base with you personally I am forwarding some responses I have given to questions and concerns. Use the information as you like.

#1 - Fire Hydrant/Minimum Fire Standard
We the owners of Pythian Castle did our first flow test on our hydrant in June 2005. City refused to acknowledge it or the hydrant. They demanded we put a new one in with an 8" line. We dug up the dirt to show them we have an 8" line feeding from a 10" shutoff located on our property. All of this could have been avoided if City of Springfield followed international fire code which recognizes the use of private fire hydrants along as they are flow tested annually. They city has finally adopted this standard this year. Three years after our request for a business license.

Claims have been made we haven't met minimum fire standards. We are one of the only buildings listed in the assessors book as fireproof construction.
Egresses from the rooms can evacuate over 500 people in less than three minutes from doors 2' wider than modern code. Most of our doors and openings are 5' wide, code requires 3'. From the inception of this building, we exceed the standards of modern codes which simply require 1 hour fire ratings. While modern code requires you have enough time to get out of a burning building, ours was built not to burn in the first place.
Very few buildings in this city can claim the same above code standards.
This does not mean we do not have exit signs or emergency lighting. We still live and work in a place where power goes out and people need to exit safely. In the rare case of a fire, we have extinguishers every 75 feet (twice code) and four internal fire hoses (no longer recognized in modern code, but they exist and work all the same).

2) General Response to Absurb Escallation of the Issue

In response to all the people that think I have been willfully operating unlawfully, I would like to remind them I asked for my business license in August of 2004 long before I planned to open. My request to operate a business here should have been a simple request handled by low level employee. To use an existing occupiable building for uses allowed in the current zoning in a structure designed for its use, is a decision that should have taken no more than a week to approve.

Instead of granting us a license, they forced us to rezone to the most expensive and complicated re zoning that exist saying our zoning did not include all our uses. Rather than inspect the building, they converted us to a never developed piece of land and a brand new never been occupied structure. This required us to pay an architect to redraw an existing building with no changes than color in the areas being used and by the public and noting existing egresses, something they could have done in a 20 minute walk thru.

This change then required these plans to be reviewed by the director of building and development, the highest ranking employee in building department. Our renovations requests which entails upgrades to the road and parking and no structural changes to the building could have easily been handled by lower level staff. Permits could have been authorized by the appropriate specialist. Now, after three years of attempting to get a license (the same time it took to build this entire building in the first
place) we are dealing with the second in command of the city's legal department.

To waste our tax dollars on planning and zoning staff, the time of the director of building and development and top legal staff to oversee minor projects is an egregious waste of tax payers money. It could be equated to having the chief of police issue parking violations.

If the people of Springfield thinks three to four years and is appropriate time for businesses to wait for such licenses and the use of this many city employees is acceptable to them, I have no argument. But, they should know, businesses are not going to choose to invest their money here if it requires four year of carrying cost with only the possibility of getting permission. Unfortunately, since my property is not portable, I can't simply move it to a more friendlier place. As a consequence of their actions the city won't only lose a business it is going to lose a historical site.

3) Response to the following question:
"As much as I don't want to say this, you have been operating without a business license. It may not be fair how the city has dealt with you and I can understand the frustration in that and wanting to be up and running but the law is still the law. A lot of folks, myself included, have a hard time getting past that. If anything, I'm wondering if you shouldn't have gone public with this years ago instead of waiting until you were shut down by the city".

For those of you who believe the city is right is shutting down unlawful businesses, you can be assured that we are not free to operate at this time. But, it is our opinion, the city is willfully withholding our certificate of occupancy and license as means of political control and they are intentionally creating fear in the minds of the people to seek support for their agenda. This tactic has has been used by many prominent political persons in history as a means of controlling the minds of the masses. And, it works, even you believe it. We have tried to bring attention to this matter earlier and we have been successful in changing the law regarding private fire hydrants. Unfortunately, people did not realize how bad the problem was and did not take it seriously until we were shut down. And for those supporting the shut down, it should be noted that even now and when I was voluntarily shut down for repairs, I was not able to get permits or inspections for completed work any more than I was before I was open or when I was open. My legal business status has no bearing on the issue.

My apologies for a horribly long email assuming you actually read this far.

Let me know what I can do for you.