Saturday, June 1, 2013

               Clever Little Bureaucrats

     There's a "for sale" sign on the front of Barney's Auto Parts today. Jimmy Normile, who was owned that business for 53 years, sits in his stained easy chair near a front window and talks to his friends about it. Jimmy has lots of friends. I'm one of them, along with cops and lawyers and business people and just regular, everyday folks. I've sat on the motley collection of seating many times and listened to his views on world and local events.
     One day this week Jimmy received six separate envelopes from the city code department. Each contained a different code violation that Jimmy needed to fix. One of them, for instance, was his front windows. Not up to code. They aren't broken. They open and close. But for the code inspectors, they are simply not up to snuff and must be fixed.
     They want Jimmy to tear down the west building where the auto glass business used to be. Badly not up to code, it seems.
     The county, on the other hand, thinks Jimmy's building is wonderful. His recent tax evaluation was three times what it was last year.
     And Jimmy told me that Travelstead's, a block up the street and in about the same shape, has been notified that the building must be razed.
     I worked across the street from those buildings for 33 years. They never changed a bit from what I saw. What has changed, of course, is the fact that the train station lies a couple of long blocks east of there and the square is equidistant on the west. Our clever little bureaucrats  envision that section of Hickory Street as an arts corridor. Can't have any dirty old parts stores down our arts corridor; my goodness no.
     Though he still rides his bicycle up to and around the square on cool mornings, Jimmy is 90 years old. If he fixed those violations, he believes the city would find six more. I'm inclined to agree with him. The bureaucrats are bullying him out of business.
     Jimmy says the parts business isn't what it used to be and it would not be economical to put money into it at this point in his life. He's going to stay there till they push him out and lock the door, he says. And then - well he's not sure what he will do.
     There doesn't appear to be a way to stop them. But I, for one, want them to know that I'm ashamed of them. I'm embarrassed to be part of a city that has no respect for the people who made it strong. At 90, Jimmy works for a living. He asked nothing more than to keep on working until he died.
     Shame on the clever little bureaucrats. Shame on the city council that is undoubtedly behind the plot. Shame on the newspaper across the street that is not taking them to task.

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