Monday, June 18, 2018

County faulted for razing soldier home

MIAMI — A federal judge has slammed Miami-Dade County for refusing to delay demolition of a soldier's home while he trained in California for deployment to the Middle East.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that the house was razed in 2011 after Army Staff Sgt. Jose Jimenez didn't heed several county requests to fix building code violations. Jimenez had repeatedly asked for extensions to fix the problems while he training or on a mission. At one point, his commanding officer also weighed in, asking to officials to stay the hearing 90 days while Jimenez was conducting training on how to defuse improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

U.S. Judge Robert Scola Jr. sided last week with the father of four, scheduling a September trial to decide what the county owes Jimenez. But he urged both sides to first attempt a settlement. At issue is a World War II-era law, reinstated in 2003, that allows for the temporary suspension of legal or administrative proceedings that could affect active duty military members' civil rights.

"While it is possible that the Jimenezes employed dilatory tactics to avoid remedying the violations on their property and complying with the applicable building ordinances," Scola wrote, "their behavior does not negate the (county's) failure to stay the proceedings."

The county argued that Jimenez was in the Army Reserves when it issued the violations. But Scola ruled that since Jimenez was on active duty when he requested the stay, he should have been protected.

County officials declined to discuss the case with the Herald, citing the ongoing litigation. But in court filings, Miami-Dade representatives said they'd given Jimenez more than enough time to fix the violations between deployments.

The family rented out seven rooms in two houses without permission. Among the problems with their home that sparked the initial code enforcement citations: deteriorating porch beams and a deteriorated roof, as well as a damaged door and an uncovered electrical junction box.

Jimenez says he tried to fix the initial problems but didn't have the money to take out the necessary construction permits. Then he was sent to a Wisconsin training base and fined for not completing the work. Meanwhile, inspectors reviewed the house more closely and ordered more improvements, including covering exposed wiring and other hazards. After more failed negotiations over the home, the family's power was shut off. Eventually, Jimenez hired an engineer and an architect to make the necessary changes, but the county said the problems were so extensive it would be better to start from scratch.

Jimenez said the county targeted his family while ignoring other similar houses in the neighborhood. His attorney wants the city to drop all liens, suspend code enforcement activities and pay $395,000 in 20 days. In exchange, the family would agree to sell the property where the house was demolished, as well as two other neighboring homes they own.

Comments
Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Protests were held on both ends of Pinellas County on Monday in opposition to the Trump administrationís policy of separating children from their parents as they seek asylum at the U.S. border."Children are not pawns," "No kids in cages" and "I would...
Updated: 1 hour ago
XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

The last words posted to XXXTentacion's Instagram Stories on Monday afternoon: "planning a charity event for this weekend Florida!"Whatever it was, it would have been huge. The 20-year-old singer-rapper was among the biggest — and most controve...
Updated: 1 hour ago
All 5 first ladies speak out on family separations at border

All 5 first ladies speak out on family separations at border

All 5 first ladies speak out on family separations at border in an unusual united political front expressing horror at children taken from parents
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 10:45 p.m. EDT

AP Top News at 10:45 p.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 19

James After 5: The museum is open from 5 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday, featuring $5 admission. Tonight, former Tampa Bay Times movie critic Steve Persall will introduce a screening of Stagecoach (1939). 5 p.m., James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, 15...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Recording of crying children at border adds to outrage

Recording of crying children at border adds to outrage

An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking cries of small Spanish-speaking children being processed by U.S. officials took center stage Monday in the uproar over the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Unapologetic Trump digs in on immigration despite outrage

Unapologetic Trump digs in on immigration despite outrage

President Donald Trump is defending his administration's border-protection policies in the face of rising national outrage
Updated: 1 hour ago
Upping ante, Trump threatens new tariffs on Chinese imports

Upping ante, Trump threatens new tariffs on Chinese imports

President Donald Trump is directing the U.S. Trade Representative to prepare new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports as the nations move closer to a potential trade war
Updated: 2 hours ago
Dodgers LHP Kershaw eyes return after throwing sim game

Dodgers LHP Kershaw eyes return after throwing sim game

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw eyes return after throwing simulated game
Updated: 2 hours ago