It was the final court date this morning in building court for non-resident slumlord Jay Johnson. He was cleared on May 29 of the 46 building code violations at 7706 N Marshfield where six children perished in a fire last September.
This morning’s hearing was to administer ‘final settlement’ and levy any other fines. The court levied a mere $5,000.00 fine on Johnson and stated his building is fully compliant with city code. In order to rent the apartment, Johnson now needs to apply and receive permission from the city.
Although the hearing was held in Judge Daniel Lynch’s courtroom, Judge Sebastian Patti presided. The excerpt from the News Star article states “Frydland said that the city will try at the very least to recover some of the costs it has incurred from inspections and court time.”
While the article states Johnson and “the buildings other owners have been fined $2,500 for each day the building has not been in compliance with the city’s building code since last September’s post-fire inspection” we don't know what that amount was. The additional settlement sum of $5,000 seems rather minute in comparison to the number of violations cited after the fatal fire. As a neighbor said 'another slumlord gets a slap on the hand'.
There was no representation by the alderman’s office this morning. Apparently there were no additional problems foreseen to deal with by that entity.
Ironic, Judge Patti presided in the very long building court case against the previous owner/developer of this building. Marek Galen received a similar slap on the hand with a plea bargain from $50,000 to $10,000 and 7 days in jail. To my knowledge, no one died in this building.
It’s also ironic that the city apparently felt it had fined Galen sufficiently to recover inspection and court costs and dropped the ball on the follow-up portion on the escrow set aside to 'get it up to code' - as well as ensuring one of the two required entities entered the violations where they could be discovered by buyers attorneys.
But I digress, the city knows what’s best for everyone – even after the fact, after the crimes have been committed, as long as they recoup their costs!
Sorry readers, all 46 violations could not have been caused by the fire department. They were most likely caused by a negligent landlord blaming his tenants.