Saturday, January 06, 2007

DC Corruption: Building Inspectors

Read this article by the Washington Examiner and find out why people hate DC. I’ll summarize: Building inspector slaps a stop-work order on a project (who’s owner is an FBI agent) and seeks a $20,000 bribe to lift it. The FBI agent records the calls and they begin an investigation on the inspector (complete with sworn affidavits and secret wire taps), but his corrupt colleagues still won’t lift the stop-work order. This is costing him $700 a day.

There are lots of frustrating aspects about the home renovation process. The cost is one of them. Everything costs more and takes longer than you expected. A lot more. That’s money that could be used doing other things that cost money like taking nice vacations, buying cool electronics equipment, frequenting Vegas brothels or paying off the World Bank debt of a small African nation.

I’m not going to talk about some of the other things that suck, like the dust. You know, the dust that gets everywhere and covers all your prized possessions in a fine layer of dust so that you live in a giant powdered doughnut. The dust that kills your CD players and won’t come off your suede jackets. No, we’ll skip that and stay talking about the money.

Big projects, in addition to being costly in terms of materials, and incompetent contractors, are also expensive because they place you in contact with the DC bureaucracy. You see, anything more than changing a light bulb in DC will probably require a permit. Actually, it will require several permits, each of which costs money, and will require you to come into contact with a building inspector. For those of you that have never met a building inspector, consider yourself lucky. After you’ve met one, you would probably come away with the impression that it would be more fun to meet a serial killer in a dark alley or get kicked in the nuts while wearing a mickey mouse costume than to meet a building inspector. Even getting an anal probe from a space alien would probably be better than meeting a building inspector. At least with an anal probe from an alien you would get the impression that the space people did what they did to you for some scientific purpose, but after meeting a building inspector you know that you’ve been anally raped for no reason other than the building inspector is an incompetent corrupt asshole. Incompetent, because if he really knew anything about construction, he would be a contractor, and corrupt because I’ve never met one that wasn’t constantly looking for a bribe and extorting people.

Now, before I get an angry email from someone who has a dad or brother that is a building inspector, let me say this. If someone in your family is a building inspector (especially in NYC or DC) then your family member is a thief. An incompetent, corrupt, extortionist and a thief. There, I said it. Now you know why uncle Billy drives a really nice car and has the nicest house in your family despite being a low-level public servant of below-average intelligence.

One of the reasons that inspectors can steal with impunity is that they have so much discretion. It’s almost impossible to do anything without having some minor technical violation. And if that’s not enough, the inspector can require you to do things that aren’t required by the building code just because they feel like it. If the building code says that hole should be 2 feet deep, the inspector can say “well, I think it needs to be 3 feet. So you can rip that stuff out, do it the way I say and call me back to re-inspect, next month, or…you can pay me to go away.” Delays cost lots of money, and so does re-doing things. Pretty soon you’re so poor that you’re walking around with no underwear like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. I probably shouldn’t have said that. I’m sure that now I’ll get a bunch of hits by people googling for pictures of Britney Spears with no panties or Paris Hilton. If that’s what you’re looking for, then here it is. (NOT WORK SAFE). And thanks to Kikimia for finding that.

Anyway, when I used to work with my dad I would see these leeches looking for a bribe all the time. The bigger the project, the bigger the bribe. Most people pay because it’s cheaper to pay these degenerates than to fight it. Remember, if you file a complaint, it will be investigate by the inspectors colleagues, and then you will still need an inspector (that is probably friends with the guy you complained about) to sign off on your work before you can finish your project. And you know that incompetent low-level bureaucrats of below-average intelligence are not known for their impartiality.

Well, this FBI agent didn’t pay. Maybe he’s new to construction, or maybe the inspector just got greedy. I mean, $20,000 is a lot of money to extort from one person. I don’t know what he needed the money for. It probably wasn’t that his kids were in a private liberal arts college like Georgetown, which is expensive. I doubt if anyone who is related to a DC building inspector (who are borderline retarded) would ever make it into a place like that. So he was probably blowing the money on coke-whores or gambling in Atlantic City—the poor person’s French Riviera. If he had stuck to extorting a couple of thousand from each person, then they probably would’ve paid to make it go away and not filed a complaint. Since it’s costing him $700 in interest costs while the DC government drags it’s feet, if the guy had asked for two thousand, instead of twenty, that would be less than a week’s interest payments. But the guy got greedy—thieves usually are.

So even though there’s tape recordings of these guys soliciting bribes and threatening to hold up this guy’s project, the stop-work order is still in place. This is DC, after all. The DCRA will take their own sweet time in deciding what to do about it. In the meantime, the other inspectors, this guy’s friends, will be “inspecting” his property and finding new things wrong with it until he goes bankrupt and decides to sell it to someone else who will be more-willing to give a bribe to someone who is more corrupt than Dick Cheney and dumber than Anna Nicole Smith. Welcome to DC!


E :) said...

And I thought it was bad here... My Dad once had an incident where the power company wouldn't connect power to the building site until construction commenced. But you got it - construction couldn't commence until power was connected to the site. This issue was resolved with a quick call to a journalist friend of mine. As for the FBI and media not being able to sort it out in DC - what a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me started. I won't incriminate myself by saying whether or not I've ever paid off an inspector. But let's just say that if I had it was because he wasn't going to pass the job without an envelope even if I'd used titanium nails.

Three years ago, a NYC Buildings Dept inspector was ringing doorbells in the neighborhood actually *looking* for stuff he could cite, like old, unfiled work, so he could hit homeowners up for a bribe to make it go away.

If he couldn't find it, he'd invent it. For instance he threatened to write up a neighbor for having an illegal apartment just because he had a fridge and a full bath in his basement. My neighbor literally threw him out the door.

Greg said...

Welcome to D.C., indeed.

JoJo said...

Wow. Makes me kind of glad to have bought in NoVA.

Melissa said...

Some thoughts:

Your house like a big powdered doughnut, should make it easy to get the cops there.

Someone in the family a building inspector = thief? Hmm. They say that about lawyers too...

K said...

Disgusting! Eutaw is known for its government corruption as well, though it's obviously on a much smaller scale! And in Eutaw you can sneak by without getting permits. Not that I would ever do such a thing. ;)

Anonymous said...

that shit was mad funny!

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Anonymous said...

In NYC midtown inspectors take bribes so landlords don't need permits.

They let a group of illegals without insurance work and endanger tenants lives. It's evil!