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Any and all thinking Americans are by now aware of the Trump Effect and methodology — abandon the rule of law and desecrate the U.S. Constitution. (What could go wrong?)
What might be less obvious is the insidious trickle-down of the Trump Effect on a city or a town–especially one in a flyover zone: the quasi-rural American West.
My landlord/companion/friend and caregiver and I have been royally played by the following scions of the City of Fort Collins: Natural Areas Manager Mark Sears, Real Estate Specialist Dan Gulley and hardly least of all, Assistant City Attorney Ingrid Decker.
Where to start. Perhaps, at something like the beginning. That’s when Sears called us saying he was interested in our property for the City’s Natural Areas program.
He and Gulley met with us on several occasions. They made us a substantial offer for our six acres and modular home.
Since the day of that first call, the following tortuous saga has transpired and the City has justified trashing a binding agreement to buy our property and lease back to us for our responses to their underhanded games.
Six months after what appeared to be a golden opportunity and the kind of windfall one dreams of, it is clear to us that The City of Fort Collins’ head of Natural Areas, the city’s “real estate specialist” , via its conscience-challenged attorney will do anything to avoid the underlying and problematic rule of law, obfuscating such behavior with smarmy and folksy demeanor, asserting that they “really do care,” that they have negotiated in good faith.
For at this writing, despite my efforts as a civil rights advocate to keep bad things from happening to us, City Attorney Ingrid Decker, Natural Areas Manager Mark Sears and Real Estate Specialist Dan Gulley have superbly engaged in the most insidious and vile discriminatory treatment (again, I am disabled with PTSD and a mobility impairment and property owner, my landlord and companion Jack is elderly and prone to mini-strokes), in commission of the ensuing, as principally prohibited under The Fair Housing Act i.e. Section 804 (42 USC 3604) .
Here is what this trio of pathetic overpaid cons, in all their power-tripping abusive incompetence, have done in the civil rights are:
A. In violation of the Fair Housing and Americans with Disability Acts, city personnel arbitrarily voided the full executed jointly signed, Agreement to Sell conditioned on my lease-up with my housing voucher and which set forth the terms including lease-back to me and to my companion/landlord/seller Jack whose advocate I am; a binding contract notarized and dated February 18, 2018, We contend that it remains in force by virtue of the fact that signatures rendered it binding and that per Item 20 in this contract, it could only be modified/nullified via John and Jen Henry of all parties. Yet the opposing parties i.e. Buyer in the aforementioned persons of City staff, have asserted it to have been arbitrarily rendered null and void.
Fully apprised of my disabilities yet refusing to accommodate them, this action was carried out in clear cut and prohibited retaliation for my pointing out the absence of key statutory protective clauses in our leases & the nearly exclusively city-as-landlord favoritism of every paragraph of both the leases and the agreement in force.
B. In violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act’s provisions that it is prohibited to “retaliate against, coerce, intimidate, interfere with or threaten” a disabled individual who is seeking a disability “reasonable accommodation” to rectify unequal treatment (discrimination) under the Act, (restoration of the heretofore binding agreement referenced above) going personally to my housing coordinator without notifying me or bothering to verify the viability of a draft Affidavit of Common Law Marriage I had given them, well before I had a chance to uncover certain issues that made it unlikely that we could make a case for said marriage and when the affidavit alone was itself not in force, submitted solely to informally clarify my relationship with Jack, alleging to my housing coordinator that I was committing fraud, thereby compromising my housing assistance. This unbelievably cavalier and immoral behavior has stunned me and lit a fire under my desk.
C. Seemingly for good measure, again violated the Fair Housing Act as set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, CFR, in which it is unlawful to offer to lease to someone and then withdraw that offer on any discriminatory basis as further retaliation against me for functioning as advocate for our civil rights, leaning on the City to restore the agreement including the offer to lease back our home to us–i.e. my lawful advocacy on my own behalf and on behalf of my partner and in repeatedly refusing to accept my housing assistance, or to reinstate his lease.
D.-Willfully and knowingly violated The Fair Housing Act & the Colorado Revised Statutes in re the purchase and rental of real property by refusing to amend the leases or entertain Jack’s offer to waive the landlord’s responsibility for the habitability of our home once the City owned it, and even abrogating, the real-property provisions of the Colorado Antidiscrimination Act in re the presentation to us of a clandestine second agreement both retaliatory and constituting bribery and extortion and as if the first one hadn’t existed.
E. In this new agreement, via an admirable sleight of hand and shell game, as noted, Sears still refuses to ethically operate per the state statute’s requirement that the landlord shall warranty the habitability of the premises, meaning, as everyone knows but he, evidently, that a landlord assumes responsibility for major repairs of property that would upon closing, be his and against which he would levy substantial rent from us, accepting my housing voucher of nearly $1k a month and $500.00 a month from Jack, his prospective co-tenant. That they would offer such an absurd resolution also goes to the refusal to make available clauses of the Act; driving their behavior throughout has been an increasingly phobic and discriminatory attitude toward me.
-The second agreement seems to proffer a few more perks and became the tantalizing ripe apple from a now seductive serpent indeed, for it appears to sweeten the deal. We had been perusing the Albuquerque listings, getting approved for a loan or loans, putting ourselves in touch with realtors, gluing our eyes to one richly stunning home after another in the errant lulls in our busy, hard-working daily lives.
Firstly, the new agreement stated that the City would add to the purchase amount another $15k to the $315k it had previously offered, so, it crowed exultantly from the page, if over five years we made no repairs, not even buying one sheet of plywood, we stood to receive $330,000 for a property that in ’90 began as purchase of fallow land on one credit card for $20,000 and on the other, a reconditioned modular home of $27,000.
A deal you can’t resist, yes?
But consider the following: we wouldn’t have access to this money. The so-called “new” Agreement permits the City to sequester the additional $15k as well as to take back $15k of the original offer, effectively forcing us up front to pay a damage deposit of $30k!!! to cover the warranty of habitability that places the overall condition of the property and making of structural repairs, by taking money from us. Doesn’t this seem and feel a lot like being shat upon?
Consider that in addition to the chronic headache of months of negotiation, we have two mortgages totaling $160k, credit card debt of circa $30k so that $180k was immediately gone, indeterminate capital gains tax of up to $50k, house hunting and moving expenses, and likely about $50k with which to put down earnest money, a deposit, pay closing costs, for a home inspection, get ourselves, our belongings and our dogs to New Mexico.
Money disappears like water, with a single sunny flush. Still, stunned and confused by a surface of generosity not successful in cloaking the true underhanded move the proposal was and is, perhaps we would potentially be able to make something of a sea-change for us in leaving the town without pity, this deceptively picturesque berg of the privileged in which aging rural people are marginalized into poverty and hit with the unexpected every day.
Again and again, the final offer hung in the air in front of us like Jason’s fleece. But when we looked at it more carefully, still believing the original agreement to be locked in, here is what we saw:
Ingrid Decker, a classic corporate attorney, has egged on the Natural Areas team; she has advised them to break the law ten ways from Saturday. She has used my alleged “misbehavior”–that I became concerned about the lease language and that I have from time to time reminded her of my civil rights, to justify her own. Furthermore, however these people baked this pie, the reality is and was that Sears in particular had begun to see me as a thorn in his side and thought he couldn’t live without taking $15k away from us to pair with the obvious fact that he would make back the other $15k from our rent. This, in truth, has been precisely about a phobic level of fear of me resulting in different treatment–carte blanche discrimination. He is still refusing in the new agreement to act like a landlord by using his own substantial coffers to set up a fund for repairs. When I spoke with him on the phone he said, in response to my remonstrations, “Oh no. The $30k is a non-negotiable amount to set aside for repairs. I can easily see a plumbing bill of $10 k.”
10k for a broken pipe? An underground section of our water pipe did break last year, and trenching to it and fixing it cost all of $1500.00.
What happened next is one for the books damp with the tears of the disenfranchised the world over.
Recall that Jack offered to waive the Warranty of Habitability and said he would take care of any repairs. This was rejected, Decker calling it risky, presumably because she had decided that they couldn’t trust me either. Should she, who has perpetrated mayhem and despair on two good people by violating every ethical principle in the book and pretends the Fair Housing Act doesn’t exist, fairly be called an ethical attorney.
I then crafted a Fair Housing reasonable accommodation request in the assumption that by now the City of Fort Collins Department of Natural Areas and City sycophant Decker would know better than to undercut the law any further
. My request was simple: “Your need for this outrageously high deposit is grounded in your discriminatory and attitudinal perception of me–that if you didn’t do this, I would bleed you dry with demands. You’ve used what you perceive to be problematic for you, my assertive advocacy, to try to undermine us. Offensive behavior requires offensive language to fully describe it. I continued. “If you’re fair, you’ll be left alone to collect your rent and when we vacate, the place will be the way it was when you bought it. Sears has said he doesn’t really care about the condition of the house; this is all about you protecting him by absolving him of what every landlord must do. He’s levying rent, you arrogant shill. Keep the 15k i.e. you are going to earn back in rent anyway. Use that for a $15k fund which is beyond adequate and still is more than you would levy against anyone else. Different treatment is discrimination, and you’ll be lucky if you aren’t disbarred. Don’t worry about increasing the purchase price by another $15k only to take it away. Restore the original agreement to give us $315 k for the property and lease it back to us taking my voucher, which will be increased by a new disability accommodation and Jack’s rent.” I had explained that the new agreement took us down to the point at which there was very little left–not enough to move away or to make a beginning on it.
How many times in six months can you say Fair Housing Act before the head of a pro-conservation department of a City and one of the City’s lead attorneys and its amazingly smarmy real estate agent can grasp that they need the entire Act under their belts, that it was our right to invoke it, since leasing back to us on the foregoing terms was integral to each version of this estranging hot mess??
Despite the caveats of the Fair Housing Act that it is prohibited to “retaliate, coerce, intimidate, interfere with” someone requesting a “Reasonable Accommodation,”* and despite the fact–such a small yet phenomenally important word in the “Trump Era” i.e. America’s first and we hope last banana republic phase– that it is also prohibited “to refuse to make reasonable accommodations as necessary to afford someone equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling”–that per HUD and the Department of Justice, such a request must be granted– or if it meets a certain three prong test that doesn’t apply here– an alternative accommodation negotiated, these three highly intelligent but unconscionably devious people jerked the deal again, committing retaliation, unlawful– and refusal to grant or negotiate the requested reasonable accommodation, a civil rights sin.
The ins and outs of this experience have been unnerving and painful and these people should be sued and fired. To refuse to respond to a disabled person’s request for reasonable accommodation, much less in the cavalier and arrogant way that Ingrid Decker has to mine, is “actionable.” That means, I and we can sue the rosey red asses of these staff members of a municipality that prides itself on multiculturalism, access to free neighborhood mediation, and the overall quality of life here.
Having presented themselves as down-home folks, with all of the faux sincerity of Eve’s serpent and egged on by a lawyer so in love with herself that she indubitably orgasms when she looks in the mirror, this trio has screwed us with well-honed manipulation, bribing us in dangling a succulent buy-out amount in front of us that we took them up on, executing an Agreement to Sell that got the deal rolling that they then jerked in self-justication, having led us to believe we could pay off our mortgages, credit card debt and buy a modestly lovely home in New Mexico, although the original agreement they have refused to even mention is technically still in force –then tendering an even worse plan in which they appeared to be increasing the offer, but were really reducing it, calling for an entirely obscene damage deposit of $30,000, thereby engaging in attempted extortion and grinding us into the dirt, dreams and all.
Let me play Michael Avenati for a minute and speak to them, the three fuckateers. You are all in for a very rude awakening and this is your last warning. If you don’t believe me, glue your tunnel vision to what the Act says. It says that all you had to do was offer to lease to me and then withdraw it because you want to treat me and us differently than your other tenants i.e. levy a $30k damage deposit, half of which is money you are subtracting from the offer. I’m sorry but just because you see me negatively and phobically doesn’t mean that you can make it impossible for me and my companion whose name is on the deed of what you want to buy to accept your offer on its original and fairer terms.
If I had the chance to say this to the sham of the President we have, who is now trying to convince the country that someone “implanted” like a tuft of orange hair a “spy” in his campaign– as in.via a tweet-storm of my own, “Resign, Herr Drumpf. I am responding to the fact that you brought Russians to the table to strategize your unfortunate marginal win and loss of the popular vote that got you, honky mafioso that you are…and rabid javelina boar who needs to get the Gadafy treatment,” I would.
For we don’t deserve either a lying prick in the WH or the very insidious thing that has happened to us at the hands of our city personnel; the abused and victimized in our culture have the right to rise up!!!!
Our story had begun as many American stories do, in medias res, mezzo camino nella nostra vita— in the midst of things, in the middle of the road of our lives, with an innocent enough phone call from a pleasantly deep male voice of someone who on our voice mail of the ground line in our modular home on six acres, with its snaking & luminous creek, tall cottonwoods on its banks anciently and gloriously shady in summer and gilded and glittering in autumn, said he was the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Manager and that he wanted to “chat” about acquisition of our property to conserve it and add it to the city’s substantial network of land, water, wildlife habitats and trails.
The call came in the middle of an ordinary day around here, when we were busy with various writing projects and the ongoing multitasking that comes when you have seven English Golden Retrievers that you rotate in and out of the house.
It came in the course of relentless domestic duty picking up the fine and omnipresent cream hair from our dogs blowing coat, as we took writing breaks to let them in and out of their indoor dens into the glittering Colorado day and breaks from being all things unto them with our nurturing and playing with them to work on my latest collection of my poems that appears to finally be on the horizon of Ireland’s Salmon Poetry Ltd’s 2019 docket, and Jack’s elegant long-hand production of one of a host of short stories–an oeuvre awaiting a protean typist, one who can adroitly transmit the fruit of his brow to a thumb drive and thence to publication through our imprimatur, Orfea Editions.
The voice, introducing itself as one Mark Sears, “from” the city’s Natural Areas Department, said, “We’d like to meet you and chat.”
We hope and pray that we’ll be talking to you soon, Mr. Sears, Mr. Gulley and Counselor Decker. We really do.
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