June 12, 2008

City to Begin Issuing Tickets For Non-Compliance in Junk Car Cases

More than 90 days after the first public hearings were held by the City of Memphis regarding public health and safety hazards at five city residences, significant progress is not being seen in cleaning up the problem areas.

That was the message delivered at the June 5th meeting of the Memphis City Council.

During the citizen participation portion of the meeting Jim McClintic asked what the citys plans were for following through with the legal process that started at the March public hearings. McClintic noted he and other community members didnt see sufficient progress being made in alleviating the problems cited more than 90 days ago.

Alderman James Parker indicated that the city was prepared to move forward with police action.

We have given them every opportunity to remedy the problems, Parker stated. Some of these people just dont get it.

City Attorney David Peppard indicated that the police department has followed the legal process and allowed sufficient time to remedy the issues. If properties remain in non-compliance with city ordinances, he felt it was within the officers discretion to begin issuing tickets.

The city has the legal right to write a ticket every day the property is in non-compliance, Peppard noted. In theory each ticket comes with a fine of up to $500.

Parker stated he and Alderman Lucas Remley, the citys two police commissioners, had met with the officers and discussed the issue.

We realize these five sites are not the only areas not in compliance, Parker stated. However, we agreed we want to see these first cases through to completion before beginning any new investigations. Lets make it through the first one, determine the legal results and then move forward.

Peppard told the council he was confident the city had prosecutable cases in all these instances.

McClintic pointed out that dealers were paying as much as $200 for junk vehicles, noting that should be positive incentive to remove the health hazards.

However the city agreed it may take punitive action to truly remedy the problem.

If we have a successful prosecution, that may move a lot of things along, Peppard said.

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