Ah, it sounds like a cruel April Fool's Day joke -- but it's not.
Today's lead story in the Herald-Sun, courtesy of Ray Gronberg: Landlords owe about $1.2 million in back-penalties for code violations and inspections issues, and for the unpaid costs of demolishing condemned properties. Most of those funds are more than one year past due.
Adding insult to injury, to quote the H-S:
The feeling in City Hall has been that "there isn't an incentive for the city to prioritize the collection since 100 percent goes to the schools," Bonfield acknowledged.
Of course, that makes perfect sense! Why would the City of Durham spend time on something that benefits the schools? That's, like, a completely different government agency! I mean, this is Durham. Why should we be bothering to help schools in some place called Durham?
On the plus side, it's good to see city manager Tom Bonfield -- whose time in the city's chief executive role began after this was already a problem -- treating this as an opportunity for change. Still, the problem with skeletons in the closet is, you never know how many more there are once you've pulled one out.
In other news:
- Speaking of troubled landlords, five of James "Fireball" White's apartments off of Boone St. in NECD may be demolished if a bankruptcy judge overseeing the restructuring of White's Haskell Properties consents. Meanwhile, White's largest creditor, one-time son-in-law (and recently-paralyzed) Durhamite and former NBA star Rodney Rogers is asking to have Haskell liquidated, not restructured. (H-S)
- The N&O profiles John Dailey, the new Duke police chief; he returns to the university, where he spent eight years after college (plus high school summers as a security guard), after about eight years at NC Central as their assistant chief. (N&O)
- Ongoing school searches continue to turn up weapons in DPS schools; this time, a powerful BB gun at Githens, after finds at Hillside, Carrington, and Eno Valley. (H-S)
- NCCU's team came in second in an academic competition for historically black colleges and universities held in Orlando. (H-S)