Occupy Activists Kicked Out of Fulton Government Building
(APN) ATLANTA — Fulton County staff and a police officer escorted two activists with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, an affiliate of the Occupy Movement, from the Fulton County Government Services Building on Industrial Boulevard, after the activists simply tried to attend a meeting involving a foreclosure case they have been working on.
On Thursday, April 11, 2013, various Fulton County officials were present to meet with Mike and Patrice Figaro regarding their situation.
Mike and Patrice Figaro invited Rob Call and Tim Franzen from OOHA to be present, in addition to members of the clergy and others.
County officials present at the meeting were Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edward (District 7); Randy Beck and Tony Phillips, Director and Assistant Director of the Department of Planning & Community Services; Wayne Wright, Code Enforcement Administrator; Thomas Harper, Code Enforcement Coordinator; Lee Peak, Assistant Director, Fulton County Community Development; and Edwards’s Chief of Staff, Deloris Baskin.
Before the meeting started, drama broke out when Baskin had Call and Franzen removed from the room
Franzen told Atlanta Progressive News that Baskin had told them, “You are with Occupy and Occupy can’t be in this meeting.”
“Why are we (OOAH) being asked to leave the meeting and other advocates are allowed to stay?” Franzen asked Baskin.
“The others are religious leaders who are allowed to stay,” was Baskin’s answer according to Franzen.
County staff and a police officer escorted them not only out of the meeting room, but insisted that Call and Franzen leave the property, including the building and the parking lot of the Fulton County Governmental Service Center.
The police officer told them they would be arrested if they remained in the building or anywhere on the property.
APN inquired with Edwards’s office as to why Call and Franzen were escorted off the property. Baskin told APN that only people who gave their names prior to the meeting were allowed in the meeting.
This is not true, however, because the other people Figaro invited did not give their names to the Commissioner.
Baskin did not answer further questions from APN and hung up the phone.
“In my years as an advocate for justice, I have never felt so violated and made to feel like such a criminal as I have today,” Franzen told APN.
THE FIGAROS’ STORY
While living in California, Mr. Figaro commissioned John Wieland Homes to build a fully handicap accessible home for his wife, Patrice. He saved his money and paid in full for the new home, according to Figaro.
His home nightmare began in 2006 when he moved to Atlanta and into what he thought was their new dream home. The family soon realized they had wiring problems as appliance after appliance blew out.
After they contacted the power company, the fire department turned off the electricity due to hazards created by faulty wiring, according to Figaro.
Fulton County contacted Wieland to come out and fix the problems. A county representative and a Wieland representative walked through the house and saw the many wiring problems. They both walked away and did nothing, Figaro claims.
Figaro called the insurance company, who said the house was still under warranty and that Wieland was responsible for the problems.
Wieland did not fix the problems and was never held responsible for the many problems, according to Figaro.
The Figaro family boiled water for four years because they could not use the hot water heater, and other appliances because of the faulty wiring. They basically lived like people camping out in their home.
Figaro later learned that John Wieland Homes had not been approved for the electrical permit they needed to build the house but that they wired the house anyway and turned on the power, according to Figaro.
In 2010, Figaro contacted Commissioner Edwards regarding the building permit violations and faulty wiring that made his home unlivable. The Commissioner promised an investigation, which Figaro says never happened.
Figaro took out equity on the house in order to rent a safe house until a settlement with John Wieland Homes
“I was stuck with a house I had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for, that was dangerous to live in because of the fraud committed by John Wieland Homes. We had to move from our house that should have been condemned from the start,” Figaro said.
The Figaro family reached out to many agencies and organizations, including Mayor Kasim Reed’s office, the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Office of Consumers Protection & Affairs; and State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), according to Figaro.
On September 04, 2012, Figaro lost his home in a foreclosure auction.
Figaro finally turned in desperation to OOHA for help. Through community support and media exposure, OOHA has saved many foreclosed homes for homeowners in the Metro Atlanta area, when all other resources have failed homeowners, as previously reported by APN.
With the removal of OOHA members from last week’s meeting with Fulton County officials, the meeting continued with Mr. Figaro presenting his documents.
Figaro told APN that Commissioner Edwards admitted there was fraudulent activity as far as someone besides the City of Atlanta had signed the seal [certificate to occupy the house] or else the house would not have passed inspection. He again promised a formal investigation which would take up to sixty days.
“The Figaros are caught in a catch 22 situation because the house was built without an electrical permit and the wiring is messed up and not under code. The flip side is they could not get anyone else to repair it because the house was built without a permit,” Call explained.
“The house has been condemned by everyone but the County… All the Figaros need from Fulton County is to acknowledge that there were errors in the paperwork and the house should not have been built. This would help the Figaros to get some justice and compensation for all their troubles,” Call said.