“They lied,” is what owner Mike Braxton says about comments made about his rental property during the City Council July 11. He says he will address those “lies” with litigation.
His apartment building at 1203 Rusbo was on a list of properties recommended for condemnation by Planning and Zoning Director Shontrell Roque if they are not repaired and brought up to code.
Among the photos was one of a room with mattresses, a portable heater and a large amount of debris on the floor. During a visit to the complex Monday afternoon, Braxton said that apartment is not inhabited but is one scheduled for remodeling. He says former tenants left the debris on the floor when they were told to move out. It will be used as a storage room when the complex is remodeled by contractor Glen Martin.
A “hot” utility box on the back of the building where tenants, unknown to him, were allegedly stealing electricity, has been replaced with new boxes that have locked panels to prevent illegal use of electricity. They cost $1,500. He says two bad tenants allegedly stole the electricity from another line but they are in jail now. He says law enforcement were reluctant to take action to charge them but finally did so.
As for a clogged sewer outside, he says former tenants put used Pampers in it but they are now gone and the line has been cleaned out. It was also overrun because of a heavy rain. Those tenants piled trash and debris behind the building and Braxton plans to address that when remodeling begins.
A relatively new HVAC system is on the second floor and clean compressor units are outside. The air conditioning to an apartment with an open window is being repaired. Braxton was anxious to show unoccupied apartments that are mostly free of debris with only the telltale signs of the former tenants remaining. Kitchens seem in tact with working appliances.
Marquis Proctor and James Kirkland are tenants who have both lived there for three years. They were anxious to open their residences to show their living conditions that not nearly as bad as Braxton says were described by Roque. Neither had complaints and praised Braxton as a considerate landlord.
Braxton says the problem tenants lived there rent-free for two years during the pandemic because he could not evict them. The trouble began when they were told to move.
But Braxton believes comments about him at the City Council meeting were misdirected because of a vendetta he says Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. has against him. Braxton has two suits against the City.
One suit he describes as a violation of his First Amendment rights “because I voted for a white person.” Braxton’s reference is to his support of former Mayor Lee Posey for whom he worked as the public works director. He was also a supporter of Posey in his campaign for mayor against Williams.
The second is a worker’s compensation suit about Braxton’s injury that occurred while he was public works director. Braxton said he still draws a worker’s compensation check which he believes angers Williams.
He is considering a new suit against the City. He believes Roque was acting at Williams’s direction. He is considering a suit against Councilperson Rosemary Eli who he believes made inflammatory remarks during the July 11 meeting.
“It’s all a personal vendetta,” Braxton said. “But it will be fixed by my lawyer.”