Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Who needs laws when you just know someone 'crossed a line'?

In Marlboro, Massachusetts, a retired chemist named Victor Deeb had the misfortune to call the fire department when his air conditioner burst into flames.

I say "misfortune" because, when the authorities arrived, they discovered that, not surprisingly, a chemist keeps a chemistry laboratory in his home.

And they freaked.

Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro’s code enforcement officer, said Mr. Deeb was doing scientific research and development in a residential area, which is a violation of zoning laws.

“It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood,” she said. “This is Mr. Deeb’s hobby. He’s still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. … There are regulations about how much you’re supposed to have, how it’s detained, how it’s disposed of.”

There probably are regulations about keeping and disposing of chemicals -- there are rules about almost everything these days. But Ms. Wilderman cites not a single violation other than petty zoning infractions, and Mr. Deeb has been charged with no crime. If Ms. Wilderman is somewhat unfamiliar with the regulations, she might want to consult Mr. Deeb, who has patents pending and is likely more familar with the applicable rules for keeping and disposing of chemicals than are the city's employees.

For now, Mr. Deeb is reportedly happy to be able to return home, after being forced from his dwelling for three days while the authorities trucked off his laboratory equipment and supplies for disposal -- presumably without compensation. Actually, the disposal process might pose a real risk, since Mr. Deeb has proven himself capable of handling the chemicals without mishap while the authorites are an unknown quantity. Fortunately, there was nothing especially hazardous among supplies to excite concern.

None of the materials found at 81 Fremont St. posed a radiological or biological risk, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. No mercury or poison was found. Some of the compounds are potentially explosive, but no more dangerous than typical household cleaning products.

"No more dangerous than typical household cleaning products"? Uh huh. And no citations for regulatory infractions. So Ms. Wilderman and company are protecting the people from nonexistent risks by enforcing rules that may or may not have been violated, if officials can ever figure them out.

Yeah. Somebody "crossed a line somewhere," but it wasn't Mr. Deeb.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is typical Massachusetts stuff.
And it is heinous.

But until the people of Mass. stand up and bitch, it will continue.

Wait until they start taking kids away from their parents because the kids are too fat, or skinny.

THAT will be something to see.

August 14, 2008 9:16 AM  
Anonymous M Deeb said...

I am the daughter of Victor Deeb and what they did and took from my father is not only unfair but devastating to an old man whose life for the last 40 years has been chemistry. They not only took all of his chemicals (which he used in his research for non-toxic sealants for baby food jars) but 20 years of notes that were valuable only to him. Now his research notes have magically disappeared into thin air. Can someone tell me where the justice is in that?

August 14, 2008 3:23 PM  
Blogger V M Deeb said...

The city of Marlborough, Ma. is hiding behind Sovereign Immunity
So in essence City employees can enter my home, to put out a fire, violate my civil rights, and steel my intellectual property without any consequence, is this the law in the USA ? Help please

November 25, 2008 12:48 PM  

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