August 23, 2010

Email from homeless person in Montgomery County

Fellow Citizens,

My last communication with you was dated August 9, 2010 by snail mail.  In case some of these snail mail missed some of you,  I have attached a copy of the letter that was sent out by U.S. Mail.  It briefly explained my misfortune at the hands of the Montgomery County Government.  I want to thank each and everyone of you who have called me to express their concern with my issue. I am very appreciative and want to commend those that have taken the time to call me even though they are not in my district.   It also seems that I was not very clear about what happened to me and how I have come close to being out in the street with my now 14 year old daughter.  I am a Single Mother Resident in Montgomery County since 1992.Up until 2006 I had faith in my government and like and idiot trusted that they would act in the best interest of its citizens, I being one of them.  What a foolish naive idiot I was. 

  On around July 2006, Steve Hayes, a Montgomery County Department of Public Works employee out of the Department of Real Estate left message at my office at 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910 communicating that they were looking for temporary space  house the Ride on, MTA ticketing office, Information center,  as well as a Lounge for Metro employees while the Paul Sarbanes Regional Transportation Center was undergoing construction.   

As a result of the contact by Steve Hayes,a meeting was set up for Hayes to look at the space.  According to Mr. Hayes he communicated that the space and location of the building would meet their needs.  He further infomed me that they were considering the building at 1110 Bonifant Street, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.  On about August 13, 2006, Steve Hayes accompanied by another Montgomery County Department of Public Works employee by the name of Shri Gondhalekar made the first of many visits to my office.   

After several other visits over the course of a month by the authorities representing the Washington Metropolitan Metropolitan Transportation Authority(WMATA), Maryland Transportation Authority(MTA/MARC), The Ride on Bus Service, on September 14, 2006, Steve Hayes called me and informed me that my space at 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland had been selected from the competition because of the visibility from the street and the ability to be able to construct a handicap ramp access for the pubic accomodation portion of their requirements, and that the lease would be forthcoming no later than October 1, 2006.   

Relying on Steve Hayes who was representing the Montgomery County office of Real Estate, I gave notice to my tenant who I had been leasing space to as well as taking any advertisement I had for the lease of the property off the market.  In addition, relying on Montgomery County promise through Steve Hayes to provide me with a lease by October 1, 2006, I informed my landlord of the impending sublease agreement with the Montgomery County.    A week after the I was informed of the agreement to sublease my space, Mr. Hayes informed that the County Attorney Office  needed a copy of my lease to assure themselves that I was able to sublease to per my lease agreement with my landlord.   

During the visit to get my lease, I ask Mr. Hayes about the status of the lease, in which he answered that it was with the Montgomery County Legal Department.  After a month of not receiving the lease, I called Steve Hayes to ask him about the Lease on October 15, 2006 to which he assured me that it was forthcoming.  October 31, 2006 came and passed without incident and no doubt to say without a lease from Montgomery County.     

I continued of course to follow up with Mr. Hayes and asked him for a name in the legal department to which he informed me that everything was being handled through the department of Real Estate.  Around November 15, 2006 I again called Steve Hayes, to which he informed me that it would be ready in about 2 weeks as Shri Gondhalekar was anxious to start working on the space to meet code.  In addition in November 2006, Shri Gondhalekar and the Staff Designer for CDCI, Inc. Wilmar Hernandez(a third party contractor) visited my office to take measurements and drawings of the space in order to facilitate the renovation that Montgomery County had planned for the space.  During the visit, Mr. Gondhalekar informed me that the bathroom space upstairs was going to be converted into a handicap accessible bathroom and that an additional bathroom was going to be installed in the downstaris ares which was going to be transformed into a lounge for WMATA bus drivers. In November, 2006 When I pressed further, I was informed by Mr. Hayes that his Boss Cynthia Brenneman, the Director of the Department of Real Estate had taken him off all other projects so that he would be able to get the lease to me immediately.  Mr. Gondhalekar also assured me that Ms. Brenneman had instructed Mr. Hayes to make sure I was given a copy of the lease immediately.  As you can guess November and December came and went and I was still given the same run around.  In January 2007, Shri Gondhalekar called me to request a copy of the plat for 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.  Mr. Gondhalekar informed me that he needed the plat to be able to submit with the drawing that had been done by their contractor CDCI, Inc. for the space they were leasing from me.  I of course went to the courthouse and secured and paid for a copy of the plat and gave it to him.  In February 2007, I had still not received a lease from Montgomery County even after many unsuccessful attempts to find out the status.  Keep in mind that due to their promises I had let go of all my tenants  that had been subleasing from me which resulted in 5 months of loss of income which helped me to pay rent for the space in the building that they wanted.   

The first week in March after no response from Montgomery County Department of Real Estate, I wrote to County Executive Ike Leggett to inform of the destruction of my business by the Promises of the Department of Real Estate, The Department of Public Works and and the County Attorneys Office.  After 30 days in which I received no response from the County Executive, I again wrote to the Executive, demanding a response before starting litigation, to which I finally got a response on April, 19, 2007 from Al Rosdieh per the instrucion of the County Executve Ike Leggett.  Mr. Roshdieh, then Acting Director of Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation, wrote me to say that a lease was not forthcoming because I had gotten in trouble with my lease.  Mr. Rosdieh apologized for not informing me earlier on their decison to go back on their promise and intent.  You are just now finding out after string me on since September that you all of a sudden discover that you will not be leasing from me?  or did you find out that you could interfere with a busienss relationship and contract for the space and force me out.  Everyone with even the smallest level of intelligence knew their intent and the game that was being played.  I blame myself for not knowing that my goverment could be this distructive to another human being.  It might have been more humane for them to just put a bullet in my head and take the space.  I think about the pain, humiliation, and financial distruction that I have endured for the past four years at the hands of my government; the Montgomery County Government, The office of the County Executive, and the Office of the County Attorney, and the Montgomery County Circuit Court.  If I took the cowards out like they did, I would be teaching my child that when a bully meets you in the play ground, you should not fight back.  When someone pulls a gun on you, you are suppose to give up and let them take your life without fighting back.  I would be teaching my child that at the first sign of failure, you are suppose to give up without trying.  

You may ask the question why were they going through all these if they had no intention of renting from me?  Well the answer is that they wanted the space but they did not want to rent the space from me.  They wanted to rent the space from the two white men who were my landlord.  They had no intention of trusting this African American Woman, who happens to be a single mother, who had mortgage her house to be able to get acquire the space in order to start her real estate brokerage firm which was in infancy at the time that I ran into the Montgomery County Government. They had been saying all along that they were not going to rent the space, but time has made a liar out of them.  They are now leasing the space from the same two gentlemen that I mentioned above.  The question a thinking person would ask would be to find out when they signed the lease and who they used for the drawings of the plan for the space.  This would further proof that we dealing with a very dishonest goverment.  I would even venture that the MAFIA organizaiton is more humane to people whose business they are interested in robbing and destroying.  

If they wanted to do the right thing, they could have bought out my lease and taken over the entire space, they could have shared the space with me which was the original intent through Mr. Hayes and Mr. Gondhalekar. Their sole intent was to get me in trouble financially so that I would be thrown out and they would take over the space free and clear without any obligations to me.  They forget that eventhough they are the government, it does not give them license to bankrupt and operate in a deceptive fashion to destroy and business and discriminate against the business owner.  I thought these are things that happen in dictatorships, not in the United States of America, not in psuedo liberal Montgomery County.    

As of today, I have not heard from any one on the Montgomery Council, or the County Executive's office.  I have not even heard from those who supposedly represent me on the Montgomery County Council.  None of my correspondence has been answered; no expresssion of sympathy extended.  But this year, this same shameless people are back on the campaign trail hunting for votes so that they can come back into office and continue to abuse the citizens of this County.  They act as though we have no choices.  Many of you have express the fact that you feel that you do not have a chance in Montgomery County to win this year.  I say take heart, there are more of me who do not know how to fight big government or how to express the wrong that their government has done to them.  These are the people that will give you the margin you need to win.  The vote of the invisible constituent that have no voice and feel that their needs are not represented will be the one that will give you the edge in getting your message out.  

Renee Okon

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