Government bureaucrats can be such a pain!

I complain about bureaucrats a lot, and one of the reasons is that I was a small business owner for years and I know what it's like to deal with bureaucratic inflexibility and ineptitude, when all you're trying to do is run a business or be a small landlord. Inspectors can be a real pain in the ass.

A Philadelphia health inspector, though, recently proved to be more than just a pain in the ass for a small business. He was -- literally -- a pain in the foot, allegedly running over the foot of a neighbor who tried to prevent him from fleeing with cash stolen from the business:

A city health inspector has been arrested and charged with stealing $1,200 from a Chinese restaurant in North Philadelphia during an inspection, police said yesterday.

Clarence Morris, 33, also was charged with assaulting the restaurant owner's wife and a female witness who tried to prevent him from fleeing, officials said.

Police gave the following account:

At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Morris was inspecting the Erie Express restaurant on the 3600 block of North Broad Street when the owner's wife discovered $1,200 missing from an area not accessible to customers.

The woman told her husband, and when they confronted Morris, a tussle ensued.

Morris made it to his white Health Department-issued Jeep, and while the woman tried to pull him out of the vehicle, another woman who saw what was happening held the door open to prevent the inspector from driving off.

Still, he pulled the door shut, and when he drove away, he ran over the foot of the woman who had come to the wife's aid.


I hope this isn't an indication of the kind of people who work for the City of Brotherly Love. They're already having a problem keeping businesses from fleeing the city because of extortionately high payroll taxes, but when the bureaucrats commit strongarm robberies, you have to wonder.

It appears the city didn't do the greatest job of screening, although the inspector is being fired for having lied about a previous record:

Police radio soon broadcast an alert for the Jeep used in the robbery. Detectives later tracked down Morris, and he surrendered to Northwest Detectives late Wednesday afternoon.

Both women were treated at Temple University Hospital and released.

Morris was charged with robbery, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Morris was a probationary employee hired in April, said Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran. He was fired yesterday for lying about past criminal acts.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but Philadelphia is a city in a state of serious mismanagement.

People around here love to blame "gun availability" for the huge increase in the Philadelphia murder rate, but if guns were the reason, you'd expect similar murder rate increases in cities with similar laws. In an Inquirer op-ed titled "Guns don't kill people, Phila. does, John R. Lott compared Philadelphia to other cities (like Pittsburgh) where guns are just as available as in Philadelphia, and concluded that Philadelphia's problems have something to do with Philadelphia:

In the five years from 2001 to 2006, Philadelphia's murder rate soared more than 36 percent while nationally, the murder rate increased only 2 percent. Indeed, only two other cities in the top 40 experienced a sharper rise in murder rates, according to FBI crime statistics.

But if the cause of more murders in Philadelphia is the lack of yet more gun control, why isn't murder increasing in the rest of Pennsylvania? Pittsburgh saw just a 7 percent increase.

Why haven't murder rates gone up in the rest of the country? Should Phoenix, the city closest in size to Philadelphia, claim that its murder rate remained virtually unchanged for the last five years because of the supposed lack of new gun control? How should Dallas explain its 24 percent drop in murder?

It is not that guns are more likely to be used in Philadelphia murders, either. The proportion of murders involving guns is similar to that of other cities.

It would appear that Philadelphia's problems have something to do with Philadelphia, not the lack of more gun control coming out of Washington or Harrisburg.

Could it be that Philadelphia simply isn't doing such a great job at law enforcement?

I don't know, but if their health department is any indication, I'd say the whole city is in trouble.

posted by Eric on 07.20.07 at 08:49 PM


Eric, some 30 years ago the reverse of what you describe happened in rural Butte County, California. An agricultural inspector was called when a farmer was caught burning almond limb debris on a no-burn day, in mid-winter. The ag inspector was ordered off the property by the owner's 25 year old son. When he refused to leave, the son picked him up while sitting in his government vehicle, with a fork-lift, and put him ON the the burning debris pile.
Unfortunately, he survived. The sedan didn't.
It's too bad we don't have more people like the son of Herman Fortier.

Frank   ·  July 21, 2007 1:31 AM

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