New York building inspector Dennis Burkart hates Asians.
He really hasn’t made a secret of it. He thinks Asian construction companies caused his own company to go out of business by undercutting his prices.
And he hates one Asian builder in particular. That’s because Eric Hu filed a lawsuit against Burkart in 2011 alleging that his enforcement of building codes was racist.
It could also have to do with the fact that one of Burkart’s colleagues, Dabusco, was sentenced to prison after Hu alleged extortion. Dabusco was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Burkart has not been shy in voicing his feelings about Asians and Hu. While inspecting construction worksites, Burkart has been observed harassing, belittling, and threatening Asian workers. He has been overheard calling Hu “a rat” for reporting Dabusco to the FBI, as well as bragging about his plans to “shut down every one of Hu’s jobsites around the city.”
According to other DOB inspectors, Burkart even has a picture of Hu on his wall. It is an open secret within the City’s construction community that a jobsite that involves Hu will be shut down by DOB inspectors.
Burkart goes out of his way to issue stop-work orders and code violations to Hu, his companies, and any worksites that hire him. The agency is typically complaint-driven, meaning they don’t usually investigate unless they receive a tip.
Plus Hu isn’t even on Burkart’s usual beat. Burkart has to go out of his way to visit his worksites, and sometimes does so on his own time, while off the clock. Plus he issues violations outside his area of expertise–concrete.
Clearly, this has affected Hu’s business. People know that this city inspector has it out for him, so they avoid hiring him so that their projects won’t be delayed.
Plus Hu is now dealing with lawsuits against him for breach of contract. He can’t finish on time when Burkart keeps issuing stop-work orders for no good reason.
But the courts just ruled that because Burkart hasn’t completely driven Hu out of business, his Due Process claims can’t go forward.
Apparently, Hu has to wait until this city official uses his government power to put Hu on the streets before he can claim violations of his rights.
The courts did allow the Equal Protection claims alleging discrimination against all Asians to go forward.
But this is the entire reason you cannot trust the government with the tiniest bit of power.
Whether it is one psycho on a power trip or all of Congress protecting an industry, the government gets to pick the winners and the losers.
This case is especially egregious, and still Hu has faced an uphill battle since 2011 to try to get some semblance of justice.
Burkart’s colleague even hit Hu with a car in 2011, while Burkart was in the passenger seat. This was shortly after Hu’s first lawsuit against Burkart began.
And yet Burkart is still on the job. Imagine how many smaller injustices go on every day, throughout every town in America because the government claims monopoly power over building inspection or any number of code and ordinance violations.
We can marvel at how people like Stalin and Mao came to power, but the truth is there are tiny tyrants everywhere, just itching to grab their slice of the power pie.
And that’s why you need free association, the ability to walk away when you are dealing with bad people. Unfortunately, the way the government operates, you cannot simply disengage, you can’t opt out of their “services.”
But even the tiniest bit of power attracts the worst type of people.