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News Link • New York

Even building code enforcement is too much power for government

•, By Joe Jarvis

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.

According to the lawsuit:

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.

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