Werner Baumgartner, the city's only officially designated historian to date, goes to court again tomorrow for another hearing in a long series that has been running for at least two years, since a bogus 911 caller reported a dead body in Baumgartner's basement. The caller has never been identified. The charges -- all relating to building code violations against Baumgartner's home -- also carry jail terms.
Not unlike most historians Baumgartner is a frequent outspoken critic of developers, builders and City officials. He has racked up dozens of summonses for violations for infractions ranging from not mowing his lawn in a timely fashion and cracks in his sidewalk or driveway to not placing a railing on his porch. The fines, at $1250 a piece carry possible jail sentences of 30 days each. Municipal Court Judge Mark Apostolou sent the historian to jail twice before, once for a long weekend and later for a 30-day sentence during which the inmates gave Baumgartner the nickname "Porch".
At one time Baumgartner had 19 fresh summonses. Code officials were reportedly on the property again yesterday.
The historian says any money he would have earmarked for making improvements is going to pay the fines to keep him out of jail. In this spiraling downward slide, the fines appear to be winning.