The Stranger Inside Scottville City Hall, the Stranger Inside Your Home

You may ask who this guy is pictured below and why was he glaring at this reporter after repeatedly slinging some uncomplimentary epithets my way and asking for my identity.  

Let's work backwards to find out why.  In the ten seconds before this picture was taken, this guy was shoving his own camera phone into my face space, I was only able to take the photo below after he lowered that phone and only after I asked the question;  "Aren't you a public official?", to which he answered yes, just like he did the same with my first question "Isn't this a public space?"

He asked his own question snippily:  "Who are you?", to which I replied the first time with "I don't need to answer that question." and after calling me a coward he asked again and I told him to ask Jimmy, referring to City Manager Jimmy Newkirk who was talking with a citizen at the time of this guy's outbursts.  After glancing over at Newkirk and likely getting a 'calm down' sign he lowered the camera.

I had came into the Scottville City Hall last Thursday afternoon after taking some 'file photos' of the exterior and went inside to do the same.  I took a picture of Newkirk in the main office area and the treasurer who asked if I needed help, to which I replied that I was just taking file photos-- but I had a secret motive, I wanted to take a picture of a cubicle that I noticed at the last commissioner's meeting, and was slightly surprised that it was being occupied by this stranger, who catapulted himself out of it when he saw my phone pointed towards it just after I snapped this one:

If you look closely, you can see a name on this cubicle along with an official title underneath "Steve Spangler, zoning/rentals".  I had saw this before the aforementioned commission meeting and picked up an official looking business card with the same information and phone numbers.  The City of Scottville spent some money not only to make these business cards, but also to set up everything at the cubicle.  

You also notice the "SAFEbuilt" logo, indicating that Mr. Spangler has an allegiance towards a company that recently was contracted by the city to provide rental inspection services in May.  The cost of this contracted service (including code enforcement) was to be $65,000.  The city website reflects that Spangler is part of the city's administrative staff:

Is he a contractor, a city official, or both?  Hard to say what he is, we'll check that out later, but when SAFEbuilt was looking for somebody to take the Scottville beat after they got the contract back in May, they advertised it nationally:

The person they eventually settled on to go into Scottville homes appears to come from Florida.  The Ludington Torch was unable to find any "Steve Spangler" fitting this one's demographics in Michigan but found one who was originally based in Florida who has the background in building and residential inspections and had a connection to the SAFEbuilt franchise.  

What would motivate a Floridian with over a decade of certification and experience in building inspections to relocate to a small town in wintry Michigan for a modestly-paid position?  It's a good question, but one would have to think that SAFEbuilt and the city have done their own research to make sure that someone entrusted to enter people's house on the city's behalf would be above reproach.

Don't be so sure.  Two years ago, we told the tale of another Steve hired by SAFEbuilt who was contracting with Manistee at the time.  Steve Haugen in January of 2020 was a representative of Safebuilt and through them was hired by Manistee.  In the nearly two years he had been employed by the City of Manistee he oversaw the same things Steve Spangler is.  Haugen was convicted of a misdemeanor after he went into a woman's home, held her down, and tried to have intercourse with her by force.  He then was hired by SAFEbuilt and the City of Manistee to go into people's houses on authority of the government.  Shortly after our article, he quietly retired.

SAFEbuilt employees aren't well known for their good conduct, quite the reverse.  SAFEbuilt in Muskegon even has inspired the Facebook page I Hate SAFEbuilt Muskegon, where the saga of employee Kirk Briggs is related.  

As we have mentioned after the last commission meeting, the costs of rental inspections in Scottville have just been increased by over 800% to help finance the new contractor, not a new city administrator.   Steve Spangler is nothing more than a city contractor whatever they try to market him as, and here's why.

The city charter of Scottville defines city administrative officers in section 5.6, none of which includes a zoning/rental officer.  To create such office they must go through the ordinance process.  Why isn't it that surprising that city government officials that can't figure out the clear language of their charter when it comes to filling vacancies, can't understand that Steve Spangler isn't a city administrator even if they give him a furnished cubicle, business cards, and a spot on the city website that says so?

Obviously, by his affirmative answer to my question of whether he was a public official, he has been deluded into believing he is a city official-- or perhaps he knows the truth that he isn't what he seems to be.  That might come easy for him given his past, whatever that consists of.  

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  This guy is to run blocker for the CM have heard of other issues with him and residents of COS not the CM needs any help in that area...

That's the impression I got from my contact and other residents who have related similar encounters-- we have a Little Jimmy at city hall in Scottville now. 

The problem is, Big Jimmy can't unilaterally decide to create a new office and pay a salary of $56K per year (according to the SAFEbuilt ad) with likely over half of that extra as the benefits gained by being a full-time flunky of the City of Scottville.  One can do the math and find out that even when rental inspection rates skyrocket to $150 per unit per year and registration rates triple, that this office can only fund about a quarter of what it needs if there are only 120 rental units in town, the number I heard were registered before.  Where does the additional $60K come from, I'll give you a hint it's not from Big Jimmy who lives out of town on the Ludington side of Stiles Road:

The rental program makes even less sense now. Must be the water. To much salmon poop getting thru the filters.

Just another freindly face representing Scottville. Ever wonder what happens to all of the Walmart greeter rejects?

I would not allow any of these rental inspectors inside my home or rental property.  This seems like an unreasonable search to me.  Has anyone ever challenged these small governments with a constitutional violation?  According to Michigan renter law a landlord can not enter your home without permission or an emergency. 

I wonder if Steve purchased a home or inspects/searches his own rental property?

"May I come in your home and search for problems?"

"May I come in your home and inspect for problems?"

My 15 year old son thinks the inspection would be the more "intrusive" wording than a "search'. 

I feel the word "search" is more intrusive and thorough.   

Both involve someone going on a fishing expedition to find something wrong, which is usually against the law.  

I wonder if Scottville even has the legal right to conduct these inspections?  The way I am reading this information, it says that the Rental Inspection Act does not apply to a city, village, or township smaller than 10,000 people.  It then goes into how it only applies to areas under 100,000 people under certain circumstances.  But the 10K appears to be its own threshold based on this wording.

Rental_Inspection_Housing_Law_2019.pdf (

I tried to provide the flyer in the link above, but it was not showing up clean enough to read.  

It also says the tenant can refuse and if the inspection is not completed, they can not charge the landlord.  If enough people in Scottville just sent in a letter refusing the inspection, Steve's job and the wasted $65,000 might eventually disappear.  Maybe there needs to be an annual renters rights meeting in Mason County informing people of their rights.  

  AnxiousGuy  The rental is part of his work the real money will come from zoning violations which have been raise to ridiculous new highs.  Every home in COS has a violation or two so this guy will be sneaking around looking for anything he can write a infraction for.  Some people might think sneaking around on their property is something that just is not going to happen. Sure sounds like a free America, right?  Will see how it goes  because running around being a snoop sure sounds like a recipe for trouble...  I read the document I like this one from 2018...“An inspector must request and receive consent from the lessee to enter before entering a leasehold regulated by this act
to undertake an inspection.” ..

And the problem with rejecting an inspection, is that the Scottville RIO can now charge an extra $150 for a missed inspection, add the court costs of seeking an administrative warrant (which they have at another $150 or more), and so the landlord and tenant will have another $300 expense for asserting their basic civil rights and still have their home invaded by the government each year. 

Steve Spangler's attitude with me and with others I've heard from suggest that he will not be an upright public servant and I expect some serious trouble before the end of next year-- which might be a good thing, since most of the citizens of Scottville seem to be letting city hall call all the shots without a fight. 

I believe there is an unequivocal amendment to the Constitution that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures [by the government], shall not be violated [by the government], and no Warrants shall issue [by the government] but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How can anybody look at the Fourth Amendment and claim that mandated rental inspections are legal in America?    Why should tenants be singled out by the government for surveillance while homeowners get a pass-- how does that pass equal protection under the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment?  This is why I am still passionately against rental inspections eight years after they were adopted here in Ludington and lose all respect for all these tin gods at both city halls in Mason County who are wholeheartedly for this unamerican practice even after swearing their oaths of office to defend and affirm the Constitution.

A landlord and a tenant get into a contract with each other for their mutual benefit, why must the government intervene?  There have always been avenues for aggrieved tenants if the landlord doesn't fulfill his obligations, and vice versa-- that's when the government is asked to become involved by either party through the courts.  It wasn't always clean, the free market rarely is, but it worked for everyone's benefit and respected all of their natural rights.

X, you are correct about the third way municipalities can gain access and that is by a judge issuing a warrant. It doesn't matter what the tenants and landlords concerns are, it always boils down to safety and what the powers to be want. This issue has been challenged in the courts and it always boils down to Big Brothers motive for a warrant to inspect and that is the safety of the occupants. One of the main safety requirements the Governmental agencies use is the need to determine if a unit has fire safety equipment, AKA smoke detectors. It's a losing battle for freedom loving people. Who can argue against fire safety. Once in the unit the rest of the trades are open to inspection. Plumbing, Structural, Electrical and Mechanical. Many highly respected rental companies have thrown in the towel and have rolled over just to save the expense of attorney and court fees. In a previous life I had been party to these types of battles involving major apartment complexes. The phrase, "you can't fight city hall" truly applies to this situation.

Mason County DePressed
March 8, 2017


“We wanted to maintain a level of continuity between the two communities so there wasn’t confusion among the property owners,” said Rob Alway, Planning Commission chairman. “We have heard positive feedback from the City of Ludington about its program and we believe this is in the best interest of the citizens of Scottville.
“The Planning Commission has been discussing a rental inspection ordinance for the past year. We’ve wanted to wait and see how it worked out in Ludington before we proceeded.”
“The fees would cover the costs of the inspector and inspections,” Williams said. “It is likely that the city will break even on this program.”
The city already has an ordinance that allows it to require negligent property owners to maintain the exterior of their properties. Over the past three or four years, cleaning up blight has been the top goal of the City Commission. However, the city is unable to inspect the interiors of rented properties.
“Ordinances such as this are becoming common place among municipalities,” Alway said. “In addition to Ludington, we also know that the cities of Manistee and Hart also have rental inspection ordinances. We believe that this ordinance will protect Scottville from negligent landlords who have decided to leave those cities that already have ordinances in place and then turn around an buy property in Scottville because it’s not regulated. We also believe this will make our community a safer place to live, which is the most important part of this ordinance.”

I have not forgotten who pushed for this. BR


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