Transcript of A Highly Manipulative Call With a Government Official

I Thought I Was Leaving a Message.

For the recording of this call, see:

Note also that I called 914-670-3005, Mayor Ron Belmont’s Number, not Kerry Marrano’s number, which is 914-670-3009, or the general office number, which is 914-670-3000


Kerry Marrano (KM):

Karsten E. Braaten (KEB):

KM: Mayor’s Office

KEB: Hi, is Mayor Belmont available?

KM: I’m sorry he’s out of the office at the moment, can I help you?

KEB: Um, I guess I can just leave a message?

KM: Sure!

KEB: This is Karsten at 403 Columbus … I’m just following up on a conversation we had about two weeks ago I think…

KM: Ok…. This is about the, is there still the smell in your neighborhood?

KEB: Yep, still the smell

KM: And you think it’s your neighbor smoking?

KEB: Yep. If you want to mention something to him: Apparently there have been legal cases won in other jurisdictions around the concept of a right to quiet enjoyment…

KM: Um-hmmm

KEB: … I believe is the term. I have no idea how this jurisdiction feels about such things, but that has happened elsewhere at the very least.


KM: Okay, I’m just writing this down…. Okay, and so you’re watching sit on his porch and smoke cigarettes and it comes into your home? Is that the problem?

KEB: Well, I saw him 2 weeks ago smoking on his porch, so that confirms that there’s a smoker there.

KM: Right, I don’t know if you’re going to do anything, because I think people are allowed to smoke on their property.

KEB: Well, like I said, there’s that right to quiet enjoyment thing, which is a phrase you hear in housing law a fair bit

KM: Right, right, so you mean like if my neighbor was smoking I could sue him and so that he stopped smoking?

KEB: Well, if their smoking was coming into your house and interfering with your right to use your own property… is what the idea is


KM: Even if it’s outside, because, like, outside

KEB: I don’t know if it makes a difference if it’s from outside, inside, or what the details of that might be.

KM: Right… but this is a private residence, suing another private residence, it’s not a municipality suing…

KEB: That’s what the couple of cases that I found

KM: Private, private…

KEB: So one of my questions is… I don’t really have enough money to wage a long lawsuit…


KEB: … and I don’t have that much time anyway. I mean my house is going to get foreclosed on in a few months here if I can’t rent it… but I’m just making the point that, that seems to be a point of law in some places, as far as I can tell

KM: Yeah, so you’re going to try to sue, is that it, you’re going to try to sue your neighbor?

KEB: No, I don’t think that’s possible, like I said, my house is going to get foreclosed on in a few months … so, that’s why I was asking the mayor whether the city could help me around that concept…


KM: Like, you want the city to sue your neighbor?

KEB: Well, that probably would take too long anyway…

KM: Yeah, I don’t think they could do that, I don’t think that would be…


KEB: I’m hoping there’s some other way that right can be enforced besides going to the courts and through any long and expensive legal process…

KM: Right, right…

KEB: This has been going on for a year and half…

KM: How did you want the town to help you?

KEB: Well, that’s what I was asking, whether he could help in any way, and last we talked, he said he was going to check with his lawyers and building department and see if there was anything there. That’s what I was trying to follow up on.


KM: Uh-ahh…

KM: Ok, well, alright, well, I guess…. I see… okay… um… well, you know what, I will leave the message for him, and if he has gotten any information I’ll tell him that you’re going to call back. Okay?

KEB: Umm….. You want me to call back again?

KM: No, no, I’ll leave the message for him, he’s out of the office, and I’ll just leave a message that if he has gotten any information, to please give you a call back.

KEB: I’ll appreciate it if you would let me know one way or the other, since it’s been difficult to contact him in the past, if he could even just leave me a message….

KM: Ok, give me your phone number…

KEB: 914.202.5673

KM: Okay…. Following up on smoker in his neighborhood.


KM: Did you try talking to your neighbor.

KEB: I haven’t tried to talk to them yet, so…

KM: Oh, maybe that would be a good way to go…

KEB: Well, yeah, I’m trying to figure out how best to do that

KM: Yeah, that would avoid the whole thing! Just go up and say, “Pardon me, would you mind…”

KEB: Smoking is extremely addictive so I doubt that just asking is going to do much, but I’ll certainly try…

KM: No, no, asking… yeah! That might work! Ya’ know! Just say that yer….

KEB: Yeah, I’ve been waiting on that for two reasons. One is that it’s not as obvious throughout the whole neighborhood as it is in the winter; but also, I’m not very good at that kind of thing, frankly, and I’ve also been trying to figure out just what exactly, you know, my legal and civil right, whatever, position actually is, to see whether there’s actually anything I can do…

KM: Do you have access to a computer?

KEB: <laugh>

KM: Yeah, maybe again, do like a random google search on what your rights are…

KEB: Well, that’s how I found these cases around this right to quiet enjoyment


KM: Right, but that just is your … your remedy would be then to file suit, but you don’t want to do that….

KEB: Well, that’s not really an option for me…

KM: Right, so then I guess secondarily let’s go to the next best option, which might be to maybe draft a letter to your neighbor?

KEB: Ahhh… .<laugh>.. We’ll see… I’m trying to decide between calling them and actually walking over there….

KM: Yeah…

KEB: I’m not sure which would be more effective…

KM: Why don’t you call… Yeah…

KEB: But.. I’m also…

KM: Sometimes people respond, ya know, neighborly… just to be neighborly… and say, ya’ know…


KEB: Part of the problem, to be blunt about it, like I said, I’m not very good at that kind of thing.. talking to strangers… but also the smoking, while it doesn’t completely knock me out in the summer it’s not as bad as in the winter it still makes me sick and messes up my schedule and makes it impossible to actually get much done, so it’s been difficult for me to be really fully awake and alert, like, during the day, when they’re actually smoking…


KM: <mumble>… It put… so the cigarette smoke… it puts you to sleep?

KEB: It makes me sick… in the winter, it literally knocks me out.. like I just can’t function… all I can do is go and lay down…

KM: This is … is it somebody who is in your building?

KEB: This is a residential neighborhood…

KM: Oh, so how does it get into your house in the winter?

KEB: Well, in the winter you can smell it from blocks away, but it blows over… actually even yesterday I walked out and I could smell it just on my front walkway…


KM: But in the winter, your windows are closed, right?

KEB: I keep the windows closed in the summer too, it’s not coming in that way, it’s coming in through all of the little holes and gaps that all houses have that let air in and out.

KM: Oooo kkkk, alright…

KEB: At least it would seem that way… so….


KM: Hmmm…. Well, it seems like you have a challenge then, maybe just ah.. yes… you could maybe speak to them about perhaps smoking in a different area of their house, maybe putting a fan so that it doesn’t come into your general vicinity.

KEB: I don’t think you understand the magnitude of the problem <laugh>

KM: Ahh, ok..


KEB: It’s not… they might be able to get a really heavy duty air filter or something to clear it out…

KM: Yeah…. Yeah…

KEB: But unless they change to e-cigarettes or something… it’s not a matter of where they smoke in their house.

KM: Now this is somebody that lives right next door to you?

KEB: They’re across the street and one over.

KM: Oh, wow… and the cigarette smoke travels all that way?


KEB: Yeah, like I said, when I walk around in, like, February or March, I could smell it from blocks away, but was always strongest in front of that particular house… it was noticeably strongest in front of that house, but I walking 2 blocks north and 2 blocks south, and I walked up the hill, which is like 3–4 blocks or something and I could smell it through the whole neighborhood, when the air was cold and still…

KM: owww…. Well, ok, well, I will certainly make sure that the Mayor knows that you’re still inquiring about the smoke and what can be done…. But in the interim before he gets back to you, maybe, ya’ know, having a conversation with your neighbor might help, or a letter, you know, if you write a letter or something like that, but, I can understand if you’re hesitant to do it…

KEB: Well, like I said I wanted to try and understand my position, if I, they usually start around 4:30 or 5 or so in the afternoon, so if they do it this afternoon and I’m actually awake, um, I’ll try and ah…

KM: So are you asking the mayor to like have the police come over and speak to the neighbor through that means?

KEB: If that would be helpful…. Ah, like, whatever would work.


KM: I just don’t think that they’re breaking any law, or did you find anything in our town code? Maybe look in our town code and see if there’s anything that pertains to smoke…

KEB: I think the “right to quiet enjoyment” is a general concept everywhere, but I haven’t looked at… like I said I don’t know what this jurisdiction particularly has…

KM: Right… right… why don’t you see if there’s an opportunity to enforce it though those means… because otherwise I don’t, I’m not 100% sure what the municipal office can do to help you…

KEB: Um, hmm… ok..

KM: Ya’ know, but I’ll certainly let the mayor, ya’ know, find out… ok?

KEB: Great, I appreciate your help

KM: Sure, good luck with it.

KEB: Thanks, have a <good day>.


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