Improved building-code enforcement sought

TRINIDAD — The city council here is discussing proposed local building-code changes aimed at providing better enforcement tools to ensure buildings aren’t allowed to fall into disrepair.

Les Downs, city attorney, said the proposed changes would, in part, add six paragraphs to the existing codes, making them more specific to Trinidad’s situation and not as focused on the updated 2009 International Building Codes (IBC) that council adopted last year. Downs said the intent of the changes is to give Chris Kelley, city building inspector, more enforcement authority. Downs said the proposed changes spell out what Kelley does and what authority he has as a building inspector. Kelley and other staff members of the building inspector’s office drafted the changes.

Kelley said his department had made the changes on the recommendation of the council to strengthen the codes for abandoned and non-used buildings. He said he and his staff had used code examples from seven other municipalities in coming up with the proposed changes.

Kelley said the big change is in the “Notice of Order,” which is the citation he sends to building owners when an inspection reveals they’re not in compliance with city codes, and the building may be a threat to people’s life and safety. Currently, the city has little recourse if a building owner doesn’t respond to a Notice of Order, except to send another notice.

“We’re only going to send you two notices from now on,” he said. “You get one, and if you don’t respond we’ll send you a final one. You have 30 days to respond, and if you don’t respond we’re going to step in and either tear it down or repair it, one of the two.”

Kelley said that was better than the present situation, where one Notice of Order was followed a few months later by another, and then by a third. He said the end result of that process was that years could pass with nothing done to repair a building whose owner received the Notices of Order.

Council member Linda Velasquez asked who would be responsible for paying for the repair of derelict buildings.

Kelley said he thought the city would pay for the repairs of a site owned by an absentee or otherwise non-responsive owner. He said the updated codes would enable the city to not only add the repair costs to the owner’s tax lien, as it does now but would also make possible a court filing against the owner of the record in order to recover the city’s repair costs. He said that right now the city can only put a lien against the property and hope to get paid when the property was sold.

Kelley added that if a building owner had received a Notice of Order, the owner could not sell the building until it was repaired to the city’s satisfaction.

“I hope that with strengthening these codes, the owners understand that the city is serious and that we want them to pay attention to their buildings,” City Manager Tom Acre said. “Along with collecting the money, say if we had to do something to a building, by assessing on the tax lien, they would have to pay it with their property taxes every year. We can make it to where it’s on their tax bill every year.”

Kelley noted there are provisions in the proposed code updates that provide for penalties in civil court for code violations. He said those provisions are based on the 2009 IBC codes.

Why Twitter Matters To Marketers Now More Than Ever

Remember when Twitter was first launched and people were mocking the name itself and the word “tweet?” I can vividly recall many in the public eye and “regular” folks as well openly making light of this new social network and often times predicting its demise before it even had a chance to get off the ground.

I can absolutely recall with much clarity sitting in meetings across from marketers lamenting the fact that they didn’t see any value in Twitter because they “didn’t care what people had for breakfast.”

Remember those comments about Twitter? I surely do…

I wonder how many of those same marketers are still lamenting the same concerns. If there are marketers out there who still think Twitter is a waste of time, you may want to a) look for a new line of work or b) consider the findings of a new report from Exact Target called “Twitter X-Factors” in which they identify five factors which make Twitter, well Twitter.

Factor #1 – Influential Behaviors

73% of Twitter users say they want to gain a large following BUT not for the sake of gaining a large following; in other words, they are VERY selective about whom they follow and want as followers
Extended reach… 12% of online consumers have created a profile in order to participate on Twitter, another 11% say they read other people’s Tweets even though they haven’t created a Twitter account of their own.

Factor #2 – Size Matters

With its 140-character limit, Twitter allows for brevity of the highest regard; eliminating any and all distractions
Twitter also forces users—marketers and consumers alike—to immediately get to the point. To summarize in 140 characters or less, brevity is the key to mastering Twitter.
This is akin to what I wrote not long ago How ADD And ADHD Affects Marketing

Factor #3 – Instant Access

Twitter provides real time, instant access to celebrities, breaking news, events and actual corporations – including high-ranking officials with said corporation
Name another social network that does this; save your breath, there is none

Factor #4 – Interactivity

Consumers are much more likely to FOLLOW brands on Twitter in order to interact than they are to become email SUBSCRIBERS or Facebook FANS
People want to interact with your brand on a real time basis; to get to know the personalities behind a company. For example, if a B2B company is deciding whether or not to purchase from a supplier, Twitter is useful in helping them get a behind-the-scenes look at who runs the company. Yes B2B Marketers, Even Though It’s Called B2B, There’s Still A “C” On The Other End

Factor #5 – Mobile, Agile & Versatile

Versatility is without question a key component to ANY social network but, as the report astutely points out… “there’s no universal reason why consumers choose to engage with marketers like you on Twitter. As a result, Twitter usage is versatile and ever-changing, depending on your target audience and their personal motivations.”
And because it is so versatile and because every consumer is different some marketers can feel overwhelmed; but marketers need to look at this as a challenge, as a way to get creative and find new ways to tap into the insights of your consumers via Twitter.

Overall, Exact Target describes daily Twitter users as “voracious online consumers and contributors” who…

  • 72% publish blog posts at least once a month
  • 70% comment on others’ blog posts
  • 61% write at least one product review a month
  • 61% comment on news sites
  • 56% write articles for third-party sites
  • 53% post videos online
  • 50% make contributions to wiki sites
  • 48% share deals found through coupon forums

Now, of course, Twitter is not for every one nor for every marketer. I don’t think anyone is saying that and if anyone does tell you that, my advice is to consider the source and/or run screaming into the night.

Ok, maybe not screaming but seriously question their knowledge because Twitter, like every thing else in life short of breathing and paying taxes, is not for everyone.

BUT… it clearly is for many.

Your job as a marketer is to find them and/or work with an agency to help you find these Twitterers, as it were… These folks are highly influential and they want to interact with you; they want to become brand ambassadors in many cases… so let them!

Are you a marketer who currently uses Twitter for your clients?

How successful has Twitter been for you and your clients?

Are you still not convinced of the power of Twitter? Still unsure because of the inability to track traffic coming via Twitter?

Well have I got news for you…

The recent development I mentioned earlier has to do with the fact now, thanks to Twitter’s new “t.co” domains, analytics tools will now categorize all traffic from both Twitter.com and all Twitter clients as traffic coming from Twitter. Whereas before it would be divided amongst all the various twitter clients (usually just as “direct traffic”) and specific pages on Twitter.com – never directly from the tweet.

This, according to the post on The Next Web…

For brands and businesses that have yet to see the true value of Twitter, expect to be impressed. Twitter just stepped up and demanded to be noticed. If you weren’t convinced of the physical traffic Twitter drives, you should definitely notice it now.

Expect big silver price surge if gold stays positive

What a difference 10 days makes. A little over a week ago the gold market was all doom and gloom with the yellow metal crashing back below $1200 an ounce. But with a few extraneous geopolitical and global health factors positively impacting the market, and the possibility of a general stock market crash in the minds of investors, gold has seen positive action on the price front in something of a safe haven turnaround. But silver, on the other hand, has hardly moved at all. Compare the 30-day Kitco gold and silver charts below – courtesy kitco.com and kitcosilver.com.

Historically, silver prices have sharply outperformed gold when precious metals prices are rising and sharply underperformed when they are falling yet this pattern on the upside has just not yet started to appear. But if the recent gold price rise isn’t just a blip then we would expect silver to start to move upwards – and move upwards fast.

After all, as we pointed out in our recent article looking at silver supply and demand – see: Silver in supply deficit but price unmoved so far – there is no big surplus of silver coming to the market although admittedly there have been some strange movements in and out of the big silver ETFs which could affect short-term supplies.

Most recently perhaps the most respected silver analyst, Ted Butler, who scrutinizes such matters more closely than anyone else, commented: “There was some unusual activity in the big silver ETF, SLV, this week as 4 million oz were withdrawn. I say unusual because deposits into and withdrawals from SLV have been somewhat counterintuitive recently, namely, deposits have come on price weakness and withdrawals on (relative) price strength. One would normally expect the opposite to occur.”

He goes on to suggest that this looks as if it could be due to “a large trader this week being responsible for the 4 million oz withdrawal due to a conversion of SLV shares into physical metal for the purpose of avoiding the 5% reporting threshold that the SEC mandates. Since there is no reporting requirement for holdings of physical metal (as there is for futures and stock ownership), by converting shares of SLV into actual metal holdings, a single entity could use SLV as a vehicle to acquire a significant silver position without having to publicly reveal ownership. One needn’t even have to move the silver, just transfer from shares to metal. If this is the case, then the withdrawal can hardly be considered bearish to price. Alternatively, the metal being withdrawn from SLV could have been needed more urgently elsewhere, also hardly a bearish development.”

But whether such strange metal movements will have any impact on the market or not – and this one could have been having a short-term effect – the silver price is now overdue for a big bound upwards provided that gold at least holds its ground. Of course, both gold and silver are also partly being held down by the appreciation in the US dollar – although this should perhaps be more aptly described as the depreciation of other major currencies against their US counterpart. The dollar index has risen 8% since May for example. But despite this overall dollar strength gold has risen nearly 4% in the past ten days and on past performance, silver would normally be expected to increase in price by perhaps 6 or 7% under such a scenario.

The Gold: Silver ratio also seems firmly well stuck for the moment at a little over 70 – close to the highest level seen for nearly five years – so this also looks due to come down, as silver’s performance vs gold improves. The pointers are all there; it just remains to be seen whether silver follows this likely pattern or not.