Monday, January 21, 2008

Steve King: Wilmer Fire Marshal?

Wilmer's alleged Building Inspector Steven King evidently thinks he is entitled to preferential treatment as the Wilmer Fire Marshal - at least that's what the AutoZone store in Lancaster reported late last week. Should there be charges brought for Impersonating a Public Servant?

According to a news tip, Mr. King purchased some parts from AutoZone demanding a discount as the Wilmer Fire Marshal. When store employees asked for verification, Mr. King loudly created a disturbance claiming he didn't need any ID. Evidently, employees granted the discount just so Mr. King would remove himself from their store without further incident. AutoZone reports this is typical behavior for Mr. King and that "he comes in here all the time". AutoZone also reports that municipal employees with identification (badges) are routinely given discounts on purchases.

Store personnel also reported that later the same day a different City of Wilmer official (with proper identification) made purchases and stated that all state licensed Fire Marshals are required by law to carry appropriate ID. A search of state licensing records from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection for "Wilmer Fire Marshal (10054)" reveals that "No actively licensed individuals are listed for this department". Further investigation reveals that "Steven E. King" was once an "INSPECTOR PROB NO TEST" from August 1998 to August 1999 when the (probationary) certification expired. The same individual was employed full time by the Wilmer Fire Marshal as a Fire Inspector and Fire Investigator (Not Arson) from 8/16/1998 until 2/14/2005. Research into the Texas Fire Marshals Association reveals that Steven King is not a member. Research into the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office reveals that Steven King is not a licensed professional by that organization either.

According to our research, Mr. King doesn't have any identification or credentials as a City of Wilmer employee. We have been informed that he is on the city payroll as the building inspector, although we have been unable to verify that he actually performs those job duties and functions. We have received numerous reports that Mr. King often uses his (alleged) position to bully Wilmer residents and "throw his weight around" (which is reportedly considerable). We observe plenty of personal residence construction around town and an almost complete lack of building permits displayed at these locations. Our inquiries have uncovered that while building permits do exist - especially for commercial projects - no inspections are conducted.

Impersonating a Public Servant is a third degree felony under the Texas Penal Code section 37.11. While we doubt that the Wilmer Police Department is up to the task of investigating, other jurisdictions have little interest in Wilmer's lax enforcement efforts. On further investigation, we were surprised that Mr. King has no enforcement authority - otherwise there would be some record of his activities like inspection reports, citations and fines, and revenue from permits.

Readers: If you have information on Steven King you would like to share, please email in complete confidence.