Thursday, December 7, 2006
Help Me Howard: Sign From God
WSVN -- If there was one organization that you would think would never need Howard's help -- because no one would dare do them wrong -- it would be a church. But never say never. A Catholic Church can't get their sign, and they are looking to Help Me Howard. Here's 7's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- There are few things we all know you don't do -- you don't steal candy from a baby, you don't kick a man while he's down, and you don't ever steal from a church.
Father Jonathan Closner: "Just being at our wits' end."
Father Jonathan is the parish priest at St. Stephen in Miramar.
Father Jonathan Closner: "We are an ethnically diverse parish community."
Watching over a school and a church keeps them all busy.
Father Jonathan Closner: "There's never a dull moment."
For the last year, the parish has been recovering from the damage Hurricane Wilma delivered.
Father Jonathan Closner: "New carpet, painting, lighting, exterior painting."
The one thing still not done -- the sign that used to sit on State Road 7.
Father Jonathan Closner: "There's no place that says St. Stephen Catholic community. That's gone. What time mass services are, what time confessions are, the fact that we even have a school."
In August, a local sign-maker agreed to make a new sign for them for $3,000. They gave him half down.
Father Jonathan Closner: "We went with him because we had confidence, and we trusted him."
The sign-maker promised to have it up in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, it's now been a few months.
Father Jonathan Closner: "Not answering phone calls, promising that the sign would be up the next day -- and this has been repetitive, going on over and over and over."
Now, misleading a customer like you or me is one thing.
But telling the priest a fib over and over -- well that takes you know what.
Father Jonathan Closner: "You want to trust, and you want to be charitable. You want to be kind -- because we are -- but, you reach a point where your patience starts to run out a little bit because people are being dishonest with you."
The whole thing hasn't angered Father Jonathan -- it just disappointed him that a sign-maker would do this to a Catholic Church.
Father Jonathan Closner: "All we ask for is fairness. Not to get even or get back."
So, to get the sign, the church called the people who are blessed with the gift of getting things done -- Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "There are people who might think it's somehow worse to do this to a church, but the law doesn't see any difference in victims. So, in this case, this is the same as breaching a contract with you or me. In either case, it's legally wrong, and you will have to pay."
Help Me Howard went to the owner of the sign-maker.
He told us that the sign was done and promised it would be installed within 12 hours.
It wasn't. We went back to his home and again he swore that he had put the sign in.
This time he kept his word and rushed to install the sign in the middle of the night.
But there are some flaws, which the church wants corrected.
Howard says no matter who you are, when you hire someone, protect yourself.
Howard Finkelstein: "We get this problem all the time -- from landscaping, to pools to roofs, promises about when the work is to be done are broken. The key is, and always will be, getting a completion date in writing on the contract signed by both parties. If possible, include a penalty in the contract."
Getting the sign up is a good sign. But the rush to get it up before our story aired left work to be done.
Father Jonathan Closner: "We do have some issues here -- a couple of typographical errors within the sign, but those I think can easily be replaced. And, I guess we can say we are happy that things are moving forward now."
Patrick Fraser: "Now the flaws in the sign can be corrected, and, in this case, the church has the advantage. They still owe the company $1,500 and won't pay until it's perfect. That's why Howard says pay as the work progresses and always hold a little back until the job is done. It also helps to have that written into the contract as well.
Got no prayer of getting a problem taken care of? Sign up with us -- we'll move in "mass" to help you.
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