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What neighborhood busybodies want, this City Council gives
   

EMILIE QUAST 10/11/06

At 05:19 PM 10/10/2006, Robin Garwood forwarded for Cam Gordon the outline of an amendment to the rental housing ordinance and gave reasons why CM Gordon wants to see it passed.

Because I believe that making bad rental practices expensive is exactly the tool Minneapolis needs to fight urban blight, especially in the innermost urban core, I responded to the members of the PS&RS committee with a carbon to the mayor . I hope every member of this list will join me in lobbying to have this amendment passed. (For sure, corporate building owners and owners of multiple rental units will be sending in their legal experts to fight this--we gotta meet them and beat them) Please join me in an email lobby in support of this proposal!

My letter to the members of the committee and the mayor read:
----------------------------------------------------
Dear Mayor Rybak and members of the Minneapolis Council--

Please support CM's proposed amendments to the rental-licensing ordinance, which is to be discussed Wednesday, October 11.

As a member of the SE Como neighborhood group (SECIA) housing committee, I am fully aware of the change in SE Como's demographics and the rapid downturn of SE Como's formerly "safe neighborhood" environment. There are people who do a good and responsible job of managing rental property, be they landlord-owners or property managers. There are also people who simply sign renters up, collect the checks and consider their jobs done. Homeowners and responsible tenants in SE Como have to live with the results. The results can be tragic, to wit: the beatings of pedestrians last month in Como, the rise in theft and robbery, the appearance of firearms. We need a stiff ordinance like CM Gordon's proposal to give the residents and the city inspectors tools to clean up our residential inner city home neighborhoods.

I have to think that once a vote is taken on this proposal, the residents of Minneapolis will know which members of the council are willing to fight for a clean city that can boast of well-maintained affordable housing for its family of citizens. This is opposed to which members of the council are in the pockets of large and/or unscrupulous property owners and others who don't care about building a vibrant, safe inner city.

I think the safety of residents in the innermost circles of the city, where the percent of rental property is the highest, should be foremost in your minds. You are creating the environment for the Minneapolis "return to the river" community of condos.

What you do with this ordinance will determine what environment in SE Minneapolis and near North your hoped-for condo buyers will see.Will you create an environment where new condo buyers think they will feel safe, or Will you allow a rapidly deteriorating situation to continue, in which no one IS safe and potential condo buyers will look to stay in Eden Prairie? It's up to you.

Return Minneapolis to safe, clean, affordable, convenient housing, or wave goodbye to those hoped for, affluent new residents. Most likely, the exodus of responsible homeowners in those neighborhoods will continue if you don't act now.

  WILLIAM MCGAUGHEY 10/11/06

I disagree with Emilie Quast's e-democracy posting on proposed amendments to the Minneapolis ordinances pertaining to rental licensing. I was there today at the hearing. The proposals, inspired by busybodies from the Prospect Park and southeast neighborhoods, are draconian in nature. They come down hardest on the poor.

Did you know that, under the current ordinances, it's illegal to do almost any kind of repair work on your house or rental property without pulling a city permit? Suppose a toilet leaks or overflows? This might take five or ten minutes to fix. But under current law, you have to pull a permit - and, if you're a rental property owner, you need to hire a licensed plumber. This applies even if it's the weekend and there is an emergency. You can't fix the problem yourself or use some knowledgeable person unless he is licensed to do this kind of work.

So, what does this ordinance change propose? The City Council wants to toughen penalties for property owners who do work without pulling permits. The proposed change is that, on the second offense, the city can revoke the owner's rental license. This means that the property loses its economic value since it becomes illegal to rent the units. All the tenants are thrown on the street. Why? Because the landlord fixed a leaking toilet without pulling the required city permits.

Another ordinance change would allow the city to revoke rental licenses for unpaid water bills even if tenants were responsible for paying the bills and the landlord did not know about the delinquency. Once the license is revoked, the building becomes subject to condemnation and possible demolition. I know of at least one beautiful building that was torn down because of an unpaid water bill.

These are sledgehammer solutions to problems that do not really exist. They’re problems only in the minds of certain busybodies in the Prospect Park and southeast neighborhoods; and the City Council is eager to apply a one-size-fits-all solution to the entire city.

This is the kind of thing that has given Minneapolis City Government such a bad reputation at the state legislature. City officials have little regard for individual freedom and are sorely lacking in common sense. An immigrant from east Africa has compared Minneapolis government with the authoritarian regime in the country he fled.

Let me say that, previously, I had a high regard for the Green Party and for Cam Gordon. I no longer do. This has not been a good year for the Greens. Now, Cam Gordon has become virtually indistinguishable from the DFL members on the Council. He might as well throw his idealism out the window and join the DFL. With me, at least, his credibility is shot.

In a year when the poorer neighborhoods of Minneapolis live in fear of street crime, city residents are given excuses for the city's failure to deal with this problem. It's said that the city doesn't have enough money to hire the needed officers. But they do seem to have the money to launch an Inspections war against law-abiding city residents. This city government's always up for blame-shifting. City residents are held to high building-maintenance standards; the city imposes no standards on itself for police work. City residents are suffering as a result.

Yes, it’s been a war. First, we had a group of Taliban-like neighborhood busybodies - like Quast, in southeast - persuade Paul Zerby to crack down on partying by the U of M students. Landlords are required to police the parties to make sure that the neighbors are not bothered by noise. Then we had the northside inspections sweep that showed no mercy to city residents with insufficient means to complete the repairs in the time allowed. And now we have rental-license revocation for property owners who fix toilets without pulling city permits.

These are all sledgehammer solutions to problems that do not really exist. They're solutions that the Council members cunningly introduced shortly after the municipal election, thus immunizing themselves against the wrath of the voters.

Emilie Quast ignorantly warns that "for sure, corporate building owners and owners of multiple rental units will be sending in their legal experts to fight this." No, there was nobody like that there at today's hearing. Three persons - all small property owners - testified against the proposed ordinance. I was one of them. The legendary Charlie Disney, former president of the U.S. Table Tennis Association and founder of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, was another. The publisher of the Watchdog newspaper was the third. I saw no legal experts. There were no corporate people testifying for or against, except perhaps in her mind.

Five years ago, Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee spearheaded a fight against the city administration headed by Sharon Sayles Belton, Jackie Cherryhomes, and Joe Biernat. Tomorrow the group's archives will be posted on the internet at http://www.landlordpolitics.com. Perhaps it's time now for a new fight against the latest crop of abusive Council members.

Hint: Something will happen within the next week.

STEVE PETERSON (10/12)

Jason Goray asks if a permit is required to do simple plumbing work on a house or rental unit as William McGaughey asserts.The answer is no. No permit.

If you replace the whole toilet then yes you need a permit for acouple of reasons -- they want to make sure you put in a 1.6 gallonper flush toilet, and that there are no slow leaks that might becausing rot. Wax rings aren't the easiest to work with sometimes...Here is the city's website list of when you don't need a permit: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/onestop/Permits/NoPermitNeeded.asp

That stuff is pretty easy to find on the website if you have any questions. Kind of calls into question the rest of William McGaughey's argument, doesn't it?

KEVIN WYNN 10/12/06

Quoting Steve Peterson: Kind of calls into question the rest of William McGaughey's argument, doesn't it?

No, not really. Maybe you got him on a technical error. The point is that it's dramatically more complex and expensive to maintain property, especially rental property, in Minneapolis due to the regulation and road blocks in place. Certainly there are valid reasons for some of it, but it does the quality, cost and quantity of the rental housing stock no good to drive small income property investors out. Especially if you are an advocate for low-income housing.

ROBIN GARWOOD (AIDE TO COUNCIL MEMBER GORDON) 10/12/06

In response to William and Phaedrus,

From the list of actions for which permits need not be pulled, on the City's website: "Leaking toilet (considered "unsafe" if the leak is bad enough to rot the floor)." Another item on that list: "Generally no permit is required to make repairs to a toilet. However, a permit is required if a toilet is to be replaced, even when the homeowner does the work."So, short answer, no. You don't have to pull a permit to fix a leaking toilet.

As to the "weekend" and "emergency" cases, the City has another solution: you can pull a permit up to 48 hours after doing emergency work. Of course, the licensed contractor bit still applies. Why? Because we don't want unqualified people doing substandard work that could threaten the health and safety of Minneapolis residents.

Here's what I don't understand about William's argument. I hear him saying that folks are out there breaking the current law (the building code) and that we shouldn't enact any ordinance that would effectively punish and deter them from breaking that law. He's arguing for us to not effectively enforce laws already on the books.

If one has a problem with laws on the books, one should organize to remove them - as Cam did with the obsolete "dancing in the streets" ordinance. Failing that, the laws we have should be enforced, as uniformly and fairly as possible, and with penalties that matter.

William's criticisms do not touch on the actual point of the ordinance, so let me reiterate: there are landlords in Minneapolis who are making illegal, major changes to structures. Why? So they can put more people in them, mostly. These folks are not deterred in the slightest by the penalties currently available, because they're making significant amounts of money off these properties. The only way to compel compliance is to threaten to remove the property owner's privilege to make money off of the structure.

William is again incorrect in his assertion that the new code will mean that "property loses its economic value." If an owner's rental licenses are revoked, she/he is free to sell the structure to a more responsible owner, who will abide by the law.

William gets it wrong again on the water shutoff portion of the ordinance. It very clearly refers only to situations in which the owner pays the water bills. Here's the text: "The owner, where the owner pays the water bill for a rental dwelling, shall not allow the water to be shut off for non-payment. If water to a rental dwelling has been turned off for lack of payment by the owner it shall be sufficient grounds to deny, revoke, suspend or refuse to renew a license or provisional license."

I take umbrage at the assertion that the problems addressed by this ordinance "do not really exist." The City or the "busybodies" to whom William refers could provide him with a long list of landlords who have done major unpermitted work. This work is illegal, in many cases contrary to the zoning code, and potentially dangerous. For instance, one owner changed a layout of a house's upper floor to include more bedrooms, ending up with a maze of hallways that a resident could not navigate if the building was on fire. There are reasons the City demands that major work be done by qualified people.

To William's off-the-wall point that enacting ordinances like these damage us at the Legislature, let me just say this. The building code that we're enforcing here comes to us from the State, and is internationally adopted.

I'm sorry that Cam has disappointed you, William. However, I do not believe that your previous support for Cam was based on an adequate understanding of his platform. And quite frankly, defending disrespectful landlords' ability to violate the law without significant consequence, damage neighborhoods and endanger their tenants is not and has never been a Green Party position. This ordinance is driven by very Green concerns for Social and Economic Justice, Community-Based Economics, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Sustainability.

William sets up a false dichotomy when he sets this ordinance up against "street" crime. First, as I've already said, the actions in question are already illegal acts. Second, bad acts by landlords absolutely create situations in which "street" crime increases.

Lastly, William bemoans the fact that this discussion is happening a year after an election, because it "immunizes CMs against the wrath of voters." This doesn't make sense for a number of reasons: 1) given William's rationale, no issue of importance should be taken up in a non-election year, 2) voters' memories aren't as short as William seems to think, 3) Cam is out talking to voters in each of the neighborhoods he represents at least twice a month (and getting an earful about bad landlords) and 4) there's no wrath. Voters asked for this, voters are getting it, and the vast majority who have contacted us on it are happy about it.

Robin Garwood
Aide to Council Member Cam Gordon

WILLIAM MCGAUGHEY 10/12/06

Robin Garwood, aide to Council Member Cam Gordon, has raised a number of objections to points I had made in an earlier posting. They each deserve a response.

1. About leaking toilets that can be fixed without replacing the toilet: My argument was based on an understanding - an incorrect one, it turns out - which resulted from the discussion in the Council chambers. When I raised a plumbing emergency as a hypothetical situation, Barb Johnson asked a follow-up question. The spokesperson from Inspections confirmed, as a general proposition, that permits would be needed in such situations. She did not say that permits would only be needed when the toilet needed to be replaced. I assumed that it was in all situations involving faulty plumbing. Perhaps I was wrong about this. You need to go to the city website to learn the distinction between plumbing work that requires permits and work which does not. How many of the city's property owners regularly consult that web site or even know about it?

2. As a general proposition, I don't advocate people breaking the law. Yes, there are some silly ordinances on the books and the ability to ignore them may provide the flexibility needed to make the city work. Phaedrus has done a good job of presenting the real-life situation. It's an ivory-tower suggestion to propose that I try to repeal the bad ordinances that exist in Minneapolis.

3. Why aren't the current penalties for breaking the law effective? If the fine is set too low, then raise it to an effective level - again, if it is important to you on the City Council, to enforce all laws, reasonable or not. The remedy proposed by Cam Gordon and colleagues is to revoke a landlord's rental license. This means that, not only will license revocation significantly reduce the market value of the property, it will also mean the loss of habitation for the tenants who live there. How heartless you are! To throw tenants out on the street because the property manager replaced a toilet without pulling a permit is quite unreasonable.

4. I don't know why landlords do repair work without pulling the required city permits. For the sake of convenience, perhaps? To save money, perhaps? Perhaps to give work to a trusted handyman? Where does Robin Garwood get the information that most illegal repairs are done to "put more people in them (housing structures)". I doubt that. Evidence please.

5. Robin Garwood writes that "these folks" - meaning landlords - are "making significant amounts of money off these properties." Robin, you must be kidding. I don't know about the city's landlords in general, but as for me and some others in the less affluent neighborhoods, owning rental property in Minneapolis has ceased to be profitable. Local property taxes have risen by double digits for a number of years. Vacancy rates have risen and, due to economic circumstances and other reasons, many tenants do not pay their full rent. The worst problem, however, is crime. Because of crime, many potential renters simply won't live in the neighborhoods where our buildings are located. This is a problem which, in large part, can be attributed to faulty policies (including police staff levels) adopted by the mayor and city council. Our elected officials have let city residents down quite badly in certain neighborhoods.

6. Yes, it's true that the economic value of a rental property which has lost its rental license does not become zero. There's always a market for distressed properties whether in real estate, stocks, bonds, or whatever. But the owner of such property does sustain a huge financial hit if legally unable to rent space in a rental property. It would make a difference how long the license was revoked. I asked that question at the hearing and did not receive an answer.

7. The question of water shutoffs came up at the hearing. The council members discussed at some length the differing situations of bills sent to tenants and to property owners. Diane Hofstede proposed - quite decently, I thought - that if the unpaid water bill was the tenantâ•s responsibility, the property owner should at least receive notification of the prospective water shutoff. Don Samuels muttered something about not wanting to send out another thousand letters - which I interpreted to mean he did not think it necessary to notify the property owner in such cases. So, if I "got it wrong" on this question, I would suggest that most participants in the council discussion were equally confused.

8. No, despite the "umbrage" taken, I affirm my belief that I do not think the problem really exists which Cam Gordon's amendment was intended to address. Certain persons living near the University of Minnesota campus were upset that some property owners were creating additional space to rent to students; and the lack of permits was a way to attack these property owners. Some individuals whom I call "busybodies" in the southeast neighborhood want their local grievance to be addressed by a city-wide ordinance. I ask you, Robin Garwood, does Cam Gordon and do the other council members receive many complaints about people doing repair work on their properties without pulling the required permits? Be honest now. I have not heard this issue raised as a major concern in public discussions. I have heard city residents asking for better police protection, however. I think your priorities are backwards.

9. My point may be "off-the-wall", but the fact remains that Minneapolis city government has not been held in high regard at the state legislature. One might say that the city of Minneapolis has been on probation for the past several years. Many legislators feel that Minneapolis elected officials are "ultra liberal" which, translated, means passing overly intrusive ordinances of the sort introduced by Cam Gordon which tend to discourage or diminish business activity in the city.

10. I don't think Green Party principles mention landlords at all. On the other hand, I do think Cam Gordon's amendments negatively impact the "sustainability" of housing stock in the poorer neighborhoods. Some of those landlords whom you call "disrespectful" played a key role in the miraculous election of Green Party City Council candidate, Natalie Johnson Lee, in the 2001 city election. I myself have had articles published in national Green Party journals. So, while I have applauded the idealism and vision of the Green Party and have enthusiastically supported its former members on the City Council, this latest move by Cam Gordon is a ill-conceived bureaucratic move that adds no luster to your party. It is, however, in keeping with what the DFL majority on the Council has sometimes done to city residents.

11. No, it is not a "false dichotomy" to compare the City Council's inept, do-nothing approach to street crime with its overly zealous enforcement of the Building Maintenance code. We in the poorer neighborhoods are used to the excuse that police resources are stretched thin - so that is why we sometimes have to wait an hour for the police to arrive to investigate crimes unless shots were fired. At the same time, the city cuts law-abiding landlords and homeowners no slack when it comes to neglectful building maintenance. This self-serving attitude diminishes respect for law in our community.

12. With respect to your remarks, Robin Garwood, that doing repair work without pulling permits constitutes "illegal acts" comparable with violent street crime, I would respond: For shame! The two are not comparable. Shooting someone to death to steal his jersey is much worse than replacing a broken toilet without pulling a permit. Second, you write: "Bad acts by landlords absolutely create situations in which "street" crime increases." I say: Prove it. You and the "broken windows" professor from Harvard are talking through your hat. Poorly maintained buildings do not cause crime. I doubt that they even inspire people to commit crimes. Your use of the word "absolutely" does little to support your argument.

13. I don't know if I was "bemoaning the fact" that the Minneapolis city council has pushed through so many measures for tougher inspections enforcement against the city's property owners as pointing out the political cowardice of the council members in taking two such steps shortly after the election. If city residents want to make a priority of tougher inspections standards, the proper forum for judging public reaction would be to make this an issue in an election campaign. I am unaware that any of the council members supporting Cam Gordon's proposals raised this issue in their campaigns. Instead, they pushed the proposals through after the city election - with at least three years before they have to face the voters.

14. With respect to city residents supporting these proposals, I would concede that some residents are in favor: They testified at the committee hearing. Too often, however, you exaggerate the fact that your "constituents" have asked you to do what you have done. For example, Don Samuels told some people that he initiated the northside inspections sweep after hearing concerns about building conditions in the Hawthorne neighborhood. When I posted a statement to that effect in this forum, I received a message from an official of the neighborhood association in Hawthorne to the effect that they did not like what was happening any more than I did. Yes, I'm sure you can point to the "busybodies" in Prospect Park who are cheering on your efforts to crack down on illegal repairs, but they are hardly representative of city residents as a whole. If you do not bring up these issues in election campaigns, maybe we need to take a poll to find out what city residents want. Specifically: Is it more inspections or more police protection?

Well, I think I've covered most of your points. I still believe that the proposed ordinance amendments - which passed by a 6-to-0 vote in the committee - are unhelpful and should not be adopted by the full council.

PHAEDRUS 10/12/06

'If one has a problem with laws on the books, one should organize to remove them - as Cam did with the obsolete "dancing in the streets" ordinance. Failing that, the laws we have should be enforced, as uniformly and fairly as possible, and with penalties that matter."

This, I absolutely agree with. A law should be fairly and uniformly enforced or it should be repealed. My original question re: fixing a toilet or a leaky sink was not an attempt to attack William's position - I've got a leaky sink in my duplex and I was wondering if I was putting myself in trouble byhaving a friend come over and teach me how to fix it next week.

I'm freaking out a little bit here. Bad timing because I should spend my time right now freaking out about politics instead of housingprojects, but here we are.I've been here for six years now and I've come to realize that I really got over my head by moving into the city and buying a duplex.

My original reasoning was that I wanted to live car free - close to work opportunities and public transit. I wanted to be able to get to music bars and clubs without having to worry about how to get home if I'd had a few. And, the reason for the big house was I wanted to be able to live with some of my friends. I went with a duplex because I wanted to have friends living with meand some of them aren't so reliable with the dishes - I "need" a clean kitchen. A Duplex has two kitchens and two living rooms so I don't have to freak out over messes.

Wow. That little decision made a heck of a lot bigger difference than I thought. I really had no clue what I was getting into - I clearly still don't. My first notice came with this whole need for a rental license. Sure, $30 or so plus the late fee 'cause I didn't know about it, whatever. Then a notice that I had to repaint the garage - ok, the thing's about ready to fall down on its own, but I can paint a door, whatever. But there are so many laws. I know its my responsiblity to learn them all, but whenever I try to tackle reading the city ordinances, my mind starts glazing over. I just can't bring myself to care enough to force myself through it. I mean, really, how many of you that don't practice law in town have read all of it? I'd suspect there are even a fair number of lawyers that haven't read every chapter, clause, and subclause.

Its part of why I participate in this list - the discussions give me a clue what is and is not OK. The other clues come from people I talk to. For instance, I recently had new neighbors move into a long abandoned house next door. No electricity and the water pipes were all burst from sitting empty so long. They had plumbers scheduled and were dealing with the electric company to get that working but they asked if they could borrow power and water for a few days.

Now, to be completely honest, I'm not completely comfortable with them. They remind me quite a bit of some of the families of my high school friends who lived in trailer courts and I was never quite "easy" among them. However, I've been taught that when a person needs water, you give them water.

Well, I got to talking to some of the other neighbors at an ice cream social and it turns out that I broke the law doing that. On the one hand, I do rather wish that the people who moved in there were more affluent and behaved in a way I was a bit more socially comfortable with, but on the other hand, it still goes completely against my nature to deny water to someone who needs it. Neither Christ nor the Buddha would consider anyone trash so how can I justify that arrogance?

But this line of discussion has me wondering. Did I break the law when I swapped my bedroom ceiling fan or changed a couple switches out a couple years back? Looking at that link, I think that I might have. I'm not even sure where I would look up knocking a hole for a cat door. I grew up with constant projects going on in my house, and I kind of inherited that attitude. You want a hole in that wall for the cat to go through? Knock a hole in the wall and finish it off. Whatever. You're over your head on a project? Call in a friend. You're over your friends' heads? Hire a pro.

I've really got no interest in being a landlord. I just want to letmy friends live with me for cheap. I don't like living alone and Ilike being able to help friends with less money than I have live in anok situation. When I rented rooms in college, it wasn't uncommon forone person to be on the lease and sublet rooms as other people movedin and out. I was never on a lease, my rent always went to the personwho was.So, my real question is - Is there any way I can do something like that with a duplex?

Anyone know what the law is on this? I just want my house to be my house. The only reason its a duplex is so I don't have to clean up after other people. Yeah, its only fair they kick in some money, but can that be called something other than "rent"? Its not like I have leases or worry if someone doesn't have the funds for a few months or more. Its not like we even have locks on the doors between the upstairs and the downstairs. Well, I think that if I found a skeletonkey, those old locks _might_ still work, but who cares?

Can I ditch the rental license and just have it be a house? Between pet licenses and permits to change electrical fixtures (if I read the permit page right), I bet there are a lot of criminals in Minneapolis who don't even know they are criminals. As a believer in civil disobedience, I don't mind breaking the law, but I like to do it for a good reason. At a minimum, I like to at least know that I'm doing it.

Frankly, I've got no interest in breaking laws designed to protect people from predatory landlords. However, I want to be able to live in my house, have other people live there, and change my own light switch if I decide I want one with a glowy toggle rather than a beige one. Is that possible, or is my only choice either being a "proper" landlord with higher rents and leases and all that jazz or kicking everyone out and selling the place?

- phaedrus (jason goray), 3-6, earth.

MARK ANDERSON 10/14/06

(The below written by Cam Gordon's assistant I believe?)

"If one has a problem with laws on the books, one should organize to remove them - as Cam did with the obsolete "dancing in the streets" ordinance. Failing that, the laws we have should be enforced, as uniformly and fairly as possible, and with penalties that matter."

Mark Anderson replies:

If the city council is so worried about its rules on permits being flouted, it should also make the penalties more severe for homeowners. To make the rules equivalent for homeowners, the city should take away
the house for the second offense. And then knock down the house. Stopping the illegal contract work is worth doing almost anything, based on the draconian punishments for landlords currently being discussed by the council.

At first I hesitated suggesting a homeowner rule like the above, since I am a homeowner, and I avoid any of those silly Minneapolis laws whenever I can get away with it. But then I realized that no such law could ever be passed. If homeowners were subject to the same tough laws as we subject landlords, no council person would survive the next election.

If a landlord gets away with replacing toilets or whatever without a permit, I say "more power to 'em." The city council is beholden to the trades in Minneapolis, and are concerned that someone not licensed by the city might do the work. A homeowner can do the work himself, or have a friend do it, but they have too much power to go after. Therefore the city scapegoats the landlords, forcing them to use licensed workers. The landlords have to pay more to have the work done, which is passed on to tenants as rent increases. But the process is somewhat opaque to tenants, who don't realize that the high cost of rent is due to the monopolistic trades. After this new law is passed, rents will rise some more. The folks on the council will then bemoan the lack of affordable housing. Of course they'll blame the landlords, instead of looking in the mirror.

To segue into a related but different topic, Phaedrus is absolutely right that there are too many laws on the books. I doubt there's anybody in the city who knows all the Minneapolis laws. Not to speak of the state and federal ones also. To say "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is pretty ignorant of the number of laws out there. The problem with trying to repeal each of these laws is that each of them may have some rationality individually. But put together they constitute a morass that few can understand. A better idea would be to repeal all the laws and start over. Maybe we could have a limit on the pages of law that everyone is supposed to know. Then that old cliche might have some meaning.

GEMGRAM 10/14/06

The really sad thing is that not only will you have to call a licensed person but you will have to call a City of Minneapolis one rather than a State Licensed one like the rest of the State. So not only will you have to pay, you will have to pay more than your suburban neighbor. Even if they also hired a licensed person.

Remember (City Council Member) Joe Biernat spent time in the pokey for playing that game? Well the Council just continued it, regardless of the impropriety of it. I think it is time we in Minneapolis got tired of being discriminated against, and demanded that we be able to hire State Licensed work people like the rest of the people in the State of Minnesota.

Furnaces and boilers are where poor people in Minneapolis really are unfairly raped by the monopoly that the City Council Members have created for their buddies. It is time for the State to step in and force Minneapolis to allow State of Minnesota Plumbers and Boiler people to work in Minneapolis. Perhaps one of the "Progressive" legislatures from Minneapolis' poor neighborhoods can be encouraged to help with a legislative bill. The poorest people in Minnesota have to pay the most for just about everything. Remember that even when a landlord pays more for a furnace or boiler he or she passes it on to the renters. We pay more for food, more for gasoline, and yes more for the mechanical utilities that provide water and heat. It is a disgrace how our own Council and Mayor allow the continued
victimization of our poor communities by unfairly limiting trade.

Due to the much higher costs of hiring licensed tradespeople in Minneapolis there are probably more installations by untrained people without licenses than would otherwise be the case. I have known older people on limited incomes who did not replace furnaces because it was just too expensive to do in Minneapolis. Can anyone imagine City Certified Lawyers or City Licensed Doctors ONLY being allowed to practice in Minneapolis? What would their fees be then?

Minneapolis elected Politicians will not change this disgrace.

KEVIN WYNN 10/16/06

Gemgram writes:

"The really sad thing is that not only will you have to call a licensed person but you will have to call a City of Minneapolis one rather than a
State Licensed one like the rest of the State. So not only will you have to pay, you will have to pay more than your suburban neighbor. Even if they also hired a licensed person."

Not only that but the better contractors don't bother with Minneapolis. You pay more, get fewer choices of contractors, and get the some of the worst quality as well. The junk work I saw as a board member of a local housing
development group was pathetic, and the customer service was beyond pathetic. Some of these guys would never survive in the suburbs.

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