Is this County Board willfully stupid or just terminally liberal?
A week after a near riot at Madison Memorial High School exposed the growth of a lawless culture breeding in our city, the tone-deaf county board is poised to re-introduce a so-called "Fair Housing Ordinance" that:
- Encourages illegal aliens (by prohibiting asking for a social security number) and
- Treats people with a criminal history as a protected class.
Ord. Amdt. 22, 08-09, Amending Chapter 31 Of The Dane County Code Of Ordinances, Regarding Enforcement Of Fair Housing Complaints, is tentatively scheduled for action at the November 6 County Board meeting.
Curiously, a similar version vetoed a year ago unintentionally would have lifted the requirement that landlords accept Section 8 low-income tenants. The new draft has been rewritten to safeguard that questionable provision while adding the two other undesirable classes.
"We objected to this the last time around. I understand that this is substantially the same document with a minor amendment to make sure it does not impact Section 8," Phil Salkin, government affairs director for the South Central Realtors Assn., told me.
"Obviously, this is equally an issue of public protection. We hear a great deal about the impact of the small number of bad landlords who do not properly screen tenants. Now, the proposal as it is makes it more difficult to screen out those with demonstrable histories of bad behavior. This will be especially problematic for those in living in duplexes or 4 or 8 units where there are fewer eyes to spot problems or incidents."
Give landlords more screening tools, not fewer
Where is this ordinance coming from? Who is demanding its passage? Certainly, not my neighbors. Here is what one constituent in Meadowood told her alderman, Thuy Pham Remmele. I am withholding her name to protect, quite literally, the innocent:
Thuy, I just read in the paper today that there was a shooting on Russett Rd. I find this disturbing since I just got home from taking my son to school at Orchard Ridge Elementary on Russett Rd. … This is appalling that these crimes are taking place a block from a school, and a library, where many children spend time. … I ask for more of a police presence and no tolerance of any crime no matter how minor and holding landlords accountable as to who is on their property.
From the Prairie Hills neighborhood:
I just wanted to say that I strongly agree with the suggestions that Captain Lengfeld made. The one that stands out for me is giving landlords the ability to deny application due to previous history. Madison needs to let people know that if they can't behave appropriately then they can't live in Madison. I am tired of hearing about so many people's lives being negatively affected by a smaller group of people who choose to engage in crime or bad behavior.
I'm also tired of hearing how our neighborhood officers work tirelessly to get a bad tenant evicted, only to have them move literally down the street!
Call the Captain
Folks, can we please listen to Captain Jay Lengfeld of the Madison Police Department? He made these recommendations to Madison Common Council members in his e-mail of September 29:
"It is much easier to prevent a problem than trying to solve it... Here are a few suggests on what you can do to help citizens like [name redacted] and other City's neighborhoods:
1. The City needs to reduce or freeze the number of subsidized housing units in the city. The at risk population in Madison has exceeded the ability of service providers to service them.
2. The City needs to license landlords, so we have citywide standards and can weed out the bad ones.
3. Landlords need more protection to deny applicants with a history of bad behavior. The Russett Rd shooting is a prefect example: a family was evicted from an address on the Southside for behavior reasons and within weeks they had the same bad behavior in the Russett Rd area. We are now evicting them from Russett, but I am sure they will find housing somewhere else in the city and bring the same problems to that neighborhood."
Onisim "Nick" Dorneanu, president of Allied Drive & Dunn's Marsh Owners Association, made this available to Blaska's Blog:
I (would) like you to know that we are supporting Ald. Pham-Remmele and Capt. Jay Lengfeld on the agenda of Freezing Low-Income Housing and letting landlords work harder on screening tenants better …. We have too many people coming from Chicago with the high-crime attitude trying to get low-income housing so that way they can have extra money for their drug habits. … I am tired of seeing that .
Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz thinks Ordinance Amendment 22 can be defeated.
She thinks that Jeff Kostelic of Sun Prairie will defect; she is working Mark Opitz and Diane Hesselbein of Middleton hard. "If we have them, and everyone is present at the board meeting, we will kill it."
Now, Ordinance 22 contains an exception allowing landlords to refuse tenants with a record of criminality "where the nature of the offense is such given the nature of the housing, so as to cause a reasonable person to have justifiable fear for the safety of residents or employees if the circumstances of the offense bear a substantial relationship to the tenancy."
Seemingly, that is an improvement from last year's version, which specified that two years after a felon's release, you got to rent to him. But, in practice, what does the changed language mean? The ordinance attempts to define it:
"The offense is such that, given the nature of the housing, and the length of time since the offense, a reasonable person would have a justifiable fear for the safety of landlord or tenant property or for the safety of other residents or employees.
That circular reasoning means just one thing: litigation. Refuse a prospective tenant after three years or three months? Who decides? How about do-gooders like Brenda Konkel who will bring suit? Especially when Ordinance 22 provides for:
"Economic and non-economic damages suffered by the aggrieved person, regardless of whether he or she intervened in the action, and injunctive or other equitable relief." Plus a fine of $10,000 for the first offense, $50,000 for a third violation within five years - easy to do if you are renting an apartment building with multiple tenants who get represented by the Tenant Resource Center et al.
Phil Salkin adds:
As I recall, the County ordinance is more restrictive than the Madison ordinance. I believe the only other community (that) even has a fair housing ordinance is Sun Prairie. It will be interesting to see how the municipalities react to having to conform to the Dane County ordinance.
For the record, Ordinance Amendment 22 was submitted by the following Supervisors: Rusk, Bayrd, Stubbs, Manning, Solberg, Hesselbein, Schlicht, DeSmidt,
Wheeler, Miles, de Felice, Hendrick, Opitz, Erickson, Downing, Richmond, Hulsey and McDonell.
Paul Rusk, the principal author - get this - chairs the county's Public Protection and Judiciary committee. Note also that Board Chairman Scott McDonell and his Progressive Dane vice chair, John Hendrick, are also signatories. Cindy Solberg and Kurt Schlicht, conservatives, ought to know better. But they're in their first term and can be forgiven for a rookie mistake and for being let down an obviously dysfunctional conservative caucus. They will vote no.
Put your B.S. detectors on overload
This is a direct quote:
Dialogues on Homelessness (D.O.H.) will resume on November 8th, 2008, 1:30-3:30pm at the Public Library on Mifflin Street, with a celebratory spirit of reunion after a four-month break. This second series will hold monthly Saturday sessions on December 13, January 10, February 7, March 14, and April 11, 2009 same time and place.
This sequence will further nurture our capacities as agents of change on issues of homelessness and poverty in our community. No prior attendance is necessary to gain full benefit from each gathering. It is free, open to the public and wheel chair accessible. Refreshments will be served.
Unique to our initiative is the diverse base of attendees and the rich communication, relationships and insights that emerge through respectful and compassionate engagement. Unique also is the dedicated volunteer core of professional facilitators who help navigate the uncharted waters of our exploration, now into its second Dialogue season and tenth Saturday gathering.
- Donna Asif (608) 251-6610
The Market That Failed Was Not Exactly Free - the Washington Post
These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals," says the estimable Michael Barone in Obama v. Free Speech.
Today's liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from ... the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive.
Overheard from an insider - the presidential race in Wisconsin is within 4 percentage points, not the +17 favoring Obama that the Quinnippiac poll lists. A national story bears that out. So Is McCain Coming Back?