Monday, March 21, 2011

Libya

Some thoughts:
1. Gadaffi deserves to be overthrown. But whoever kills him or otherwise ousts him will bear the responsibility of running Libya. America does not need that responsibility right now.
2. I really hope that we do not get in the habit of intervening in Middle Eastern civil wars. If the objective is to protect civilians, why not do the same for Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria?
3. Obama has promised not to send ground troops. Does he intend to keep that promise if Gadaffi defeats the rebels on the ground? This is yet another conflict fought with use of half-measures.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fort Wayne's drug house law

Here's a pop quiz for Fort Wayne landlords: Which of the following are you not allowed to lease a house or apartment to?
A. A convicted murderer.
B. A convicted child molester.
C. A suspected drug user who has not even been arrested or charged with a crime yet.

To be clear, Section 130.06 of City Code prohibits property owners from knowingly allowing gambling, prostitution, or illegal drug crimes to take place on their property. I would think that if a landlord knew that a tenant was selling drugs, he would notify the police and file for eviction, or he would insist on a share of the profits. People who run criminal enterprises go to great lengths to conceal their operations from law-abiding citizens.

So how exactly is a landlord supposed to know if a tenant is a drug dealer? Here's what the law says:
Upon completion of investigation by the Police Department revealing that such suspected illegal activity is taking place at a particular premises, the Police Department may send a Notice of Investigation to the owner of the real estate and a copy to the tenant/occupant whose premise is the subject of the investigation, by certified mail, return receipt requested, informing the owner that the investigation revealed suspected illegal activity and the fact that there is an on-going investigation. The Notice of Investigation shall inform the owner that it is a violation of the Fort Wayne Code for the owner of real estate to knowingly permit its real estate to be used as a site for any use or sale of illicit narcotics or controlled dangerous substances, gambling or prostitution. The Notice of Investigation shall also state that the city may initiate enforcement proceedings against the owner of the real estate if the suspected illegal activity does not cease. Finally, the Notice of Investigation shall advise that it is a defense to a proceeding to enforce this section if the owner of real estate institutes and completes eviction proceedings in compliance with division (F) of this section against the person suspected of engaging in the criminal conduct giving rise to the Notice of Investigation.

Got all that? What it means is that if the police thinks that a tenant is a drug dealer, they can pretty much require his landlord to evict him.

This law hasn't been enforced recently, but the city plans to change that. First, let me stress that my opinion of police officers is much higher than that of drug dealers. But I have three questions.
1. If the police think that a guy is selling drugs, why not simply arrest him instead of sending a certified letter to his landlord?
2. If a landlord did know all along that drugs were being sold at his house, why not simply charge him as an accessory and seize the house?
3. Mistakes do happen. If a man is found innocent, shouldn't he be allowed to go back to the home he had when he was arrested?

There are many anti-drug laws on the books, most of them harsher than Section 130.06. The reason why I am bringing this one up is because I think this law has the highest immediate potential for causing innocent people who pay their bills on time to be thrown in the street.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What to do with the $75 million

Some of it, if not all of it, should be set aside for a rainy day fund. Remember last year when we were warned that property tax caps would cause revenue shortfalls? If that is the case, then the city doesn't need to find a new project to blow its wad on.

I've also been hearing for the past two years that the recession is either ending or is over. Property values and tax revenues may go back up, and they may go down. The mayor might hope for the former, but he would be wise to prepare for the later.