What Others have said about Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee



From an article in Twin Cities Reader, an alternative newspaper, Febuary 28-March 5, 1996

“Once a month, (Charlie) Disney presides over a meeting and call to arms for the Minneapolis Property Owners Action Committee (One City Council member jokingly compares the proceedings to an Amway convention). For hours at a time, the property owners share their pain by comparing horror stories, discussing strategy and updating each other on the status of their civil lawsuit, filed against the city of Minneapolis ... It is the beating heart of their grassroots movement.”

**** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

From an article in the Star Tribune, August 31, 1996, written by City Hall reporter, Kevin Diaz

“There’s a dusty corner at the intersection of 19th St. and Portland Ave. S. in Minneapolis known to local residents, landlords and even the police as an open-air drug market ... (T)hat’s where Charles Disney and a group of landlords decided to set up a card table Friday afternoon and talk about what he called ‘the destruction of the inner city.’ Just before 2 p.m., what sounded like a gunshot rang out in the clear blue sky from the direction of Portland and Franklin Avenues. It was widely assumed to be a sign of the neighborhood’s illegal drug trade, a market that seems to flourish in plain view of the police.”

**** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

From Arne Carlson, Governor of Minnesota 1991-1999. (A Republican governor who was troubled by growing street crime in Minneapolis and the city’s reputation as “Murderapolis”, he sent National Guard troops and helicopters into that city in the late summer of 1996 to try to deter crime, taking much criticism for it. But the initiative was successful. His letter was sent to MPRAC about the time that they held the corner-side press conference described above.)

“ September 20, 1996

William McGaughey, Jr.
Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee
1702 Glenwood Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Dear Mr. McGaughey:

Thank you for your letter of August 30, 1996 wherein you describe some of the challenges confronting property managers within the City of Minneapolis.

I commend the Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee and its proposed agenda for addressing criminal behavior within the City of Minneapolis.

It is concern and commitment such as that which is being demonstrated by your organization that is important in confronting criminal and anti-social behavior. I trust you will continue to discuss your proposals with the appropriate city officials.

Should you have further questions relative to the current assistance being provided to Minneapolis, feel free to contact Donald Davis, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Suite 1000 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, or by phone at 296-6642.

Additionally, Commissioner Davis was previously a Chief of Police for the City of Brooklyn Park. He advises me that in this capacity he developed a very positive working relationship with the apartment owners and managers coalition within that city. He supports cooperative efforts such as the one being advocated by your organization.

Warmest regards.

Arne H. Carlson, Governor”

**** ***** ****
***** ***** ***** ***** *****

From Sharon Sayles-Belton, Mayor of Minneapolis, 1994 to 2001. (This letter was written after the Mayor, a Democrat, attended a meeting of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee on June 14, 2000, where she spoke and answered questions for more than an hour. MPRAC has been one of the most severe and persistent critics of city policy in various areas. The mayor’s appearance marks the beginning of a more substantial dialogue with the city administration on housing and crime issues.)“ July 17, 2000


William McGaughey, Jr.
Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee
1702 Glenwood Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Dear Property Owners:

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with your group and discuss your concerns. While we may not alwaysagree on every issue, I found your group to be respectful, and the questions posed were thoughtful and engaging.

You have a very wide variety of concerns, many of which were briefly covered and many others which we did not have the time to discuss. These issues include the cost of doing background checks, 911 call interpretation, holding tenants responsible for damgage done to rental property, and the use of CCP SAFE teams.

Enclosed please find a list of issues I have asked my staff to compile. I would ask your group to review this list, add issues we may have omitted, and identify those of highest priority. Once you have done this, I will ask our professional staff, inspections, police and others to research the topics and report to your group on our current policies.

In the mean time, you should invite your members who have specific questions to bring them to the attention of my aide, Pierre Willette, at 673-2761. He can put them in touch with the appropriate city personnel.

I expect ordinances and procedures of the city to be followed. However, we should all be open to constructive, long-term dialogue about such policies, and be willing to work together to find appropriate avenues to improve our great City.


Sharon Sayles Belton, Mayor

**** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

From Gregory Luce, an attorney who founded Project 504. Lavishly praised in Star Tribune newspaper articles, Luce reportedly leafletted apartment buildings with many Somali tenants offering discrimination-related legal action to win them reduced rent or other benefits. In one alleged incident, he strapped his infant son in a carrier on his chest while barging into an apartment building where work crews were engaged in a renovation project, much to the dismay of the workers. The following is an email which he posted on the Minneapolis e-democracy forum complaining that mayoral candidate, R.T. Rybak, was too getting too close to Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee.

I noticed in the article one serious implication: that RT has "engaged" the Property Rights Action Committee, Charlie Disney's loose-knit group of landlords who are very vocal about housing policy in the City. I have found that the group, while vocal, well-organized, and at times raising some viable issues, is made up or controlled by some of the worst landlords in the city, those that take advantage of the affordable housing crisis by profiting from high rents while not maintaining their properties properly (and, when called on the carpet by city inspections, complaining that the city inspections office is overly-aggressive and has "targeted" them. In addition, the Property Owner newspaper that this group produces (or may simply be closely affiliated with) is often racist, anti-Semitic, and simply putting out information that is recklessly false. Is RT really "engaging' this group as part of his strategy? If so, I have some real problems with this, as it does not bode well for many low-income tenants who often have no choice but to rent from such marginal landlords. RT, say it ain't so, or at least explain your "engagement" with this group in more detail.

**** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

From Kevin Diaz, Minneapolis City Hall reporter for the Star Tribune, as he prepared to leave Minneapolis for Washington, D.C. (A fearless reporter, he covered MPRAC’s street-corner press conference in late August 1996 at the site of the city’s most active “open-air drug market” by going over to nearby houses to interview the gang members who lived there. Kevin came to his position at City Hall after a stint of covering police matters so he knew the crime situation quite well. He was able to get beyond the stereotypes.)“


Oct. 5, 1999

William McGaughey
1702 Glenwood Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Dear Bill,

Thanks so much for the kind letter. One thing I certainly agree with is that your guys have added some excitement to local politics. In the absence of any meaningful opposition political party in Minneapolis, you guys have done as much as you can to provide a coherent alternative perspective to the way things are done in City Hall. I have to admit I was slow to appreciate your group. I know it must be frustrating to continuously be seen as a ‘pariah group’, but I believe you guys have had a real impact on the way people talk about housing and crime in this city. It’s subtle, but I honestly think folks are much less quick to throw around the ‘slumlord’ tag these days. I also sense that the public has come to appreciate the social problems landlords confront on a daily basis.

As far as I can tell, all this has been accomplished by sheer persistence and tenacity. I admit Charlie Disney drives me nuts some days, but I have to give him and the rest of you credit for not giving up, sticking around to fight the good fight, and taking a lot of shit from sanctimonious hypocrites who snipe at you as they flee to the safe sanctuary of the suburbs or the city’s pricier neighborhoods.

I appreciate your generous assessment that my reporting on the housing crisis was fair. I’m sure there were days I disappointed you, either by sins of omission or commission. But that’s the nature of the news biz. I’m sorry I couldn’t do the Cable TV gig. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be seen with you guys as much as I just don’t feel comfortable playing the role of a pundit. There’s enough of that in Washington, D.C., where I’m moving. I really think reporters ought to just write what they see and hear and keep their mouths shut.

I hope when I get to D.C. there’s a group like the property owners group to keep me busy and keep me honest. You guys have been a pleasure to work with and, when you’re taking live fire as you were that fateful morning at Lucille’s, a positive thrill to cover.

Good luck and try to keep your heads down once in a while.



Kevin Diaz”

**** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

See also a letter written by Congressman Jim Ramstad to Governor Arne H. Carlson commending Charlie Disney for his work in publicizing crime in south Minneapolis through the "Minneapolis crack tour" and urging the Governor to take this tour himself. (ramstad) 754 words (April 1998)

See also Why MPRAC has not been too concerned about having a bad reputation or, the "good people" are rotten to the core A difference in philosophy with other civic groups (reputation) 2475 words (November 2007)

Back to: MAIN PAGE