Public Recognition for Mpls. landlords?

Fri, 14 Dec 2001

Keith (Reitman) asked about input from private property owners into thinking about an affordable housing plan:

There is one person on the transition work group who is strictly a private landlord and several more who have interests. More important, I have had several long meetings with landlords to go over detailed ideas for a housing policy, and this is being incorporated into the group's work...Much of the work on zoning and regulation reform has come from these groups. (For example, the idea of "smart codes" which I have often talked about and recently discussed with Gov. Ventura came from these talks.).... I'll continue to get more opinions from property owners because we need to solve this with more than just public money. If you have any other ideas please post them because we need all we can get.

R.T. Rybak (mayor-elect of Minneapolis)


I Nominate Charlie Disney for 2002 Neighborhood Livability Award/He earned it!

Wed, 18 Sep 2002

I wish to nominate Charlie Disney for proper, and well earned, recognition by the citizens of Mpls. His massive efforts, all voluntary, for the past eight years have changed for the better the livability in all our Mpls. neighborhoods in myriad ways.

Most Mpls. residents are not aware of the volume of good work that Charlie Disney has done for our City. I wish to share with everyone how I observed and learned from Charlie Disney as he volunteered and led the Mpls. Property Rights action committee. Continuously, for almost a decade, he fought to preserve our city's housing stock against the Demolition Juggernaut of former City Leaders and administration. He called us and led us, to picket and demonstrate to protect perfectly worthy, and often attractive residential property from demolition by the City.

The direct recipient of his efforts are Mpls. neighborhoods which now have many more affordable dwelling units because of Charlie Disney's ' whistle-blowing ' against the willy-nilly demolition of private, and public, housing by those same City Leaders. He highlighted for us the folly of Mpls. housing policy: 1/ The demolition of affordable housing using tax money and neighborhood NRP money(also tax money) to destroy our existing housing stock. 2/ Most all subsequent rebuilding done through so-called Non-Profit Developers, with excessive cost and limited outcome. He demonstrated the importance of the small businessman called landlord in protecting, preserving, restoring and developing, with private capital, our City's housing stock, over and over again.

Our most desperate, and dangerous neighborhoods, are now safer and more pleasant places to live and raise families; thanks to huge efforts by Charlie Disney. When his research convinced him that our City Leaders allowed Whittier, Phillips, Central and Near North as a red light district for drug dealing, prostitutes, and other criminal activity, he spoke out and acted out. He fought like a lion to publicize, and end a virtual lock up and substitute jail for gangsters, junkies, and all manner of law breakers in these already besieged neighborhoods. His battle cry was always, ' Don't punish buildings with a demolition/death sentence for the misbehaviors of people'. Do not destroy affordable/existing housing for being in proximity to drug dealers and other miscreants. Equal protection for all neighborhoods was his touchstone.

Was he not a selfless visionary; doesn't our current housing crises bear him out? Just for this effort he deserves recognition from the residents of our fair City. If it weren't for Charlie organizing us citizens, property owners, and stakeholders toward the well being of this City, we would be housing more families at the shelter with less tax base to pay for it.

Desperate neighborhood groups, and neighbors, were told by City Leaders, 'Show us your "Problem Properties" and we will knock them down for you'. There were few voices or actions besides Charlie Disney's to say- NO, this does not solve problems and it is unfair, hurtful, and wasteful! Many hostile people mocked his words and insulted him for his voluntary efforts to discuss the issues degrading our neighborhoods. He always stood fast and stayed calm, and resolute, and volunteered more!

Because of his efforts highlighting Mpls. Police unit CCP/Safe, that unit is evolving from paper work to actual police work. When City Leaders used this unit of the police to indiscriminately punish small business people called landlords, and their many honest homemaking tenants, Charlie spoke up, and rose up, again and again. He would not abide by landlords receiving "warning letters" from CCP/Safe, for alleged misconduct on premises. These warning letters were, and still are, deemed evidence of landlord malfeasance. These letters were the road to the loss of the landlords' operating licenses, and the tenant's homes, without charges, convictions, or any sort of hearing process to contest the "Warning Letter". He believed that was not/is not fair.

One police Inspector, 4th Precinct Commander Tim Dolan, after acknowledging the insight he gained from Charlie Disney, as his guest at Charlie's Mpls. Property Rights Action Committee, promised that no "Warning Letter" would be sent out from the 4th Precinct without crossing his desk for review. The people of Mpls. should be grateful for this positive outcome toward fairness, from the Commander; but I believe it simply would not have happened without years of unflagging efforts by Charlie Disney to reach out and educate all types of stakeholders. By creating "The Crack Tour" he and others caused people to attempt to change bad City policy. I believe it helped preserve housing; people's home and property. I also believe it helped to abate the disinvestment in the inner-city by promoting more scrutiny of police actions by the Commander, and more security for landlord's investments.

Regarding the unique "Crack Tour", Charlie introduced our group, and Mpls. crime problems, to US Congressmen, Judges, State Senators &Representatives, city council members, mayors, the Henn. Co. Sheriff, most of the members of the Governor’s cabinet, the school board, the MCDA, City Attorney, County Attorney, State Attorney General, a US Attorney General, and while she was in town, even Janet Reno had a chance to meet the famous Charlie Disney. Charlie was able to convince most of them that they needed to..."take the Crack Tour". The "Crack Tour" was the infamous evening ride around Portland and Park Ave. environs, and down Lake Street to show these public officials, even the judge of our local Drug Court, how besieged our inner-city neighborhoods are with open criminality. The unequal protection under the law that our City Leaders held out to the stakeholders/citizens of inner-city neighborhoods was wrong and unfair.

Charlie personally conducted about 54 "Crack Tours" and carried many (partial List included) important policy makers and policy changers through our inner-city neighborhoods to highlight neighborhood needs for equal protection under the law. This effort, and its positive outcomes alone merit great recognition by the residents of our City.

It might be said that crime in Mpls. got so bad that the burglars began to do robberies in the day because they were afraid to be out on the streets at night. Things were so bad when Charlie Disney first took action, that gunshots were fired in the distance while he, and others held a Press conference at 19th and Portland 6 years ago. Also, when he "hosted" a crack tour near Lake St., gunshots were fired behind his van. While on one crack tour, he, and his passengers, came across Karen Clark, our state Representative. She told of how she had been waiting for 2+ hours for the police to come and pick up some drugs that the drug dealers were hiding by a fence near her home.

Many of these efforts were planned on his front porch at 26th and Grand Ave. South in Whittier, where he lived and worked and organized and educated many of us, year after year, volunteer action upon action. Because of the Herculean and unique volunteering efforts by this one seer and visionary, Mpls. is a better, safer, and more equitable city for all of us; with more homes, and safer neighborhoods, for our citizens. Also, more neighborhood stakeholders are closer to enjoying equal protection under the law, as guaranteed in writing by the Founders of this Great Nation.

I call upon you, Honorable members of the judging committee, and citizens of Mpls., recognize and honor the long and noble volunteer efforts, and positive outcomes of Charlie Disney by awarding him the 2002 "Neighborhood Livability Award".

Sincerely, Keith Reitman- Near North Neighborhood


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