Scapegoats

Miller, city council want to blame landlords for crime

"I'm a believer in providing the information to the people who are actually consuming the services, and letting essentially the marketplace decide."

Thinking of renting a unit at Celery Stalk? What if you could go to a Web page or a recorded message first and find out what crimes have occurred there in the past month? That would sure give Celery Stalk a big motivation not to rent any units to predictable bad guys.

By the way, the police department already gathers that information every month and provides it to apartment owners. But they won't give the same information to tenants.

I asked officer Angela Pardue at the North Central Operations Division, who is the department's liaison with the Crime Watch at Celery Stalk, if she would consider giving the same crime data to a resident-run Crime Watch that she already provides to the owners.

"No, I'm not allowed to do that, and I won't."

OK. I didn't want to get into the fact that she is breaking the law by giving public information to one part of the public and withholding it from another. I asked instead if she doesn't worry that apartment managers will hide the crime information she gives them from their tenants.

I think she agreed with me. She defended the managers. But she said it's the managers' bosses who are the problem. "We try to set up a Crime Watch group at the managers' locations, and we have management companies that end up firing them over it."

Yeah. Let's not belabor this until it turns into butter. I think by now the underlying truth here should be plain. It is not the job of apartment owners...it is not really in their interest...it is not reality to expect them to take over law enforcement or political organizing duties from the city.

That's the city's job. That's Mayor Miller's job. That's the city council's responsibility.

There are ways to fix what's wrong. You could take Fish's idea and apply it to residential neighborhoods as well. Want to sell your house at a good price? Better form a good Crime Watch and help get those crime stats down for your block.

Russell Fish will be able to take care of himself, by the way. I worry about Haney, a freelance paralegal. He told me it will be pretty tough financially if they make him move.

Here's the big reality: What the mayor and the council are doing is a kind of social class-baiting. And the bottom line is that it's not going to work. It's stupid. And it will not work.

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