Backers of the St. Paul rent measure haven't made their case ("Feasible and fair," Readers Write, Oct. 29).
It is understood in every debate that the proponent of a cause bears the burden of proof. The proponents of the St. Paul rental regulation measure have not carried that burden. Here's why.
They've not clearly identified the problem(s) they seek to solve. Is the ordinance intended to prevent people from being turned out in the streets? Is it simply to ease the burden of paying rent?
They've not identified the size and scope of the problem they seek to solve. Which income levels are most affected, what percentage of those groups are affected, who are they (single, married, single-parent households), and what are the outcomes? If they have this information, they've kept it secret.
Assuming that the problem affects primarily low-income households, those earning say 40% or less of the area median income, what is the rationale for regulating rents paid by higher income groups? Why use such a blunt instrument as universal rent regulation?
What other options exist for addressing these issues, and why are they inadequate? Are they receiving housing assistance that is inadequate? I've seen nothing.
Even the studies that lend some support to the idea recognize the serious adverse consequences that may occur (e.g., conversion of units to owner-occupied single-family homes or to condominiums). Do you acknowledge that this has been seen in many cities that have adopted rent regulations? If so, how do you propose to avoid these problems? If not, what is the basis for your denial?
Some studies have reported a decrease in housing units affordable by the lowest-income households following the adoption of rent regulations. Why won't that happen here?
If you are trying to address homelessness, bear in mind that rent increases are not the primary problem for those who can't afford rent at any level or who find rental doors closed to them because of a variety of other factors.
It is not the burden of those of us who ask these questions to demonstrate that the measure won't work. All that we can do is point out the issues advocates have ignored and demand that they address them. Until then, the measure should be defeated.
James M. Hamilton, St. Paul
According to the Minneapolis city attorney, the proposed charter amendment on rent control is contrary to state law. The amendment would supposedly allow the City Council to adopt a rent control ordinance without submitting it to the voters. If the council did this, the city would be sued. The city attorney would then be in the awkward position of defending an ordinance that he had publicly declared would violate state law.
According to the city attorney, if the amendment passed, state law requires that the voters be given a second opportunity to approve or reject rent control. The Charter Commission and the city attorney recommended modifying the proposal to avoid the conflict with state law — specifically, by clarifying that a rent control ordinance could only be enacted if approved by the voters.
The City Council ignored this advice and refused to change the language of the proposal. The council wants the power to enact a rent control ordinance immediately without voter approval.
Since the applicable state law (Minnesota Statute Section 471.9996) is ambiguous, the council could have set forth its own interpretation of the statute and explained why the proposed amendment is legal. The council did not do this. The council's approach: head in sand.
Many of the arguments for and against the proposed amendment should be treated with skepticism. However, it is undisputed, first, that the City Council is proposing a charter amendment that the city attorney has found to be contrary to state law and, second, that the council has not explained why the city attorney's opinion is incorrect. The unnecessary legal risk is a sufficient reason to vote against the proposal.
Tom Vasaly, Minneapolis
The writer is former assistant Minnesota attorney general.
10TH WARD CITY COUNCIL RACE
Leaders who will serve
We have a chance to bring our city together, heal and build policy in the future that delivers both reform of our police and expanded public safety. But we need a candidate who can hit the ground running and deliver on these reforms. I am that person for the 10th Ward City Council seat.
As the only candidate running for the 10th Ward who has served as a council member before, having worked with three Minneapolis mayors, many council members and senior city staff in the last 12 years as president of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, I bring a depth and breadth of experience that is unequaled. I have served as a pastor for more than 30 years, have been an executive of several nonprofits, and now work in the for-profit sector.
I will be ready in the first week to make progress on the vital issues facing our city. My temperament, skills and training are a perfect match for a council that needs to learn to work together on behalf of all Minneapolis residents. I will build strong productive relationships with all council members, even those I disagree with.
Public safety is top of mind for voters. Speaking with residents it is clear most want to both transform the Minneapolis Police Department and keep enough officers on the street to keep us all safe. While I will vote "no" on City Question 2, I share many of the same goals but will not support something for which there is no plan. However, I will work to transform the MPD under Chief Medaria Arradondo's leadership. We must bring our city back together.
This is the most important election in a generation — our city needs experienced and responsible leadership!
David Wheeler, Minneapolis
As 10th Ward residents, we deserve a leader who will serve residents, fight for systemic changes that will improve the lives of all people and uplift the voices of historically marginalized communities. That's why we support Aisha Chughtai in the 10th Ward Minneapolis City Council race.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board endorsed a conservative candidate in the Minneapolis 10th Ward race ("Strong voices for central neighborhoods," Oct. 14). We wholeheartedly disagree with their endorsement. Being a successful elected leader is not about having served on the most boards or having a law degree. The best leaders have the lived experience of those who are struggling and know how to navigate systems and build relationships with colleagues and other elected leaders. Creating change is about more than voting correctly. It takes organizing skills to work with other council members, city staff and communities to move progressive ideas into reality. Chughtai will do this well.
Chughtai's lived experience provides essential insight into what communities need. Chughtai is a leader who will leave no one behind because she knows what it's like to be left behind. Like us, Chughtai is a renter. The 10th Ward is an 80% renter community and for too long, the voices of people who experience housing insecurity have not had an advocate in City Hall.
Chughtai has built relationships with and earned the support of elected leaders across every level of government. She has built an impressive coalition of Minnesota's most progressive elected officials, unions and member organizations. Chughtai also has deep and authentic relationships with organizers, activists and community leaders in the ward. From her work to keep tenants in their homes to helping make sure community members were fed in the aftermath of the uprising, Chughtai has proven her dedication to implementing creative solutions for our communities.
Tenth Ward voters deserve a leader with bold progressive values, a history of building coalitions and the lived experiences of those who've been left behind by the city. Aisha Chughtai is that leader — we urge our fellow 10th Ward residents to vote for her.
Halley Norman and Kameron Brodie, Minneapolis
The writers are residents of the 10th Ward.
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