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Monday, August 04, 2008


Please click onto the COMMENTS for the introduction.


Blogger Bob said...

Hi All,

I am very pleased to inform you the esteemed Council Woman Kathy Lantry will be joining us in a "Round Table" discussion on housing in Saint Paul.

I will be inviting the Mayor and the rest of the city council to join us also. City Attorney Mr. Choi can participate if he desires.

Mitch Berg of "The Patriot Radio" & "Shot In The Dark" blog and Bill Cullen of "Cullen Homes" will be the citizens representatives at this round table discussion.

The Round Table is invitation only. The city council, Mayor, Bill and Mitch. Nobody else will be allowed to post. There will be a town hall meeting after the round table open to everyone.

FIRST, we have to iron out some details and pool some questions from the readers here under this thread. A limited number of questions will be chosen from the pool. Mitch Berg and Bill Cullen will select the questions they feel will have the most significance to the subject. So, put some thought into your questions in hopes they will be chosen by these guys for the discussion at the round table.

A Democracy will be accepting questions for the city council under this thread up until 12:00 pm tomorrow.

There is a number of lawsuits against the city over housing there maybe some questions the city council cannot answer due to legalities. I hope all of you understand this.

All this being said, please post your questions here to the city in hopes Bill or Mitch will select them for the Round Table discussion on housing.

I will start a NEW topic introducing the ROUND TABLE after Mitch and Bill have selected question from the citizens.

ALL, disrespectful comments will be deleted.

11:03 AM

Anonymous said...
Disrespectful comments deleted? How sad, I was hoping to surpend all of your decency codes for this event. Any chaqnce of reconsidering Bob?

11:13 AM

Bob said...
I just want to express my gratitude to Kathy for being a stand up elected official.

Whether you agree with her positions or not, she gained a ton of respect from me. I pray other city officials will come and speak to so many of you who have issues with the city over housing.

You can disagree with Kathy or any other city official, however, if they face you to attempt to answer your concerns, I feel they are deserving of your respect whether you agree with them or not.

Next election, VOTE if you don't like how our elected officials run our city.

"We are on a truth seeking mission"
here at A Democracy.

May God bless all of you who read or participate here!

11:17 AM

11:47 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Sorry all, I had to repost the statements above. I needed to edit something.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're full of crap. Lantry doesn't have the courage to come on a blog like this, so unless you've got a tape recording of the phone call to her, I think this is just a marketing ploy. What's a matter Bobby? Traffic going down on the blog a little?

12:09 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Re: blog‏
From: Kathy Lantry (
Sent: Fri 8/01/08 2:09 PM
To: Bob Johnson (******

Bob, You would have to ask other councilmembers yourself, but I would be willing to participate. Pass along the details and if it all works, I would be glad to blog along.

Bob Johnson
****** 8/1/2008 12:18 PM

Hi Kathy, As you probably know my blog "A Democracy" is the only local blog that covers housing issues almost weekly. I have reason to believe the A Democracy blog is one of the most popular blogs in Saint Paul. Some may consider it "In-Famous". :-) I am respectfully requesting you and "other council members" to join us at A Democracy for a "round table discussion" on housing in Saint Paul. I will make sure my posters are respectful to you and any other council member who decides to participate. I will set up the topic so only REGISTERED posters can comment. Also, I will moderate and delete any offensive material posted. After the discussion I will close the topic to further comment. I am open to suggestions for other ground rules for a discussion with the city on this subject which concerns so many citizens.
Respectfully, Bob Johnson
Host A Democracy Town Hall Meeting Saint Paul, Minnesota Electronic Town Hall Meeting***-****

P.S. I really want my blog to be a place city officials can connect with citizens Kathy. I will try very hard to tone down some of craziness by some of my posters. PROMISE! I will add Eric Mitchell and Chuck Repke as moderators if this would help. They offered to do this for me in the past.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, here is a question:

Why does Lantry insist on using code enforcement to go after landlords for the behavior and crime issues of the tenants?

Codes are codes and behavior is behavior which are 2 entirely seperate things. When there's so mnay complaints from neighbors about renters, how can an educated person expect any change on the renter side when there is zero responsibility for them?

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why have you not done any type of investigation regarding the allegations of the corruption of housing code officials?

I'm not looking for some canned statement like the riocomen will get thier day in court either. There's been allegations that are serious and demand an immediate investigation before the outcome of the current lawsuits, What are you hiding that you refuse to investigate?

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question for Lantry: With the many, many houses being torn down throughout the City, how does the City Council see that tax base being replaced, by whom, and in what time frame?

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watch people pour their hearts out to the city council and some have a good case to be made. Why is there NEVER EVER any debate but rather 7 - 0 votes to deny the property owner?

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does the city take steps to add stress to people's lives in this process? Is it to shut them up?

Why are people who continually come up in litigation, like Martin, Magner, Moermond, allowed to continue without being investigated?

Why has the city betrayed the trust of vital pillars of the community? Like Johnny Howard.

Why has the city invented and taken extreme unprecedented measures against its citizens?

How does it feel for the city to unexpected be caught in this blog (light of public srutiny) with its pants down?

Why are people not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve?

How many people are dead as a result of abuse by inspectors and other officials? Stress.

Why isn't there public oversight of this process?

Why does the city invent laws and not follow appropriate guidelines?

How does the city intend to move forward when its negative approach destroys the fabric of the city?

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question:

Are there other methods being examined to keep code enforcement from being strictly complaint based for COO properties?


5:30 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I want to caution folks who have an appetite for nasty questions. I doubt HIGHLY Mitch or Bill will even consider them.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that when we watch the council meetings that the only time they seem to be REALLY interested and have some REAL energy and don't act phoney is when they are punishing some license holder for some violation?

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok I would like to make an attempt to ask a question that falls in the line of a previous posters question that Eric has already corrected which is;

Previous poster;
Why have you not done any type of investigation regarding the allegations of the corruption of housing code officials?

I'm not looking for some canned statement like the riocomen will get thier day in court either. There's been allegations that are serious and demand an immediate investigation before the outcome of the current lawsuits, What are you hiding that you refuse to investigate?

Erics suggestion for the question;

How about:

Is there any action going on internally checking on accusations against code enforcement officers? When will that information become public?

As many of you know I have moved on with my life away from the city, but I still feel violated and disrespected by a few city officials (not all officials) so here is my question;

I am wondering if there was or is going to be any form of internal investigation on the serious threat allegations that I made and have heard of other people making simular allegations regarding code enforcement officers, if yes when will the investigation information become public, if no investigation has been done and/or will not be done why not...?

Thank you
Nancy O.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The city says that a vacant home without utilities is unsafe and the results are that they now will be required to have a code compliance completed, how does lack of utilities make a vacant home unsafe? Wouldn't a vacant home with untilities on would be more prone to being a hazard? Example such as a gas leak or faulty electrical issue to cause a fire in the vacant home.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Leslie K. Lucht said...

Why have the city delay the lawsuits for 2 or 3 years?
If the city lose the lawsuits.
How will the city pay for the lawsuits?

Why does the city following the States Building codes??

Now, That the Morris vs. Sax.
States that the city must following the state building codes.
So, why you keep using code enforement offices? For the so,call fire inspection?

excel and the city of St.Paul is
breaking the Minn. Data Laws?
Ot The Federal Data Laws??

Where in the state Building codes.

State the a vacant is un safetty?
when the power is shut off?

How many taxprayer are you will to kick out of their homes? Because of The shut off.

How many taxprayer so far that you have kick out of their homes ?? Because of the shut off of power.

I was told that a fire inspector has called excel to turn off power
at someone home . How many times have this fire inspector did this??

What is the offical number of vacant homes in St. Paul??

Have you read the state building codes yet??

WhAT IS THE CITY GOING TO DO IF MORE LAWSUITS ARE file because of Morris vs Sax??

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question to the City Council:

You're playing a dangerous game with the lawsuits and the other property owners in the city.

Are you prepared to be wrong?

Where is the money going to come from if you are?

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you find the number of vacant homes in St.Paul to be a bit alarming when compared to larger cities like Mpls and the continued increase?

How many of these homes do you feel will be torn down due to lack of funds available to comply with the price of a code compliance?

With many families living paycheck to paycheck in todays society what resources are available for the homeowner that cannot afford or has poor credit or lack of equity to get financing to bring their home up to new home codes?

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are code compliance reports so arbitrary and open to interpretation?

Why don't inspectors act like professionals?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Mitch Berg said...

Thanks for asking me to participate, Bob.

I'm looking forward to it.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new vacant building ordinance makes mention of Certificates of Occupancy from the fire department. What steps will be taken to keep the beaurocrats from stopping this method of getting houses re-occupide? Will owners of vacants be able to get the fire department out to inspect against thier more reasonable code.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you determine if a neighbor is calling in complaints and the police because of behavior when it may be actually due to the residents culture and ethnical background?

If a few people in a neighborhood don't like a particular neighbor and its an older home all it takes is enough complaints and that neighbor is going to go through some terrible times with the city and possibly lose their home, how does the city council protect residents from retaliating neighbors that may be abusing the power they have with the code enforcement policies?

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the city leadership responded to what many people think is the abuse of power?

10:28 PM  
Anonymous bill cullen said...

Hey 9:35...

Can you please post the text you are talking about? I have heard rumor of this and would like to read the text...


BTW, I am flatter by Bob's trust in asking me to join this round table. I will try to ask hard questions and be respectful.

Bill Cullen.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was Mike Kalis's bar Micheals registered cat 1 when it should have been a cat 2 ot 3?

The building is an eye sore. Why did Mike get a liquor license for this building without doing a full code compliance?

Why didn't we get a public hearing?

Concerned neighbor
east side

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy has the spirit to step into this den with this pack of wolves!

My question, why?

Sock it to em Kathy!

12:06 AM  
Anonymous rodney said...

Can we all just get along?

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Is there assistance for seniors to repair their homes?

Alex Wendt
East Side Pride

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 12:09:


1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill and Mitch,

Thank you. The city might want to do some face saving gestures. Keep open the consideration that they simply have bad intentions, and got caught. All the issues have been brought up in the blog, you may remember some important issues as well.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is there a double standard when it comes to properties of insiders, such as Thune or Repke?

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under the new vacant building ordinance, it is illegal to sell a Cat 3 building.

An agreement made in violation of law is void as against public policy and therefore unenforceable.

If Foreclosing Lender takes back a home in St. Paul and the home sits vacant during the owner's redemption period, the home goes on the vacant property list.

When a buyer is located and New Lender is asked to make a loan on that property, how does New Lender know that it's safe to make that loan? How does New Lender know that this sale isn't illegal and unenforceable, meaning its mortgage is also unenforceable?

Councilmember Lantry, I know the City Council talked to local realtors before adopting the ordinance, but did you ask any title examiners or title insurance agents whether the new ordinance creates a blanket cloud on the title of every property in the city?

In the eyes of the lenders, did the Council just draw a big red line around its own city?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under Chapter 43 of St. Paul's Code of Ordinances, a vacant building is one that sat vacant for a period of time (how long depends on what's wrong with it). There might be nothing dangerous or hazardous about the home, it just took a long time to sell so it's now a vacant building.

If a house sits vacant long enough to get on the vacant property list, the City requires the house to be "brought up to code" before it can be issued a new Certificate of Occupancy. That means present code. All codes. Building code, electrical code, even energy code. That means new appliances, new insulation, new wiring and plumbing, mostly done by licensed contractors.

The rehab costs of Cat 2 vacant buildings routinely exceed $50,000 Add the value of the land and we're sinking $100 grand into old homes in Frogtown, Near North or the East Side. Appraisers can't find comps to support loans for that. The houses become unsaleable, deteriorate and eventually get torn down.

Those houses were liveable before they went vacant. Old, shabby and inefficient, yes, but liveable. We used to call them "starter homes" and they cost $40,000. A young couple could afford to buy a home and do fix-up as they went along until they could sell and move to a nicer neighborhood.

Now, it seems the Council wants nothing but shiny new homes in the city. New homes are too expensive for young people, or for single-parent families, or for new immigrants. Older homes work just fine for those folks.

Register and inspect rentals to make sure they're safe for tenants who can't control the phyical environment of their homes - fine.

Require older homes to be completely rehabbed or demolished just because they sat vacant for a while? Where's the sense in that?
Why not let those older homes in marginal neighborhoods be sold to homeowners at fair market value without the excessive cost of rehab? Why waste them?

Councilmember Lantry - would you support a moritorium on vacant building enforcement until the sub-prime crisis passes?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which is more likely to get the walls painted in my living room - putting me on a City Living Room Painting Inpection List, or putting that chore on my wife's "honey-do" list?

Councilmember Lantry: what free market solutions to the vacant building problem did the Council consider but reject when it adopted the new, tougher vacant building ordnance, and why were free market solutions rejected?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the major lenders drew a red line around Frogtown on the map and said "We won't lend any money in that neighborhood," their decision would constitute illegal discrimination based on race because that area is most occupied by racial minorities.

Even if the lenders had a business explanation about loan default rates that sounded good on its face, the practice still would be discriminatory because the facially neutral policy would have a disparate impact on racial minority property owners who no longer could sell their homes.

If lenders can't redline a neighborhood making it impossible for persons of color to sell homes there, why can the City do it with the new vacant building ordinance?

Even if it can, SHOULD the City risk destroying entire neighborhoods, dislocating hundreds of families of color?

Councilmember Lantry - did the seven white people on the City Council consider the impact of its new ordinance on the minority community? If so, what factors compelled the decision to go ahead anyway?

Joe Doakes, Como Park.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before the present scheme, the City routinely inspected 3-plexes and up but not duplexes or single-family houses. Adding those properties has overwhelmed the inspection system.

Councilmember Lantry: Do you think it's fair to say the City bit off more than it can chew?

If the motivation for the new system was to catch slumlords in Frogtown and party houses around St. Thomas, would you support a moritorium on inspection and registration of single-family and duplexes that are not located in those Target Zones?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

Someone should get a class action injunction against the city council and file a declaratory judgement action against this illegal condemnation.

Get me the proof ( I have already heard whats sounds that we have it already ) and possibly we can form an alliance to get this done.

Since i am not a home owner, I dougbt I have standing in court but I am familiar with the cort rules and procedure to get it in court.

The city knows me just well enough.

Jeff Matiatos

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The City requires Truth in Housing inspections before any house can be listed for sale. The City has a list of certified inspectors on file, all private contractors, not city employees.

Many smaller cities statewide, even some in the metro area, use private contractors for building inspections rather than city staff.

The City wants to conduct inspections of single-family and duplex rentals but doesn't have the manpower. Good landlords are paying for inspections they don't need and aren't getting; bad landlords still are skating by.

Councilmember Lantry - would you support an ordinance amendment allowing a landlord to have a private inspection done to satisfy the single-family and duplex inspection ordinance?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hijack your blog with long-winded questions, Bob, but I couldn't resist.

I hope you get substantive answers from Ms. Lantry. I don't doubt her compassion or her good intentions; I question whether the Council has thought through the implications of its actions. Not every problem requires a government solution - sometimes the best thing to do is get out of the way and let people do for themselves.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is still in force, even in St. Paul.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Joe Doakes, Como Park

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Dokes,
By saying sorry, you think its OK to Hi-Jack the blog?

If you were Eric or Chuck they would have ran you out of here by now.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Sharon Anderson is banned permenantly from using the
A Democracy Blog

9:51 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I was going to move your post to a new topic Joe. I changed my mind

Anonymous said...
I've been a landlord in St. Paul for 10 years renting multi-family, duplexes and single-family homes.

I've passed inspections under the old system and the new. I've had minimal trouble with inspectors; but then, I spend a ton of time and money on my properties and I treat inspectors as people, not enemies.

That said, the new combined process for multi-family, duplex and single-family inspections stinks.

The inspection department is actually down one staff member since taking on the enormous task of 10,000 new single-family and duplex inspections in addition to multi-family buildings. They're hopelessly swamped and years behind. Landlords are paying fees for inspections they're not getting; complainers have been targeted for inspections on all their properties.

The new point system for inspection deficiencies has no rational basis, no empirical foundation, no expert grounding. Minor energy efficiency technicalities count as much as life-safety defects. It can't survive a legal challenge.

Councilmember Lantry, would you back a moritorium on single-family and duplex inspections until the department is fully staffed and the bugs worked out of the new code?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

7:56 AM

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
Under St. Paul ordinances, a vacant building loses its Certificate of Occupancy. Nobody can live there, as owner or as renter.

Now there's a new ordinance saying you can't sell a vacant building.

I've talked to Steve Mager in Vacant Buildings. He assures me that the new ordinance applies only to Cat 3 - the tear-downs.

I've read the ordinance. It applies to all vacant buildings but allows an exception for Cat 1 and 2 if certain conditions are met before sale. If not met, sale is prohibited.

Councilmember Lantry (or City Attorney Choi), if the City adopts a regulation that takes away a property owner's right to occupy, rent, or sell the property, doesn't that basically deprive the owner of all economically viable use of the property?

Isn't that a regulatory taking under First English and following cases?

Shouldn't the City be paying fair market value in condemnation?

Joe Doakes, Como Park

8:01 AM

10:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi All,

I want to thank everyone who has participated here.

I have been informed that a large number of questions were sent directly to Mitch and Bill.I want to thank these folks also for participating.

Soon, Bill and Mitch will be sending me a list of question for city officials. I will forward the list to Kathy Lantry and any city official who will participate. After they have reviewed the questions, I will receive an OK from Kathy Lantry to Open a NEW topic titled.

Saint Paul/ Round Table Discussion on Housing

This may not be posted until early next week. So keep checking in.

I haven't sent out invitations yet to the Mayor and the rest of the council. I will do that within the next few hours.

Once again, thanks to all and

God Bless!

This topic will be LOCKED.

2:05 PM  

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