Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Different Kind of Sanctuary

There has been much ado about so-called "sanctuary cities" in the US--where police and politicians assure illegal immigrants that no matter what they do, officials will not report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  President Trump has threatened to pull their Federal funding and some conservative talk show hosts have called for those police chiefs and politicians to be arrested.  While they may not have made any statements to infer that Oshkosh is a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants, city leaders are granting that same status to renters.

The always animated Tim Ernst of the Oshkosh Renters Coalition appeared before the Common Council this week asking that the City give greater assurances to tenants that inspectors performing the mandatory inspections of rental units will not report any illegal activity they may come across.  Earlier this week, we told you that City Manager Mark Rohloff accused some landlords of sending letters to renters claiming inspectors would go to police with information on illegal activity in an effort to dissuade them from scheduling an inspection of their unit.

Now think about what you are telling city employees with this "see--but don't tell" policy.  "Don't worry about the heroin and needles you see laying around--it's more dangerous for them to have to live with a faulty water heater."  And how could you turn your back on evidence of child abuse or neglect in a residence?  Or you see child pornography?  As a human being wouldn't you have to have a strong desire to make sure those victims are removed from that situation as soon as possible?  Nope.  "Sorry kid, I'm just here to make sure all the outlets all work".

Imagine if the City of West Allis had a rental registry program with mandatory inspections in the late 1980's and an inspector was sent out to check on Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment.  You think that guy was just going to head back to the office and "forget" about what he had found?  Of course, the landlords themselves should also be demanding the reporting of illegal activity--because they shouldn't want drug use, child abuse or god knows what else going on in their properties--right?

So the next time you hear Oshkosh Police asking you to "help them fight crime" by reporting anything suspicious in your neighborhood, tell them they can start with the rental inspectors first.

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