I meant to write this post last week, but what can I say life got in the way. I was truly intrigued last week when I read Thomas Ott's story "Shaker Heights may penalize landlords for tenants' crimes" in the Plain Dealer.
In the story Shaker officials indicate they are trying to deal with "quality of life" issues in one of this community's first integrated suburbs by proposing a law that would penalize landlords if tenants commit crimes within 1,000 feet of where they live. I read this and began scratching my head, and wondering what were these officials thinking. Landlords should be held accountable for the state of their property and for the actions - to some degree of their tenants if it truly becomes a nuisance property, but to tell me that I am responsible for the actions of someone away from their home is ludicrous.
The more I hear of laws like this I begin to wonder what country am I living in? We are becoming a society of knee-jerk reactionists and no one seems to want to look at the real problems that are causing some of these societal ills and taking the time to try and address the causes not the effects.
Now why would I ask is this a new form of segregation? I'm glad you asked because sadly I have a response. A few years ago, Shaker began to selectively tackle the problem of absentee landlords by aggressively citing residents for neglecting their property. The postcard for this neglect was a black grandmother who was in her late 60s or early 70s with a number of health issues and she was struggling to correct the problems at her property. What did this wonderful community do, they arrested her!
This case sparked my interest because I know several people who live or own property in Shaker and I have watched how they selectively cite certain areas of the city while you can drive through other sections and notice some of the same problems that just continue to persist. The areas they seem to concentrate on are heavily populated by blacks and happen to be closest to the border of the City of Cleveland.
Shaker Heights has always been a progressive city, but this level of progress appears to be more of a regression to times gone by, times many of us don't want to see revisited.
This article was also interesting because a slight comparison was made to the efforts of Bedford officials to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children if they were detained or arrested repeatedly. This is like comparing apples to oranges - there is no comparison. Parents are the first line of discipline in a child's life and if they shirk that duty they should be held accountable. If they find they cannot handle an unruly children they should be looking for sources to help deal with them, but if you claim ignorance to the behavior I'm sure a $250 fine will enlighten you!