Will landlords defy Madison mandate?

They might, they just might.

Last night, the Madison Common Council passed an ordinance compelling landlords to provide renters with voter registration information.

That’s a good thing, right? Voting is a citizen’s patriotic right and duty. Like The Wisconsin State Journal said this morning: “Renters moving to new dwellings won’t have to go looking for voter registration information.” It will be right there for them, along with info on garbage pick-up day.

Sure, voting is a good thing. So is flossing. City government has no right to compel a business to provide information that is unrelated to the business’s purpose. This latest council directive [Ordinance 32.06(5)] is the drip drip drip of statism, each drop a small discouragement that only encourages ever-greater tolls.

Housing provider Eileen Bruskewitz told me today, “I'm getting email from landlords saying they want to fight this. It is the slippery slope. Will they make us give out the American Dental Association pamphlet about flossing your teeth next? … The sheer audacity of imposing a political mandate on a private business! We can't let this stand.”

Yes, defy the mandate. Make the test case; be prepared to go all the way to the state supreme court. (One foolish landlord told me that he could not afford the $10,000 cost of such defiance. Why does this coward think that he would have to pay even one penny of it when that cost will be pooled among other freedom-lovers?) Remember what Rep. Paul Ryan said about the Scott Walker recall: courage is on the ballot.

In a communication to the Common Council the day before the vote, Eileen (we miss her on the Dane County Board) declared:

This ordinance unduly interferes with our business for political purposes. … We will not do your job for you. If you want your constituents to vote, you can give them the information they need to vote. Nor will we provide information for absentee ballots when tenants go on vacation.

We are mandated to give more information to a tenant to rent an apartment than is required to purchase real property. That information IS important for living in their apartments. We will not provide a form that has no relevancy to tenancy.

Eileen is off the mark in theorizing that the latest city mandate unlawfully “compels, induces, or prevails upon an elector either to vote or refrain from voting at any election for or against a particular candidate or referendum.”

Ordering someone to vote or face eviction would, indeed, violate, but not handing out registration materials.

But it is settled law that a regulation must be reasonably related to the business purpose. Information on recycling? Yes. Voter information? No.

Landlords are evil capitalists

Maybe it’s the term “landlord.” Something Dickensian about it; rousting the poor crofters from their thatched huts.

Better term: housing providers. The council’s action – on a voice vote, yet (couldn’t just one member demand a roll call? Has the housing industry no friends on the council?) – is still more evidence of the anti-business mentality of this legislative body. It is entirely possible that Mayor Paul Soglin will veto this ordinance. But why should he take the political hit?

The Wisconsin State Journal won’t take his back. The Chamber of Commerce hasn’t put up a fuss. Who will speak for the small business person?

This is virtue on the cheap, salvation on someone else’s dime. The alders pose for holy pictures, the landlords do the good deeds.

Alders with no experience outside the requisitioning of tax dollars know best – people like Bridget Maniaci (her holy picture below), all of 28 years old, a 2007 college graduate and sandwich shop waitress now in training for the state Legislature and, some day, Congress.

Irony of irony, as Chris Rickert pointed out in his WI State Journal column, Ald. Bridget Maniaci got the idea at a national seminar put on by the Young Elected Officials Network, “a 501(c)(3) arm of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way.” In other words, the Left’s version of ALEC.

Still more evidence of the deep-seated antagonism the city of Madison has toward the business community. Evidence that the (Greater) Madison Area Chamber of Commerce needs to run businesspeople for elective office.

Let’s build a train!

State government in California is hemorrhaging money; three of its cities have declared bankruptcy. (One of them, San Bernardino, is paying minimum wage to its employees.) Services like police and fire protection are being cut left and right. (Read Steven Malanga’s description/prescription in the L.A. Times.) So what is the state’s response? Let’s build a train!

Timothy Nerenz, doctor of libertarianism, picks up the narrative:

The cost to build the entire 520-mile length of California’s High-speed Rail is now estimated to exceed $98 billion. … There are 119 countries whose GDP is less than $98 billion.

The FAQ page of the California High Speed Rail Authority points to Spain as its role model. Yes, that Spain – the nation that had to borrow money from France to pay its portion of the Greek bailout to keep Portugal from falling next and taking Italy with it. Thank goodness we didn’t copy their health care model, too…oh, wait…never mind.

The irony is that many of the same people who worked to kill mining in Wisconsin are out pushing for high speed rail in California. Perhaps no one has explained it to them, but there isn’t one single part in that whole system that is woven out of hemp.

Will go gay for votes?

Christian Schneider reports via NRO:

Political pandering took an odd turn in Madison, Wis., last year, when Democratic soon-to-be-congressional-candidate Kelda Helen Roys addressed a gay-pride parade near the steps of the state capitol. In a show of solidarity with the LGBT marchers, Roys referred to how she and her “partner” fled to neighboring Iowa to get married, since gay marriage was legal there.

The only problem is, Roys’s “partner” is a man named Dan Reed – a fact she never mentioned during her speech. She could have gotten married in the Madison-area district she currently represents in the state legislature. “She was clearly trying to represent herself as a member of the LGBT community,” said Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin, the state’s most visible LGBT-rights organization.

Austin Powers, that international man of mystery, said it best: “That’s a man, baby!”

Right as rain: We got a nice soaker here on the SW side of Madison – about 1 inch around 5 and 6 this morning, accompanied by the satisfying rumble of thunder. Sure sounded and smelled good. WKOW-27 says rain fell in a band between Waunakee and Verona, continuing eastward (as weather here does) into Jefferson County. So some good farmland may have been helped, as well. The airport on Madison’s northeast side recorded only 0.01 inch, and that is the official weather station.

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