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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dan Bostrom re: Boss Tweed Corruption

Home demolitions tend to be concentrated in two neighborhoods, 4A Tearing down tears through city funds

St. Paul says firm stance on eyesores makes a difference

St. Paul is plowing through its budget for bulldozers.

The city is accelerating the razing of obsolete, trashed and vacant homes, a process that began last year as the nationwide mortgage crisis unfurled. But things appear to be picking up even more now: Through the first four months of 2008, city housing inspectors have exhausted their budget for tearing down houses and are seeking hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to get through the end of the year.

"As the vacant buildings started increasing, we put pressure on the homeowners to rehab their properties," said Bob Kessler, head of St. Paul's Department of Safety and Inspections. "And if they didn't, we threatened to tear them down."

The city is following through on many of those threats.

Much of the bulldozing is concentrated in two neighborhoods — the lower East Side and North End, two of four neighborhoods the city has targeted for revitalization. Kessler will ask for an additional $640,000 from funds set aside for those neighborhoods to help pay for knocking down homes, which costs about $15,000 each.

But in Dayton's Bluff, another neighborhood ravaged by vacancies and foreclosures, razed homes are virtually nonexistent. That reflects a difference in philosophy about how to approach a widespread problem.

There, neighbors have organized a tour for today of vacant homes in an attempt to attract home buyers interested in a little sweat equity. In a sign that there still is a market

for historic homes, the tour had to be reworked at the last minute, because offers have been made on several of the homes.

"Dayton's Bluff has a really unique housing stock. It's what makes us a unique neighborhood," said City Council President Kathy Lantry, who represents the neighborhood and has broad authority over whether a house is razed. "We don't want to lose one of our assets."

Dayton's Bluff neighbor Amy Handford agrees. In 1988, she and her then-husband bought a run-down Victorian for $35,000 and restored it to its current crimson, French blue and charcoal splendor. It has been appraised at more than $400,000.

"Sometimes, you've just got to draw a line," Handford said of her neighborhood's homes. She said frequently cited problems such as squatters and copper thefts aren't always cause for tearing down a house.

"That is because of people's behavior. It isn't the house," Handford said. "We've always had a really strong neighborhood."

By contrast, the North End's District 6 and lower East Side's Payne-Phalen planning councils — two of 17 district councils citywide — saw a combined 44 homes leveled in 2007. The other 15 planning areas averaged a little more than two each.

Council Member Lee Helgen, whose 5th Ward encompasses parts of both the North End and lower East Side, said decisions on whether to raze properties are based on a number of factors, including the home's condition and whether the property is a nuisance for neighbors.

But those neighborhoods, Helgen added, are not filled with historic homes — unlike Dayton's Bluff. They were working-class areas built on poor, sometimes peaty soil, and sinking foundations have led to structural problems.

"They were never built to last 100 years, anyway," Helgen said.

Kessler said the city's aggressive stand toward dilapidated homes is paying dividends. Homeowners now take the city's threats to fix up substandard housing seriously, and several homes under city abatement orders are being renovated.

Sixth Ward Council Member Dan Bostrom, who represents much of the East Side (and sometimes is referred to as "Demolition Dan" around City Hall), said he supports demolitions as a way to help flagging neighborhoods.

"I'm not pushing for demolitions. That's not my big thing," Bostrom said. "But you've either got to fix it or it's got to be taken down. They can't simply linger out there and be a drag on the neighborhood."

More than 100 homes have been razed in St. Paul since the beginning of last year.

"I think people need to know that the city is trying to maintain the value in their neighborhoods," Bostrom said.

What's left behind raises other questions.

Once the housing market picks up, the city expects investors to buy the vacant lots for new construction. Discussions are under way about what kind of design standards, if any, should be in place for those new homes.

Bostrom, Helgen and Lantry all support some sort of design standards to ensure the new homes are in keeping with the neighborhoods. What hasn't been decided are what those design standards should be. Should they include the garage's location or the home's orientation on the lot? Should they go so far as to say how many stories a new home should be?

"It's to protect the neighbors that continue to live there," Bostrom said. "I think a lot of these folks have spent their life savings on these homes, and they'll want to protect that asset. I think we've got a responsibility to try to help them."

Jason Hoppin can be reached at 651-292-1892.


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John Krenik
It seems that the City of St. Paul is tearing down so many houses in St. Paul that they need extra funds to do so.

It is my strong feeling that this is NOT the direction the city should be moving going. This action by the city is only addressing a symptom, but is not getting to the root of the problem. Why are there so many vacant homes and businesses closing in St. Paul is the bigger question?

As some will say, "it's all the Governor's fault" or "it's the flippers" for all of the city’s economic troubles. The city and by extension the city leaders are responsible for the situation we are in with their out of control spending ($17 million in new spending that resulted in a 15.6% increase in property taxes) in these tough economic times.

These high property taxes are effecting not only the retired, poor, middle class, but also our business community. Our businesses are not competitive in the marketplace as their neighboring businesses in other cities. The city has embarked on a Negative Economic Cycle and the effects of this poor economic policy are having a dramatic negative effect on our city.

If tearing down these houses is the city's answer to reducing the vacant building list in St. Paul, is not the answer to the bigger problem. We need to set out on a new economic policy, that is based on a Positive Economic Policy, that embraces low taxes and expanded job growth and letting the average worker keep their hard-earned money.

John Krenik
Sharon Anderson
The Citys Cash Cow is arbitrary,capericous, unconstitutional,Anti-Trust Violations, Fidicuary Breech, Legal Briefs on file unabated by Lori Swanson and Ramsey Co. Attorney Susan xxx, Wodele-Gaertner
14 E. Jessamine demolished without serving the
Mortgage Co.? or Just Compensation given
Forensic Evidence: of Betty Speaker

Where are DSI relocating 1,800 vacant buildings.
the Familys or
Is the City Stealing Tenants for Public Housing, or to fill the empty high rises.
Did Jim Casi owner of 126 Winnipeg, die over the Stress of these allegedd "Nuisance" buildings.?
also been victimized by Corrupt City Officials, Fraudulent Conveyances, for DSI employees Theft, Trespass, Treason to Steal Sharons Car, Trailer, Damage the driveway, fencing, camping equipment, shut off of water, to harm,injure, exploit the seniors, vunerable homeowners for GREED.
public service site
Sharon Anderson
Submitted for educational purposes the corruption of Boss Tweed
William M. Tweed (April 3, 1823 – April 12, 1878), sometimes informally called Boss Tweed, was an American politician who was convicted for stealing over 100 million dollars from New York City taxpayers through political corruption and died in jail on April 12th 1878. Tweed was head of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th century New YorkI
n April 1870 Tweed secured the passage of a city charter putting the control of the city into the hands of mayor, the comptroller, and the commissioners of parks and public works. He then allowed contractors and others to submit invoices for inflated amounts or for work that was not done. The total amount of money stolen was never known, but has been estimated from $75 million to $200 million. Over a period of two years and eight months, while he had over 1,000 workers at his command, New York City's debts increased from $36 million in 1868 to about $136 million by 1870, with few costs or expenditures to show for the debt.

Tweed was accused of defrauding the city by having contractors present excessive bills for work performed -- typically ranging from 15 to 65 percent
typically today City of St. Paul's DeJaVu

Dan Bostrom and his son Matt in charge of Homeland Security
Showing posts 1 - 3 of 3

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