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The Good, The Bad, and The . . . Unimaginable 10/22/14 Updated 10/23/14, 2:42 PM

I’m feeling a little philosophical today.  On Sunday I had an interesting conversation on the general concept of good and evil.  The person I was talking to said there was definitely evil in the world.  I agreed, and said there was also good – that there can’t be one without the other.  That led us to talk about the bible, and the story of how God cast out Lucifer from Heaven.  Hmmmmm, God made the angels, so the bible says, and then he cast out the wayward angels. 

Why not just get rid of them?  I mean, after all, when I made model cars that didn’t turn out right, I just got rid of them.  When the love of my life makes a cake that doesn’t cut it, the cake gets tossed – not punished – tossed.  (Though I have to admit, some of those model cars did get kind of banged up on the slot-car track before they were relegated to the garbage can.)  But I digress . . . why not simply get rid of the wayward angels?

Maybe because God wanted to put tests before us – to temper us, if you will.  God made good, and God made evil.  God can surely undo either or both actions.  Instead, God chooses to give us opportunities to be godly.  Yet we can choose to be ungodly.  And we can choose various degrees between absolute good, and absolute evil.  Why?

Could it be God’s way of determining if we are ready for the unimaginable, where good and evil don’t exist.

Meanwhile, Back In The Basement
The Council meeting Monday night was kind of dull.  Nothing especially controversial, and really only one surprise.

For starters, there was the annual business about unpaid water, sewer, garbage collection, mowing and fire department calls.

Among the people who are on the City’s unpaid water bill list is at least one customer who has been dead for a few years now, and  from whom collection is, shall we say, unlikely?  Another customer shows up on the list just about every year with a balance due of around $1.900.00.  This homeowner is carrying the second largest balance in the city, outdone only by a local business that includes a car wash.  No one on staff has been able to tell me why this household so consistently chooses to not pay water bills until the end of the year.  Maybe there’s a secret we should all know about how to stay ahead of the water bill game

Regarding the garbage pick up bills, one resident is disputing late payment fees, which are being compounded at a truly staggering rate.  Staff was instructed to work with the client and Elite to try to find an amicable solution.

We had an interesting request to approve a building permit for a stairway and deck on the back of a building on Broadway.  Why is that interesting?  Well, the stairway and deck are already built.  At first the building owner claimed the thought the contractor was going to get the permit, while the contractor thought the building owner was getting it.  Then the applicant said something about he thought he didn’t need a permit to tear down the old deck, and build a new one because that was just maintenance to his building.  All this from a property owner who has several properties in town, and who is an attorney.

Council Member Thill asked if there were any penalties involved, and we were told there could be, if we chose.  The Council approved the permit with a 100% surcharge on the cost of the permit.  I asked what would happen if we refused to issue the permit, and was told the applicant could be forced to remove the deck.  I’m not that nuts – if he pays the fee, let it be.

We talked about interchange options.  Progress toward a new interchange is agonizingly slow.  The City is preparing to submit a plan to MnDOT for a new interchange.  Right now Bolton & Menk is looking at the plan, and considering details about such things as the effect of the flood plain.  The fact that this plan has been in our hands for a couple of years is frustrating.  The fact that MnDOT has been unwilling to work with us until now is frustrating.  Now that our state legislators have become involve, things are picking up.  But if the legislature were to vote the funds for a new interchange this year, it would still take five to seven years before the work would actually get done.  MnDOT has projects scheduled out that far.  So, our interchange pizza comes with a lot of extra frustration.

The Council approved the City Administrator’s contract.

The Council also approved funding captioning for the Chamber of Commerce Candidates’ Forum.  The vote was 4:1, with one abstention.  Councilor Will voted no on principle, I abstained.  If you are paying attention you will realize that’s only six votes. 

Which leads us to the surprise.

Considering we were voting on the contract for the highest paid employee in the City, and considering all the brouhaha associated with the previous administrator, and considering that the contract got thrown back to the Personnel Committee once, and considering some Councilors are running for re-election, one might reasonably expect all Councilors to show up.

Didn’t happen.

Guess who.

And one Councilor was consistently trying to limit discussion and speed up the meeting.  Then, when it came time for Council Comments, he opened a new topic for discussion.

Motion to adjourn.  All in favor, say aye.

Opposed same sign.

The motion carries.  We are adjourned.

A Reader Responds
Regarding your speculations about good & evil, read the book of Job, especially chapters (38-42) where Job is interrogating God & His answers. I think a lot of it has to do with choice and the consequences. There are simply a lot of questions we'll never have answers to this side of eternity.

Tim Bischke

Addendum
A reader asked what the new topic of discussion was.  The subject was whether the City could require homeowners to paint their homes.  It was raised because someone asked the Councilor if it was possible to force a homeowner to paint a home that was in dire need.  You know which house this is, and neighbors who may not agree on anything else agree the house is rundown.

The City Attorney advised us we need to be very careful about how such ordinances are structured.  First, we are dealing with a very sensitive issue of property owners’ rights.  Do YOU want the City telling you when and how your home must be painted?  Second, such ordinances must be structured to avoid targeting one individual property.  And finally, such ordinances must be structured to prevent adversarial enforcement – Homeowner A is mad at Homeowner B, and complains to the City as a means of expressing his anger.

Ramshackle buildings do bring down the value of entire neighborhoods, but does the City want to tell a homeowner he must paint his home now, when the homeowner may be trying to save up for new siding?  What if the homeowner simply can’t afford to paint his home? 

This is not an issue a Councilor should bring up at the end of a meeting, as a bolt out of the blue.  Councilors are able to create agenda items for inclusion in the meeting information packet.  This gives colleagues and Staff a chance to study the issue, and make a measured response.  Requesting an agenda item is not hard.  If I can do it, any Councilor can. 

Another Reader Responds
I can tell you after living in Mpls for 14 years, that they do in fact have ordinances about painting.  Ordinance 244.500 Article VI.  Enjoy!  The “letter” they send you states that you have X amount of time to paint whatever structure they deem is in need and then if you don’t do it, they will; and will send the homeowner the bill.  That’s what got me to paint my garage trim, which in my opinion wasn’t even bad.  And therein lies part of the problem – one inspector says it’s o.k. and another says it’s not.  There are obvious problem homes, but it’s the smaller issues that can be tricky.  Did I like the ordinance? Nope.  Mostly because I knew someone from the city was driving around looking at private property concerning trash, painting, etc. without the knowledge of the homeowner.

I always think it’s better to have a direct discussion with the “offender” and maybe even offer help – too bad we don’t have any volunteer community groups that would lift a hand.  After being forced to paint, I can just imagine what color(s) they might paint it just to p*** off their neighbors even more….just think about Joseph and his “Technicolor Dream Coat”!!

Do more ordinances make better neighbors?  Good question.

Nancy Murray

My Response
When a city takes an action, and bills a homeowner for the cost, if the homeowner can’t or won’t pay, the city ultimately can put a lien on the property for unpaid taxes.  So it’s very conceivable a homeowner who can’t afford to paint a house could be put out on the street.  Gotta be a better way.

The Quote:
He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.

          Robert Louis Stevenson


City Council Meeting, Monday, November 3rd, 6:30 PM, at Jordan City Hall

Chamber of Commerce Council Candidate Forum, Wednesday, October 29th, 7:00 PM, Jordan Senior High School

Videos are now on the Video Page

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