City Council to discuss loitering ordinance, tenants' bill of rights

When the City Council meeting convenes tonight, Madison's heavily debated loitering ordinance will threaten to steal center stage, and many hope for the last time. Tuesday will be the last time the ordinance comes up for review and would have been permanently passed, since the council moved to strike its sunset clause last meeting, if not for Madison Mayor Sue Bauman's veto of that measure. 

 

 

 

\The mayor is encouraging as strongly as possible the police department to look into other alternative strategies, some of which are already in effect,"" said Ryan Mulcahy, press secretary for Bauman. 

 

 

 

Bauman is not ready to entirely do away with the ordinance. Instead, she backs the idea of retaining it for a few more years to allow the Madison Police Department to plan other methods to combat open-air drug sales, Mulcahy said. 

 

 

 

The clause ""was created with good intentions,"" said Ald. Tom Powell, District 5, but ""it's used to target black males almost exclusively."" According to Powell, the statistics support his position, since the African American population of Dane County is 3 percent and 80 percent of the people affected by the ordinance are African American males.  

 

 

 

""There are lots of ways to get to the same goal without trampling on people's civil liberties,"" said Powell. ""It's often used to intimidate African American teenagers who are completely innocent."" 

 

 

 

In other issues, the council will address tenants' rights, including a proposal mandating landlords provide a notice of denial of tenancy, along with another measure which would include a tenants' bill of rights with  

 

 

 

all leases. 

 

 

 

There is a tenant's right to know ordinance already in effect, requiring landlords to have a check box on rental applications if potential tenants want to know the reason for rejection. Powell claims that very few landlords have put boxes on their application. 

 

 

 

""These landlords are flagrantly disobeying county law,"" he said. 

 

 

 

Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2, said UW-Madison students should attend the meeting. 

 

 

 

""It is important to get students ... to come to the meeting to let people know they support [tenants' rights],"" she said.

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