Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hush Money

All tools in the arsenal have an impact on the graffiti problem. In the end, though, making graffiti an expensive habit is the only language that vandals understand.

Prosecutions for graffiti are rare. The City Attorney admits it. A policy decision by the Mayor and Council ensures it. Ergo, graffiti vandals remain outside the reach of the law. Out of site, out of mind.

The General Membership of Lyndale Neighborhood Association endorsed unanimously Senator Linda Berglin's efforts to eradicate graffiti in Minneapolis. Her bill is supported by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Minnesota Supreme Court. It allows a police investigator who is not an eye-witness to present "credible testimony" to identify in an informal hearing who is responsible for the graffiti.

Rather than making graffiti vandals accept consequences for bad behavior, City Hall harasses victims. Now it also proposes to punish the taxpayers. An email bragged recently, "Micro grants of up to $10,000 per project are being made available to communities and community-based organizations that target graffiti in innovative ways."

Are "Micro-Grants" free help? Or are they hush money?

HINT: How to make vandals accept consequences for bad behavior is not offered as an agenda item. Not by the Mayor or City Council, not by the City Attorney, not by those who represent the Lyndale neighborhood (Frank Hornstein and Jeff Hayden), and not by the "Innovative community microgrants" program.

In 2006, the Star Tribune reported, "The cleanup costs the city and its property owners $2.5 million annually." Costs increase annually, yet the free-ride policy for vandals merits support with hush money. Why?

It's time for neighborhood executives to do the bidding of the membership. Insist that elected leaders support Senator Berglin's graffiti bill. It's a no-brainer: Punish vandals, not victims or taxpayers.

The Graffiti Task Force
of the Lyndale neighborhood
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

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