The Minnesota Supreme Court today cleared the way for a constitutional challenge to a Red Wing ordinance that requires the inspection of rental properties.
Red Wing adopted the law in 2005 amid allegations that absentee landlords were providing unfit rental properties.
But a property rights group, the Institute for Justice, challenged the requirement that landlords unwilling to voluntarily allow their properties to be inspected would face an "administrative warrant" allowing such inspections.
Red Wing's rental inspection program has been in place for five years. During that time, inspectors have searched the rental homes of hundreds of residents, going into their closets, looking under their beds, and inspecting their bathroom cabinets. They have required "correction" of terrifying health and safety hazards like "a dirty stovetop," a damaged bedroom doorstop and a bathroom door without a lock. After losing two attempts to get warrants to search rental homes without tenant and landlord consent, the city enacted a more limited program. Now inspectors don't go into medicine cabinets or refrigerators. The most recent court decision seems to eliminate closets and cabinets as well, but inspectors still go into every room and still have access to all the personal information one can tell about a person from entering their living room, bathroom and bedroom. It is time for Minnesota courts to uphold the rights of ordinary residents to exclude unwanted visitors from their homes.
Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned lower courts in ruling the ordinance presents a constitutional question that should be decided.
"The constitutional issue that the landlords and tenants have raised is neither hypothetical nor abstract," Justice Helen Meyer wrote. "The City has actually begun enforcing the rental inspection ordinance against appellants. The City has sought not just one but three separate administrative warrants over a four-year period to insect their properties, which appellants have been forced to defend."
Lower courts had ruled that a constitutional challenge to the Red Wing ordinance was not appropriate because the landlords had successfully quashed the city's attempts to forced inspections.
"The legal interest at stake here is the right to be free from allegedly unconstitutional searches," Justice Meyer said in ordering the case sent back to the courts. "In this situation, the landlords to not have to wait until such a search is ordered or carried out to establish ripeness."5 Comments)
Photo: Brittany Tarrolly (bikini model 1) Erik Sudheimer (Guitar Player) Tiffany Tarrolly (Bikini model 2) Mike Pinter (Bass Player) Michael Yaremchuk (Co-director)
Some pictures just scream, "what's the story here?". This one qualifies.
Eric Sturm of Saint Paul sent it along today. His wife, Tanya, took it during filming of a commercial that is one of 30 finalists to be played during the Super Bowl. A contest, sponsored by Chevrolet, will determine the winner based on viewer votes.
Sturm says the commercial, the work of Sturm, Michael Yaremchuk and Erik Sudheimer, is the only finalist from Minnesota, and he concedes that some of his competition clearly came from profession ad agencies. "I think it's like voting in a dictatorship, where everybody gets a vote, but the winner is determined by one or two people," he told me this afternoon.
The inspiration for the commercial, he says, was the grandfather of one of his partners who spent much of his time trapping squirrels and moving them off his property. "He'd bring them across the High Bridge and sometimes paint their tails red to see if they came back. Everybody seems to know someone obsessed by squirrels."
It took about eight hours to shoot the video last month and another eight hours to edit it.
"One thing about living in the Twin Cities," Sturm says, "is how easy it was to find actors to come and work for nothing. We just put an ad on Craigslist and got about 30 responses, including women to wear bikinis outdoors in November."
How much did it cost? "Don't tell my wife," Sturm said. "It's about $260."
"I had to rent a squirrel suit"5 Comments)