PAGE 4THE WATCHDOG ISSUE 60 2008
REPORT ON STBThree St. Paul landlords are suing the city of St. Paul for real-estate racketeering under the RICO act. The suit was filed in 2004; it’s still in the discovery phase. Part of the problem, plaintiffs allege, is that city attorneys have destroyed evidence that they need to prove their case.
A hearing was held in U.S. District Court on Monday, April 14, 2008, to consider a motion by
the plaintiff to impose sanctions on the city for violating court rules. John Schumaker was attorney for one of the plaintiffs, Frank Steinhauser. In his lead statement, Schumaker discussed withholding of documents pertaining to St. Paul’s Public Housing
Authority. The purpose was to see if St. Paul city inspectors treated public housing differently than private-sector landlords with respect to “problem properties”. This is defined as an “intersection between code violations and landlord or tenant misconduct.” By that standard, St. Paul public housing was known to include numerous “problem properties”.
Yet, city inspectors took no action against them.There were no condemnations or code compliances required of public-housing units as there would have been against private-sector landlords in the same situation.
The City of St. Paul took the position that the Public Housing Authority was not part of St. Paul city government and therefore it had no responsibility for producing documents of that agency. In practice, plaintiffs were able to learn about practices relating to that agency only if they were mentioned in other documents. If a contract mentioned PHA, then plaintiff’s attorneys were able to locate the related document. If
Bill McGaughey, photo taken in St. Louis Park on July 15, 2008
* McGaughey is not a “tax-and-spend” Democrat Bill McGaughey