Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stalking bills 

You can vote for silly bills to your right. But Michael -- NOT an objective blogger -- has uncovered a Duluth News Tribune article in which a Minnesota legislator admits he is not serious about a bill. The story tells of a man who built two additions to his property against the regulations of the county zoning ordinance. When he was told he had violated the ordinance, he asked for a waiver from the zoning board, which turned him down. The normal recourse for this is to file suit against the zoning board. But Rep. Tom Rukavina of Virginia authored HF495, which reads in full:
The St. Louis County Board of Adjustment shall issue a variance to any applicant who requests a variance from St. Louis County Zoning Ordinance 46, article IV, sections 3.01 and 3.03, if the property at issue is located in Government Lot 1, Section 35, Township 56, Range 17, and if the request for variance was previously denied at a meeting of the St. Louis County Board of Adjustment on December 19, 2006.
That's pretty particular to his childhood friend's property. Rukavina says now he was just trying to get their attention, but if so he did go so far as to get state Senator David Tomassoni to carry a companion bill in the Senate, and to sign up DFL House Representative David Dill as a co-author. (Dill had his name removed as a co-author last week.) That's a lot of work for a stalking horse.

I am no friend of zoning boards by and large. They tend to be used to exert power by some vested interests in a community over others and invite abuse. But the audacity of using the legislative process to threaten another governmental agency that rules against a friend is an amazing, brazen display of brutishness. This behavior will probably not be reported on again in Duluth or anywhere else, but it bears remembering when this bully comes before voters again.

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