Senate Bill 5266, sponsored by Senator Steve O’Ban (28th Legislative District), and others, is working its way through the waning days (40 left of the 105) of this 2017 Legislative Session.
‘A person (if only it said ‘city’) who by aid of deception gains control of property that is rented is guilty of theft. Furthermore, a person (city) who (which) holds the property without effective consent of the owner of the property, depriving the owner of the property of its use in further rentals, is guilty of theft.
‘It is not a defense that the person (city) returned the property if the person (city) fails to pay the applicable rental charge for the property for the time that the person (city) held the personal property.’
This cut, pasted and edited version of the actual SB 5266 comes somewhat comically close to courtroom drama worthy of the likes of say Johnnie Cochran (O.J. Simpson) or, going back a bit, the formidable lawyer Abraham Lincoln, known for tackling corporate misconduct which might have played out something as follows:
Abe: ‘How many programs do you have by which to address property issues in the city?’
City: ‘Five, well, six. Now. We recently added another.’
Abe: ‘And this sixth program, what do you call it?’
City: ‘You mean now, or before?’
City: ‘Well, initially we called it the Rental Inspection Program.’
City: ‘Yes, well, we changed the name.’
Abe: ‘To what?’
City: ‘Rental Housing Safety Program.’
Abe: ‘So you removed the word inspection and inserted in its place housing and safety?
Abe: ‘And that was because?’
City: (clears throat, says something unintelligible.)
Abe: ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. Could you please speak up for the jury?’
City: ‘Safety. We changed the name to safety. Because we need to be sure people are safe. Hence the word safety.’
Abe: ‘You don’t find that deceptive? A foot in the door? A means by which to gain control of rental property under the guise of safety without the consent of the owner of the property, or obtaining that consent by coercion (voice rising); depriving the owner of the property of its use in further rentals (now pacing); until the property owner meets some capricious and arbitrary standard set by the city that, were the truth known – were not the devil in the details, deception at the door (glaring at the jury while waving his long bony finger at the doer of misdeeds, the party obviously guilty of corporate misconduct) accrues benefit to the property holder only because he or she must bear the financial burden of such an onerous law in making unwarranted repairs to satisfy some ink-well draining, paper-pushing, citadel-sitting bureaucrat desperately in need of exercise?’
City attorney stands abruptly to his feet and despite overturning his chair and spilling his coffee, vehemently objects, shaking his fist and alternatingly pounding the table.
Judge repeatedly gavels down the city attorney while himself shouting, “Order! Order in the Court! Order I say!”
City attorney is overruled.
And the jury eventually, and without really much further ado, decides in favor of the property holder.