Archive for Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ethical issue

A city employee who operates substandard rental property is a poor reflection on our city government.

September 2, 2007


A landlord who has been fined for substandard conditions at his own rental property doesn't seem like the ideal person to be handling landlord-tenant mediation for the city's Human Relations Department.

The situation becomes even more complicated when the problems go beyond the physical condition of the rental property and into an area that may be covered by the city's disorderly house ordinance.

Unfortunately, that is the situation now facing Lawrence city officials. Paul Winn, who mediates landlord-tenant disputes for the city, is being prosecuted for the second time in a year for renting property that doesn't measure up to the city's housing code. He was fined in a similar case last year.

The problems in the houses include such things as water leaking through ceilings and rotted doors and flooring. But on top of that, neighbors say, the latest case involves a house where convicted offenders are living and criminal activity may be occurring.

This is a difficult situation that will require some careful handling by city officials, but it shouldn't be allowed to continue. Although City Manager David Corliss is an attorney himself and knows better than to discuss a personnel matter in public, his statements to the Journal-World indicate he is concerned about the situation.

"I believe the city commissioners and public have an expectation that everyone who has a city position be above reproach and have the highest levels of ethics in their work," Corliss said, adding that Winn would receive no special treatment and that his case would be prosecuted like any other filed in the city.

There seems little question that this situation casts doubt on Winn's ethical standards. The code violations would reflect poorly on any city employee, but they are particularly troubling for someone in Winn's position. His own conduct as a landlord could easily raise suspicions about his ability to be fair and impartial in mediating landlord-tenant disputes, even if those disputes are based on discrimination issues rather than code compliance.

The integrity of the department is at stake, which is no small matter for the city commissioners and city manager. Winn certainly deserves his day in court, but given his previous violations and the pending cases, the city must carefully assess the impact his presence on the city payroll has on public confidence in local government.


Ragingbear 10 years, 4 months ago

I bet this guy is a friend of James Dunn as well.

TheLawrenceFox 10 years, 4 months ago

Know him?!? Know him?!? He's on Winn's FREAKin advisory board for the City!

"JAMES DUNN is President of the Landlords of Lawrence, Inc. Mr. Dunn is also a member of the Oread Neighborhood Association and a member of the Lawrence Human Relations Commission."

Dunn's name may also have been associated as one that operates slum properties.

Sounds like slum lords stick pretty close in this town. Think they have a morning breakfast club meeting?

Birds of a feather flock together. But not in a gay-way. Because that's wrong...being gay, that is. Those gay people don't deserve rights. That's what God says. It doesn't take a slum lord/neighborhood activist/equal rights advocate/internet "pastor" to know this simple truth...

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Some present and past city commissioners are as guilty as Paul Winn no question about it. This will be interesting. How many other movers and shakers of Lawrence are equally as guilty?

monkeyhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

30 August 2007 at 7:23 a.m.

monkeyhawk (Anonymous) says:

"He should have been relieved of his city position after the first violation. He should now at least be suspended without pay and forced to live in that property while he is "fixing" it. Does this house fall into the category of residences that require city inspection?

It is outrageous that single family zoned landlords must submit to the city intrusion while a city employee continues to operate a suspected drug house and is housing convicted criminals."

Maybe Mr. Corliss can begin to clean up the house, otherwise known as city hall. Many of us law abiding landlords would never dream of providing substandard housing, and feel that our properties are a reflection of ourselves. It is ludicrous that my money is paying the salary of some "do gooder" slumlord who feels that he is beyond reproach. Someone earlier stated that this guy is fully aware of all the ins and outs of tenancy. He obviously got a free pass the first time, as he is still in his position.

"Some present and past city commissioners are as guilty as Paul Winn no question about it. This will be interesting. How many other movers and shakers of Lawrence are equally as guilty?"

This is NOW, and the city has an opportunity to show the little people that ALL shall be treated equally and fairly, with the law applying to everyone.

matahari 10 years, 4 months ago

James Dunn may charge high rents, but I rented from him for some time, and can't say that I consider his properties 'slum' by any means, expensive, but not slums! (he sprayed every month, and all the apts that I saw were in more than good condition....) Lemme see...slum lords? Jim Rose comes to mind...but he's no 'mover or shaker'

Ragingbear 10 years, 4 months ago

James Dunn tried to rent out an apartment to a friend of mine that had leaking pipes and exposed wires in the room he said would make a good children's bedroom.

Good luck getting your deposit back from him as well. I have heard of several dozen people having to take him to court to get it returned. In court he will do things like forge signatures and show photographs of apartments other than the one at hand.

He also runs around saying that he offers apartments so that homeless individuals on the street can get Sect. 8 and then have a place to stay. What he failed to tell anyone is that he only have 8 apartments that qualify for Sect. 8. The rest charge too much unless your a multi-person household.

Victor Dawson 10 years, 4 months ago

I think some of you need to read the article alittle more closely. I didn't see anything listed about the sub-standard condition of the apartment(s) owned by Mr. Winn. I saw sometime about getting a fine in the past and possible some drug activity which was not being cited by LPD. Furthermore, how many of you seriously enjoy being found guilty before you had your day in court. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty in this country. Also, how many of you messed on your job more a couple of times and still have that job!!! How about showing a little compassion and giving some encouragement, work a for positive cause instead of working in petty matters.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

Monkeyhawk is right. Now is now. Fix the problem. Make all landlords, not just those of single family dwellings, but also those of mulitple family dwelling, subject to inspection and licenensure. Hire and train the number of inspectors necessary to complete the inspections, and enforce the code. Level the playing field so that municipal law does not favor owners of duplexes, triplexses, and apartments over owners of single family rental units. If that is not politically feasible, then rescind the ordinance that subjects single family rentals to licensure and inspection.

Ragingbear 10 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Winn is black? I didn't know Kansas allowed them to be in local politics. After all, half of Kansas is still against allowing African-Americans the right to vote.

lunacydetector 10 years, 4 months ago

could this guy be the token third employee? i wonder what he makes?

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