Benanav pushes a new type of bigotry

There is a new kind of bigotry in town. It is flaunted by our city leaders and directed at the majority of people reading these words.

St. Paul City Council member Jay Benanav, 4th Ward, is one of the culprits. He touts himself as anti-discriminatory and thinks racism, or rather, comments construed to be racist, are wrong and deserve City Council condemnation – especially if it is directed at a popular black man expected to be a political ally. Unfortunately, Benanav’s fight against injustice doesn’t extend to students.

In St. Paul, there is a lot of tension between homeowners and those who rent their homes, especially student-tenants. (Sound familiar to any of you who live near Dinkytown?) To solve the conflict, Benanav has made proposals that single out one type of renter – students.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Jan. 5 on a Benanav proposal that would require property owners to get a special type of license in order to rent to students. This applies to one- or two-family residences, not apartment buildings. The license would include specifications like hard-wired smoke detectors and no code violations. It is an innocent-looking idea. However, it is not what it seems.

Although he dropped it, Benanav had pushed a proposal that required student rental homes to be at least 350 feet from one another.

Why did Benanav drop his proposal? We think because it would have been difficult to enforce. However, it will not be so hard if the city can figure out which places have student-renters. If this special license ordinance passes, wait for the other proposal to be back on the table soon.

At the last scheduled public meeting on the student-housing license plan, no one showed up to complain. We hope this will not be the case at the next hearing on Dec. 10.

The fact that students aren’t a protected class, such as race, doesn’t make it OK to discriminate against them.