Letter: Who will stand up for business owners’ rights?

From: Clyde Myers


At Thursday night’s Columbus City Council meeting, I witnessed another example of lawmakers vilifying legitimate business people. I witnessed non-productive members of our community weigh a levy on productive ones.

I am referring to the council’s passing of an ordinance that would require some, but not all, owners of rental properties to pay a fee and register their personal contact information with the city.

During the public comments hearing, landowner after landowner expressed concerns left unaddressed by the council. Those being that:

  • The required information is already available from multiple sources
  • Data integrity and privacy concerns
  • Increased costs to their businesses from not only fees, but also the added measures they would have to take in order to comply with constantly changing code requirements and the added risk of selective code enforcement

Landowners expressed concern that the city offered no data that could quantify how big of a problem getting the contact info for a landowner actually is, as well as concerns that those who were proposing the ordinance could not show how many incidents there were where landlord involvement could have been both helpful as well as legal to employ.

The biggest concern from the property owners was that the city government had not even attempted a voluntary registration process and were going straight for forced compliance and that the fee may be small this time and the information private, but what’s to stop the next city council, which could easily be made up of all new members, from voting to make the information public and increasing the fees and fines?

The Republican majority council and Republican mayor heard all of the arguments from the standing room only crowd but, with the exception of at-large councilwoman Laurie Booher (who was the only nay vote), appeared to not listen. I find this to be an enormous letdown, as Republicans are supposed to be the ones who are for private property rights, aren’t they? They’re ones who are pro-business and for keeping government small and on a tight leash, right? Aren’t they supposed to be the deregulators? So why is it that they teamed up with Democrats to authorize the use of the coercive force of government to solve a problem they can’t even quantify, without even considering an opt-in solution?

We already know that Democrats will always side with government control. That’s why Columbus put Republicans in charge. But if we can’t depend on Republicans to stand up for business owners’ private property rights, if they’re going to be reactionary like Democrats, if they’re going to lead with emotion and not facts and data, if they won’t even consider the will of the people, if more regulations and forced compliance are the only tools in the Republican toolkit, who in Columbus will fight for the rights of business and property owners? Who will fight to keep the productive people in business to produce for our community the housing and other products and services we need?