Good guys and bad guys
East Liverpool residents should be following the proceedings of the lawsuit filed by the East Liverpool Landlords Association against the city. Both the Morning Journal and The Review carry stories today on Thursday’s hearing in Lisbon.
This conflict has been brewing for a long time. Several years ago I was approached by a Calcutta realtor who wanted me to write an exposé on East Liverpool’s “unfair” and “excessive” fee for landlords doing business in the city. At the time, the fee was $10 per unit, but the city was threatening to double it to a whopping $20.
By the time the conversation was over, I had come to understand just how serious the problem was—not the fee or the alleged “discriminatory” city inspection practices, but how arrogant, well-to-do township residents were exploiting my town by milking the county poverty system. It was then that I began to comprehend how the “poverty racket” works.
I passed on doing the story, but I came away from the interview with a conviction that one of East Liverpool’s biggest problems is caused by these out-of-town landlords, whose only interest in the city is exploitation and profit. As long as they can conspire to keep property values (and the tax base) far below average, they will continue to profit. As to the consequences for the city, why should they care? They don’t live here.
I wonder just how many members of the East Liverpool Landlords Association actually reside in the city. Any of them? Maybe Mr. Payne should have asked that question during the hearing to provide a context. Though I do not know the answer, I would be willing to bet that few, if any, live here. If I'm way off-base, someone can set me straight by providing a list of names and addresses. I'm willing to eat crow if necessary.
While not everyone who owns rental property in the city falls into the slumlord category, this lawsuit is ultimately about much more than a few dollars in annual fees. It’s about whether the courts will support the unbridled exploitation of the county’s entrenched poverty infrastructure. It's definitely a good guys vs. bad guys situation. Let’s hope Judge Pike doesn’t let the bad guys win.