It isn’t happening as quickly as some would like, but the Little Falls City Council should be commended for taking a hard look at the enforceability of city ordinances.
Robin Hensel remains a controversial figure in the community, and the election made clear that only a small minority agree with her approach on city issues, but the one thing she has done is forced the city to look at city policies and ordinances in terms of the city’s ability to enforce them uniformly.
Earlier this week, Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole said he would no longer enforce federal gun control laws with which he disagrees. That follows by a couple of years President Obama’s decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. If we have selective enforcement, can kangaroo courts be far behind?
Just because two people disagree on politics, that doesn’t give the city, county or nation the right to discriminate, turning a blind eye to one law or citizen and demanding compliance from another.
Last week, the Little Falls Council voted 5-3 to reimburse Hensel the $160 rental fee she paid to use Le-Bourget and Maple Island parks for a Peace and Diversity Fair last June.
While the Council is reviewing its park rental policy, some wanted to wait until the new policy is in place before determining whether to reimburse Hensel. That would have been an open invitation to be sued. It would have violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws.
Hensel already has a case pending in federal court against the city. It makes no sense to give her more ammunition.
We understand why Hensel makes many local residents grind their teeth. She’s challenging community norms repeatedly. She also takes up Council time with issues that aren’t high on the city’s agenda — like establishing a no-fly zone for drones over the city.
The Council should be commended for keeping its focus on its primary concerns: police and fire protection; water, sewer and road maintenance; and taxes and budgeting.
But the primary reason Hensel has to be taken seriously is because some policies need to be upgraded so that they can be enforced uniformly. The sign ordinance was one that needed improvement. Park rental appears to be another.
We encourage the Council to continue moving forward in reviewing and upgrading its ordinances.