Opinion

Harsh to landlords?

Should landlords be held responsible if they rent to tenants who commit crimes and are public nuisances? You bet they should. The Charlotte City Council is right to look at an ordinance that holds landlords to specific standards – and imposes fines if they do not comply.

That puts property owners and managers on alert: You can't rent to criminals without facing consequences. At a time when crime is rising sharply, such a measure can both boost public safety and improve the quality of neighborhoods.

Here's how it might work: The city would force property owners to address problems in housing where crimes and calls to police are frequent. Owners would have to register their rental property, work with police to do background checks on tenants or perhaps install lighting and fences. If landlords don't comply, they pay.

One concern: The fines must be tough enough to keep them from becoming just a minor cost of doing business.

Think this is harsh? Then try living near a rental property that's a den of thieves, crackheads or car boosters.

Ahem. Airlines slam airports

for high prices, poor service

Critics have pelted the airline industry for passing on rising fuel costs to customers, especially in the form of chintzy cuts such as eliminating free pretzels. Geez.

Well, one airline industry official recently threw a few barbs of his own – at airports. These brickbats weren't aimed at all airports, just those in Britain. You'll recall that U.S. airports got their comeuppance in a customer service survey a couple of weeks ago. Charlotte-Douglas International received an average rating.

Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association which represents more than 240 airlines worldwide, slammed airport services in Britain as overpriced and poorly performing. He said the country's Civil Aviation Authority should get the year's “Worst Regulator Award,” and he took aim at London's Heathrow Airport.

“Service levels are a national embarrassment but still the CAA increased charges by 50 percent over the last five years,” he said. “Effective regulation means delivering results on cost-efficiency and good service, not a license to print money and abuse monopoly powers.”

Take that, airports! The sentiment, though, applies to all businesses.

N.C. Medical Board plan:

Physician, reveal thyself

The N.C. Medical Board has proposed disclosing the credentials, criminal records, malpractice judgments and disciplinary actions in online profiles of every physician and physician's assistant licensed to work in this state. That's a good move. It would provide patients with more of the information they ought to have before making critical choices about their health care. The Medical Board is the licensing agency for doctors in this state.

But the N.C. Medical Society, an association of medical professionals, argues that such disclosure might give the wrong impression. Some meritless lawsuits are settled out of court to save doctors' insurance companies the high costs of going to trial or paying judgments. Yes, that's a concern, but it's not an insurmountable barrier. One way to address it would be to allow individuals to post explanations of settlements or other dispositions of lawsuits or disciplinary actions.

The Medical Board is on the right track in offering consumers more information about their doctors – and who knows? The board's Web site also might be a helpful place to look for a good doctor or physician's assistant.

Can you hear me now:

Don't annex my home!

Think things are dull at City Hall? Not in Greensboro. Police arrested 57-year-old William Marshburn at a recent Greensboro City Council meeting and charged him with threatening to shoot council members. He was upset about his home being annexed into the city.

Mr. Marshburn apparently made the threat to a city staff member on Monday and then showed up at the council meeting Tuesday night with a bull horn, a backpack and a can of Mace.

It's unclear what Mr. Marshburn thought he would do.

A crank? Maybe, but when people show up and scream at their city council members – as they do with regularity – you never know how deep that passion runs. The police are right to be cautious.

Sign of the times

Harmut Ostrowski, head of Bertelsmann, the Berlin-based global media company (music, TV, publishing), summarized virtually every communications company's predicament in this comment on the music industry's shift to the Internet: “The good thing is, more people are listening to music than ever before. The bad thing is, it is not easy to monetize it.”

Correction

An editorial Thursday, “Robert Kennedy's death tested America's resilience,” should have said Sen. Kennedy was shot on June 5 but died on June 6, 1968.

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