Price of volunteering is steep in Minneapolis

Minneapolis has a way of teaching people not to try to help.

According to the Hastings Star-Gazette , Mike Haege, who operates Custom Cut, a tree trimming business, has been kicked out of north Minneapolis, where his sister lives. He showed up on Monday after the tornado, signed the forms to be a volunteer, and started cutting up trees. He didn’t charge anybody.

“I thought it would be the perfect chance to help,” he said. “I knew there would be people needing help.”

But Minneapolis requires tree trimmers to be licensed and although Haege is licensed in Hastings, he’s not licensed in Minneapolis, the paper says.


A city inspector arrived at the scene. She told Haege he had to leave. Immediately.

“You have to leave right now,” the inspector told Haege. “You’re not licensed to be here.”

“I said, ‘I’m just a volunteer,’ and she didn’t believe me.”

Haege went back to his truck and got his volunteer paperwork. Still, that did little to get the inspector off his back.

“I don’t want to see you up here,” she told him.

“She just didn’t believe me,” he said.

A volunteer from the Urban League, who had been with Haege since he signed up to volunteer that morning, did his best to convince the inspector that Haege wasn’t charging for his services.

Residents then came out of their doors in his defense, telling the inspector that he had just performed work at their house and hadn’t charged them a dime. Still, the defense fell on deaf ears.

The inspector told him to get out of the city, so Haege left with the volunteer. As they were on their way back to the volunteer area, residents waved down Haege, pleading for help. He pulled over and helped get a tree out of the way for them.

Haege says Minneapolis cops threatened to throw him in jail.

Yesterday, he got a citation from the city for $275. A tree permit in Minneapolis, which would have required proof of liability insurance, costs about $100.

I have a call in to Minneapolis business inspection and license officials for comment.

(h/t: Bring Me The News)