Putting The Trailer Before The Tractor

Manhattan; a city which was, at least below 42nd St., laid out well before the Civil War. As in, designed for pedestrians, horses and buggies. Not, really, cars.End result; it’s hard to find a parking spot anywhere in Manhattan, especially in the older parts of the city.

Unfortunately, people live there. And they buy things.

Which means things need to be delivered. Things that can’t be carried in taxis on subway cars – like shipments of food, toiletries, organic arugula, and all the other necessities of modern urban life on amid six figure income.

Hardest of all? Finding a spot to park when you are a delivery truck, hauling all of those necessities to all of the stores in lower Manhattan.

Since “widening the streets” is not an option, New York City adapted by, essentially, selling licenses to double park. That’s not really what they are – it’s basically just a special plea bargain that draws a cut rate for parking tickets incurred while delivering to stores. But it’s a market reaction, and a not completely stupid response by government, and as a result, goods actually get to lower Manhattan.

So what could go wrong?

“New Urbanists” who see more tax money to be squeezed out of the productive part of society, same as always:

The latest chapter New York’s working people and the city’s dumb, dumb urbanists:

When the city zeroes out the cost of undisputed tickets for delivery companies as part of a special program to reduce the cost of parking violations, it’s also giving them a pass on a fee required by the state. That surcharge funds anti-drunk driving programs, among other initiatives, and advocates say the city and state could be missing out on tens of millions of dollars each year.

“Missing Out” – provided one presumes that one’s money belongs to the state first, then the people and companies that earn it.

And they do presume that:

“We’ve taken issue with the stipulated fine program before,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White, “[for] essentially giving large freight haulers or delivery companies incentives to break parking laws.”…
Bolofsky estimates that three million of the city’s approximately 10 million annual traffic tickets go through the Stipulated Fine or Commercial Abatement programs. That means up to $45 million in uncollected surcharges each year, though the number is likely lower since not all violations are reduced to $0 under the program.
“It does appear that in their rush to give discounts to large carriers, that they have potentially been missing out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue for various life-saving programs,” White said. “It’s another reason why they should end the preferential treatment of pervasive lawbreakers.”

Oh, just wait; when the urbanists win in the Twin Cities, it’ll be the same here.

From The Top

Caught on Twitter a little while ago, Minneapolis Police chief Harteau said:

@ChiefHarteau: @CrimeWatchNE @MSP my officers and the community see too much gun violence and little if any is due to self-defense.

Not sure when Chief Harteau got so bloodthirsty.  Self-defense only rarely ends with someone dead.

In theory, you’d think someone with 28 years in uniform would know that.

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Condo

The  Cheapo Recorxs in Uptown Minneapolis is closing this fall, to be replaced by one of those ofay, mixed use condominium buildings that are starting to choke the neighborhood.

To which many of my readers will say “meh”.  Shopping for physical things in stores is passé, were told.

I think it’s a huge loss. Partly it’s because I hate shopping online. Having worked in e-commerce, I don’t trust e-commerce. 

More so it’s because, like bookstores – which we are also told are on the way out – they are relics from the time before social media, when people actually had to be social to do things like, you know, buy music and books.

Our devices have convinced many of us that we are always more busy than we used to be, and that more than a few minutes browsing for music — especially something other than an MP3 or stream — is outdated. Why spend even a couple minutes walking down aisles just to find the genre of your choosing when a search bar awaits?

Of course, there are still music stores out there; Hymie’s, The Electric Fetus, and if you’re into hip-hop, Urban Lights are all thriving.

Those are, of course, all “curated” stores – meaning that the music you find is dependent on the taste of the “curator”.  Don’t get me wrong – some of those “curators” are excellent.  

But how do you replace the broad, sweeping unpredictability of a Cheapo?

And don’t say “on iTunes” or “try Spotify!”.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’ve never downloaded or streamed music.  But shopping for our music and books in the same place we do our Facebook cat pictures, our taxes, our blogging? Why not do all of our eating and sleeping in the same place, while were at it?

For Those Afraid…

… that a potential, currently unforeseen retirement from the state legislature by Phyllis Kahn would result in a shortage of completely daft, dotty ideas in Minnesota politics – fear not.

Alondra Cano is ready to step in, without breaking a sweat.

“If people want to go to the Y and exercise, well why aren’t all those bicycles and all those treadmills connected to a grid of energy where we’re ourselves generating our own electricity instead of trying to get it from somewhere else?” she asked.

Cano suggested pedal-based peanut butter as a possible alternative to a facility the city’s water department wants to build in her ward. She opposes that proposal, which goes before the Minneapolis Planning Commission next week.

She says the site, which is currently home to a roofing material warehouse, could be put to much better use.

“We have to really unleash our imagination and not be afraid to experiment with new models,” she said.

And this isn’t Ms. Cano’s first entree into the world of Kahning her constituents.

Given Minneapolis’ voters, I see a long, fruitful political career ahead for Ms. Cano.

Disappointment

When I first saw this illustration…:

IMG_3600.JPG

… I thought for a brief moment that there was an event that involved bicyclists chasing after fleeing packs of terrified runners through the streets of Minneapolis.

Upon further reading, I see it’s just a duathlon.

Opportunity lost.

Open Letter To Mayor Betsy Hodges

To:  Betsy Hodges – Mayor, City of Minneapolis
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Protest Plans

Dear Mayor Hodges,

I, like (I take it, after the news that the Minneapolis Police were ordered to facilitate rather than hinder the blocking of I35W by protesters yesterday) you, am a big believer in the First Amendment right to free speech, especially free speech focused on political protest. 

This is especially important, since it wasn’t all that long ago that Tea Party protesters were being harassed by the police for waving signs above the freeway as “too distracting”. 

This seems like a major step forward!

So if it’s OK with you, I’d very much like to reserve I35W at 28th Street for some of my friends; the limited-government, pro-Second-Amendment, pro-life, pro-school-choice, fiscal-responsibility and other right-of-center movements. 

Have your people call my people!

That is all.

 

Priorities

Our schools are failing, and every snowfall turns our streets into Bolivian goat paths.

But they’re talking about putting a “cap” on 35W from Washington down to 5th Street.

It’s a noise-abatement thing:

Across the country, cities are covering loud highway trenches with lids, or caps, that block out noise, restore old neighborhood connections and yield development opportunities.

In Minneapolis, planners have their eye on covering a portion of Interstate 35W that separates Downtown East and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods, running from Washington Avenue S. to about 5th Street.

A lid over that gap would create 17 acres of green space above the highway and the chance to put up new buildings on both sides.

Still in the early concept stages, the project team has yet to nail down a cost estimate or get a funding proposal in place, but they say the payout will be greater than the risk.

They always do, don’t they? 

At least they’re not talking about making it a retractable roof.

That’s One Way To Speed Up The “Green Line”

The “Green Line” – nee the “Central Corridor”, aka “The current Met Council’s $1.4 Billion monument to its own wisdom” – has, exactly as predicted in conservative circles, turned out to be a very, very slow variety of “rapid transit”.  In its first four months in service, it’s clocked the trip between the downtowns at well over an hour; that’s about the same as the 50 Line limited stop bus it replaced, not that much faster than the 16 Local that it trudges down University with, and slower – much slower – than the 94 Express that it shouldered out of existence, except during rush hour. 

Part of the problem – exactly as I discussed on my radio show in 2007-2008 – is that the train operates at street grade level, and has to obey the same traffic signals as all the cars, trucks and buses on the street.

But at least one MTC driver seems to have figured out a way to jumpstart his route times – by ignoring traffic lights; the video in the attached story shows a “Green Line” train crossing a street in Prospect Park (southeast Minneapolis) against a green light on the cross street.  Note that that green light is on throughout the entire motion of the train across the street.

The MTC has an explanation, of course:

Metro Transit spokesperson Drew Kerr declined to answer specific questions about the video because “you can’t see what signals were indicating to the train. A train doesn’t follow green or red lights like a car does.”

If the train driver’s special signals conflict with the lights that the cars around it are seeing – as they clearly do?    I’m no Met Council traffic engineer, but I’m seeing a problem, here…

Self-Defense

The rumors started flying over the weekend – and Tuesday, we got confirmation:  one of the rash of shootings in Minneapolis over the weekend involved a carry permittee, a 21 year old Minneapolis man:

Authorities believe he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot 18-year-old Earl Malone Saturday night at the intersection of Knox Avenue North and 26th Street.

Police took the 21-year-old man into custody at the scene. Sources tell WCCO the man has a conceal-and-carry [sic] permit, and told police he shot Malone because he had tried to rob him.

According to a Facebook post from the Twin Cities Gun Owners and Carry Forum and the irreplaceable Shelley Leeson – a reliable source on these sorts of stories – the permit holder apparently said Malone was armed, and tried to car-jack him. 

According to police files, the 21-year-old permittee fired three shots; Malone fled, and the permittee called 911, exactly as one is supposed to do.  Squads responding found Malone dead – his gun still in his hand. 

Since the permittee has been released without charges, you may be certain of three things:

  1. He didn’t pick a fight with Mr. Malone.  Indeed, he did everything feasible to get away from the fight (with “feasible” being the operative word).
  2. The permittee legitimately feared being killed or maimed – enough so that the notoriously anti-gun Henco attorney Mike Freeman was convinced the case didn’t need to go to trial.
  3. The use of lethal force was appropriate under the circumstances; if it weren’t, Mike Freeman would pounce like a vulture.

And while the identity of the shooter has not been released, and likely won’t be (for the shooter’s protection, no doubt), I’m going to hazard a guess – and it is only a guess – that the permittee is African-American. 

If it weren’t true, the local media and the cluster of anti-gun pressure groups, who would love to have a Trayvon Martin of their very own to wave like a bloody shirt, would be howling about it right now.

Minneapolis’ Real Scandal

Outrage is brewing over the scandal involving “Community Action”, a Minneapolis “non-profit” whose director, Bill Davis, spent a boatload of taxpayer money on living the high life, according to an audit

And yep, DFL figures are involved in the scandals up to their eyeballs:

[5th CD Representative and DFLer Keith] Ellison, [Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff] Hayden, [Minneapolis City Council president and DFLer Barbara] Johnson and City Council Member Robert Lilligren were on the board during the time covered by the audit. All have said they appointed alternates and did not regularly attend meetings.

Passing the buck to your patsy.  Not exactly a profile in courage…

…or, I suspect, much of a defense. 

The GOP has filed an ethics complaint against Hayden, and Ellison’s GOP challenger Doug Daggett has got Ellison pretty well dialed in.

But here’s the real scandal;  this is inevitable in a one-party city like Minneapolis. 

Maintaining one-party control in a place like Minneapolis (or Saint Paul, which has its own single-party patronage scandal brewing) requires paying off a lot of stakeholders from the dominant political class – in both the Twin Cities’ cases, that’s the DFL.

There are only so many patronage jobs available for the giving out in city government.  Likewise, the city school district can only absorb so many petty administrators and pay for so many “consultants”.

So the “non-profit sector” serves as a patronage factory for people in the dominant political class.  While many non-profits exist to do good things, many others exist to channel money from the government run by the party in power to the people who help get and keep it elected.

Picking examples of corruption in a one-party city like Minneapolis – like its intellectual kin in Detroit, Camden, New Orleans, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC and so many more – is like playing whack-a-mole.  Until the people of Minneapolis decide they need the accountability that a multi-party government can (with a little elbow grease) bring, not to mention an adversarial (as opposed to dutiful) media? 

Meet the new scandal, same as the old scandal.  And the next scandal.

Because There Aren’t Enough Unemployed Blacks, Latinos And Immigrants In Minneapolis

Minneapolis is now talking about following Seattle’s “lead” in raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.

Council member Alondra Cano tells us she’s working with the U.S. Department of Labor to get a sense of the legal challenges the city could face if officials try to follow Seattle’s lead and raise the minimum wage within its borders.

What do you call three people without a single honest clue about economics between them? I dunno, but this pic says a thousand words. Jacob Frey (Annoying DFL Hipster, South Mpls), Ryan “Uncle Tom” Winkler (Smug Volvocrat, Saint Louis Park) and Alondra Cano (union puppet, Minneapols) grinning at the thought of more unemployed black, Latino and immigrant youth to demigogue.

 

“My office and myself and my constituents are very supportive of the efforts of fast food workers,” Cano tells us. “We’re very happy that a handful of council members are very interested in this topic. There’s a lot of political interest in this, I think people feel that it’s the morally right thing to do, and the right time to do it.”

The most annoying part?  They know it’s a dumb idea. Well, not in as many words – but read this next bit and tell me there isn’t  an “and then a Miracle happens” tucked away here:

But Cano acknowledges that the context in Minneapolis is different than it is in Seattle, where earlier this summer the city council voted to gradually increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour. “Minneapolis is a very competitive and connected environment where if we make any moves that would discourage companies from doing business here, they could move to St. Louis Park, Bloomington, or St. Paul,” Cano says. “Seattle is a hub of the local economy, a lot of companies are locked in and anchored there, so the real question is how do we ensure that people in Minneapolis benefit from this move? If we do this, how many of these jobs would stay in Minneapolis and benefit residents? At this point we’re doing a lot of research.”

They’re doing a “lot of research”.  All of it political.  None of it economical. It’s a payback to the public employee unions, perched on the backs of black, latino and immigrant Minneapolitans.  Who the DFL just knows aren ‘t voting for anyone else…

Two Patties Of Sizzling Ugh

A friend of mine from South Minneapolis emails.  The bad news?  :

Oh great, my favorite local bar and burger place where I have taken many of you is now world famous. The POTUS just had a “Jucy Lucy” at Matt’s. Crap. We’ve been going to this place for decades and now…the place will be known in every corner of the earth. Best kept secret burger joint now will be even more busy. Dang.

The good news?  At least he didn’t go to The Nook.  You thought it was hard to get into Matt’s even before the POTUS’ visit?

Compensation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Minneapolis trying pop-up parks to stop teen violence. Also:

“One goal for the pop-up parks is to connect kids with at least one caring adult who can act as a mentor and help them make good choices.”

In the Olden Days, these were known as Fathers. They’re obsolete now, replaced by government social programs.

Joe Doakes

Not so much “obsolete” as “officially denounced”.

If Planning On Driving In Saint Paul On Saturday

It’s two days until the opening of the “Green Line” – and the Met Council’s toy choo choo has already been involved in four accidents.  That’s far ahead of the pace of the Ventura Trolley.

I’ve driven down University alongside the trains; it’s more than a little bit disconcerting.  And, if you’re not really really diligent about checking your vehicle’s blind spots, potentially deadly.

But what could possibly make it worse?  They’re going to turn opening night into a pub crawl.

That’s right – like Uni doesn’t have enough drunks patrolling it on a Saturday night anyway…

 

Doakes Sunday: Stasis

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Strib says we built 3,000 apartment units in the past year but the vacancy rate stayed at 2.5% and rent stayed below $1,000.

That means we’re adding apartments as fast as people are moving in, and that the people moving in are low-income.

Where are all these low-income people moving From?

And why does Minnesota want to build apartments for more of them?

Joe Doakes

Cheap labor?

The Unthinkable

In the eternal battle between crony controlled, politically endorsed monopolies and new service is popular among hipsters, a Minneapolis City Councilman has proposed – well, suggested – the unthinkable.

The Minneapolis city Council match in a public hearing to determine how to deal with the difference in regulation between the city sponsored taxicab monopoly, and the new ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Some cities have opted to back the monopolies.

. But in Minneapolis, the ordinance sponsor, Council Member Jacob Frey, said after the hearing that he doesn’t yet know if that’s an option but he is open to considering relaxed taxi regulations.

What will those Democrats think of next?

The Government You Deserve

A friend and regular correspondent sent this from a Linden Hills Zoning Committee meeting last week:

There were about 40 citizens there to hear Council Member Palmisano speak about having to do this moratorium. Most there were opposed to the moratorium. The clear and present danger (my words) that prompted an immediate moratorium was so that a “study” could be done correctly to determine the effects of all this positive economic energy. Good heavens, storm water run-off might increase. Really folks the reasons are additional storm water, increased demands on landfills, irritating construction workers, dumpsters parked on the street (hey how about PLOWING the streets better) and ugly remodels. Wow if those are the reasons have I got a stadium remodel that should be moratoriumized for the same reason plus a burden on the current and future taxpayers.

That’s the thing about NIMBYs (people who say “not in my back yard” to everything) – they don’t want anything in their backyard!

Most people got up and said this is a real drag on their businesses, their personal lives, and it simply is an over-reaction to a problem that is already solved by zoning and permit laws. Just enforce the laws on the books. But the complaint from Mr. Cress of the planning department (CPED) is that his staff is stretched. Welcome to the real world so add some staff, authorize some overtime, work a little smarter. When asked if he recommended the moratorium he said that’s what elected officials do.

Then the last speaker from the zoning committee said she thanked the council member for not caving in to “scare” tactics of job loss and business loss. Really? What about the scare tactics of storm water increases and overflowing landfills. Good grief what a hypocrite.

This city is in so much trouble. We need more diversity at city council. The current groupthink is wildly destructive.

There’s an old adage – when you pay people to do things, they’ll do them.

The obverse of that adage is “if you get a city full of people who are True Believers in the power of government, you’ll get a lot of it”.

Squeezed

I got this via email from a friend in Minneapolis:

Cam Winton posted about this on Facebook. The current city overseers do not want single family dwellings. They have said as much. We are not in their vision for the future. Our little happy lives living in single family homes is destroying their view of the world.

I rode the bus this morning with a neighbor today who shared his story of increased taxes, I shared mine, he told me of neighbors with huge jumps. At work I talked to another county employee who is ready to sell her house which is located about 4 blocks from mine. Reason…unbelievable hikes in taxes.

This is nuts. We are about to get rolled big time.

We certainly are.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are indulging in several parallel liberal conceits:

  1. “Progressives” do, in fact, believe that there’s always a few more bucks they can wring out of any population.  The correspondent wrote that, suddenly, home valuations are skyrocketing in parts of South Minneapolis.  The idea is “pay up, or move away and let us get at all that choice property!”
  2. The idea that they know better than the free market how people want to live.  The essence of the free market is that if people don’t like, or want, a product, service or idea, they just say “no”.   As long as we have a free market for homes, people will choose what they want, and say “no” to what they don’t.  As Minneapolis is not New York or San Francisco (whatever its pretensions) – it’s built in an place with lots of land – most people eventually will look for some kind of breathing room.

Joel Kotkin predicts that at some point, “cities” as we know them today will become playgrounds for the very wealthy, and warehouses for the very poor, surrounded by…not so much “suburbs”, but exurbs and smaller communities where actual people will hold actual jobs.  I think Minneapolis is well on the way.