“In Your Best Interest, Peasant!”

The Midway.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood off and on for 29 years, and continuously for almost 23 years, now.

The neighborhood gets a bad rap from people who don’t know Saint Paul – which is about 95% of the population of the Metro Area.   When most of them think of the Midway – if they think about the Midway – they think University Avenue; hot and treeless in the summer, cold and wind-swept in the winter, lined with tatty big-box stores at Snelling, check cashing shops and Popeyes at Lexington, and little H’Mong, Lao, Latino, Black and African shops down by Dale and Rice that probably strike visitors from Eagan and Circle Pines and Kenwood and Crocus Hill for that matter as “sketchy and dangerous”.

The part they miss is that people live, work, play and socialize here.

Even at the McDonalds and Perkins in the huge parking lot by the Midway Center strip mall.  The two franchises are much-loathed by hipsters and pseudo-sophisticates and the entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set that sees itself as soccer fans, most of whom would likely crap a kitten if dropped into the colorful diversity of University Avenue street life that uses the two places as its social center.

It’s up by Snelling that the Saint Paul City Council gave approval yesterday to start working on building a Major League Soccer stadium, paving the way for billionaire Bill McGuire to get hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build a stadium for a sport that resonates with precisely three classes of people:

  • Immigrants – many of whom play soccer, and many of whom don’t have the money to go to a big-dollar Major League Soccer game, with the inevitably inflated ticket and concession prices.
  • entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set, with their quadrennial “pretend to give a crap about the World Cup” ritual figuring prominently on their social “see and be seen” calendars.
  • Suburban soccer families – kids and their “soccer parents”.

Do the immigrants have the money to come out and see games?  Will the hipster class do soccer for more than a year, until the “been there, done that” sets in?  Will soccer families from Blaine and Apple Valley chance coming into the city, especially given that the stadium is going to have fairy minimal parking, deliberately forcing people onto the “A Line” bus from Rosedale and the “Green Line” train from other places suburbanites hate going to?

I doubt it in all three cases.

But that isn’t stopping those who seem themselves as members of the taste-setting class from trying to tell the Midway what it really needs; no more McDonalds or Perkins.

At the thought of “6,000 people” (dream big!) crossing McDonalds’ and Perkins’ property, one sniffed:

Yeah, soccer fans are a pretty tony lot:

Sign me up for the high freaking tea concession!

But no – let not the little people and their “businesses” and “social framework” get in the way of their betters’ plans:

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Can you imagine if a Walmart proponent had tweeted any such thing?

GOTV, Saint Paul DFL Style?

My district – House 65A – features a primary between two DFLers; incumbent Rena Moran and challenger Rashad Turner, who’s earned a reputation this past year as one of Black Lives Matter’s more militant organizers.  (And for those who want to get out of the fever swamp, it also features endorsed GOP candidate Monique Giordana!)

Over the weekend, this flyer started turning up on Saint Paul social media:

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First things first: I’m not positive it’s legit.  On the one hand, something smells funny about the flyer.

On the other hand, it is totally in character for the Saint Paul DFL, funny aroma and all.

Tradition!

If you can say one thing about “Minnesota United” – who, if all goes according to plan, will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer largesse when they build their alleged stadium in the Midway one of these years – it’s that they’re a typical Minnesota team, through and through:

A Minnesota team?  Why yes – after leading the league in 2014 and coming in #2, MNU has dribbled down to #5 so far this season.

Vacuous Hipster Lives Matter

While I don’t support Black Lives’ Matter Twin Cities’ strategy or leadership, I don’t doubt for a moment that black people have every legitimate reason to protest against perceptions of excessive police violence…

…while noting that the loudest calls for more police in neighborhoods like the North Side of Minneapolis, the lower East Side of Saint Paul, and the North End come from…

…black and other minority residents, who are the main victims of crime in those neighborhoods.

I also will not pretend to be qualified to judge the violent demonstration that broke out Saturday night in Saint Paul – although Governor Flint Smith Dayton’s statements on the Castile shooting were deeply stupid.  I do think that the subtext of these protests is to try to drive everyone to one extreme or the other – to “Frame” them, in Alinskyite terms.

WIth all that out of the way?  Here’s the mug shot gallery of those arrested at the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday:

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I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you – to see that all but five of the 46 arrested were visibly annoying, Whole Foods shopping, oil-belching-Subaru driving and/or cargo-bike-up-Snelling-At-Universty-at-11PM riding, non-profit-“working”, amateur-“Professional-Protester”, Sanders-voting lilywhite hipsters.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, of course – but then, I won’t beg forgiveness, since what are these protests but judging all humans by skin color – for and against?

A Quick Favor

The House candidate in my district (65A), Monique Giordana, is running against Rena Moran, about whom the best that can be said is that she’s what you get when machines control cities.

Monique is a very sharp woman.  She gets healthcare – she’s a pharmacist at a cancer center, and sees the results of MNSure and Obamacare first-hand, every day.  She lives in the neighborhood (obviously).

And she got into the race late, but is running a good campaign so far.  She also needs to get to a $1,500 threshold, in increments of $50 or less, by Monday to get a subsidy from the state (I know, I know – but that’s how the game is played in this state.

So if you’ve got a buck or two, and could spare a few to help out an underdog in a race where it’d be fantastic to have a real impact, please go here and learn more about Monique, and if you can, peel off a buck or two for her over here.

She’s gonna be on the NARN this weekend, by the way, along with 65B candidate Margaret Stokely.

The Green Line Of Death: All Is Proceeding Exactly As Predicted

Two years after it first “rolled” out, the results of the “Green Line” train between the downtowns are, put diplomatically, “mixed”:

As Metro Transit’s $957 million Green Line project marked its second anniversary on June 14, even die-hard transit advocates acknowledge jobs, housing and commercial development have been a mixed bag.

“I think we’re on a great track with housing, and we always knew that housing was an area that would grow first,” said Mary Kay Bailey, director of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

Well, of course they knew that housing was an area that’d grow first; it’s being subsidized by various levels of government.

If you pay people to do something, someone’ll probably do it.

“But I think it’s time to keep our eyes on job growth. … We want to see it improve with more job-focused development. That’s an important piece for us as a city.”

While Minneapolis and St. Paul have increased their job base by 7 percent since 2011, the collaborative found that job growth averaged less than half that along the Green Line corridor, with wide variation from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some segments of the Green Line have yet to regain jobs lost since light rail construction began nearly six years ago.

The article mentions not a word about the crime rate in the neighborhood.  I’m not going to blame reporter Frederick Melo for that just yet – he does a generally conscientious job of covering Saint Paul.

But while the city’s various spokespeople will downplay it for all they’re worth, the general sense in the neighborhood is that crime is up, especially south of Thomas Avenue, four short blocks north of University.  And one undeniable fact – which, to be honest, may be a fluke; only time will tell – is that many of the city’s murders this year have happened up and down University Avenue.   Of course, it’s early to tie that statistically to the train  (notwithstanding one victim who literally died alongside the tracks last March) – but when you see smoke, it’s not unreasonable to think there’s a fire down there somewhere.

Your Smile Is Thin Disguise

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals claim the economy has been turned around for years, big recovery going on, stock market booming, unemployment at all-time lows.  I don’t believe the government’s statistics; I think bureaucrats manipulate the numbers to make the administration look good. 

 How about a more concrete number: vacant buildings in St. Paul.  856.   Economy is in a huge rebound thanks to the libs who have fixed all Bush’s errors but 856 vacant properties remain?  That’s nearly as high as during the bad years.  People generally don’t just walk away from their homes, their businesses, their investments, not without a damned good reason and in recent years that reason has tended to be “can’t afford to make the payments.”  That is not a sign of prosperity.

 When the city is littered with vacant buildings, businesses are moving out, restaurants are folding up, but the government statistics say everything is rosy, who are you going to believe: them or your lying eyes? 

Joe Doakes

There’s a place for “fake it ’til you make it”; the old Hungarian saying “the best way to become wealthy is to appear as if you already are” is one of the guiding principles of my life.

But not for “journalism”, thankewverymuch.

Interesting Times

It’s been a fairly violent year in Saint Paul.   This past weekend was worst of all; nine total shootings, with two dead:

On the upside, I haven’t noticed the metro’s anti-gun crones blaming the shooting wave on the law-abiding gun owner yet; partly, I suspect, because they’re still learning how to update blog posts, and partly because most Metro gun grabbers don’t know where Saint Paul is (outside the Griggs Building, anyway.  BTW, if you’ve ever asked yourself “why is there a Green Line stop at Fairview Avenue, it’s because the Griggs Building is the home for most of the Democrat, Union and “Social Justice” non-profits who provide most of the Green Line’s non-criminal riders).

The bad news?  It‘s still a DFL-run city:

Addressing the root causes of violence has also been important to the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council, said Deanna Abbott-Foster, the executive director. Sunday’s homicide occurred in Dayton’s Bluff.

“We’re hoping not just to respond to violent incidents, like a murder, where we all rise up and say, ‘Oh no!’ and then go back to business as usual,” Abbott-Foster said. “We’re hoping to … take a more holistic approach and ask, ‘What’s happening here?’ There’s a lot of poverty, a lot of unemployment, all kinds of issues that lend themselves to violent outbreaks.”

Yeah, focus on that.  That’ll work.

Because poverty causes crime, right?   Like, as P.J. O’Rourke wrote 25 years ago, “if you took Thurgood Marshall’s bank account away, he’d wind up selling crack at the Port Authority”.

No.  A society where there is motive, opportunity, and increasingly little consequence for dumb people to try to take what isn’t theirs is the problem.

And after years of dodging that, er, bullet, Saint Paul is arriving in the 21st century in the worst possible way.

State Of The Union Depot

Two years ago, Saint Paul re-opened the Union Depot after a $240 million taxpayer-financed facelift.

Now comes news that Christos – a long-time anchor restaurant in the Depot’s lobby, since back the day when the Depot itself was the anchor, ifYouGetMyDrift,  is likely bailing.

OK, restaurants come and go – although it’s weird to think a place like Christos, that survived a couple of decades in the neighborhood before taxpayer-finance subsistence in the form of CHS Stadium and government-subsidized artist lofts finally came to Lowertown, is just now pulling up stakes and heading back to Minneapolis (although that is perhaps part of a larger series to be done, about why restaurants just can’t make it in Saint Paul, and so retreat to Minneapolis or the ‘burbs to make ends meet).

But behind that story?  The big news:  even with all the taxpayer-subsidized largesse descending on Lowertown, the Union Depot is losing $6 million dollars a year:

“It doesn’t go a week that somebody doesn’t stop me in the street and say, ‘You threw away my money,’ ” said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, who fought from the beginning for the Depot project. “How do you put a price on quality of life, mobility of community, which has a huge impact on economic situation?”

I do.  It’s in the property taxes I pay to finance Rafael Ortega’s version of “quality of life”.  It’s a very definite amount, and it takes away from my quality of life.

I digress:

If you can’t put a price, you can put a cost. Ramsey County says the Depot is bringing in $1.7 million in revenue, but costing $7.7 million to operate. That’s up from 2014, when revenues were $1.5 million and operating expenses $6 million — a $4.5 million gap.

Ortega, who is chair of the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, and other county officials say the site was never meant to be a direct revenue generator. They note repeatedly that ridership, foot traffic and the Depot’s long-term social and economic benefits may not be realized until years — perhaps decades. And since its December 2012 opening, they have focused on attracting major carriers, and gotten them: Amtrak, Greyhound and Megabus.

They got them by squeezing out of perfectly adequate quarters elsewhere; Amtrak’s presumably long-paid-for station on Cleveland is now sitting fallow; the former Greyhound “station” on University, likewise.  Megabus?  In Minneapolis, Megabus picks up at a city bus stop by Target Center.  No need to spend hundreds of millions.

And don’t give me that “the long-term benefits won’t be realized for decades” claptrap, Mr. Ortega; that sounds a lot like “there’s trouble in River City and that starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool”.

Look, I get it.  It’s a beautiful depot.  But we warned you this would happen.

You Don’t Do Business Against The Family

A Saint Paul substitute teacher who went to the press about having had the crap beaten out of her by a seventh-grader is being blackballed by the SPPS:

On Tuesday, Egan said, she was subbing at St. Paul’s Johnson Senior High School when her employer, Teachers On Call (TOC), called. A manager told her the St. Paul Public Schools had contacted TOC to say Egan could not sub for the district again.

Candice Egan, a St. Paul substitute teacher, said a student repeatedly shoved her, including into a wall, at a St. Paul school on March 22, 2016. (Courtesy photo)
Candice Egan (Courtesy photo)
“She claimed it was because I didn’t notify Teachers On Call about what happened and that no one at Creative Arts (High School) knew what happened, and that I had gone to the media about it,” Egan said. But Egan said none of that was true.

Egan said she had told plenty of people at Creative Arts what happened, as well as Teachers On Call. And she spoke with the Pioneer Press after a reporter initiated contact with her.

“I think this is happening because I talked about it,” Egan said. “I don’t know if it’s because I filed a (police) report or not.”

The SPPS is reacting to the collapse in discipline in the schools…

…by waging a PR campaign to convince everyone that there’s no problem.

Just One

A friend of the blog writes:

When I read articles like this, I think of those kids who say to their parents, “If I just get this toy, I’ll never ask for anything anything.” Of course it’s not true and no parent believes it. So, why would we ever believe the city government when they tell us that ifvthey just take some of our money, magic will happen?

Because some people – people who believe in government solves actual problems – live in a continual state of denial. My

Thanks!

I owe someone some thanks.  And I have no easy way of reaching them.  But what the heck – we’ll try it the hard way:

Last night, I woke up to a knock on my door at 11PM.

After a quarter-century of living in the Midway, I know that there’s no such thing as a good knock on the door after dark – so I took, er, the necessary precautions, and went to the door.

A young woman identifying herself as “Shelby” told me she’d seen a car run into my daughter’s car, which was parked out on the street, and then drive off. She got the license number, called the police, left a note under my daughter’s windshield wiper…and then came and knocked on the door.

First, let me say two things; it takes guts to walk up to a stranger’s door at all, much less in the middle of the night, much less when you’re a (near as I could tell) 5’3, 120 pound woman.

Second thing?  I’m happy I live in a neighborhood where people feel they can walk up to a stranger’s door and knock in the middle of the night.

But I digress.

It was miserably cold last night, and I wasn’t in a state to let anyone in, #ifyacatchmydrift, but she basically told me everything I needed to call the police and the insurance company to get things taken care of.

To my astonishment, the cops actually found the car, and the driver – a woman from up north somewhere who was apparently lost and claimed not to have known she’d hit someone. I can find no record that charges were filed – the woman wasn’t drunk, according to the officer I talked with. I’m going to guess she was texting and didn’t see a black car on a dark street. That’s just a guess.

Thankfully, at least both parties are insured.

Anyway – I don’t know who you are, Shelby, and I hope you’ll forgive my less than stellar late-night hospitality, but I thank you for all you did last night.

And if someone out there in the Midway knows Ms. Shelby (twentysomething, African-American, probably 5’3, possibly a Hamline student), it’d make my day if you could pass on my thanks!

For Those Living In Saint Paul

The city is looking for feedback (or, possibly, “looking for feedback”) in re a new police chief.   Here’s where to give that feedback, if you live in the city.

Outgoing chief Tim Smith seemed to regard the law-abiding gun owner as a bigger nuisance than criminals – notwithstanding that the law-abiding gun owner has a crime rate of roughly zero in this state.

It’d be nice to get a pro-shooter chief – but given that the city is generally run by and for the Volvo-driving, Macalester-attending, Whole-Foods-shopping set, I’d be happy to get a chief who was knowledgeably neutral.

So if you live in St. Paul, by all means provide your feedback, for whatever good it’ll do.

One Evening At The Saint Paul City Council

SCENE:  The Saint Paul City Council chambers.  Present are:

  • Mayor Chris COLEMAN
  • Ward 1 councilor Bernadette SANDERS
  • Ward 2 councilor Benny TOMUSOLLINI
  • Ward 3 councilor Francine BURNS
  • Ward 4 councilor Evita P. EVITA
  • Ward 5 councilor Hugh GOCHAVEZ
  • Ward 6 councilor L. A. PDOG
  • Ward 7 councilor Katherine ANTSY

COLEMAN gavels the meeting to order.

COLEMAN:  May the meeting come to order.

BURNS: (loudly clears her throat)

COLEMAN:  Sorry.  May the meeting please come to order, by your indulgent leave?

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In The Holiday Spirit

Joe Doakes, or someone claiming to be Joe Doakes (you’ll see what I mean) emails:

I called the City of St. Paul’s Forestry department to ask them to look at my boulevard tree to see it if needed trimming.

They came promptly, trimmed the branches overhanging my house, raked up the twigs and hauled the mess away.  I admit it: I was pleasantly surprised so I wrote to thank them and copied my city council rep.

There’s an awful lot the City does wrong, but when they do something right, they deserve the credit.  Good job, guys.

Joe Doakes

There’s little opportunity for graft, and no political empires to be built, in city forestry – so I suspect that the city’s foresters are top-notch employees who deserve a hearty “kudos”.

Titanic

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some of us on the Right obsess about legal theories, which makes normal people’s eyes glaze over.  But the legal theories courts use make a difference not only in the present case, but in future cases where the theory is accepted as legitimate precedent.

A job requirement which appears innocent on its face, but which disqualifies an unusually high percentage of certain historically disadvantaged groups, is said to have a “disparate impact” and therefore constitutes unconstitutional discrimination.

For example, the job requirement that firefighters must be able to drag a heavy weight a long distance eliminates most female applicants.  In order for the job requirement to remain, the employer must show that dragging a heavy weight a long distance is a legitimate job requirement (it is, as you know if you’ve ever tried to handle a charged fire hose, much less lug an unconscious victim out the window of a burning building, down a ladder and across a lawn to safety).  There is no “team lift” on a ladder – you carry the victim or leave him to die.

Plaintiff’s lawyers love the legal theory of “disparate impact” because it doesn’t require proof intent to discriminate, only proof of unequal results.  The theory has been stretched to apply to housing and lending and now, to school discipline.

Black parents complained that Black students are suspended at higher rates than other students (see chart below).  They claim the school’s discipline policies have a disparate impact on Black students and therefore constitute racial discrimination.

stpsd

In response, St. Paul schools seem to have adopted a policy that Black students would not be suspended, even for repeated attacks on other students, faculty and staff.  Violent students quickly got the message: thugs won’t be punished, violence exploded, there is no discipline.

Recently, a St. Paul teacher was attacked by a student and suffered a concussion.  The teacher is suing the school for adopting policies that create an unsafe workplace and I wouldn’t be surprised if the teacher’s union strikes for workplace safety.

This is what happens when liberal judges let liberal plaintiffs impose liberal social values on society through litigation instead of education to pass legislation.  A theory that gave like-minded Liberals in the courtroom an excuse to impose social engineering is wreaking havoc in a classroom and nobody is accountable for the foreseeable consequences that are causing real damage to the next generation’s educational success.  Any parent that can afford to flee the system, has.  The only children left are those with nowhere to go and no way out.

For shame.

Joe Doakes

And if you still have your kids in that plague-ship of a district, I gotta ask why.

Slouching Toward Havana

The Mac Groveland Community Council – apparently acting as a de facto city planning agency – has been leading the way toward socialized trash collection in Saint Paul.

And they’re going to be having one of the “public meetings” that have been, in Saint Paul recently, more or less rubber-stamps on the plans the Met Council wanted to pass anyway.

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Just Another Day In The Life Of Every Saint Paul Conservative

I got this via email yesterday, in response to Tuesday’s SITD Saint Paul Voter Guide:

Mitch
You are quite mean spirited aren’t you.
[Redacted]

Because in the world of the Saint Paul DFLer, dissent, satire, humor (even if not all that good) and criticism of the Dear DFL Leadership is “mean”.

Guess I’m lucky it wasn’t “hate” this time.

Harbinger?

Off-year election results around the country were a mixed bag.

And by “mixed”, I mean generally good for conservative Republicans nationwide, and six of one, half a dozen of the other in Minnesota.

Tinkering With Leviathan:   Saint Paul’s elections yesterday, were a victory for DFL zealots over DFL extremists.

The City Council gained two councilors who ran on an agenda critical of Mayor Chris Coleman.   This can, in some ways, be read as a very mild moderate win – Jane Prince, who ran unopposed in Ward 7, and Rebecca Noeker (who is currently leading by a razor-thin margin as the “Instant Runoff” counting slogs on and on in Ward 2) ran in opposition to Mayor Coleman’s profligate subsidies of favored businesses via “Tax Increment Financing”, as well as his botched plan to install parking meters on Grand Avenue to try to chisel revenue out of shoppers in Saint Paul’s only successful mid-market retail district.

But I wouldn’t count on much change from the Council on the larger issues that are sandbagging Saint Paul; the stifling regulatory environment, the obeisance to the Met Council’s lust for 19th-century transit, and the crime problems that are percolating along University and out on the East Side.

Meet the New Boss, Same As The Old Boss:  The Saint Paul School Board election, as predicted, installed the four union-backed wholly union-owned candidates over the four formerly union-owned candidates. Whatever residue of independence from the Teachers Union that might have existed in the Saint Paul public schools will be hunted down and buried in concrete shortly.

While changing Superintendent Silva’s intensely unpopular disciplinary policies may be one of the upshots of yesterday’s elections, look for the fiscal profligacy and unaccountability to accelerate.

The election will be a great boon to charter schools – if Saint Paul parents are smart.

Schools Dazed:  The referenda in the various school districts around the east metro went about 50-50; the pattern seemed to be, broadly, that voters approved the bond levies for maintenance and repairs, but voted down the big additions to infrastructure and programming.

Which may show – who knows? – that voters are still manipulable by demands “for the children”, but they have their limits.

We’ll see.

The Gathering Storm?:  Around the country, the news was less ambiguous.  A Republican not only won the Kentucky governor’s race. but so did his black Tea Party Republican Lieutenant Governor.  In VIrginia, Michael Bloomberg, hoping in his ghoulish way to capitalize on the deaths of a couple of TV reporters, pumped a ton of money and a lot of agenda into a couple of key races, with control of the Virginia state senate on the line.  It flopped; just as in Colorado a couple of years ago, only in the most addlepated coastal hothouses can gun control get any popular traction.

In Houston, a referendum on gay rights got swept away in a vote that would be hard to see as anything but a backlash against the creeping fascism of the Social Justice Warriors and their waves of lawsuits and coercion against supporters of traditional marriage.  And even in San Francisco, the sanctuary-city-promoting sheriff got sent packing.

It’s a year ’til the next election.  Look for “progressives” with deep pockets to spend a ton of money to try to iron out the wrinkles in the narrative.

SITD Saint Paul Voter Guide

There are two main elections in Saint Paul today – for City Council, and to fill four seats on the School Board.

I’ll address them both today.

City Council

  • Ward 1:  DFLer Dai Thao is running against another cookie-cutter DFLer Tahern Crews, a Green Party candidate (h/t Fred Melo for the correction).  Tomayto tomahto.
  • Ward 2:  A bunch of cookie-cutter DFLers – no, I mean a bunch.  A gaggle.  if they were crows, they’d be a “Murder”, and they could actually divide into two Murders.  And Bob Hosko, who’s a fairly conservative Democrat and a Saint Paul businessman, but has no money.  If you live in 2, for Hosko.  Since Saint Paul uses Instant Runoff voting, if enough people got out and voted Hosko, there’d actually be a chance to make a difference.
  • Ward 3:  DFLer Chris Tolbert is running without opposition.   It should tell you something that Tolbert is probably one of the least awful members of the council.
  • Ward 4:  Incumbent DFL extremist Russ Stark is running against challenger DFL extremist Tom Goldstein.  This is my ward. I will be writing in my senior cat, Nosemarie Berg.  I urge you to do the same, as there will be absolutely no tangible difference between Goldstein and Stark if you’re a Saint Paul taxpayer; they’ll be functionally identical.
  • Ward 5:  Incumbent DFLer Amy Brendemoen’s only mistake was that she used her position to muscle David Glass – a fellow DFL activist – out of his lease at Black Bear Crossing.   Glass – an utterly conventional DFLer in every way – is challenging.  Potayto Potahto.  There’s an independence party candidate in the race too, and like everything to do with the Independence Party I’m already bored writing about it, but I urge you to vote for the IP person, whoever it is.
  • Ward 6:  Dan Bostrom – probably the closest thing to “moderate” on the City Council, which pisses the orthodox wing of the DFL off to no end – is running against a couple of people who will be forgotten to history in about 24 hours.  Vote for the moon for all it matters.
  • Ward 7:  Jane Prince – a DFLer most famous as former Senator Ellen Anderson’s legislative assistant – is running unopposed.   While Prince, like Anderson, if far enough to the left to make the ghost of Paul Wellstone sit up in his grave and say “dial it back a notch, Janie”, she was actually superb at customer service when she was Anderson’s LA.  Since she’s unopposed, what the hell.  Vote for her.  Once.
  • Ward 8:  There is technically no Ward 8 in Saint Paul.  It is kept in reserve, against a hypothetical future threat to DFL hegemony, when the ward and its thousands of DFL votes will be pulled out of a file box in a warehouse on Plato Boulevard.

Saint Paul School Board

Back in the eighties, Carl Sagan – who was sort of the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the 1980s – referred to the nuclear arms race between the USA and USSR as “two bald men fighting over a comb”.  While Sagan was no more sage a political commentator than DeGrasse Tyson, the analogy is apt in this “race”.

This race will fill four open seats on the at-large school board.  While there are quite a few candidates, the actual race boils down to a donnybrook between…:

  • Four formerly-DFL-and-Teachers Union endorsed candidates who have sided with current Superintendent Valeria Silva, and who have helped preside over the last five years of the wheels coming off in the Saint Paul Schools, versus:
  • Four people now endorsed by the DFL and Teachers union, who want to change superintendents but otherwise keep the status quo.  A vote for the “challenger” is, in fact, a vote for complete, unfettered union control of the district and its money.

The outcome of the battle between last cycle’s DFLers and this cycle’s DFLers will mean precisely as much to the students and families of Saint Paul as the battle between Al Capone and Bugsy Moran meant to the poor immigrants of Chicago.

So in this election, I’ll be voting:

  1. Aaron Benner – the one, single solitary person on the ballot who proposes any meaningful, worthwhile change.  He’s run an underfunded campaign, and I’m not even sure he’s more than a warm body on the ballot at the moment – but I’ll be voting for him.
  2. Clu Berg, my golden retriever
  3. Puff Berg, my junior cat
  4. Greg Copeland

And I’m pretty convinced my votes will do more to further kids’ education than either of the major slates.

UPDATE:  Yep, Jane Prince worked for former St. Paul City councilman Jay Benanav, not former State Senator Ellen Anderson.

DFL pols in Saint Paul all sort of run together after a while.

Midway Between Lexington And Hell

I remember back in the eighties, back when I used to occasionally frequent bars on University Avenue on the weekend, ducking into Big V’s, near Snelling.  Back then – long before the Turf Club became a hangout for music hipsters – it was a place to go if you were in the mood to crowd into a long, narrow room with a cement floor and a single row of ripped naugahyde stools and listen to a band that was on the floor three feet away from you, under the watchful eye of bartenders who could rip your arms out at the shoulders, and the men who loved them.

I haven’t been there in a while – which was why it was a bit of a shock to see that they were going to start closing down early because the area is getting just too dodgy.

I got this from a regular reader of this blog:

I was at Big V’s a few weeks ago and my friends and I were talking about this very topic- is the area less safe? I was saying it felt that way to me and others agreed, but we wondered if it was because we were now older, perhaps some of us more sober, so we noticed more around us.

You may be older and more sober – but there’s more to notice.

Up by my house, half a mile north of Big V’s, we’ve had two smash-and-grab burglaries and, a few weeks back, the first daylight armed robbery I can remember in 22 years on the block.

On the Hamline/Midway neighborhood Facebook page, there is of course the usual tension; those who believe that crime is on the rise, and think that the Green Line has turned into a commuter line for criminals, those who say there’s nothing to see here, move along, citizen.

I really want to believe that, but I know the Russian Tea House owners have noticed a decrease in sense of safety and now Big V’s.

Which is a good reminder; if you’re in Saint Paul on Friday, go to Russian Tea House for lunch.  You’ll thank me.  Then you’ll thank me again. It’s a neighborhood treasure.

And Metro Transit’s response? The increase in the number of service calls [reported by the Saint Paul police] doesn’t mean anything. Some of those numbers include “proactive visits” to the area. Right..because the cops are always running proactively to the safe parts of the city.

Light Rail lines nationwide tend to be commuter lines for criminals.   Expect the establishment in the Twin Cities to deny that has hard and often as they can.

Going Long On The Stupidity Of Crowds

A friend of this blog writes:

I don’t know about you, but most of the people think of the bicycle lobby as the leisure class, so it is interesting that one of them is now admitting that we lower class taxpayers are indeed building this infrastructure for the elites.

The piece, on the transportation/transit site “Streets.mn”, is by our old friend Ken “Avidor” Weiner, who since the retirement of Michele Bachmann seems to have mostly vanished from view, but for the odd warm and fuzzy from a Twin Cities media that always seems to keep its lefty “eccentrics” in its orbit.

Its premise:  biking is becoming chic, and it’s up to the working-class rubes to keep up with the Joneses in Minneapolis, with their chic world-class bikeability rating, because of collective pride.  

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love biking.  I do a fair amount of it.  And I do appreciate the taxpayers of Minneapolis, building me all those nice paths (although less so those stupid downtown lanes, squished between the parking lane and the curb, and sometimes seemingly paved with broken glass, and always a slalom looking out for doors opening and people crossing to their cars.  Dumb dumb dumb).

I’m not going to quote Weiner – because I really just did explain the article; “build bike lanes because Yay Saint Paul”.

I mean, read it.  Am I wrong?

The Racket Swings Into Action

Good old Saint Paul.

The business economy just continues to spiral down the vortex; it’s schools are a disaster for African-Americans and other minority students; it’s choking on traffic, and obsessed with choking it further.

But apparently none of that is so serious that the city, in its infinite wisdom, isn’t going to try to socialize… Garbage collection.

And the city, having learned so much for watching the Met Council jam down the Green Line, is going about getting its way the way it always does; anyway it has to to get what it wants.

A reader from Merriam park emails:

Gotta love this report– they received survey responses from 2,000 residents and conclude that based on those responses, “a majority of St Paul want organized trash collection.” They’ve also concluded that immigrants and minorities have too much trouble making decisions to make a good decision in choosing a trash hauler, so this is better for them. Of course, it doesn’t appear that they asked too many in the poorer neighborhoods of St Paul, since their map (see .pdf through link below) indicates that more than 800 responses came from Mac Groveland/ Summit Hill zip code.

The reports are at the link above.

But here’s the map of the survey responses:

screenshot-macgrove.org 2015-10-15 09-27-48

So the “survey” drew 2,000 responses – and if we take each of the different “color” bands at their half-way point, it’s fair to estimate that 70-80% of them came from the city’s four most alpaca-wearing, Subaru-driving, NPR-listening, Jon Stewart-worshipping, Saint Olaf-alumni-ing, upper-middle-class, white, government-union-or-academia-employed, “Progressive” zip codes.

Seems pretty even-handed to me.