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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

You’ve Got A Lot Of Nerve…

The Saint Paul City Council, “just for fun”, has opted to honor former Minneapolitan Bob Dylan by renaming part of Fourth Street “Positively Fourth Street”, in honor of a Dylan song (named, most likely, after a street in Greenwich Village).

I’d like to offer a similar resolution; let’s start renaming streets after colors of the rainbow.

Then we can have a little fun with the never-ending nightmare of road work on Snelling Avenue by saying we’re “Tangled Up In Blue”.

It’s as close as well get to a better pun in Saint Paul, whose city government is locked in the late sixties, ensuring the Times will Never A-Change.

Clear As Mud

I attended the Black Lives Matter “rally”/demonstration in Saint Paul yesterday.

Or the end of it, anyway; the protesters blocked the Green Line and all traffic on University at Lexigton starting at 9:30 AM, and I got there around 11:30 – in plenty of time for the die-in, a bunch of speeches, and all sorts of chanting.

Uni at Lexington, looking northwest to southeast through spilled coffee. Or maybe a dab of salsa. Or hash brown grease. Not sure. You can sorta make out a cop car on the left; beyond it, the Lexington Avenue Green Line station. The actual protest is out there. Honest.

The bad news?  I brought my camera; I also apperently dripped some coffee on the lens, which coagulated in place, leaving me with really bad photos:

Looking across Uni, cops on the left, protesters behind the crud.

My photos aren’t clear.  I get it.

But they were about as clear as the rationale for the protest.

The stated reason for the protest was to mess with people using the Green Line to get to the Vikings home opener.

But – and let’s leave aside for a moment that Metro Transit routed buses around the stoppage during the entire course of the protest, and had additional buses standing by to carry passengers past the protest – there’s the little matter that…

…no more than a dozen Vikings fans actually park east of Lexington and take the train to downtown Minneapolis.

Speaking of numbers, I counted the following when I was there:

  • Perhaps 75 protesters, including speakers.
  • Of them, 15-18 were African-American. 50-60 were white.
  • There were 14 police squad cars – one state patrol, one Transit cop, the rest Saint Paul.  They blocked University and Lexington a block away on all sides of the protest.
  • There were also four mounted cops and six cops on bike.

The police didn’t outnumber the protesters – but the protesters outnumbered the cops by maybe two or three to one.

So why “protest the NFL” in a place where the NFL and the Vikings will be the absolute last people to notice it?    Why didn’t they hold the protest on the Washington Avenue bridge, blocking the many, many people who take the train up from the Mall of America area from getting to the game, and actually getting the NFL’s attention?

Because – this is my theory, here – the Saint Paul wing of BLM isn’t about protesting power structures.  It’s about 2016, and trying to keep African-Americans fired up to vote in a year where the Democrat party’s entire slate is geriatric white people.

You Had One Freaking Job

From the beginning of the planning for the useless monument to the “wisdom” of our sitting government that the Met Council is pleased to call the Green Line, I accepted a few things as givens.

I accepted that the traffic, never pleasant on University Avenue, was going to turn into a Sisyphean ordeal.

I accepted that businesses more than a block or two from the stops, and businesses that depended on people making impulsive left turns for roughly half of their business, were going to have trouble.  Didn’t like it, but what are you gonna do?

I accepted that the parts of University Avenue that weren’t gentrified into ridiculousness would become even more blighted than they were.

I even accepted that the entire thing was a mammoth exercise in picking winners and losers – the stores, constituents and ethnic groups that were more favored by the city came out better than those that were not.  It was a great thing for DFL-voting fans of “high density” living along the corridor – white, middle class, middle-aged, professional.  It was an OK thing for people who owned, or could obtain, or could afford to continue, businesses within easy and convenient walking distance of the stops.

All I asked – well, not all I asked, but the big favor to which I supplicated the demons of urban “progress” – was, whatever else you eff up, at least leave the Russian Tea House alone.

The Russian Tea House, a little hole in the wall at University at Fairview that sells the best piroshki, vareniki, borscht and other Russian goodies anywhere in town, is taking it in the shorts, naturally; the train from hell, which has blocked off all left turns that used to lead to the little restaurant, has slashed traffic to the store so badly, they’re down to one day a week:

“The first day they started ripping things out, a quarter of my customers went away. For the three years, I shut down for the whole summer,” he said. “All during construction, business was really bad. Now that the Green Line is open, there are no left hand turns, no parking in the street. The regular busses still stop, and if you’re behind the busses, you stop every block. We’re next to Wendy’s and their business is down 25 percent.”
“We’re opened only on Fridays now because during the week, no one comes. We’re two and a half blocks from a station. No one comes off the light rail to come here. No one will want to walk from there in the winter.”

The stupid is rolling over StPaul in waves.

Dear City Of Saint Paul

To:  City of Saint Paul
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Protests

Dear City,

I caught part of the Black Lives Matter protest over the weekend.  Everything turned out OK – partly due to BLM’s leadership’s abrupt change in tone, from “we’ll meet resistance with resistance” to Saturday morning’s “de-escalation training”, and partly due to the heavy presence by the Saint Paul Police, who blocked off most of Snelling Avenue for a fair chunk of the day.

The police also directly intervened in a few incidents where “counterprotesters” – I think that exaggerates their numbers and role, but whatever – heckled the march, moving to screen the “counterprotesters” off from the march in what was likely a prudent effort, but wasn’t one of the First Amendment’s shining hours on either side.

But enough pleasantries; I have a question for you.

If I wanted to have a Tea Party march from Hamline Park up Snelling Avenue, completely blocking traffic during one of the busiest money-making days of the year for Midway merchants – say, next Saturday, also during the State Fair – could I expect the same level of accomodation and forebearance from the City that BLM got?   While, like BLM, not bothering to get a city permit to use a street and block traffic?

I mean, forget for a moment that 2/3 of the people in my parade likely won’t be the white liberals and union people that made up 2/3 of the BLM march, and also keep your bosses, Mayor Coleman and his city council, in office.

What would your response be?

That is all.

“Please Please Please Please Please Send Cameras Please Please Please”

So there’s kind of a theme coming out of  “Black Lives Matter” here in the Twin Cities.

PC Alert!

Last week, Rashad Taylor, one of the organizers of Saturday’s protest that’ll be starting a few blocks from my house and proceeding up Snelling – the busiest street in the state during Fair time – to the State Fairgrounds, hinted that there juuuust might be some violence at the protest:

“We’re gonna disrupt [the fair]. There’s nothing they’re gonna be able to do about it…. If we’re met with any resistance or threatened with any resistance, we’ll meet them with that same resistance.”

Huh.

And on Facebook, Nekima Levy-Pounds – the leader of Black Lives Matter in the Twin Cities, and a woman with a PhD and a lifetime tenure-track job in a make-work academic discipline, who nonetheless complains about “white privilege” – posted:

Friends, Please pray for those brave and courageous souls who will be participating in the ‪#‎BlackFair‬ demonstration outside of the State Fair on Saturday. The level of racial hatred and animus that has come to the surface in Minnesota is appalling. These racist attitudes are typically hidden behind a Minnesota Nice facade. Now, we are able to see the truth of how these folks really feel about blacks and other people of color.

Some have taken these statements as a threat of violence.

Call me a pollyanna if you want; maybe, more accurately, you can accuse me of transposing my own motives on those of others. I read these statements, and I see a couple of people saying “Heeeeey, news media! Make sure you got plenty of cameras lined up on Snelling this Saturday. You wouldn’t wanna miss another…Ferguson or Baltimore, would you?”

Am I wrong?

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.

Royalty Doesn’t Need Feedback

The Saint Paul Public Schools are discontinuing TV broadcasts of the “public feedback” segment of school board meetings.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on what we’re talking about here; the public feedback part of the meeting is about half an hour, starting at 5:30 (which is a brutally difficult time to make, for people who have day jobs), during which the School Board deigns to allow commoners to address it, in slices of three minutes, while they converse amongst themselves or pretty visibly try to fight nodding off.  I did it a few years ago; you could tell that most of the board would rather have been getting a root canal.

But people watched those session via cable -and occasionally they drew blood:

…a May 2014 appearance before the St. Paul school board by five district teachers pushing for greater expectations of students and consequences for those who misbehave is credited with sparking a Caucus for Change movement dedicated to unseating board incumbents….

Board Member Anne Carroll [Who else? – Ed] argued that the change is part of a series of moves related to the collection of public comments that should give citizens a greater voice. She cited a new policy of taking online submissions that will be documented in the same way as in-person comments.

Board Member John Brodrick, who opposed the move in what was a 5-1 vote, said that having people speak to the board but not to the public via broadcast “betrayed the meaning of public comment.”…

…Currently, the comment period begins at 5:30 p.m., and when finished, gives way to an agenda item recognizing the “good work provided by outstanding district employees.”

Which sounds – I kid you not – like deputies in the old Supreme Soviet of the USSR rising to congratulate one of the collective farms in their district for meeting their five year plan with sufficient socialist fervor.  Seriously; these recognitions sound like competitions to see how many times you can fit the words “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism” into sentences while still maintaining a sentence structure.

Anyway – a school district that already hides out in its Stalineque bunker on Colborne Street, above, beyond and away from its constituents, is trying to become even more so.