Dive! Dive! Dive!

Prodded by the outburst from the peevish, moralistic hipster in this week’s City Page, I met a couple of friends at the Gopher Bar last night.

Unlike most of the “dive bars” so beloved of today’s hipsters, it actually is kind of a dive.  It reminds you of that one bar on mainstreet in every small town in the Midwest – the Wonder Bar in Jamestown, the Ace in Carrington, the Sportsman in Thief River Falls, or fill in the blank in whatever town of less than 20,000 you can think of.

Although the Gopher is a little like that guy every talk radio station used to have back in the eighties, back before talk radio was political, who used to want to offend a little bit of everyone as his gimmick.

Even the front door has something to piss of both liberal and “libertarian” hipsters:

…although their sentiments are pretty clear.

Still, the place doesn’t take itself all that seriously…:

…certainly not nearly as seriously as the kinds of hipsters who write letters to the City Pages (most of whose staff couldn’t find the Gopher Bar, or Saint Paul, if it occurred to them to try).

Of course, while the City Pages doesn’t know much about Saint Paul, the Gopher has read the City Pages.  The staff had heard plenty about the letter to the editor.

And so there it is – the worst flag in the world, without which all racism would disappear:

Of course, if the petulant hipster had turned around, he’d have noticed two more, flanking an apparently racist sailfish.

And there was one other thing the hipster might have noticed had he turned around, observed, and shut his precious yapper; African-American customers.

There were no less than seven in the house when I was there last night (no, I didn’t take pictures of people who just wanted to have a coney and mind their own business).

By the way, that’s seven more African-Americans than have ever worked for the City Pages.

They were no more there to see and be seen than and my dinner companions were.  They were there, like us, for a beer, a coney and fries for under $10.  And as much as I personally hate chili dogs (lots and lots and lots.  Don’t test me on this), the Coneys at the Gopher are really, really tasty.

I know – not a great picture. But trust me; the Coney is as tasty as the photo is blurry.

Anyway – keeping ahead of the ire of Twin Cities social justice warriors is introducing me to some great eats (as I discovered at the River Oasis last summer).

Keep ’em coming, Warriors!

John Edwards Was Only 2/3 Right

Former Senator and two-time Presidential hopeful John Edwards was an immensely tragic figure, in a purely satirical sense, in that he may have been the only Democrat candidate in history to be derailed by violating conventional prole social mores.

But he made one great contribution to American life; the phrase starting “There are Two Americas…”.  This is a gift that has kept on giving to satirists, and likely always will.

But in some cases, it doesn’t go far enough.

Because in cities like Saint Paul, at least in re the Met and City Councils’ ongoing plans to bike-ify the streets and make driving cars utterly unpalatable, there are three Saint Pauls:

The Midway, Saint Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Battle Creek, Payne-Phalen, Summit-Uni and the like:  In these neighborhoods, there is a minority of bikers – and no real resistance to the idea of having the neighborhood’s streets whittled down to one lane plus bike lanes and, maybe, parking.

The East Side, The North End, Frogtown, Dayton’s Bluff:  Nobody bikes, and nobody wants to build bike lanes through them.

Highland:  A powerful minority of well-connected bikers went up against a powerful minority of well-organized NOMASs (“Not On My Arterial Steet!”) – and the NOMAS won a victory, even if only temporary.

The council voted 6-0 for Council Member Chris Tolbert’s amendment to study possible bike lanes on Finn Street and Prior Avenue as well as Cleveland, and to ask the Public Works department to draw up “a robust public engagement plan” to get more input from residents, business owners, district councils and others before deciding by the end of the year where to put the lanes.

Finn?  That’s narrow enough already!

Prior?  That’s two blocks from Cleveland!

And four blocks from already bike-friendly Fairview.

Tolbert said based on the feedback he had gotten — “the most public engagement I’ve received since I’ve been on the council” — he wasn’t sure the issue had been properly vetted. He represents the area south of St. Clair Avenue, where business and property owners said they had collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing bike lanes down Cleveland.

“Both sides have brought up a lot of good issues and a lot of issues that need to be resolved, and we haven’t had a lot of time to let that happen,” Tolbert said.

Now, in most cases – see “The Green Line”, the “Lebanon Hills Park Bike Path” – the “public engagement” is just a ticket the bureaucracy punches on the way to doing what it had planned all along.

In this case?  NOMAS in Highland Park might actually bring some teeth to the issue.

No Loose Ends

I got this via email from a long-time friend of this blog and the show, from Highland Park:

A week and a half ago the city told the neighborhood and businesses on the east side of Cleveland and Randolph(Luci, Sportsmans Barbers, and KEA photography) that the city was taking away their street parking and making it bike lanes.

They announced a meeting this Wednesday at Nativity Church to “get neighborhood feedback”. Kinda seems like they have their minds already made up.

Yep.  My thesis; there hasn’t been a “public feedback” meeting in the Twin Cities in thirty years that was actually intended to gather, y’know, feedback from the public.

It’s about “the process”.  The process says you have one or more meetings at some point in the process; you have the meetings, and you move on.

Randolph Ave is already full people that own homes and St Kates students/employees. There is no parking on the west side of the street, and James Ave a block up is a packed residential street. These people are screwed.

Sportsman Barbers has been their for more than 40 years owned by Ray Newton and his son Joe. I am friends with Kristie Anderson of KEA photography and she thinks our way. Her lease was up and she is leaving, but she can give you some great insight on this

I know you are a biker, but the bike lobby is wielding a heavy hand right now in our city. Damn the business community.

This is a good story

You know how lawyers say “never ask a witness a question that you don’t already know the answer to?”

The public analogue is “never ask for feedback when it can still affect the political class’ master plan.

Can’t Swing A Cat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Wildcat Wednesday . . . are you doing your part to stop wild animals from killing birds?

Best of all, you get the feral cat back to release into the wild!

You know, when I was a lad, every kid in the neighborhood had the equipment to handle a problem like stray cats, and the willingness to use it. And we never put anybody’s eye out, either. Too bad the obvious solution is a misdemeanor in St. Paul.

Joe Doakes

If we went with the obvious solutions, what would the dues-paying city employee do?

Wheat And Chaff

The Saint Paul Public Schools need to close a $20,000,000 budget shortfall.

This is on a budget in an exceptionally highly-taxed city, that is already well over half a billlion dollars.

What’s the plan (emphasis added)?

Chief Executive Officer Michelle Walker said the district looked to cut administrators and supervisors rather than those who work in the schools, but “there are going to be impacts on both sides.”

The deficit represents 3.8 percent of the school district’s $533 million general fund budget. It’s largely a product of negotiated increases in salary and benefits, as well as inflationary increases for things like utilities and equipment.

First:  as we’ve seen with the recent layoffs in Minneapolis, it’s interesting that the districts are so loaded up on useless administrative mouths to feed in the first place.

Second:  The “Equipment” line item is an interesting one:

Louise Seeba, who opposed the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative, which will cost roughly $8 million a year, suggested next year’s cuts are a consequence of frivolous spending.

“I guess the voters, our parents, have to say, ‘You know what, thanks for that iPad, but now I don’t have special ed services to the level that I expect.’ I think if the schools are upset, they might have a reason,” she said.

Others downplayed iPads as a factor in the present budget picture because a referendum dedicated that money to technology.

In other words, “the iPads are being paid for by a special levy extracted from taxpayers due to an obscure vote in a low-turnout election dominated by teachers union spending; nothing to see here”.

File under “life in a one party city”.

Saint Paul Republicans: It’s Go Time

If you live in St. Paul, and I’m a Republican, or conservative, or just someone who’s tired of St. Paul being a one party city, then I hope you can turn out tonight.

It’s the St. Paul Republican City Committee caucuses, and they’re being held tonight in the auditorium at St. Paul College.

It’s hard enough being a Republican in StPaul – and over the previous few years, the city committee fell into near complete your relevance. There’s new leadership – full disclosure, I’m part of it – and we’re hoping to change that. Starting tonight.

We’ll have a couple of guest speakers – Sen.Dave Thompson, and Andy Richter of “CommunitySolutions”, which has turned around politics in the city of Crystal. Will also be talking about the nuts and bolts of turning the cities political culture around.

St. Paul College is a block north of the Cathedral, at Summit and Marshall. If you park in the college’s parking lot, save your ticket – vouchers will be issued, so parking won’t cost you.

Come on down!

Expectations

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Police reassured citizens that downtown St. Paul is Safe, despite a string of violent attacks on innocents by groups of yutes wearing gang colors.

You keep using that word . . . .

Joe Doakes

According to the SPPD and it’s statistics, in 2014 the Downtown district had 14 rapes. 71 robberies, 60 aggravated assaults, and other violent crimes averaging out to about 14/month.

Among the responses from some city and light rail apologists: “It’s a city. What do you expect?”

Every Other Problem Is Clearly Solved

Those worried about the plague of having too many transportation options independent of Government controlled monopolies can rest just a tiny bit easier today; the city of St. Paul, responding to the demands of the taxicab industry that donates so much money to their campaigns, is about to fix all that. Emphasis added by me:

The new rules, passed on a 5-2 vote, will govern everything from vehicle inspections to insurance. They closely mirror a raft of regulations approved by the city of Minneapolis this summer.

Nevertheless, city council members Dave Thune and Dan Bostrom expressed concern that the rules do not go far enough to protect the city and the public and do not create a level playing field for taxi drivers.

of course, the “level playing field” is the problem that companies like Uber and Lyft were created to solve.

When the government “levels” “playing fields”, you may be sure that those fields are being leveled in favor of someone who’s already on the field, to protect them from newcomers.

Saint Gruber

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This is why the cities of Brooklyn Park, Waite Park and Lake Park need to pay more taxes: so Saint Paul gets more LGA for an $8 million public library in the city’s wealthiest neighborhood, Highland Park.

Meanwhile, my street still hasn’t been plowed or even sanded, and the Mayor wants Congress to pay for street repairs.

No reason to prioritize when you’re spending Other People’s Money.

joe doakes

Proponents of the system will tell you that the money comes from two different sources; that there’s no way the library money could be spent on the streets.

In other words, they’re “Grubering” you.

Democracia Ahora!

¡Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When I went outside this morning to put up my American flag, a pickup full of illegal immigrants stopped to ask if this is where they vote Democrat For Immigration Amnesty. No dude, that’s the Rec Center down the street. And they don’t open til 8. Yes, ocho. Yeah you have a good day, too.

In Saint Paul, the line between satire and truth is so gray and blurry, it hardly exists.

What Not To Do

I can almost hear every carry permit instructor in the Twin Cities writing down the details of this case as their prime example of what never, never, ever to do with your firearm and permit:

The complaint said [Matrix Richard] Lee got up and ran at the woman to retrieve the purse, but she drove at Lee and lifted her arm making some sort of gesture that, in fear of being shot, prompted Lee to grab his handgun, insert a full magazine and fire around the fleeing vehicle. The driver apparently gave him the finger, and angrily, he fired an additional shot at the car in effort to pop the tires, Lee told police.

Pro tip: if they are fleeing, and so far away that you have to steady your arm for a long range shot at a moving target, you are probably not “in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm”.

If the facts of the case are exactly as presented (always the caveat when the mainstream media is reporting on self-defense cases) then Mr. Lee would seem to deserve to be prosecuted for a whole dogs breakfast of charges, not the least of them reckless endangerment.

And not only will Mr. Lee truly deserve it, but I think we need to take a close look at whoever his carry permit training instructor was, just in case.

It Isn’t Very Pretty What A Town Full Of NIMBYs Can Do

The Irvine Park neighborhood, south of West Seventh Street and downhill from the XCel Energy Center, votes reliably DFL.

And so they care a ton about the homeless.

Provided they are walled away from them.

The Dorothy Day Center – across 7th Street from the X – wants to expand.  And that’s got Irvine Parkers up in arms:

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that residents of the nearby Irvine Park neighborhood want more say into the plans for the expanded shelter and service center.

Few will deny there’s a real need for the expansion. But neighbors say they already see homeless people spill over into the nearby park and onto their properties while waiting for the shelter to open each evening. They say the proposed design of the upgraded facility won’t do much to alleviate the situation.

Either will sixty more years of DFL rule, complete with using the inner city as a warehouse for the poor and de-institutionalized.

Who do we protest to about that?

University Avenue: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Businesses along University Avenue – the ones lucky enough to survive the light rail construction process – are getting tax notices for “streetscape improvements“.

[Insurance salesman and Uni avenue businessman Doug] Nguyen was surprised to discover Thursday that he’s being assessed $3,200 by the city of St. Paul for light-rail related street work — “above-standard lighting” and “streetscape improvements” — in front of 1539 W. University Ave…Nguyen said he already pays roughly $15,000 a year in property taxes for his business, and there are still two road work signs on his block, including one directly outside his window.

 And after four months, how are all those new-urbaneriffic benefits shaking out?

 “I don’t see any benefit from the light rail as far as my business at all,” he said. “There will be exposure (to customers), but I don’t think it’s a $3,000 benefit.”

 

He’s been selling insurance out of his State Farm office for more than a decade, and he and his son Alex Nguyen plan to appeal the assessment…”Light rail has been good in some ways,” said [Alex], who works out of his father’s State Farm office. “The road looks nicer — I’ll say that — but they took away all the parking. We lost the front spaces.”

 Less parking, no real tangible business benefit…

…and a big bill.  And it’s a big bill for everyone:

Many businesses with 40 feet of street frontage will be charged $1,710, while properties with more linear frontage such as car dealerships and professional buildings can expect assessments of $10,000 or more.

 

The owners of Spruce Tree Centre at Snelling and University avenues will foot a bill for $15,600 as a result of having 364 feet of frontage. The block-length Marsden Building at 1717 W. University Ave. is being assessed $29,600 for 691 feet of street frontage.

 

Jack McCann discovered that his Midtown Commons office property on the 2300 block of West University Avenue will be assessed $17,900.

And how many of these businesses, like the Nguyen’s, will benefit not an iota from the light rail? 

Indeed, how many are more than a block or two from the train’s stations, and are tradiing less parking for…absolutely no foot traffic?  And that’s assuming “foot traffic” is part of their business, which for Marsden – a company that provides janitors and building security – it’s not?

Everyone having fun yet?

The Mystery Deepens

 As was noted last week, there’ve been two arrests in the first armed robbery in the 150-odd year history of the Minnesota State Fair. 

Two Saint Paul men were arrested in the August 29 robbery of the MN Craft Beer booth, which netted (at least briefly) over $100,000. 

St. Paul residents Antontio Washington, 20, and Jarret Maiden, 35, have been booked into jail in suspicion of being behind the $10,000-plus heist, which was the first armed robbery in the fair’s history.

But there’s a mystery!

As was noted on this blog during the fair, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds was posted, for the first time since “shall issue” carry reform passed in 2003, as a gun-free zone.

And yet…:

State Fair police spokesperson Brooke Blakey tells us the gun believed to have been used during the robbery has been recovered, but declined further comment, citing the active investigation.

So there’s a mystery worthy of Poireau or Holmes.  Two, really:

  • How did an illegal gun make it past the signs at the front gate?
  • How did a gun wind up getting used in a crime where guns had just been made illegal?

Someone explain this to me?

Social Realism

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I haven’t seen much from St. Paul’s Poet Laureate For Life, Carol Connolly, appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman. Her first poem immortalized his 2006 Budget. A later work celebrated his 2010 reelection.
I was hoping she’d write about President Obama’s 2014 decision to send advisors to Iraq, not to serve as combat troops, but to forward deploy with Iraqi troops giving tactical advice and calling in airstrikes, coming, as it does, after his 2012 decision to remove American troops from Iraq.
I thought she might title the piece “You put your best boots in, you pull your best boots out, you put your best boots in . . . .”
Joe Doakes

Saint Paul. It’s like a parody, only it’s not.

Twenty Years Ago On The East Side

Hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Guy Harvey Baker – a Gulf War Marine veteran with, clearly, mental illness issues – killed officers Ron Ryan, Tim Jones, and a police dog named Laser

The PiPress has a fairly good retrospective of the events – with one crucial omission:   

Ryan, 26, was checking on a man — Guy Harvey Baker — who was sleeping in a car in a parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood about 7 a.

He picked up a .38-caliber revolver from his lap and shot Ryan.

Scores of officers joined the search for Ryan’s killer. Jones had the day off, but he came in to help.

Laser picked up Baker’s trail about 10 a.m. on Conway Street, not far from Johnson Parkway.

Mara Gottfried’s story is excellent.  But she leaves out how the police actually found Baker’s “trail” on Conway later that morning – and, in a way, the story of a man who is both the story’s unsung hero and third (human) victim.

Lyle Granlund – 48 years old, at the time – was having breakfast with his kids on the upper level of a three-plex he owned across from the parking lot.  One of his sons yelled that there’d been a shooting.  Granlund grabbed a handgun and loaded three rounds – all he could grab at the moment – and went to his window.  He saw officer Ryan on the ground, and saw Baker driving toward another woman, standing in the doorway of a nearby apartment building, apparently getting ready to rub out the only known witness to the shooting. 

Granlund – an expert marksman – pondered taking out Baker.  But he held up, worried that the Ramsey County attorney, the infamously anti-gun Tom Foley, would prosecute him.  So he opted to fire two shots through Baker’s back window, shattering it and leaving the rounds (intentionally) in Baker’s dashboard, to hopefully scare Baker off and mark the car for the police.  He saved his third round, in case Baker decided to come for him.  But no – Baker accelerated away from the scene of the Ryan shooting…

…and it was by the shattered window that the SPPD found Baker’s trail, a couple hours later, nearby on Conway Street.

I interviewed Granlund later that year, for the old Gun Owners Action League (a predecessor of GOCRA) newsletter.  Granlund told me that while the SPPD remained officially mum about his contribution to that day’s search, more than one senior Saint Paul cop had come to his door in the following days, paying their respects to his effort to save their fellow officer.  A lieutenant left him his SPPD tie pin – a gesture that Granlund, in our interview, still found deeply touching.

I wrote about Granlund again, almost ten years ago, in a piece that includes a lot of useful background and  a link to a now-disappeared column by Ruben Rosario. 

 Granlund was right, of course; Foley did try to prosecute him.  Their attempt to get him for “reckless discharge” foundered when the police lab found Granlund’s two rounds exactly where he said they’d be in Baker’s car.  The Ramsey County Attorney’s office dropped its  attempt to prosecute Granlund only when the SPPD told Foley he’d get no cooperation from the police.  Someone listing himself as a retired SPPD cop tells the story in this thread

Oh yeah – and Granlund was denied a Minnesota carry permit; the SPPD that (quietly) regarded him as a hero also didn’t think he had any reason to need one. 

Gottfried picks up the story from 20 years ago today.

Baker heard the dog whining outside a fish house where he was hiding, saw Jones through the window and, through the side of the shack, shot the 36-year-old officer with the gun had stolen from Ryan. When Laser bit his leg, he shot the dog, too.

No prosecutor will ever issue an indictment, and no jury will ever hear the case – but in a very real if indirect way, Officer Jones was killed by official gun-control hysteria. 

The tragedy didn’t end that day.  When I spoke with Granlund, probably in September or October, he was clearly upset that he’d not been able to save Jones by killing Baker.  It went much deeper than that; Granlund spent the next ten years depressed about the episode.  He died in 2004 of a heart attack, at age 58, and is buried in the same cemetery as Officer Ryan. 

The lesson?  Let nobody tell you that an armed citizen can’t do immense good; one, and God only knows how many more, people are alive today because of Granlund’s action. 

And let no weasel government official get away with terrorizing the law-abiding citizen without a fight – preferably ending with a prosecutor sent to the unemployment line at the polls.

The families of the slain officers are the main focus of Gottfried’s story, of course.  I’ll urge prayers – or whatever your worldview does – for the families on what has to be a miserable anniversary.

Days Of Future Pissed

The Saint Paul City Council voted 6-0 to start studying a 200+-million-dollar streetcar line connecting some Godforsaken part of East Seventh to some misbegotten part of West Seventh, via downtown.  Councilman Bostrom abstained, noting that for the price of the line – basically a bus that runs on tracks – the city could resurface every single street in Saint Paul’s pothole-pocked grid. 

While there will be much gnashing and moaning about this line (almost none of which will become part of the official record, due to the Met Council and City of Saint Paul’s habit of only “seeking public feedback” after all decisions have been made), I figure it’s time to pass on some stories about a similar line, from a “high-density” eastern city much better-suited to such mass-transit fripperies, Toronto. 

Because streetcars aren’t much use there, either.

Here We Go Again

The completion of the “Green Line” has the urban planning dorks dreaming big again. 

Next up for Saint Paul – an “urban village” on Snelling by University, where the old MTC Bus Barn used to be.  It’ll be 4+ stories, the usual dog’s breakfast of “mixed-use” buildings a minimum of four stories tall, full of all of the “new urbanist” fads like “pedestrian friendly” spaces and “open spaces” that scream “crime-friendly!” to anyone who’s been paying attention. 

The refreshing part?  The consultants who are, er, consulting on the project admit up front it’s going to be exquisitely expensive:

The verdict? Those plans may be doable, but they won’t be cheap.

The report by Urban Investment Group, RNL and KHO Consulting examined potential development arrangements for the Snelling-Midway “SmartSite.”

The consultants found a $22 million to $31 million gap between today’s market value of the site and the cost of necessary new infrastructure, including $40 million in needed structured parking, as the land is redeveloped in phases.

The report encourages a mix of building types and uses, most of them at least four stories tall, with open spaces and pedestrian amenities to create the feel of an urban village.

It suggests a variety of approaches to close the funding gap, including tax-increment financing and grants and loans.

They’re suggesting a “public-private partnership”, which inevitably means large, rent-seeking “private” companies that are deeply in bed with government, building to a plan that has nothing to do with what the market demands but merely tries – at immense taxpayer expense – to skew the market toward the government’s (politically-driven and ultimately futile) plan. 

Think Galtier Plaza, Riverplace, Saint Anthony Main, The Conservatory, Mississippi Live…

Today’s News, Seven Years Ago

The Central Corridor Light Rail – named the “Green Line” because it would have been cheaper to build it out of stacks of dollar bills – is a failure, according David Markle, of transit-blog “Streets.mn”. 

I’ll urge you to read the entire piece, which is excellent and fairly exhaustive. 

The reasons boil down to these:

It’s The Wrong Line…:  Light Rail is designed to serve routes with stops roughly every mile or two – allowing it to get going to 55 miles per hour between stops.   The “Green Line” has to stop at dozens of stoplights, so it never really moves.  It takes about an hour to get between the downtowns, so it’s no faster than the 16 bus, making it useless for people who commute between downtowns.  And it’s much, much slower than cars, which even on the worst traffic days can get between the downtowns in half an hour.   

…In The Wrong Place…:  But it makes less than half as many stops as the 16, making it nearly useless for getting around the neighborhood, which is what people do on the 16.  The line should have either been:

  • a streetcar (and let’s all set our innate conservative opposition to rail transit aside for sake of argument) that stops every block or two and goes about the same speed as the 16, or maybe a little faster, and serves Saint Paul local traffic, for less than half the price we paid for the Green Line
  • or a light rail train built straight down I94, or across the 35W bridge and through the Newell and Empire Builder rail yards to downtown Saint Paul, for a similar (possibly lower) cost, but well over double the speed.
  • Or, since we’re just thinking here, a subway down University, with probably double the speed, but 4-10x (think 10x) the cost. 

What we got was too big a train on too slow a route – or as Markle puts it, “we’ve got a train that can’t run as a train should (to get commuters off the freeway and provide rapid point to point transportation) and yet can’t provide the good local service of a streetcar”. 

…For The Wrong Reasons…:  But the Met Council’s priority wasn’t moving people; it was promoting high-density urban development.  And while either kind of train will hypothetically serve the purpose (says the urban planning clique).  But the Federal Government was subsidizing light rail, not streetcars.  And the Met Council needed the subsidy. 

So instead of a line that (hypothetically) made sense either for commuters or local residents, we got a line designed to whisk people long distances, stopping every 1-3 miles, on a route that demands stops every block or three. 

Here’s The Takeaway:  The official transit fanboy community in the Twin Cities is just now waking up from their opening-day train-riding hangovers and figuring it out.  Bob Collins (one of my favorite MPR personalities, if that’s not a contradiction in terms) quotes heavily from the piece I link above, and adds his own observations:

During construction, I’d intended to take the line to Target Field for the July 4th game vs. the Yankees. But when push came to shove, and with four people in the car, it made more sense to just drive into town.

Part of that decision is owed to the 55 minutes it took to get from 10th Street in Saint Paul to the Nicollet stop in Minneapolis when we tried the new line out on the weekend of Rock the Garden.

More often, we hear “it takes too long” among potential riders. There’s a good reason for that. It takes too long.

So better late than never – right?

Of course, we – Erik “The Transit Geek” Hare (author of the peripatetic but excellent “Barataria” blog) and I talked about these exact issues, for precisely the same reasons, on the NARN seven years ago

Make of that what you will – especially if “what you will” means “the NARN has a better grasp on sane policy than the Met Council and the entire DFL”.

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?

Sort Of Like An “Affordable Traffic Act” Exchange

I was driving north on 35E yesterday afternoon, when I saw there was no traffic on the southbound side coming out of Saint Paul.

Then came about 10 cop cars, whoopie lights a-blazin’.

Then the Presidential limo.

Then about a dozen or two other SUVs, limos, an ambulance, and cop cars.

Then I turned up Ayd Mill Road – a tributary arterial road that’s sort of a hidden four-lane freeway through the middle of Merriam Park, Crocus Hill and Highland before connecting to 35E – and saw traffic backed up from 35 almost all the way back to Hamline. That’s about two miles.

This being Saint Paul, I figured most of them probably voted for him, and it served them right.

That’s 1

The “Blue Line” – the Ventura Trolley, built down a right of way that either been cleared of obstsructions in the sixties, or built high above it – went several months before taking out its first vehicular rival.

The Green Line – drilled down the middle of one of the busiest streets in the Metro?  It didn’t even last a day (and that’s leaving out the four train-on-car accidents during testing).

My prediction in the first year:  12 train-on-car accidents.  Three fatalities (at least one of them in a car, and at least one staggering out of the Trend, Arnelia’s or Christenson’s.