…and, for that matter, 35E, I started to understand what goats feel like…
….navigating trails in the Bolivian Andes.
…and, for that matter, 35E, I started to understand what goats feel like…
….navigating trails in the Bolivian Andes.
I’ve snickered about “E-Democracy” – the liberal-leaning non-profit that has been running email list-serve discussion forums for something like twenty years. Awash in non-profit money, they’ve expanded (more or less) all over the place – but have pretty much been a “progressive” echo chamber for most of the past fifteen years.
Which is, I suspect, all they were ever asked to be.
I watch ‘em, still – especially the Saint Paul “forum”. Mainly for new blog material, or for warnings about Saint Paul government’s latest detour into delusion.
A group of contributors were discussing how to “save” the “soul” of Saint Paul. By “soul”, they really meant “small ma and pa businesses” (and, by extension I suspect, the correct small ma and pa businesses; no gun stores, no motorcycle shops, no bars in “my” backyard, yadda yadda).
And by “soul”, you mean “small, local, ma and pa businesses” , or so I assume from the thread so far.
And some of you are even flirting with some answers that sorta kinda make sense – but for the fact that they all rely on the agencies of politics to enable them. Meaning more “systems” for the well-connected to game , more picking of winners and losers by the people who are already in power. And this is non-partisan, by the way – it’s not even a Republican vs. Democrat thing .
But we could “save” Saint Paul’s “soul” in a breathtakingly short time – as in, make a huge start before the next Mayoral election . It’d require a lot of people parking a lot of their preconceptions, and working for the benefit of *city* and its people, rather than the betterment of the city’s political class  – but let’s just imagine for a moment.
Here’s how you bring back Saint Paul’s “soul” – its small business community:
First: Declare a ten year business tax holiday. Not a TIF district. Not an enterprise zone. Not a tax break for businesses that fit the favored criteria, or a subsidy to get them going. No. Slash business taxes; make them the lowest in the state by a statutory ten percent. Abolish all city sales taxes. Yes – this would require some drastic, and for some painful, cutbacks at the city level . But city government isn’t Saint Paul’s “soul” . You want small business – and, while we’re at it, jobs and opportunity for all those kids, immigrants and poor people? Give Saint Paul THE lowest business taxes in the state. And not by a close margin.
Second: Knock off the “living wage” talk. Many small businesses can’t afford it at all; others  can afford it only by hiring higher-skill workers who give much higher productivity than the traditional minimum wage worker. They hire fewer of them in the process. Why scare off small businesses? Not only should Saint Paul can the “living wage” talk, they should have a “training wage” for kids under 18 that work less than 20 hours a week *below* the regular minimums. That’ll actually make it *worth* it to hire the young and unskilled.  Long story short – let business pay for skills what the skills are actually worth on the open market – and let people work and learn the skills that make their time more valuable. That’s how its’ done *sustainably*.
Third: Put zoning back in its place. Quit trying to use the zoning process to create an urban utopia (according to the people in power, of course); pare it back to commonsense regulations. Especially parking regulations. It’s in the *businesses’* interest to make sure they have enough parking (why would you open a bar in a location with half a dozen parking spots?). Quit letting the NIMBYs hold the city’s economy hostage.
Fourth: Ditto regulations. Ruthlessly hack away business regulations that exist only to protect people who bent the ears of City Councilpeople 50 years ago. .
Fifth: Prune DSI back to inspecting for health and building-safety regulations according to *state* law.
So what’d happen?
Saint Paul would get *lots* of businesses.
Some would be chains. Yep. They have money, they invest it, they hire people and pay taxes. You can not use government to pick winners and losers without distorting the market and making *everyone* a loser.
But you’d also get a lot more local businesses – because *they’d be able to compete* without an arm tied behind their backs! And this city would develop a *culture* of entrepreneurship – people would start businesses because *that’s what people do* in Saint Paul . And that culture of entrepreneurship would open up financing, both through normal channels (the city would become a MUCH better risk for small business lending) and non-traditional (example: Asian family credit pools could start investing in Saint Paul, and start moving back from Woodbury and Burnsville. Maybe).
And that’s the *real*, *sustainable* way to “save” Saint Paul’s “soul” – create a place where someone can start at McDonald’s, learn the basics of how to get and hold a job, and then realize “Bull! I can make a better burger!”, write a business plan, find a location, and start grilling better burgers. And hiring a kid who works her way up, and decides she can do it better still. And so on.
THAT is how you “save” Saint Paul’s “soul”. 
So – let’s do it, shall we?
Private Sector Warrior
 – Interesting term, “Soul”. Metaphysical – as opposed to many other metaphors that could describe a city. So – how are souls lost? By falling for whatever Big Lie your worldview abjures. Like, to pick a hypothetical example, the idea that politics – which is nothing but the control over the state’s monopoly on force  – solves any problems without causing worse problems.
 The DFL, the special interests that support it; the hordes of rent-seekers, non-profiteers (including this very forum) and other favored members of the political class. And again, this is non-partisan; this would be equally true in a Republican city that’d been run into the ground – if you can find one.
 I’ve written about this before, in the past year; I won’t recap the whole proposal, but it does involve getting city government out of some areas. Kicker is, the city comes out way ahead. Stay with us, here.
 Including *both* Punch Pizza and Costco, by the way. From the President’s State of the Union! They were both terrible examples of businesses that pay living wages; Costco sells limited SKUs in bulk and locates only in fairly wealthy areas, and hires people at higher wages but with established skills (and contracts the minimum wage stuff, like working in the snack bar and handing out samples, out to subcontractors – who do NOT pay $11-15 an hour!). Punch is a high-end niche pizzeria with a high markup; time’ll tell if they succeed with the higher labor costs. But again – they also pick and choose who they hire. Go ahead – send your unskilled kid over there to apply. Let the forum know how it goes!
 But since this IS a city full of people who believe in living wages, start a program (privately) so that companies that pay better starting wages can advertise it on their front doors. Let ‘em put big “We Start At $11/hour!” signs, so that people who DO value a “living wage” can put their money where their mouths are (and gauge whether they get the same bang for *their* buck that stores with lower labor costs provide.
 Classic example of this: when I was in Jacksonville on business a few months ago, I travelled almost entirely by “shuttle”. That is to say, a van. A single van owned by someone who met a minimum set of standards (four wheels, seatbelts), and kept the van clean enough to attract customers. It wasn’t a posh van, but no worse than a cab – smelled better than any cab I’ve been in, ever – and it got me around Jax quickly and cost-effectively. I talked with the driver; no serious regulations other than the same vehicle safety rules everyone has to follow (which are perfectly effective), no Taxicab lobby to worry about breaking his knees, and he makes a *solid* middle-class living driving that van between the hotels, the business district and the airport. One of them (whom I used twice, and talked with about the system) gave me a card – he does with all his customers – and told me to call him when I need a ride next time I’m in Jax. And I will.
Anyway – there is no way a local businessman could set up such business in Saint Paul. And that’s a shame; our system enriches the cab company owners, at all of our expense. This is just one of the examples of our business regulation making it impossible to start small businesses, for the dumbest reasons.
 Nope, it’s not “what people do” in Saint Paul in 2014. In Saint Paul in 2014, people work for government, or work outside Saint Paul. To the extent that there is a private sector in Saint Paul, it’s some very rugged people who can weather a lot of bureaucratic BS.
 Or shall we just continue making soothing sounds about helping small business by using policies that have made Saint Paul one of the most business-hostile cities in the upper midwest, all the while lining the pockets of the city’s political class and its hangers-on (sorry, those of you who I just described – it’s business. Not personal).
 I know – some of you see politics (in the form of government and the whooooole process) through soft-focus lenses. But it all devolves back to force. Try this: Stop paying your taxes, or put a statue the city doesn’t like on your lawn, or decline to send your kid to a government-approved school. Keep at it, and sooner or later someone with a gun shows up at your door to demand compliance. You can dress it up any way you want, but that’s really the essence of all politics at the end of the day.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
I saw the article in the pie-pan (Pioneer Press) about the new bicycle boondoggle. The estimate for the loop downtown is $18 million. Which means the true estimate that they had is $30 million, and the actual cost will be $45 million.
The story quotes the City of St. Paul’s Sustainable-Transportation Engineer and also the Environmental Policy Director. St Paul only has two director-level positions for bicycle ideas. Now that, truly, is a bare-bones operation.
If only the wicked Republicans would give St. Paul more LGA, then they could plow the streets. Meanwhile, what can we do with the cupboards being bare and the offices empty.
I love biking to work.
I just wish government spent less time and money making sure tax-paying drivers hated me while I was riding down the street (that I already paid for).
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Leftists despair when their own principles collide, leaving it impossible to decide who to hate. Example:
Poor people can’t afford to buy their own homes, so they rent. Renters don’t own the building so they can’t make improvements. Landlords have little incentive to make improvements that reduce profits. So poor people live in crappy housing until they can afford to move somewhere nicer. We should hate the landlord, right?
Except in St. Paul. Here, the City requires rental properties to be nicer than owner occupied. I’m not kidding; I was a landlord here for 15 years and earned Class A ratings for my rentals. I know the codes and how they’re applied. The truth is the City set the standards for rental properties so high that landlords can’t afford to maintain them. And when they don’t, the City tears down privately-owned rental properties and partially replaces them with publicly-owned low-income apartments, otherwise known as “Projects.” Every renter I ever met preferred a dingy rental house with a bit of yard over the city housing Projects. But if the City is tearing rental houses down, where else can poor people go?
The policy has the effect of eliminating low-density rental housing stock scattered in neighborhoods and herding poor people into high-density housing projects in centralized locations. The policy mostly impacts people who receive welfare and in St. Paul, that’s mostly people of color. So the City’s policy causes disproportionate harm to poor Black families. Under federal Fair Housing Law, that’s called “disparate impact” and it’s a form of illegal discrimination. Racists discriminating against welfare recipients . . . we should hate Mayor Chris Coleman’s crew?
A group of landlords sued the City on exactly that legal basis and the case was all set for hearing at the United States Supreme Court when the City backed down rather than lose the case. The City tried to spin it as worry that Conservative justices on the Supreme Court would overturn the civil rights law that the City was violating. So now what: hate the Supreme Court?
The City is being sued again, for the same policies that have the same racist impact. The City Attorney assures us the landlord is a big poop so the policy is justified. But the City is still tearing down private rentals and still pressing ahead with Projects along the Light Rail line. Despite everything, the City continues discriminating against poor persons of color, in the name of helping poor persons of color, under cover of media blackout.
Can’t really blame the media. The want to do the right thing. But it’s just so hard to know who to hate.
They’re just following orders, not entirely confident that headquarters really knows what it’s doing.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
City of St. Paul takes responsibility for street plowing the way Obama’s IRS does – proclaim outrage, shuffle people around, make vague promises and hope the issue goes away.
A city taxes residents to perform a few, basic duties: keep the peace, fight fires, provide safe drinking water, treat sewage and plow the streets. Since I moved here in 1998, streets have been a cruel insult.
Comparing St. Paul to Minneapolis sounds fair – both big cities with huge staff and monster budgets – but a better comparison is Roseville or Falcon Heights – a small city with small staff and small budget whose streets are plowed and sanded, clean and dry, weeks before St. Paul’s streets are done. If the little town can do it with tiny staff working for peanuts, why can’t giant St. Paul do it with all its union employees and LGA resources?
I suspect Mayor Chris Coleman doesn’t want to discuss the solution proven to work: contract it out. I vaguely recall the City did for a while back in the early 90′s – maybe during Mayor Norm Coleman’s time? I think they contracted to heavy equipment companies that did road construction in the Summer but sat idle all Winter. We could hire them again.
I want to say it was West or South Saint Paul, or maybe a trial program on the West Side. The city’s union employees claimed, unsurprisingly, that the private contractors were terrible at the job, and the program was ended. ”Cauterized” might be a better term.
Plus, St. Paul never plows alleys – residents band together to hire some guy with a Western plow on his pickup, which is good Winter work for landscapers. They could each clean a few streets, too, and have them perfectly clean before the city crews even get to the shop.
A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, a plow on every block: now there’s a campaign slogan I could love.
That’s my block; one of our neighbors does plowing. We each chip in $20 a winter – and he has to keep the alley plowed to get to work. I think during the big blizzard in 2010 he may have made one of the side streets passable too…
When I bought my last vehicle, I went shopping for a 4-wheel drive. My in-laws asked me “Why do you need a 4-wheel drive, you live in St. Paul?” and I replied “I need a 4-wheel drive BECAUSE I live in St. Paul.” Now that’s pathetic.
Saint Paul seems to be getting counterintuitively worse at clearing roads. While last year was the worst – with even high-traffic streets remaining impassible sheets of glare ice for days after big storms – we haven’t had a real donnybrook of a storm yet, either.
The roads, even after last week’s modest storm, are like goat paths in the Bolivian Andes.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The Red Chinese are banning outdoor barbeques, supposedly to cut air pollution but you know it’s only a small step to banning them to Stop Global Warming.
Nobody tell Mayor Coleman.
I’m frankly amazed we don’t have public loudspeakers in Saint Paul broadcasting Dave Thune’s aphorisms.
Michael Paymar is leaving the House:
State Rep. Michael Paymar announced Wednesday he will leave the Legislature after his current term expires.
The St. Paul Democrat is the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee; his district is considered safe Democratic territory.
No. New York under Boss Tweed was “safe Democrat territory”. Michael Paymar’s Highland Park, a part of Saint Paul that ponied up seven figures in donations for Kathleen Soliah’s defense fund, is a whole level beyond that. The DFL could endorse a bag of dog food and get 60% of the vote, and most of the voters would say the bag of dog food made perfectly good sense in the debates.
Paymar collided this year with his party’s leadership over whether to change Minnesota’s gun laws. His bill to expand background checks and restrict gun purchases stalled when House leaders declined to call a vote.
Well, no. It stalled when Paymar’s (and Hausman’s, and Rep. Martens’) copy-and-paste gun-grab bills served their purpose to the people who paid for their offices.
Best of luck, Representative Paymar.
That’s what got Betsy Hodges the victory in Minneapolis’ mayoral election last night. About a third (36.55%) of a 34% turnout in the first round.
Cam Winton came in just under 10% with 7,500 votes. Which is about ten percent better than a Republican did in the last Minneapolis mayor race. Or the one before. Or the one before that. Ad infinitum (or at least back to the nineties, which was the last credible GOP candidate I can recall in Minneapolis).
Now, we know there are more than 7,500 Republicans in Minneapolis. 240,000 people in Hennepin County voted for Mitt Romney, for crying out loud – and the “Republican districts” in Henco would fit into a phone booth and leave you enough room for someone to come in and ask you what a phone booth was. If even 20% of those 240,000 were in Minneapolis, and they’d come out to the polls last night, Winton would have crushed Hodges.
But Republicans never come out for local races. My theory: they’re so used to getting beaten down in local, county and Congressional elections, they only come out for statewide and federal races, where their votes actually end up mattering; a GOP vote from Longfellow is worth exactly the same as a GOP vote from Dassel.
The upsides last night? The fake Republicans, Bob “Let’s Build a Bike Skyway” Carney and Ole “Will Run For Office For Food” Savior, got less than a percent of the vote. In a cycle in which the 5th CD GOP started out being run by people whose main goal was to destroy the GOP, that’s not a bad job of protecting the brand – although most of the credit goes to Winton, who ran a great race.
Nationwide? I can’t be too disappointed. Christie isn’t my favorite Republican, but he had my favorite result – crushing his opponents in a blue state.
Ken Cuccinelli outperformed expectations immensely last night, coming within two points in a race everyone counted him out of – and (this is important) losing to a Democrat vote surge in the only part of the country that’s doing well financially right now, the DC suburbs.
Takeaway? A good candidate is better than a bad candidate. A well-organized party in an area is better than a party that’s a Bulgarian goat rodeo. A two-party city is a better prospect for a challenger than a one-party cesspool. And all three factors matter, every election,every time.
And it’s going to take either a Detroit-style calamity, or several cycles of rebuilding the GOP as credible contenders, to change either Minneapolis or Saint Paul. Which would mean spending less time in a circular firing squad shooting other Republicans and more time actually making a case to actual voters.
And I think I started saying that seven years ago, and it’s only gotten worse in the metro.
It was a year ago yesterday that a depraved lefty walked into the national Family Research Council headquarters a a pistol, 100 rounds of ammo, and the intention to kill every person in the office.
He was stopped by a building manager and acting security guard, Leo Johnson, who, although shot twice, subdued the leftist gunman, who had walked into the lobby claiming to be a new intern. Johnson asked for ID.
After Corkins takes a suspiciously long time rummaging through his bag to produce identification, Johnson cannily stands up and walks around the desk to get a closer look at what Corkins is doing. Corkins bolts upright, gun in hand. Without the slightest hesitation, Johnson rushes Corkins, who fires twice. A bullet shatters Johnson’s left forearm. “And I just couldn’t hear anything, my arm just kind of blew back. So at that point I was thinking: ‘I have to get this gun,’ ” Johnson told The Weekly Standard. “That was my sole focus—I have to get this gun—this guy’s gonna kill me and kill everybody here.”
From there, Johnson somehow manages to push Corkins across the lobby and pin him against the wall with his bad arm. “I just started punching him as hard as I could, until I could feel his grip loosen,” recalled Johnson. Eventually he takes the gun from Corkins with his wounded arm. Before long, Corkins is subdued on the ground. Corkins now admits that it was his intention to shoot everyone in the building. There’s no question Johnson saved a lot of lives.
This was a genuine hate crime; the shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, had a backpack full of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches he intended to smear into his victims’ faces after shooting them, apperently to suffocate the wounded.
Johnson was a hero. And you’ve heard scarcely a word about it in the mainstream media, who spent most of the past 18 months trying in vain to pound the utterly-non-bias-related Martin-Zimmerman case into a “hate crime”, and the past couple of years trying unsuccessfully to politicize the Giffords, Aurora and Newtown shootings.
And yet here was the real thing (and by no means for the first time). And…
There are some illuminating contrasts between the media’s handling of the political dimensions of the Family Research Council shooting and the shooting of Representative Giffords. In the latter case, the media rushed to assume political motivations and were quick to blame, of all people, Sarah Palin…there is no evidence whatsoever Loughner saw this map or that allegedly violent political rhetoric—even “campaign” is a term borrowed from war—was in any way a cause of the Giffords shooting. That didn’t stop serious news organizations from lending institutional credibility to the irresponsible allegations…though Giffords was shot in January 2011, as recently as this year in an article on gun violence the New York Times saw fit to remind readers that “many criticized Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential nominee, for using cross hairs on her Web site to identify Democrats like Ms. Giffords.”
And NBC news fairly raced to blame the Aurora shooting on the Tea Party.
By contrast, the media handled awkwardly the revelation that Corkins admitted to plotting mass murder as a means of furthering a popular liberal cause. “A detail sure to reignite the culture wars that erupted around the shooting is the fact that Corkins told FBI agents that he identified the Family Research Council as anti-gay on the Web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” wrote the Washington Post during Corkins’s trial in February. It’s a little unseemly for a newspaper, when finally forced to confront actual politically motivated violence, to worry about the shooting’s impact on the metaphorical “culture war.” Particularly when irresponsible actors in that culture war continue to get a free pass from the media.
The SPLC – cited with grave solemnity as an authority by rafts of lefty bobbleheads – has become a bit of a hate group in its own right:
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was once a laudable civil rights organization that sued racists and violent extremists. Now it regularly demonizes anyone who runs afoul of its knee-jerk liberal politics, and despite this it is still regularly cited by the media as a “nonpartisan” watchdog. Some of the SPLC’s newly targeted “hate groups,” such as pickup artists, are merely kooky or distasteful. Others singled out by the SPLC, including Catholics who go to Latin mass or Christian organizations similar to the Family Research Council, are well within the mainstream. Tellingly, the SPLC doesn’t just name the Family Research Council on its website—it posts the council’s address on a “hate map.” That map is still on SPLC’s website, and the organization refused calls to take it down after the Family Research Council shooting.
But they won’t.
I bring it up because we’re seeing the same thing with the Widstrand beating in Saint Paul. Now, to be clear, there’s no evidence that it was a “hate crime”, per se; in other words, there’s no evidence that any of the youths stood on a soapbox and bellowed “I’m doing this because I Hate Whitey”. And for purposes of charging that brutal assault, evidence is what is needed.
But you can see, feel and hear the nervousness in official Saint Paul and Minneapolis government circles; as crime as dropped in most parts of the Twin Cities, it’s stayed steadily well above average on the East Side, the North End, the North Side, Phillips. Parts of the East Side have been deteriorating before our eyes over the past decade, in a city that is generally mostly just stagnant.
And yet nobody in offical Twin Cities circles will call the elephant what it is. They hold official observances for the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” misery-exploitation caravan – which exists to protest the deaths of children who look like the children of NPR executives – and studiously ignore the fact that black on black crime in the Twin Cities is astronomically higher than any other rate in the state.
Joel Doakes from Como Park emails:
The neighbors fought to keep Buffalo Wild Wings out of their neighborhood completely, and lost before the St. Paul City Council, which is quite an achievement given this city’s track record.
Now the neighbors are back, bitching because it smells like fried food. Well, yes, you live next door to a restaurant. I live across from a ball park. Everybody has problems. That’s part of living in a city, rubbing shoulders, celebrating diversity.
If you want your own private estate, move to North Oaks.
Hell Is Other People.
It reminds me of the people who teamed up to ban cruising on Snelling and University during hot rod shows. These people live in a major city, but want it to sound like an Iowa corn field after dark.
“Progressivism” is always about trying to build utopia with legislation.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The US Bank building in downtown St. Paul was foreclosed last year. The River Park Plaza building across the river from downtown St. Paul also was foreclosed last year. I don’t know how many more are in the pipeline.
St. Paul Class A office space vacancy rate is 12%. As last report, Class B was 24% and Class C was 19%, for an overall rate of 21%.
This, five years into the “recovery.” This is not your grandfather’s recovery. It’s more like your grandfather’s Great Depression.
And that’s after the State of Minnesota rented a hog-pile of empty and underutilized space.
And, I’ll guess, before the whole “Vacant Macy’s” gets counted, to boot. It’s not “office” space, after all; just a vacant block.
More “recovery” like this and Saint Paul might need to try to find oil under some of those refrigerated ice rinks Mayor Coleman just had to have.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Registered sex offenders to live on Charles Avenue [A street a few block north of University, through the Midway, Frogtown and the North End of Saint Paul - Ed]. On the new bike-and-pedestrian-friendly part of the street.
Seems odd to be slowing down potential victims just in front of the predator’s house but then, I‘m not an urban planner.
Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:
We must knock down a warehouse to build a ballpark for the St. Paul Saints and also give $200,000 to artists to decorate the empty Union Station. Because it’s too expensive not to.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could afford to let some developer convert the warehouse into condo lofts, leave the Saints in their existing ballpark and allow travelers to enjoy the classic beauty of the station as-is? I’d be willing to spring for that. How much would that cost?
To the Minnesota bureaucrat, spending itself is both beautiful and efficient. Or something.
The Saint Paul media world is holding its collective (heh) breath, wondering if Chris Coleman is going to announce a campaign for a third time as mayor.
You can read the whole MPR piece here – it notes that Coleman has jacked up taxes at a record pace, as well as the DFL’s defense (“stuff costs money!”).
But I wanted to focus on this quotelet:
Taxes may be higher, but Coleman said residents are getting their money’s worth.
“If we’re going to have a great city that’s a safe city, a literate city, a fun city, a great place to live, you have to invest,” Coleman said. “And I think our citizens have continually said, ‘Yes, we’re prepared to pay for those things.”
So let’s run those claims through the “Saint Paul Residentmeter”.
Saint Paul is showing all the ills that generations of one-party rule bring to a city.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
It snowed 8 inches last night. The city streets have not been plowed and won’t be, until sometime tomorrow. But those of us who drove on the snow-covered streets, packing down the snow so the plows can’t scrape it off tonight and spinning the packed snow into ice at every intersection, are morally superior to those who looked out the window and said “To Hell with it, I’ve got leave coming, I’m taking the day off.”
At least, I hope we are. I’d hate like the dickens to be sitting in my cubicle not only dumber than those who stayed home, but morally equal, too.
Gotta say, while I rarely work from home, it is the absolute greatest thing in the world today.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Turns out that the city council, acting as the HRA board, has allocated “$35,825 to settle costs related to the site. The HRA acquired the property from the Selby Area Community Development Corporation (SACDC) in December in exchange for $50,000.00 that the corporation owed the city. Since then, city staff learned there were delinquent taxes on the property.”
Why is it that the government can’t get a budget to balance? Could it be incompetence like this? They accept a pig in a poke, in payment of the last pig in a poke? They took a property in payment of a debt without first checking to see if it’s encumbered? Morons. I could see that with granny who takes the neighbor’s lot not knowing better. But this is the city, with it’s nearly limitless resources and unlimited access to the property records.
Bet you a nickel some of those delinquent taxes were special assessments for sidewalk shoveling levied by . . . the city itself!
Joe Doakes, Como Park
It’s Saint Paul. The left hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. This is no right hand.
On a Saint Paul discussion forum, someone asked “what would you do to better the city if someone gave you a couple million dollars?”
It took me about two seconds to answer; I’ve been thinking about this one for years and years.
If someone gave me a couple million dollars my plan would look something like this:
I’m rarin’ to go. Someone pony up!
Anh Trinh has been running Anh’s Beauty Salon, way down by University and Dale, for a couple of decades now.
Her business was one of the flood of Asian businesses that reclaimed University from blight and complete free-fall starting in about the eighties…
…and who are being displaced by the misguided “Train From Nowhere To Nowhere”.
Here, Anh testifies at the Met Council
Especially note the appearance by Jack McCann of the University Avenue Business Association. Here’s his quote:
This project from planning to design to funding to construction can be summed up as dishonest and pathetic. An honest organization (which is not the Met Council) would have openly evaluated the real effects of shoehorning a project this size onto this avenue.
You hear this, people of St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie? This is what awaits you
if when the DFL jams the Southwest Light Rail down your throats.
To: The Saint Paul City Council
From: Mitch Berg, one of your few remaining ATMs
Re: Your work ethic
The Saint Paul City Council, having saved the downtown economic scene, balanced the city’s budget without gang-raping the city’s few remaining productive taxpayers, preventing a free-fall in property values…
…sheesh, I’m sorry. I was laughing. But it wasn’t the mirthful laugh of the happy and carefree. It was more the resigned hacking cough of the guy in the engine room of a ship whose captain just keeps on ramming icebergs, since he’s still technically “afloat”, just to see what’ll happen.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. The City Council wants to ban scary guns, provided that they’re just the ones in the hands of the law-abiding Minnesotan:
At the Wednesday, Jan. 2 council meeting, they amended their annual request to lawmakers to include a crackdown on semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.
They join a chorus of municipal bodies, politicians and Hollywood celebrities clamoring for tighter gun laws in the wake of the horrific school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Let’s summarize here:
By the way, I’d like a word with the authors of the City Hall Scoop blog post:
Some gun enthusiasts are dubious that a ban on semi-automatics would have prevented the Newtown tragedy and other tragic gun deaths.
Well, no – not just “gun enthusiasts”, but “people who actually study the issue empirically, rather than filtering it through partisan politics”.
Let’s try to get that straight.
Here’s the release from Council Member Chris Tolbert’s office:
Councilmember Tolbert amends City’s 2013 Legislative Agenda to support changes to State and Federal gun regulation
St. Paul – In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy and gun violence around the country, Councilmember Chris Tolbert (Ward 3) and the Saint Paul City Council unanimously amended the City’s Legislative Agenda to include provisions related to gun regulation. Resolution 13-23 encourages the backing of amendments to State laws that could ban semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.
Mr. Tolbert: I may or may not own several semi-automatic weapons, of a type not dissimilar to the kind that the police and deputies who protect you at your City Hall office carry. And like the majority of hunting weapons found throughout Minnesota.
Being a cake-eating Highland-Park DFL lotus-eater, you may not know any of this.
And apparently you don’t know what happened the last time a bunch of metro DFLers started on a tear against the law-abiding, gun-owning citizen.
Check out the 2002 Minnesota legislative elections. Or, for that matter, the 1994 Congressional elections.
Keep up the great work, Mr. Tolbert and all of your colleagues. The GOP overrreached on gay marriage – an issue that affects a tiny minority of Minnesotans – and you see what it cost ‘em.
Over half of Minnesotans own guns. Many of them vote DFL. Many of them live outside the smothering domain of the urban DFL, and take the Second Amendment seriously.
So just keep on doing what you do. Sincerely.
That is all.
The Saint Paul Macy’s is closing in March.
Macy’s is closing its St. Paul store this spring, leaving downtown without a major retailer and bringing to a close 50 years of continuous department store operations at the Wabasha Street location.
Store employees were to be told this week that the store will shut down in late March, according to sources who did not want to be named.
On the one hand, it’s not really a surprise. The place has been a morgue for years. The only reason it stayed open as long as it did was to stay within the terms of a loan from the city back in 2002. Since they hit the ten year nut, a few million dollars are going to be forgiven, store or no store.
So to summarize: No store, no more payback, no anchor retail in downtown Saint Paul.
On some St. Paul list-servers, some DFL-leaning residents are feeling chipper about it: “maybe Target will buy the space?”
Nonsense. Target didn’t get to be a huge retailer by being stupid. Saint Paul is not a retail destination – if it were, there’d be no such announcement from Macy’s.
(“But Macy’s is just stupid!”, some might respond – but their share value is clipping along rather well, so whatever their other faults, they seem to know a bit about keeping their stores profitable).
I’ll predict the following:
Bottom line? Six decades of DFL control have left downtown Saint Paul a ghost town, populated only by wan holdouts, scrappy and bargain-hungry small businesses, a few corporations that haven’t quite pulled the trigger on relocation yet, hipsters (waaaaay down by the Farmer’s Market), a few lucky businesses (up by the XCel and the Ordway, assuming hockey comes back someday), a lot of state offices, and – for about a catastrophic third of the office space – nothing at all.
While I realize that St. Paul’s city government – strangled as it’s been by one party rule for sixty years now – didn’t specifically set out to make Downtown into a cold Flint, I have to ask – if they had, how would things be different?
Dear Saint Paul Voters: Remember that “Definition of Insanity” joke? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result?
Pretty funny, huh?
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails with a plan:
I’m going to stand in line for the park permit lottery and bid on Como Park, every Saturday in June and July. Then I’m going to SCALP THEM.
Beware, all you engaged people.
But watch out, Joe. It’s a brave new world out there. Ask any GM bond-holder.
In St. Paul, the only reason the office vacancy rate is holding steady between a quarter and a third is because the state of Minnesota rents as much as they do. Crime is rising, the tax base is shrinking, middle and working-class parents are fleeing the school system, the Midway and Frogtown are about to get a few islands of gentrification plopped (for a while, anyway) amid long stretches of government-imposed blight, taxes are up and “services” are down, the foreclosure crisis has gutted Frogtown, the North End and the lower East Side, property values are in the toilet and will stay there because of the City Council’s vacant building policies.
But we’re free of candy cigarettes, dammit!
A back-in-the-day soda shop in St. Paul has been busted for selling cigarettes — made of candy.
Lynden’s, on Hamline Avenue near Cretin-Derham Hall High School, said a city inspections official came in last week and gave the shop a warning and added that a misdemeanor citation — with a $500 fine — would be next if the non-carcinogenic confections continue to be sold.
And how was it that the City of Saint Paul was caused to spring into such decisive action?
“Somebody from Bloomington called and reported us,” Lynden said. “The whole thing is pretty weird.”
The folks at Lynden’s should have donated more to the DFL, apparently.
UPDATE: Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The City of St. Paul is looking out For The Children, as usual.
Best comment on-line: “It’s true, candy cigarettes are a gateway drug to real cigarettes. I used to eat Gummi Worms and now I crave night-crawlers!”
Strooth. I started eating Lemonheads. I became a huge Evan Dando fan.
I walked out Monday morning to carry a bag of trash to the dumpster. The alley was spotlessly plowed. In Saint Paul, we have to contract for our own alley plowing; on my block, we pony up about $20 a year to hire a guy who, as luck has it, lives on the same block, so he has to plow the alley to get to work and back home again.
Anyway – blocks in Saint Paul that can work together are generally plowed quickly and effectively. Mine’s luckier (and works better) than many, perhaps, but it works.
Which is great, because it gives you a nice clean bit of pavement to get a running head start onto the side streets.
I’ve seen roads this bad in Saint Paul – but usually only after double the snowfall. Sunday was a bunch of snow – 12-14 inches or so – but we’ve certainly seen worse.
But Tuesday morning, it took me 70 minutes to get from the Midway to Highway 5. That’s ten minutes worse than Monday. Along the way, I saw…:
The City of Saint Paul seems to have gotten behind the eight ball; mid-day yesterday they put up an announcement on their website, which explained that…:
It has been repeatedly commented that the roads seem worse today than yesterday. That is a true statement,particularly at the intersections the roads are worse. The temperatures overnight caused what had snow had started melting to freeze as ice. The situation at the intersections is then made worse as drivers accelerate spinning their wheels and when they don’t move as fast as they thought accelerate even further creating more heat and water making the situation worse – Not better. (Tip: when at an intersection and stopped take your foot off the brake and let the car begin to move on its own and accelerate slowly. If wheels start to spin back off the accelerator until car starts moving again)
This morning we began adding sand to our salt mix to provide some grit. As of noon we have placed just over 700 tons of salt on the street. This is almost three times the amount of salt we use in a typical snow event. While we are working on our salt conservation we are NOT going light on salt. in fact, at 11am, we increased our application rate by 30% to 100% to help cut the thicker snowpack. The conditions at this time warrant the need for more salt and that is what we are doing.
That’s all fine – and there are some good tips in there. And there’s no knock on the plow drivers, who are definitely out plowing roads. And the announcement is right, inasmuch as the snow fell on warm ground (remember how recently the temps were in the forties?) and then got hit by snow and a cold snap.
But here’s a question directed at a city government that has jacked up property taxes by nearly half in the past few years, and whose surrogates respond to any guff about taxes “how do you think we pay for snow-plowing?”: for the past two nights, I’ve driven north on a Snelling Avenue that feels like an Andean goat path, a jarring washboard ride that I think may have rattled a filling out of my tooth…
…until I get north of Larpenteur. Where it gets nice and smooth and dry and safe.
Ditto Hamline, Lexington, Fairview, Cleveland…
…American Boulevard, France Avenue, Penn Avenue…
…you get the picture. What do all of them know that the City of Saint Paul doesn’t?
Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:
Saint Paul never plows alleys and only plows residential streets during “snow emergencies” long after the snow is packed down by traffic.
Businesses privately plow parking lots and residents privately plow alleys, but what good are they if the street isn’t plowed?
St. Paul should allow residents to hire private side street plowing. Do it block-by-block and give a property tax credit to those who join. We’d get better service, plow operators would prosper, streets would be safer, city would save money. What’s not to love?
Not sure if it’s “allowed” or not, but the guy who does my alley also gets one of my block’s side streets. I think of it as our little oasis of street sanity.
This past few days, we’ve needed it.
Anyway, now I’m off to try to find a less-lethal route to work.
Anybody know where I can hire a Sherpa?
I couldn’t resist:
I was 234th through the polling line in St. Paul Ward 4 Precinct 14. Turnout was moderate, maybe a little lighter than I’ve seen; I remember it being much heavier at the same time of the day back in 2008 and especially 2004.
I voted GOP down the line, as promised; Romney/Ryan, Bills, Hernandez, Karschnia, Lipp.
I also voted Yes on Voter ID (doy) and on Marriage, for the reasons I explained yesterday.
I think this is going to be a humdinger of an election. Alongside my predictions from this morning – GOP holds both chambers of the Legislature – I think Chip Cravaack will stave off Rick Nolan, setting the stage for what could be an epic realignment in Minnesota politics.
Beyond that? I think Lee Byberg has laid the groundwork for what could be – let’s be conservative, here – a result that is unexpectedly good, and disconcerting for Collin Peterson. And I think it would have happened even without his improvident slander of pro-lifers.
And while I think it’ll take a complete economic collapse and mass civil disorder to make Minneapolis anything but a DFL playground, I think Chris Fields is going to surprise people with his results on November 7. He’s run a masterful campaign; in a just world, there would be no contest; in a district that wasn’t a one-party thug-ocracy, the statesmanly Fields would make short work of the whiny, petulant Ellison.
As to the 4th CD?
Here’s where we need your help.
Redistricting shaved Betty McCollum’s advantage down, but it didn’t gut it. The 4th Congressional District was as blue as the Oceana Ministry of Truth’s uniforms before redistricting, of course; and it absorbed a lot of purple territory in Stillwater and Woodbury (as well as a few bright-red districts full of Real Americans up in Grant Township).
Which is a huge improvement, don’t get me wrong.
And so Tony Hernandez has been fighting this campaign to win. And along with that, there’s been a solid effort by a lot of candidates at the legislative level. I think we’ve got a solid shot at four or five new seats in the legislature, either flips or open seats, as well as defending the seats we already do have.
And – this is huge – I think Blake Huffman, Dennis Dunnigan and Sue Jeffers have a solid shot at getting on the Ramsey County Commission. And if that happens, the Ramco Commission will have a conservative majority!
If there’s a habit from the Old Fourth that we need to put to rest, it’s the idea that Saint Paul and Ramsey County Republicans only turn out when they think it matters – competitive Presidential, Gubernatorial and Senate races. The media has done a painstaking, and fraudulent, job of trying to convince them that the Presidential and Senate races are foregone conclusions; they do it to try to convince Republicans not to show up at the polls.
This is where you come in.
The Hernandez Campaign is organizing a phone bank – along with several other campaigns and BPOUs in the 4th CD – to Get Out The Vote, starting tonight and running up until the election.
Whether you’re a Paleocon, a Neocon, a Ronulan, a LIbertarian, or even an old-school Eastside Kennedy Democrat who’s had enough of the current regime, this is your chance to help convince people that this election makes a difference, and to help cajole them to the polls.
The fact is, Romney has a chance. Tony Hernandez has a shot at shocking the world – perhaps by winning, perhaps by showing the state that the Fourth is not a safe sinecure and convincing Betty that a nice cushy six-figure gig with a non-profit is a lot less work in 2014. And if we stick the landing on all five (or more!) of the legislative opportunities and the Ramco Commission, this will have an immediate and lasting effect on politics at the state level. .