Last week, the Saint Paul City Council rejected the idea of allowing bars in Saint Paul to stay open an extra two hours during the week of the convention.
Fair enough. No biggie.
Except that the rationale of Councilman Dave Thune was that he didn’t want thousands of Republican lobbyists “puking” on his lawn.
Now, Dave’s a jocular guy. And I know as well as anyone that people will josh around, especially when the subject is partisan politics.
Still – in a purple state, and in a city where between 30-40% of the city does generally vote Republican – the remark was considered inflammatory enough that Senator Sandy Pappas – who represents the same general area at the Capitol that Thune does in City Hall – felt obliged to apologize for Councilman Thune at the podium in the Senate last week.
So what does Dave Thune really think?
Over at the Saint Paul Information Forum – an email discussion group that purports to be open to all, but is basically a DFL hive and news-release outlet – Thune elaborated over the weekend. Read the whole thing at the link, because he slips in some modestly sensible stuff before the really defamatory howler), but to save space I’m going to excerpt it a bit.
It’s a long email – and it makes a few good points. I’m hacking out most of it, but to be fair, he notes…:
Its hard work to be a good owner/neighbor, refereeing domestic disputes and picking up litter and hosing down sidewalks the next morning. I like bars (believe it or not) and I like bars to be on our commercial streets and in our neighborhoods, but I am no fool and I know that:
1. The adjacent homeowners and neighbors will hate the 4 AM close time.
2. There is no way to rule that only a few “select” bars can be open til 4.
You either let them all, or none. The law protects them all equally.
3. Limiting 4AM closing to downtown still puts them beside residences who pay as much taxes as you do and did not purchase a condo on Bourbon Street – they chose Wabasha, Minnesota or Wall Streets.
4. Limiting to downtown is in reality unworkable because you would be
leaving out the popular Mancinis, O’Gara’s and Dixie’s bars.
5. We’ve been told that the cost of law enforcement due to extended hours is upwards to half a million bucks – payable via your property taxes.
6. The test of a great city is not how long you can drink alchohol. To hear
a legislator say that we just don’t want to be a big city is insulting and
obviously the words of a moron.
OK. So far so good. A few minor logical howlers, but nothing we can’t expect from a DFL poobah.
Fasten your seatbelts. The rest of this post is a bumpy ride.
I also know that ocassionally I speak frankly and with a bit of passion.
But I am angry that this is being suggested, to cater to a “special” group
of conventioneers who will be judging us predominately by our bar hours. I am more than a little irritated that cities are being played off against
each other (“we can’t be at a competitive disadvantage”).
It’s called the “Free Market”, Mr. Thune, and cities do compete with each other – ferociously – for conventions.
Now, let’s move to the last bit. And in doing so, remember who’s actually coming to Saint Paul for the convention. Lobbyists? Sure! They go wherever government business is transacted; you can expect there’ll be plenty of ‘em here. Media, too – by the tens of thousands. GOP staffers and politicians? Yep. Demonstrators, of course – and Dave Thune has already gone far out of his way to make them feel welcome.
And – most of all, the people around whom the whole event is actually centered; delegates. Thousands of ‘em. And their families. And who are these people? Regular folks; working stiffs who’ve plugged away working for the GOP long enough to be recognized; in many cases, being a national delegate is a reward for years, even decades, of phone-banking and fund-raising and walking door-to-door handing out literature and counting ballots at precinct caucuses. Work-a-daddy, hug-a-mommy schlemiels who, through the grace of their state conventions, get to spend a week in Saint Paul participating in a political ritual at once ridiculous and vital to our functioning democracy.
People like you and I and, as it happens, Dave Thune.
People that, at first glance, seem unlikely to puke on Dave Thune’s lawn, at least to you and I…
…but not, apparently, to Dave Thune.
I add emphasis below:
Finally, I may have unfairly sullied the reputation of lobbyists. My friend
[redacted, a lobbyist] pointed out that lobbyists don’t puke, they’re professionals who have experience holding their liquor. Its the amateurs who spew.
He may be right, but the particular lobbyists we’ll have in town that week
are the ones who have initiated this whole discussion.
And of course these are the lobbyists who brought us an illegal and tragic war, a recession, polluted water, expensive drugs, and even the moralists who preach family values but play “outside the box” themselves. They are enough to make me queasy without a snootful…
Sorry Sandy, I don’t apologize.
So a city crammed (for a week) full of responsible, hard-working Americans whose only real “crime” is disagreeing with Dave Thune on politics provoke that much hatred?
This guy is the president of the city council in one of America’s great cities?
If you’re one of the 30-40% of Saint Paul’s voters who vote Republican, this is your government talking (and talking informally among friends; remember, the “Saint Paul Information Forum” is a DFL club in all but name), what does this say to you? Maybe that while the city loves your money (you plutocratic, cigar-smoking Republican, you!), they hate you to the point of venting noxious bilge like this – in private, among friends, anyway?
If you’re one of the Republicans who’s coming to Saint Paul, and planning on spending money (at premium rates, no less) and stuffing the coffers of these two ideological gulags, Saint Paul and Minneapolis, what do you think? Did you start any wars, wreck any economies, pollute any water, import any drugs or cheat on your spouses?
Ask Councilman Thune. Here’s the City of Saint Paul City Council website.
And I’ll be inviting him onto the NARN to elaborate on these statements.
I’ll keep you posted.
And we’re not done yet.