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:
- Buy three adjacent blocks of blighted housing in a down-market neighborhood that’s been ravaged by the foreclosure crisis – Frogtown, the North End, the lower East Side. There are some blocks where half the houses are foreclosed, vacant or demolished. I’d like to find one of those – preferably one with an old storefront or two on one of the corners.
- Remodel them, at least in terms of basics, leaving room for sweat equity.
- Sell the houses on one of the blocks. Price them at market rates - or half-price for nuclear families where both of the heads of household had a clean criminal record and one or both had a carry permit and could prove they owned legal firearms. Give a cumulative five percent discount for each of the following: veterans, charter or private school teachers, cops or firemen. In other words, a family who had a veteran, a firefighter and a charter school teacher with a permit could get the house for 35% of the already-depressed market value.
- Lop off another 10% of the balance if crime on the block and on surrounding blocks drops below neighborhood or city averages in, say, a year or two.
- Give one of the storefronts to a small charter school rent-free for five years.
- Wait three years and watch as the crime rate plummets, and property values rise.
- Sell the other two blocks at the new, higher-value market rates; no half-off for permittees with guns, but offer cumulative ten percent discounts for carry permit holders with firearms, cops/firemen and charter/private teachers.
- Plow the proceeds into repeating the process on neighboring blocks.
- Watch as the neighborhood, strong, self-reliant, free-enterprise oriented and virtually crime-free compared to the surrounding area, starts to wake up, noticing that the parts of the city run by the DFL are failing while the part run according to traditional conservative values – theirs – is doing well. People in my project, and around and about it, start to ask “so why do we keep electing clueless DFLers to all city offices?”.
- Watch some more as control of Saint Paul flips from the DFL’s bobbleheaded one-party rule to conservative control, beginning an era of hard work that leads in modestly short order to a much, much better city.
I’m rarin’ to go. Someone pony up!