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Transportation

State reps deny charge of lewd behavior in a public park

by Eric Ferguson on September 4, 2015 · 4 comments

State Rep. Tim KellyState Rep. Tara MackThe first couple paragraphs of the Pioneer Press’s story sum it up:
 

A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy allegedly caught two Minnesota lawmakers “making out” in a parked car last week, according to law enforcement reports and court records, but the lawmakers say that accusation is “completely false” and a “lie.”
 
State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, were issued citations for causing a nuisance on Aug. 25.

 
So the gist is a park ranger, rangers being deputies of the Dakota County sheriff, approached their car for being double-parked. He said in his report that Mack and Kelly were “making out” and Mack’s pants were “unzipped and pulled down”. Both legislators say the deputy is lying, and that they met there to exchange documents about an Owatonna-based health plan.
 
My first reaction was actually to think about the news stories of recent years about police fabricating their reports or covering up misbehavior, so I can’t dismiss the possibility the legislators are right. Wait, I’m handed this story about to two elected officials — of the opposing party — and representing swing districts — and my reaction is something other than cackling with glee? Well, I don’t cackle generally, but it’s more a matter of trying to apply the same skepticism I would if these were two DFLers. My next thought after treating the Mack and Kelly’s claim as plausible is to wonder where the body cam or dash cam video is. What we have however is the deputy’s word, and there’s a balance to be struck between the need for police to be trusted when they report something, and the fact some abuse that trust. So I’m not believing the legislators; just admitting the chance they’re telling the truth pending more evidence.
 
Of course, to be skeptical the other way, why would they meet in a park to exchange documents? I get why politicians might have grown leery of email, when every passing thought becomes public record to be searched by people who mean you ill, but still, wouldn’t handing off documents be a matter of attaching them to an email? OK, maybe they’re only in hard copy, or maybe they aren’t real, or maybe that was an alibi constructed after the fact. The most skepticism-inducing claim however is that the deputy is lying.
 
Yes, police lie sometimes, but usually not about a misdemeanor. Cover-ups normally happen when a suspect has some inexplicable injuries. Or when the suspect’s suspicious activity is something like walking through his own neighborhood, or driving through a white neighborhood while persistently failing to be white. Did the deputy want to endanger the political careers of the two people in the car? He probably had no idea who they were. So why would he make up something about people who attracted his attention by being double-parked allegedly? “Allegedly” because Kelly apparently is disputing that too. However, both were factually wrong when they asserted the information on their charges was released illegally. The Pioneer Press’s tipster may have had whatever motive, but those are public documents.
 
The implication of the allegations is that Kelly and Mack are having an affair, and we don’t know that yet. I’m guessing it’s true, but I’m actually feeling no schadenfreude over the possible repercussions to their marriages. This has to be painful on a personal level. These are Republicans, but I can think of others where I’d greet such news with the thought “glad it happened to one the legislature’s biggest a__holes” and yes, I do think in underscores instead of letters. I’ll seek help when I’m ready. Seriously, I don’t take any pleasure in it. The fact they’re ideologically hidebound on almost all policy matters doesn’t mean I wish them ill.
 
That’s not to say I’m unaware of the political implications, because these are both committee chairs. Both districts are purple and should have been winnable anyway, but obviously just became more winnable. Usually incumbents make the strongest candidates, but sometimes incumbents are so weakened that their parties would be better off replacing them as nominees, and that just might be the case here. Mack was the rumor mill’s pick to replace US Rep. John Kline, who just announced today that he’s not running for reelection. That seat is deep purple, and without an incumbent, becomes a top DFL pickup opportunity, so to have a MNGOPer who was being groomed for the seat screw up just now is a big deal.
 
Before making the “family values” hypocrisy charge, I wanted to see that this was actually the case. Pretty much, I don’t. Yes, each had an abortion bill during this year’s session. But otherwise, Kelly actually opposed the gay marriage ban amendment. Mack made mention of her faith being important to her in the introductory video before her speech at last year’s CPAC. I heard her mention there and in the video on her web site that her husband is pastor, but her speech was the basic conservative ideological pabulum — Obamacare is bad, liberal professors are indoctrinating students, etc. So in being holier-than-thou legislators, neither of them is exactly Tim Miller or Mary Kiffmeyer.
 
Is it fair to have their political careers ruined by a tryst? I actually don’t want to see them bounced from office for an affair (I made a deliberate choice to avoid using photos that include their family members, even though most politicians use family in campaign materials — this is probably bad enough without me piling on). I want Mack and Kelly to be bounced because they’re terrible on policy on health care and transportation respectively, though if they’re lying about the deputy lying, that would be good reason to bounce them too. And if they’re right that the deputy lied, I expect them to come around on the issue of police accountability. If they don’t start giving serious consideration to other people’s claims that the police fabricated their charges, then I’ll call them hypocrites.
 
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After reading Star Tribune columnist D.J. Tice’s column on the collapse of the 35W bridge it’s apparent he gets the concept of motivated reasoning, but not to the point of recognizing when he’s engaging in it. He takes one fact, that the gusset plates were built too thin, and weaves a whole narrative of an unavoidable accident that absolves the Pawlenty administration, were it true. His convenient cherrypicking of facts ignores the inconvenient fact that bridge inspectors had warned of potential failure of fracture critical components, and recommended structural work to include the gussets.
 
From the MPR link:
 

The recommendation made in the November 2006 report was rejected, but one expert in the sound-based monitoring technology said even the suggestion that so-called “fracture critical” sections of the bridge were susceptible for cracking should have sent up a warning flare.
 
“For somebody to be looking for cracks to initiate in a fracture critical member begs the question, why?” said John Duke, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech who’s researched acoustic emission monitoring.
 

“When a fracture critical member is discovered to have a crack, that bridge should have been shut down yesterday,” he said.

It may not have been certain that such work would have found and fixed the gusset issue, but it was at least likely, and doing the work definitely would have made it impossible to blame the collapse on lack of maintenance. However, the decision was to go cheap and just resurface. After all, proper repairs would have cost more money, and nothing was more important than avoiding the tax increase that would be unavoidable if we were to really fix our infrastructure.
 
Even after Minnesotans looked at our roads and bridges and realized deferred maintenance had resulted in a deteriorated condition, Tim Pawlenty was so determined to please the taxophobic poobahs of the Republican Party that he vetoed a small and insufficient gas tax increase. It was passed over his veto by legislative supermajorities that included some brave Republican legislators who paid a high price for defying the anti-tax crowd that thinks infrastructure is free.
 
I wonder if Tice is warming up to argue that a thin gusset on the 35W bridge proves we don’t really need to raise the gas tax to fix our roads and bridges. Would we rather pay a little more for gas, or always wonder if the “fracture critical” parts were found and fixed? Or maybe it’s just normal that a Republican wants to help politicians of his party who are still dodging responsibility for the bridge. I’m willing to grant that 100% avoidance of all screw-ups is impossible, or at least so close to impossible as to be unreasonable. The real question then is the willingness to figure out how you screwed up, and Republicans, apparently, are nowhere near such willingness. Maybe that’s why they want to repeat the mistake, deferring infrastructure repairs to avoid a tax increase. Call it the fingers-crossed approach to maintaining old infrastructure.
 
Sure, we don’t have to raise taxes, because we have another option. We can just let our roads and bridges keep rotting; not a great option, but yes, an option.

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 photo 15B1_zps2qt2qcqs.jpgWhat, there isn’t a literal “biggest jerk in the legislature contest”? I guess I just assumed there was such a prize from the way some legislators seem to be trying to win it. Here’s a strong entry from Rep. Jim Newberger, R-15B, via The Uptake. Trying to make some point about North Star rail, he mentioned that the prison in St. Cloud is near railroad tracks and said, “Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient, to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis.” No, North Minneapolis was not part of the discussion. He brought that up all on his own. He excused himself by saying North Minneapolis was just what he happened to think of. Yep, purely at random, he mentioned a prison, and then mentioned a racially mixed area. He said he could have mentioned any part of the state, so I’m sure International Falls had an equal shot at a cheap shot.
 
Then he decided to dig deeper by saying, “But if you’re going to connect a large metro to a prison there’s going to be some concerns. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t.” Well, who knew the prison at St. Cloud was on an island in the ocean? Sure, a land connection could only be dangerous. I’d be lying if I said Newberger didn’t have concerns, and lying if I said Newberger had any idea what those concerns were. That’s maybe the saddest or funniest thing: you have to listen twice to get past his prejudice and realize there isn’t even a coherent point in there. Please 15B, next election, show that Newberger doesn’t really represent you. Maybe elect a smart person next time.

 

 

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Kansas has had nothing but bad news since electing Republicans to the office of governor and to a majority in their legislature.

 

Tax cuts don’t grow economies, and they wreck government; it does a disservice to citizens.

 

Here is one example of what the exploding deficit in Kansas is doing; Brownback took over after one of the worst recessions in history – and was left a small but tidy surplus by the preceding Democratic governor.

 

First of all, the state of Kansas is hemorrhaging money they desperately need.  From the Topeka Capital Journal:

 

Tax revenue to the state of Kansas slipped $11.2 million below estimates in March, state officials said Tuesday.
Collection of sales, corporate income, and oil and gas severance taxes fell below forecasts developed by state officials in November. Projections were revised downward at that time to reflect diminished optimism about the state’s short-term economic future.

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said sweeping state income tax reductions were marketed by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback as a “shot of adrenaline” to the heart of Kansas’ economy. After three years, Burroughs said, the GOP’s tax policy had been exposed as “more like an ax wound.”
“Kansas continues to bleed revenue as is evident by this month’s numbers,” he said. “How we resolve this issue remains unknown as the legislative session is nearly over and we haven’t seen a comprehensive balanced budget.”

 

Brownback takes his policies ‘straight’ like whiskey, from the Reaganomics/ supply-side/ trickle-downs economist, Arthur Laffer himself.  In spite of Laffer talking a good game, those economic policies have never worked, never succeeded in doing what he promises.  What Laffer — and to be fair, other Republicans too — HAVE accomplished is to redistribute more wealth to the obscenely wealthy.  Those obscenely wealthy recipients of state largesse then make a great crowd of political donors.

 
But it makes for what the LA Times called the state, “a smoking ruin’. That was last July; it’s only gotten WORSE since then.

 
Brownback has to have a balanced state budget, so he does what Republican governors usually do — steals the money from the budget that was supposed to be used for education. Kansas has had consistently under Republicans some of the deepest cuts to education of any state. A little over a year ago, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that those cuts were unconstitutional, but Brownback is continuing with them anyway.

 
Worse than that, parts of the state infrastructure are literally at risk of falling down, like our own I-35 bridge fell down.  From the Wichita Business Journal:

No April Fools’ Day Joke: 2,416 of Kansas’s Bridges Need Structural Repair, New Analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation Data Finds

Federal Highway & Bridge Funding Facing May 31 Deadline
The analysis of the federal government data, conducted by American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, shows cars, trucks and school buses cross Kansas’s 2,416 structurally compromised bridges 787,632 times every day. Not surprisingly, the most heavily traveled are on the Interstate Highway System, which carries the bulk of truck traffic and passenger vehicles

….The ARTBA analysis of the bridge data supplied by the states to the U.S. DOT also found:

Kansas ranks 7th place nationally in the number of structurally deficient bridges—2,416.
Kansas ranks 22nd place in the percentage of its bridges that are classified as structurally deficient—10 percent.

 

Neither Brownback nor Artie the Laugh-riot Laffer have an explanation for why Kansas is failing in pretty much all categories. Laffer has suggested it might take as long as ten years for his supply economics to work. With schools closing, students failing, bridges starting to fall down NOW, and no sign of any improvement, a surplus blown, people getting poorer…….I don’t think Kansas can afford to wait. I can only imagine that if they have any sense whatsoever, they are having buyers remorse for re-electing Brownback.

From back in January of 2015:

Back in August 2012, Laffer told a crowd at the Johnson County Community College, if Kansas would slash its income tax rates, it would result in “enormous prosperity.”
He told a reporter at the time that he had not produced an economic model on when Kansas will notice meaningful economic growth.
Two-and-a-half years later, Kansas is staring at a budget crisis, with more than a billion dollar gap between revenues and expenses projected in the current and next budget years. The state is also experiencing a low private job growth rate, as well as a slow-growing economy.
In a 45-minute phone interview, Laffer said while he is “not surprised,” he didn’t know why the deficits have occurred. He still believes adamantly in his supply-side economic theory: If you reduce income taxes, you will raise more revenue, not less.

The longer Brownback and Republicans are in power, the worse it gets. Conservative economics DO NOT WORK.  The only question now is how much longer do people wait before they stop wrecking their states with these failed and disastrous right wing policies.  This is true whether those policies are proposed in Kansas, or next door in Wisconsin, or proposed by the MN GOP here in Minnesota.

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MNGOP transportation plan relies on magic money

by Eric Ferguson on March 25, 2015 · 2 comments

mncapitol2The State House GOP has released its transportation plan and apparently they’re a caucus full of people who clap for Tinkerbell, given that fairies wouldn’t be a much less plausible source of financing.
 
The MNGOP offers to spend another $7 billion dollars on roads and bridges, without raising taxes. Speaker Kurt Daudt cited polls showing majorities want more transportation funding, but don’t want taxes to pay for it. What a surprise that the most people want more money spent on them — without any taxes. So Republicans came up with the funny money to make a play for votes, begging the question of whether they get that being in the majority means you’re supposed to actually govern. Roads, bridges, and math, couldn’t care less about what looks good on a campaign mailer.
 
Their sources of funding:
— $228 million from the surplus. OK, that’s the reasonable sounding part.
— $3 billion dollars from auto-related sales taxes. Not unreasonable on its face, but dedicating these to transportation means cutting $3 billion somewhere else. They seem to have left that part out.
— $2.3 billion will be borrowed. Borrowing seems to be the Republican default when they’ve promised new spending with no new taxes: let’s just run up the debt. Problem solved! Bonding is perfectly normal and reasonable for infrastructure investment, but the bonds do have to be paid eventually. No, seriously, they do. You know, like how when Gov. Dayton wanted more bonding, he was also trying to raise upper income taxes. Instead, Republicans actually want a couple billion in tax cuts. While raising spending. And besides cutting taxes equal to the surplus, remember cash source one was part of the surplus. Can no one there do math?
— $1.2 billion from making the Department of Transportation more efficient. Really. There’s that much money being wasted and no one has spotted it? Basically, since the DOT handles roads, the Republicans propose to find money for roads by cutting funding for — roads. Why make it $1.2 billion? As long as we’re just making up some amount of money being wasted, why not $1.6 billion? An even $2? Or did they need some number to produce the magic number $7?
 
Whatever anyone thinks of Gov. Dayton’s proposal to pay for increased transportation spending through increased gas taxes, there’s no denying that at least he pays for his proposal. A gas tax will provide an ongoing funding source, compared to the GOP plan to have new spending with no new revenue.
 
Daudt is right that public polls show that the majority don’t want gas taxes raised. People want more spending on what benefits them, but without paying more taxes … surprise! This contradiction is great if you’re running for election as a Republican, since your core platform is “I’ll hold down your taxes, and cut other people’s spending,” but sucks for governing. I don’t doubt there will be a lot of public support for spending more on roads without raising any taxes, but at some point, when reality has again shown its disdain for phony math, Republicans will have to explain reality to their voters. If you want your road fixed, you’re going to have to pay for it. Good transportation infrastructure and low taxes are very much either/or.
 
Though given how GOP taxophobia has withstood even the collapse of bridges, buckle your seat belt, because we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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Class and consistency from Minnesota legislators

by Dan Burns on February 25, 2015 · 0 comments

mncapitol2The past couple of years, there wasn’t cause for these kinds of posts on a frequent basis, because the legislative sessions were mostly worthwhile endeavors with positive results. Now, though, there’s a GOP majority in the House.
 

Well, the legislature has effectively quashed the Commissioner pay raises. The dutiful “watchdogs” saved the taxpayers the tidy sum of $800,000 and pretty much locked those salaries in place forever.
 
Its an easy political target. Salaries for government officials make great optics when you can compare them to salaries for the average Minnesotan. Another symbolic victory for politicians.
 
But if that is the case, then why didn’t the pay raises of some of the Republican legislative staff raise some eyebrows?
(mnpACT!)

New bill introductions are up to over 1000 now, and the vast majority won’t get past an initial committeee assignment. Just noting that.
 

The House’s rural-urban divide took a big city vs. suburban turn Wednesday with the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee giving its OK to a bill that would reallocate millions of dollars in sales tax revenue to all but the state’s two most populous counties.
 
HF710, sponsored by Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville), would move $32 million in sales tax collected on motor vehicle leases from the General Fund and put it toward Greater Minnesota transit and to the County State-Aid Highway Fund for use on metro area roads – except in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.
(TC Daily Planet/Session Daily)

Here are the facts on where money for roads has been coming from. Note where the only dark blue spot in the top map is at.
 

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Freeway roofs and wine

by Eric Ferguson on September 19, 2014 · 0 comments

Following up on a couple recent posts, with the definition of “recent” being arguable in one case:
 
Minneapolis_skyline_51In a recent post on the two charter amendments on the ballot in Minneapolis, I spent most of the post on the increase in election filing fees because I understood that issue, but had to leave readers with just the text of the food requirements for wine licenses because it was Greek to me. Or French or Californian, I don’t know what kind of wine it was. Minnpost has an article explaining it. Essentially, the city council and the charter commission felt that the rules for restaurants that serve wine or beer don’t make any sense given changes in the restaurant industry, especially as regards craft beers. The council passed a replacement ordinance unanimously, and removed an archaic ordinance, but some rules are in the city charter and thus the need for a charter amendment. It probably seems ironic if you’re a conservative that this liberal city coucil is acting to simplify and modernize regulations to encourage business development. I’m going to vote “yes” just to watch some conservative heads explode. Feel free to drown your sorrows in a craft beer at a Minneapolis neighborhood restaurant.
 
OK, I’m actually going to vote “yes” because it seems like it should be good for the city. The metaphorical explosion of conservative heads is just a happy side effect.
 
The post of arguable recency but deserving of an update was my suggestion that we should put a roof over our freeways. Crazy idea. What was I thinking?
 
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McFadden Mittromneys a Highway Fund Increase

by Invenium Viam on August 14, 2014 · 1 comment

Meet the New Boss ... Same as the Old Boss

Meet the New Boss … Same as the Old Boss

Want more evidence that Mike “Nutshot” McFadden’s campaign is Not Ready For Prime Time?

 

Just ask him what his position is on raising the federal gas tax to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

 

The last time that fund saw an increase, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.10. When initially asked whether he supported an increase in the fund, which hasn’t seen a new capital injection in twenty years — he answered in the affirmative. Minutes later, he changed his mind and answered in the negative.

 

Questioned by a local reporter, McFadden at first said he would support a higher gasoline tax if revenues were cut somewhere else.

 

Per the Strib:

 

He took another question on a different topic and left with a pair of campaign staffers. Seconds later he reappeared and addressed reporters again.

 

“I just want to reiterate that I will not support raising the gas tax,” McFadden said. A reporter then said, “I’m sorry, I thought you said you would as long as there was a corresponding decrease …”

 

“No, I won’t,” McFadden interjected.

 

The reporter then said, “No support? So how would you …”

 

A McFadden staffer jumped in and said, “We gotta go.”

 

Later in the day, McFadden called reporters and said he wanted to clarify his position.

 

“What I didn’t want to do is support an increase in the gas tax because I don’t think that’s the right long-term solution,” he said.

 

Although he wasn’t specific, McFadden reiterated that overhauling the federal tax codes could free up money for transportation projects.

 

Yup, he’s looking more and more like the Mitt Romney Clone he got labeled early on.

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The boy carved out of wood, Pinocchio;
when he lies, his nose grows
but business doesn’t

On the Sunday Morning June 1st edition of WCCO Sunday Morning, in an interview with Esme Murphy, Jeff Johnson, MN GOP endorsed candidate for Governor of Minnesota made the statement that Minnesota came in last – in 51st place, behind the District of Columbia in economic growth.  He then qualified that, when challenged  by Murphy, to last in small business creation.

 

I cannot find ANY source which factually supports such a statement, and Johnson did not give one in the interview.  We are NOT last in any form of business creation, including small business.  Jeff Johnson appears to have told a lie to advance his candidacy for governor, one that is easily checked.

 

I have long contended that conservatives believe things which are not true, which are factually false, and asserted that this is particularly true in the area of economics.  Republican economics do not work.  Republican math does not reflect accurate or functional numerical values.
What I DID find in the course of my fact checking was a surprising figure for where Minnesota stands, in comparison to other states, from a very right wing source,one funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a far right source, and their subsidiary organization, Free Enterprise.com., which measures some 30 different economic factors.

 

Is Jeff Johnson, MN GOP endorsed candidate for governor, the model for the figure of a lying Pinocchio?


In business creation performance, Minnesota ranked 15th
; in both the areas of infrastructure and what they term the ‘talent pipeline’ which compares the levels of education of our workforce – a key business component, Minnesota ranked 6th.

Minnesota is ranked 6th in this year’s report for its solid talent pipeline and workforce education system. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has the 2nd most educated young workforce, and its higher education system is the 4th most productive in degrees per 18- to 24-year-old.

And here is what the site said about our infrastructure – another component essential to business, including small business start ups:

While it may be known for the tragic Interstate 35 bridge collapse in 2007, Minnesota has the lowest share of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recently released a set of policy recommendations to improve deployment across the state, including targeted tax credits, expanded public access, more coordination efforts, and allowing broadband conduit to be installed in concert with highway projects.

Minnesota’s Transportation Economic Development Program offers grants to communities, covering up to 70% of the cost of transportation infrastructure installation or improvements for business expansion in targeted industries, including manufacturing and biosciences. Governor Mark Dayton has proposed continued funding for the program, citing its ability to leverage private investment, increase the tax base, and create new jobs.

Looks to me like Governor Dayton is doing things right – but not right wing – to keep Minnesota performing well in job creation and business start ups, of all sizes. But for comparison, let’s take a look at the same rankings for Wisconsin, since our MN GOP has no new ideas for keeping Minnesota competitive, and because the MN GOP wishes to emulate many of the policies of our next door neighbor, Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, and his Republican controlled legislature.

 

 

In overall performance, which includes these metrics / areas of measurement, Wisconsin ranked 44th out of 50:

Ten-year job growth (3 points)
Two-year job growth (3 points)
Overall expansion of gross state product (1 point)
Productivity: state output per job (1 point)
Productivity growth: growth in output per job (1 point)
Income growth: growth in per capita personal income (3 points)
Livability: median income of four-person household adjusted for state cost of living (2 points)

And Wisconsin ranked 41st in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (lower than MN), and well behind Minnesota in 6th place, in ‘Talent Pipeline’ and ‘Infrastructure’. Republicans have no new ideas; their ideas for Minnesota are the same old stale and failed ones that they push in every state, a one size fits all recipe for economic stagnation and decline, for becoming economically not competitive. But because the facts are not their friends, the only alternative they have is to lie.

 

 

Liars are losers; for the sake of Minnesota, we must hope that Jeff Johnson loses the race for the office of Governor. Governor Dayton and his Democrativ majority legislature seem to be doing a great job, and we should let them continue to do so. Send the liars home. The last time they were in power, they caused the state credit rating to be downgraded, and they bankrupted their own party, putting it in over $1 million in debt, while lying to us about how they were the party of fiscal responsibility. We can’t afford more of the MN GOP’s lies.

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Minneapolis’ population recently reached 400,000 for the first time since the mid-1970’s. That’s not a surprise if you’re a Minneapolis resident, because it’s hard to miss the building boom going on in some parts of the city, like downtown and along the Hiawatha light rail line. The city government’s goal is to increase the population to 500,000, which it reached for a few years at its peak around 1950. Minneapolis has a infrastructure designed to handle a larger population, but costs are being spread among fewer people. So a larger population spreads the costs out more. Being a political person, I can’t help doing some math and noticing that getting to half a million might mean another one and a half State Senate districts, or three State house districts, either measure meaning more representation in the legislature. Obviously that depends on how long it takes to reach that figure, and what growth happens in the state overall, but in general, more people means more political clout.

 

Unsurprisingly, our twin St. Paul has followed the same trend of decades of population decline followed by stabilization and recent gains. It tends to be a few years behind Minneapolis at any given point, but essentially it’s having the same trend, and appears set for a building boom along the Central Corridor light rail line.

 

There are some problems though with raising the population further. The Star Tribune article linked above mentions that average household size has shrunk, and Minneapolis actually has more households than in 1970, when it had 30,000 more people.

 

There’s a physical impediment to getting back to 1950 levels, which generally goes unremarked. That over-500,000 peak was reached before construction of the freeways. The trenches weren’t there. They were dug through the parts of the city unlucky enough to get picked as routes for 35W and 94. That the freeways reduced urban populations by facilitating white flight, by making it possible to work downtown and live in the metro fringes, is pretty well known, but less considered is the direct removal of housing. Check out this photo of a bit of 35W, and the residential blocks alongside:
 

Satellite photo of 35W in Minneapolis indicates how much space was lost to freeway construction.

Satellite photo of 35W in Minneapolis indicates how much space was lost to freeway construction.

Figure that 35W and 94 took out a space the width city block through the entirety of their routes, and that’s a lot of lost space. That’s why I don’t believe Minneapolis can get back to a pre-freeway population without replacing the space lost to the freeways.

 

Of course, taking out the freeways has all sorts of problems, so that won’t happen. But it doesn’t need to. There’s an alternative, one that sounded cockamamie when I first saw it suggested, but then quickly made some sense. Put a roof on the freeways.

 
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