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St. Paul, the suburbs, and all the MSA not in Minneapolis

Unintended Refugees

My lefty pallys on Facebook have alerted me to the imminent loss of a treasured restaurant in St. Paul:

Business is down for Mai Village Restaurant, and it is facing foreclosure. It's scheduled for a sheriff foreclosure sale at the end of October 2012.

Mai Nguyen and Ngoan Dang, owners of Mai Village, have put everything they have into the restaurant. Every single minute of their lives revolves around it.…

Mai and Ngoan were refugees from Vietnam. 22 years ago, they used all their savings to open Mai Village, one of the first restaurants to open on Saint Paul's east University Avenue…

But now, because of the economic recession and light rail construction, many customers are not coming to Mai Village like they used too.…

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Elementary School Costs More Than a House

Government policy always has economic impacts. Over time, these impacts accumulate and multiply upon one another. This leads prices of goods and services away from what they would be under a “freer market”. Distorted prices create distorted allocations, which may be good or bad, depending on how one feels about government manipulating markets in the first place.

At some point, though, the relative prices of things get so far away from “natural” prices that the system of valuation breaks down. This breakdown is what I call “The Great Repricing”.

Captain Capitalism runs a thought experiment which illustrates how relative prices have lost touch with relative values:

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RP Sweeps MN CD5

I was a part of this:

In Minnesota, Ron Paul supporters swept the three district conventions that occurred today, winning nine of nine delegates to the national convention. Minnesota is set to hold more such conventions next week.

The RP local delegates seem to understand that their cause is bigger than one election. They have learned the rules and built a movement, taking over most of the offices in the precinct- and district-level Republican Party.

The Minneapolis and Metro-area GOP is no longer your father’s Republican Party. It is the Founding Fathers’ Republican Party.

Next month we find out if the Ron Paul R3voltion can complete an overthrow of the Minnesota GOP.

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Carter Recalls Ambassador to Moscow

Twin Cities TV news from January 2nd, 1980:

Maybe the phantom of the past is not ready to let us go:

Carter feared that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in which an estimated 30,000 combat troops entered that nation and established a puppet government, would threaten the stability of strategic neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan and could lead to the USSR gaining control over much of the world's oil supplies.

Thirty years later, the news is the same, even including the threat of nuclear attack:

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Poisoning Public Transport

I’ve seen several headlines about two Delta Airlines employees ambushed by a gang of teens while riding Atlanta’s commuter rail.

Borepatch, an expert in computer security, sees the incident in those terms:

Security types call this a "Resource Poisoning" attack, where something that was previously valued and trusted becomes worthless because of abuse.

Crime need not be actualized for resource poisoning to occur. If the environment feels unsafe, people choose not to take the trip.

Minneapolis Planning Fail

I used to be one of those urban snobs who would rant about the god-forsaken suburbs. I could go on and on about treeless cookie-cutter tracts of sterile garage doors hiding soulless monotony that passed for neighborhoods. Now I am wiser.

The suburbs have advantages, and the form of development is a minor factor in quality of life. I still prefer the city, but I am not so arrogant about it. Planners and the electeds who hire them, however, are still filled with hubris.

For the decade-plus I have been involved in neighborhood activism, at the grassroots of urban planning efforts, I have seen millions poured into subsidizing development in Minneapolis. We’ve turned abandoned downtown railyards into residential neighborhoods, home to tens of thousands. We built a light rail line to connect the Minneapolis core to the other major regional amenities.

They Mean Well

Yesterday a local radio host played a sound bite of Commissioner Mike Opat saying that the Constitution is not relevant in Hennepin County. The context was whether the county was prepared for a scenario where ObamaUnicornCare was declared unconstitutional. He didn’t quite blithely dismiss the highest law of the land. He just seemed focused on making government do the work he thinks government should do.

The bite, in two versions, surely sounded hostile to the concept of government by the people. Opat sees things that need doing, and by god he’s going to bend or ignore the law for the good of the people.

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Vote Now or This Fetus Gets Whacked

A pregnant couple from the suburban Twin Cities is putting a question to the internets: Birth or Not?

The abortion issue has been a controversial topic for decades that reaches to the core of every person in America. Often voters will even base their entire choice on this one topic alone, disregarding everything else the politician has to offer in the vain hope that their “chosen one” will be able to effect change on this issue.

We all like to think that our opinions matter, but so often there is no effective outlet for our beliefs to change lives. While most people have a definite opinion about abortion and take a stance as being either “Pro-Life” or “Pro-choice”, very few have an opportunity to do more than voice their concern to their elected representative. The concerns that we voice to those around us don’t seem to change the status-quo. Unless you are put into the position of having to make this decision in a setting that actually makes a difference, the debate does not affect anything.

Voting is such an integral part of the American identity. We vote on everything. We vote on things ranging from the best singer on American Idol to who the next leader of the free world will be. Wouldn’t it be nice to voice your opinion and have it actually make a difference in the real world? Why not vote on whether to continue or abort an actual pregnancy? Your vote can help a real couple to make a decision on this issue. 

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Ellison to Face Primary Challenge from White

Barb Davis White has filed as a DFL candidate in CD5:

Barb Davis White campaign photoBy filing as a Democrat just moments before the deadline, Davis White set in motion the requirement for a primary election to determine whether or not Ellison will have the opportunity to be on the ballot in the general election this November. The primary, to be held in early August, will give Minnesota’s 5th district a choice of which Democratic candidate will be listed on the ballot, and Davis White’s belief is that it will be hers.

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261 Will Stay in the 55413

After a winter of rumours and uncertainty, an historic steam locomotive has been purchased by a metro-area railfan group:

Earlier this month the [Friends of the 261] Board of Directors approved the purchase of Milwaukee Road No. 261 from the National Railroad Museum of Green Bay, Wis.

The locomotive, which operated from 1993 to 2008, was owned by NRM and leased to the Friends for operation. For the past several years the two organizations have been negotiating for a new lease, but were unable to agree on terms. At one point NRM offered to sell the engine to the Friends for $800,000 or lease it for $70,000 per year. Things finally came to a head in November 2009 when negotiations ended and it was agreed that No. 261 would return to NRM for display - the engine had been on exhibit in Green Bay from 1958 to 1992.

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It May Come, But They Do Not Ride

I observed the Northstar commuter rail service make its 4:40pm outbound stop at the Fridley station. I did not see anyone get off the train. There ten vehicles in the park-and-ride lot.

The locomotive was in the livery of FrontRunner, a commuter rail service in Utah. Perhaps there were no riders there, thus freeing a power unit to pull our empty trains.

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Activists Against History

Some Minneapolis activists held a protest march against a proposed commuter rail project. I imagine they normally love commuter rail, except when it interferes with their NIMBY utopia:

Organizers of the march warned that Hennepin County’s proposal to use a 13-acre parcel in Bryn Mawr for train storage would jeopardize long-term redevelopment plans for Bassett Creek Valley. The largely industrial valley west of Downtown is divided between Bryn Mawr and Harrison, and residents from both neighborhoods have contributed to a decade of redevelopment planning.

In February, the City Council is expected to consider a city staff recommendation to negotiate a sale of the parcel, known as Linden Yards East, to Hennepin County by the end of the year.

Nimby Neighbor Rails Against Trains

Progressive Rail, a Lakeville-based shortline railroad, made the news this week:

The neighborhood off Kenwood Trail has become a parking lot for trains, bringing with it more problems than residents would like.

Pam Steinhagen has enough anger to fill a train tanker. She says since last November, the cars have been parked here and have created an eyesore on rails. Not only that, Steinhagen says she's worried about kids who've turned the cars into a playground.

So Steinhagen has organized a neighborhood petition and contacted the city and the company that owns the cars' progressive rail.

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