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Monday, November 12, 2007

Joe Soucheray: St. Paul cameras will glimpse only the tumbleweeds

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Blogger Bob said...


Article Last Updated: 11/10/2007 09:26:02 PM CST

On the same day it was noted that the Dark People had achieved a significant victory in their fight against billboards, it was announced with mayoral fanfare that we are about to get 25 Big Brother-type security cameras installed along University Avenue.

Billboards first. The Planning Commission's zoning committee ruled last week that for each new square foot of electronic billboard that goes up, 4 to 6 square feet of old-fashioned billboard has to come down. That means for every 10 newfangled electronic gizmo billboards that go up - and only along freeways - 100 traditional billboards will disappear.

Dark People don't like billboards. They detest electronic billboards even more, but facing the inevitability of legal challenges to an outright ban of electronic billboards, they did the next best thing. They get to thin the herd. The Dark People are driven so bananas by billboards, incidentally, that we had a story in the newspaper about two weeks ago featuring a woman named Jeanne Weigum, who, while out driving, noticed that a tree had been cut down at Marshall and Snelling, an oak tree. One tree. She suspected that an evil billboard company murdered the tree, though she had no evidence.

I have always figured that activists are people with extra time on their hands, but Weigum - she cut her teeth in the anti-smoking movement - takes the cake. Could you drive down Snelling from, say, Summit to University, and notice if a tree was missing? It wasn't even that old of a tree. It was about 20 years old.

As to the security cameras on University Avenue, the mayor, Chris Coleman, said, "We want people to know that when you come onto this avenue, the St. Paul Police Department is watching, so you better behave.''

I have to think there was a day when Coleman would have taken to the streets in protest against police departments installing cameras to monitor the actions of perfectly innocent citizens. These days, I guess it passes for progressive political thinking that you would strip a city of its lights, development and vitality and offer instead a state camera to sweep the darkness on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

A second phase will put 10 cameras between Robert Street and the Union Depot. To film what, deer?

Oh, I know that we still leave lights on and I am reasonably confident that development can still pass muster if enough bicycle racks and coffee counters are thrown in, but generally speaking, the old river city is treading water right now and it doesn't help when the main thrust of the city's activists is to go backward.

There is nothing residential or even remotely quaint about University Avenue itself. But University Avenue is where the mentality of the Dark People converges with the mentality of security cameras. Rather than continue to see University Avenue as a viable commercial corridor that might be filled with light and even electronic billboards, the city takes its marching orders from University United, whose leader, Brian McMahon, is from New York and lives in Stillwater and whose mantra is high density, public transportation and anti-big box development.

University United would share the belief with Dark People that billboards are unsightly - well, they are, in actual neighborhoods - and that they are ideologically predisposed to consumerism on a grand scale. It should be submitted to Rome as a miracle that Target hung in there and built a new store at Hamline and University, but then, Target knows its market better than the activists. That store is popular, wildly so.

Lights deter crime. Development resulting in employment deters crime. Vitality deters crime.

Cameras record crime, if that makes you feel safer.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 2 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays on KSTP-AM 1500.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tear a house down but save a 20 year old tree.There was a time that I thought someones political backround shouldn't effect how you treat someone. But lately I'm starting to think these people are really F'D up.

9:14 PM  

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