Giveaways going to the dogs in Edina

  • Article by: SUZANNE ZIEGLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2010 - 6:05 PM

Giveaways are going to the dogs as companies and cities -- even Edina -- cut back to save money.

This sign replaces dispensers that used to provide free dog-poop bags in some of Edina’s parks.

Fast-food restaurants charge for extra condiments and are downright stingy with what they do give out, even down to the napkins. Some bakeries no longer hand out free "kid cookies." What was once free on airlines -- food and baggage, for instance -- now costs extra. TCF's "totally free checking" account is a thing of the past. And even the Walker Art Center has canceled what would have been its 34th year of the free Movies and Music in the Park.

Now, affluent Edina has joined the growing list of cities and companies cutting back on freebies, most often to save money.

Stung by thefts of city-provided dog poop bags and looking for ways to save money, the city this year quit providing the free bags at stations in the city's parks. A clearly disgusted John Keprios, director of parks and recreation, said park workers would fill the dispensers in the morning and they'd be empty by noon.

"People walk up and take them until they're gone," he said. "And it's not just one isolated incident. It's everywhere and often."

The annual cost was about $12,000 a year to keep the dispensers full at the eight parks with the stations. "I would have loved to have kept providing them," he said. "Financially, it's not just feasible if they treat it that way."

Does it come down to the fact that we're all cheapskates, deep down inside?

"No, no, no, no!" said Karal Ann Marling, a former University of Minnesota professor, author and pop culturist. "I can't imagine people in St. Louis Park doing such a thing. Frankly, I think it's a deep character flaw in Edina -- or a massive outbreak of doggie diarrhea."

Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707

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