Outside the Twin Cities, looking in, some state lawmakers don’t like what they see.
Crime. Bike lanes. Millions of people who don’t live like them, or look like them, or vote like them.
The Minnesota House Republican Caucus has a plan to make the Twin Cities a nicer place to visit occasionally.
No need to thank them. They’re from the government and they’re here to help.
The mayor of Minneapolis, meanwhile, is a lot happier with the view.
“We’re hanging out on East Lake Street right now and I could not feel safer,” said Mayor Jacob Frey, digging into a lunch of handmade tamales at La Loma last week.
Frey was thawing out after a frigid groundbreaking for a new $22 million home for the Family Partnership, which will use the new space for a preschool, for counseling programs and for outreach programs for sexually exploited women and teens. The Legislature secured half the funding for the project.
This is the sort of thing city officials usually have in mind when they go to the State Capitol to talk about public safety projects.
“You could walk down this street and there’s a thousand different tastes and smells and sounds and people, all packed in on the same block,” Frey said. “That is part of what makes the city extraordinary and I strongly believe in leaning into.”
Minneapolis is a vibrant urban center whose people and potential are the solution to its problems.
Minneapolis is a crime-infested wasteland, come to tax your plastic grocery bags.
The dual views of the Twin Cities collided when Frey crashed the GOP news conference at the Legislature.
“We think that everyone has a right to feel safe in these cities, whether you live here, work here, visit here, whatever the situation may be, we feel that you have a right to be safe in these cities,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, as members of his caucus introduced proposals that would, among other things, cut cities off from millions of dollars in local government aid if they failed to establish an “adequate” police presence around their sports and entertainment venues.
The lawmakers argue that their constituents’ taxes paid for the stadiums, so they deserve to have a say in the security arrangements.
And here is where we would normally pause to remind everyone — again! — that tax dollars flow out from urban counties to greater Minnesota like a mighty river. The urban counties, where three out of every four Minnesotans live, get back a handful of change for every dollar they pay in taxes.
Minneapolis alone sends enough tax money to the state every year to fund the entire Local Government Aid program. Which would make it extra rude to cut us out of the program the next time someone gets pickpocketed outside a Vikings game.
Most of these bills were written more to grab headlines than to change laws.
But they’re right about one thing. We all deserve to be safe on the streets and in our homes.
We deserve public transit that nobody is using as a toilet.
We deserve better than we got in 2019, when the murder rate soared and reported crime spiked in Minneapolis and St. Paul after hitting a 30-year low just the year before.
Most of all, we deserve better than a room full of politicians scoring points off our pain.
At one point during Monday’s news conference, Daudt suggested that crime was up because Minneapolis and St. Paul spent money on bike lanes and plastic-bag bans instead.
A reporter asked Daudt if he really believed that.
“No,” he said. “But it’ll make a good sound bite on the news tonight.”