Editor’s Note: On Saturday, former Senate District 46 candidate Paul Scofield attended a meeting of several neighborhood associations that included discussion of the Southwest Light Rail Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the freight rail issue in St. Louis Park. He submitted this guest column to Patch afterward.
The hazards faced by St. Louis Park and the neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed Freight Rail Re-Route are a consequence of bad decision processes. These decision processes are bad because they are anti-democratic and unaccountable to the citizens impacted. These decisions are being made at the Federal, Regional, County, and City level, with little or no accountability to citizens whose property values are already seriously compromised merely by the threat of this stealthy and unjust taking. This is occurring because St. Louis Park is being governed and represented by “DINOs”—Democrats in Name Only. True democrats would want to put such decisions to a vote.
However, the Freight Rail Re-Route would not survive a vote by the free citizens who would pay for it (with their property values). Nor, I daresay, would the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project. Aversion to democracy is precisely why unelected Federal and Regional government entities like the Federal Transit Administration and the Met Council are ramrodding this Freight Rail Re-Route up the backside of St. Louis Park. Unaccountability is why the Federal government will only provide $75 million in hazard mitigation funding when, by conservative estimates, at least $150 million would be required to safeguard this freight spur against the heavier, longer, and faster loads proposed by this Centrally Planned plan.
Governmental entities may SAY that they are concerned about your opinions. NOW, you may even comment upon the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). However, you will not truly have your presumptuous rulers’ attention until you threaten redress through litigation to remedy this gross encroachment of your property rights. You will only be served by taking to Court those who would take from you. I urge you to study the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London. Kelo was a bad decision that appears even worse in retrospect (because the neighborhood was destroyed before the project was abandoned). The Court might be receptive to an opportunity to adjust the precedent. Since St. Louis Park has vaguely considered reimbursing the 85 most-impacted homeowners, it seems appropriate to present homeowners #1, #85, #86 and #170 as lead plaintiffs.