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OPINION: Southwest LRT Process is ‘Anti-democratic and Unaccountable’

‘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.’

 

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.

 

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Brad Koehn November 08, 2012 at 02:24 PM
"Ramrodding... up the backside?" Still upset about the election, Mr. Scofield? Or maybe you're more upset about the marriage amendment?
James Warden (Editor) November 08, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I should note that he sent that column to us prior to the election. However, we had already cut off letters about the candidates and we told him it would have to wait. So the comments do not reflect anger about the election.
Matthew Kilanowski November 08, 2012 at 02:47 PM
For one, this issue could be solved by rerouting the line up Nicollet Avenue. It would negate the need to reroute the freight line as well as put it in a higher density area where this large investment can serve more people. For another, I would be interested to know if Mr. Scofield's concern is directed by opposition to mass transit investment in general. I would like to hear his opinion of the Shady Oak Road project where the widening of the road is recognized to be so harmful to the businesses there that the City of Hopkins is spending $3 million on top of the construction costs to help them. Mr. Scofield, will you lead the charge to oppose the lowering of property values and disenfranchisement of local small businesses for a road project as earnestly as you are opposing this rail project, too?
David Arvidson November 08, 2012 at 03:08 PM
DINO's? LOL, love it, (I am still laughing)
Tim Brausen November 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
We citizens elected our City Council, aware of their respective views on LRT and the freight rail relocation issue. We also elected our Hennepin County Commissioners, who are member of the HCRRA. Our duly elected Governor selected the Metropolitan Council members, and they are charged by our Legislature with regional planning. And now we have elected a new Legislature, with many of the anti-transit, anti- SWC LRT proponents having been defeated. Democracy is in play here, it is just producing a result that this apparent minority of voters does not support. This is really a call for government by referendum. However, we have a democratic republic style of government here in Minnesota, wherein our elected officials are charged with making the ultimate decisions that govern us. It seems to work most of the time (though it sure created gridlock regularly with split government over the past twelve years in Minnesota - we'll now see if that changes.)
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Kasia December 04, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Let's stand up for a better option! We don't have to sacrifice parks to get a modern transportation system. saveminneapolisparks.wordpress.com

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