Alyssa Ahlgren: The Demise of the Twin Cities

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are suffering. Crime rates are some of the highest in America, expenses are increasing, taxes are being hiked, infrastructure is terrible, and politicians are silent.

Downtown Minneapolis

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are suffering. Crime rates are some of the highest in America, expenses are increasing, taxes are being hiked, infrastructure is terrible, and politicians are silent.

Residents of the Twin Cities face growing concern with the health of their beloved home as stories of gang violence take over the news cycle. A man was shot on Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis last weekend, September 28th. A security camera video surfaced of two males robbing a man in a wheelchair at a light rail stop in Saint Paul the following week. In early September, a viral video showed a group of gang members violently and brutally beat and rob a helpless man in the middle of downtown Minneapolis. A carjacker hit two teens in South Minneapolis on September 30th

Unfortunately, these stories have become commonplace in the Minnesota Metro area. Businesses are feeling the impact of high crime areas also with less and less people willing to go downtown and face the risk of being a violent crime victim. I can say first-hand that my friends and I rarely, if ever, go out downtown anymore.

The crime rate of Minneapolis is over double that of the nation’s average, and Saint Paul nearly doubles the country’s average percentage of people below the poverty line. Over the past year, housing prices in the Twin Cities have increased almost 4% with a 77% increase in the number of married couples living with roommates to contend with the rising costs, as reported in the StarTribune

The rise in cost of living is not projected to slow anytime soon; the Twin Cities are on track to becoming as expensive as places like Denver and Seattle. To add insult to injury, Democratic leadership is looking for ways to increase taxes. Minnesota currently has a $1 billion budget surplus. As a response to the hefty spare tax dollars, the DFL has proposed a 20% gas tax increase.

Rather than spend the money on law enforcement resources to increase policing in high-crime areas or deregulate to lift tax burdens leading to increased costs of living, government uses the opportunity to garner more cash flow while carelessly spending money on an extremely underutilized and unnecessary light rail and bike lanes. 

To combat rampant crime, Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo requested to add 400 new officers to the police force by the year 2025. This would require 80 new patrol officers to join each year. Chief Arradondo stressed the necessity of this level of additional resources by stating that last year the number of “priority one” calls that went without a single squad car available to answer was 1,251. The “priority one” calls include assaults, shootings, and overdoses. 

To be reasonable with the city budget in mind, the Chief proposed that 30 officers be added the first year. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey gave him 14. The Mayor countered that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to add the police resources Chief Arradondo needs to help create a safer environment for the residents of Minneapolis. To keep in mind, there are 600 employees in the Minneapolis government making over $100,000 a year. 

Unlike fighting crime, there has been generous spending on infrastructure. Regardless, Minnesota roads hold a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. To be fair, the foundation is known for giving low grades, however I drive on the roads of the Twin Cities every day. Let me tell you. They’re a D+. 

Infrastructure, crime, and rising costs aren’t the only thing troubling the epicenter of Minnesota. Last year, the Pioneer Press reported, “Of the 47 low-performing Title I schools identified for three years of comprehensive support from the state Department of Education, the Twin Cities claim 24.”Education has been a pressing issue in the Metro area with Minnesota seeing a decline in math and reading scores for the fifth year in a row.

The great disservice of government is that regardless of the success of the city, you can always find a money trail leading to the pockets of public officials. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s mayoral staff is 16 strong with no lack of compensation. Positions such as “Chief Equity Officer” and “Chief Resilience Officer” are among the ranks in the seemingly superfluous staff line-up. Each of whom reap a comfortable six-figure salary.

The Twin Cities are on the trajectory that so many failed American cities have been on before. Irresponsible spending, tax hikes, failure to crack down on crime, misguided education and economic policies, and a bureaucracy before people mentality all contribute to the destruction of a once successful city.

Where is the leadership? What has Ilhan Omar done for Minneapolis since elected? When is the last time she even mentioned her constituency? What has Jacob Frey done about the constant crime downtown? The Mayor, State Legislature, U.S. Legislature, the Governor; every single public official that was duly elected to fight for Minneapolis and Saint Paul is a Democrat. Every single one of them is responsible for the diminishing health of their cities.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What the DFL has been offering for years is clearly not working, but the strategy remains unchanged. Politics, especially local politics, has become extraordinarily disconnected from the lives of the people. Politicians have become so focused on party loyalty and campaigning to keep their positions that doing what’s best for the cities they represent takes a back seat to pandering.

The Twin Cities are still ways from being “too far gone.” However, residents will need to take a stand to make sure their home does not continue down the path to becoming the San Francisco of Minnesota. The wonderful thing about our great country is that the people are in control of governance. All it takes is a citizen and a ballot box to change the tides.

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