Steve Carlson appeals to all parties to save businesses on University Avenue "Central Corridor" project path

(3-way debate) Carlson hammers Central Corridor disaster as Betty McCollum defends her use of stimulus money to destroy St. Paul jobs, businesses and neighborhoods with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
LINK: SEE entire general election debate of White Bear area Chamber of Commerce including all three Congressional candidates

News Flash! Betty McCollum reports that House Minority Leader John Boehner and Rep. John Kline CD2-MN have targeted the $45 million in funds to the Metropolitan Council for funding the Central Corridor project.

This indicates that the Central Corridor may be stopped! I welcome this development to stop this destructive use of stimulus dollars. Rep. McCollum issued the statement that "For Republicans – including a Minnesota Republican – to call for eliminating funding for the Central Corridor earmark and the thousands of jobs will hurt Minnesota and make our state less competitive." But I have consistently argued that federal funds should not be used to destroy business and jobs and neighborhoods on University Avenue.

This is an excellent example than the kind of excessive, wasteful and even destructive, dangerous government spending. I am glad that repealing these unspent stimulus dollars is a key part of the House Republicans' Pledge to America, and I support repealing these earmarks and reforming federal government spending in the House of Representatives. I urgently request all parties to re-examine this project and pull back. There must be a way to meet the transportation needs while preserving the richness of diversity near the Capitol and up to Minneapolis, and we should not design transportation programs badly just to spend money.

LINK: To Shoreview Post article based on Betty McCollum office press release

In this article, McCollum denies corruption, saying that the Constitution instructs her to spend money this way. But it is corrupt. Business leaders on University Ave. have said the result of Peter Bell's initiative will be that the diverse businesses will have to leave St. Paul and regroup in north Minneapolis to create a black "business mecca." This is using stimulus dollars to destroy the efforts of Asian and other immigrants, and red, brown, yellow, black and white businesses to transform University Ave. University Ave. was transformed by the new energy needed to meet the new demands of a diverse St. Paul population. And for what? So Betty McCollum can spend money to help get re-elected, creating short-term jobs for mostly suburban union workers and stick St. Paul voters with swelling federal and state tax obligations just to maintain this train, which will reduce St. Paul to a suburb of Minneapolis, along the way from Chicago to St. Cloud. The suburbans who have the short benefits will then live in suburbs of the suburb St. Paul will become. That's worse than bad planning, that's corruption, and is an excellent example of why the ear-marks need to be replaced with solid decision-making in Congress about national spending by focusing on what is constitutional, and giving power back to the states. Minnesota, left to its own designs without federal interference, would not destroy St. Paul's economy by ripping up St. Paul's mainstreet, which houses 2,000 businesses.

I've sent this letter to Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul regarding the potentially destructive light rail project coming up University Avenue. I'm asking him to mitigate the impact, preserving jobs, businesses and neighborhoods, by using elevation and other effective mitigating modifications in the plan that is being implemented right now. Next week the U of M will announce its resolution of a lawsuit that could have held up federal dollars. This is a campaign issue, because incumbent Rep. Betty McCollum touts this as her "jobs" project, creating private sector jobs in the 4th Congressional District. But she destroys jobs and businesses. These are jobs we need to "save", to use Barack Obama's well-known phrase.

P.S. These people who will be impacted are the recession fighters I refer to on my website.

Dear Mayor Coleman:

As you may know, I am running for the U.S. House on the Nov. 2 ballot. I'm writing to ask you to seek modification of the current plans for the Central Corridor project because of the destructive impact of that train project on the businesses and residents along University Ave.

In particular, I think it is imperative that we set that train on an el, and elevation, so we can preserve jobs, businesses, and access to those businesses and housing as the project comes through. Has this been thoroughly considered and if mitigating the impact through elevating the train has not been rejected, why has St. Paul allowed this?

Is it true as I read in the Star Tribune that 2,000 businesses are along the projects and 85% of on-street parking will be lost?

I worked on University Ave. with the Asian American Press for four to five years (we started in the Empire Builder Development Center where St. Thomas was located). We always opposed light rail coming through there because it would destroy our development. We also worked at that time with the Midway Chamber of Commerce to oppose this. Now, it has turned out that St. Paul is doing this, with federal dollars, and it seems to be designed with a destructive impact on the many Asian, African, Latino and other businesses on this historically important St. Paul and Midway business area! Mr. Mayor, we must mitigate this.

St. Paul played a major role in helping the Asian community in St. Paul help St. Paul. These immigrants have brought with them their entrepreneurial spirit and have helped put positive developments along that avenue. One businessman told me he viewed University Ave. as a river. In Vietnam, his homeland, a river was a source of life and commerce. We are choking off that river, that life and that commerce. We've got to rethink this.

Please help direct me to any discussion of the elevation approach (like they have in Chicago, where Chinatown there is preserved because the train is elevated, called the "el". We have visited there several times and the Asian community there survives, and ENRICHES Chicago. When we worked with former Democrat Mayor Jim Scheibel, he took that motto "Building Community through Diversity" (it might have been "strength through diversity") as a description of St. Paul. We worked with Mayor Latimer to address issues of resettlement of the Hmong community. We worked with Mayor Norm Coleman to integrate the immigrants into city policy-making and community service.

Now this appears to be hitting a wall. I understand you've met with some Asians who live around the planned stops. But in my opinion you cannot disregard the needs of the soul of this Asian development on University Ave, and this same approach is true of the whole project.

I would oppose the use of federal funds (and I have talked to the Collett people about this, too, and will talk with the gubernatorial candidates of all three parties about it)--if this impact is not mitigated by an el, or some other acceptable, viable mitigation on these businesses on University. My concern is not just for the Asian businesses, many of whom I have been privileged to know, but also the diversity and historic mix of businesses there. The Central Corridor Management Committee on which you sit must re-examine this.

Could you get back to me on this as soon as you can? I know time is an issue here. Is there any procedure that is set up by the Management Committee to review this that we could utilize?

Steve Carlson, 2010 IP Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District