Monday, December 29, 2008

A Solution To The New Light Rail Routing Problem?

The proposed light rail route between Minneapolis and St. Paul has been the subject of much agonizing. For the public good the University of Minnesota eventually has agreed to a route that may cause them a lot of trouble. Recently MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) has come forward with objections to the route because they believe that the proposed siting will interfere with their new building.

In the spirit of Jonathan Swift's commentary, a friend has sent his own modest proposal for a solution to this problem. Obviously, the suggestion is meant to be satiric.


It is a melancholy object to those who travel through this great Klingdom to contemplate the loss of the Minnesota Public Radio broadcast center. The imminent danger is the construction of the Light Rail Transit line hardly more than an arm’s length from that magnificent palace built with public financing.

The proposed construction has caused MPR, that eternally grateful recipient of corporate welfare, to threaten to “sue in inverse condemnation to recover the value of its $100+ million Broadcast Center plus relocation costs and related fees.”

I think that it is agreed by all parties that it would be a calamity for the good citizens of this Klingdom to be deprived of hearing the same marches, overtures, and waltzes played ad nauseam over the public airwaves. And all parties further agree that it would be far less of a burden on the public treasury to allow MPR to extort an additional $100+ million than it would be to move the route of the LRT at this late date.

Having turned my attention for several years to this important subject, I now humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

As for the broadcast center, there is a simple solution at hand. In Anno Domini 2004 St. Olaf College sold to MPR “all of Seller’s real property used or held for use in the operation of the Stations (including any appurtenant easements and improvements located thereon).” That provision of the purchase agreement includes Skifter Building, the broadcast center for WCAL, the victim of that necessary public radio fratricide by which MPR also acquired the licenses for 89.3 FM and 88.7 FM. Although overlooked at the time of the transaction, this clever acquisition of Skifter Building now demonstrates the true genius of our King Kling and his alacrity in seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the Regents of St. Olaf College for the common good. The relocation costs for moving the MPR center to Skifter Building will not diminish the public treasury by too great an amount.

But my intention is far from being confined to provide only for the relocation of the MPR broadcast center. It is of a much greater extent—to provide for a tranquil setting “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” in which His Majesty may contemplate the next victim of his insatiable desire to expand his empire.

Surely the Regents would consider an offer from MPR of its $100+ million condemnation award to be more than generous for the purchase of the entire campus of St. Olaf College. Then the MPR logo may replace the cross on the top of Boe Chapel, and a dollar sign in gold may be placed on the altar.

Relieved of the monetary obligation to maintain the Northfield campus and of those worrisome legal and moral obligations to honor promises made to the WCAL donors to operate a public radio station “for generations to come,” the Regents could depart from their wilderness in the country. Then they could use their newly acquired riches from MPR to develop on-line courses that reflect their “core values,” such as a new and very profitable course entitled Greed is Good.
As for that tiresome Christmas Festival at St. Olaf College, which has been repeated each year for almost a century, it may be replaced by the MPR production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I think that the advantages of the proposal which I make are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance. I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this most necessary project, sharing with MPR no motive other than the public good.

(Your humble and obedient servant offers the most profound apologies to Mr. Jonathan Swift.

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