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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Homicidal Rapist in Forest Lake Found With Child Porn Who Self Recorded Rape Now Convicted, Only 4 years

This is another article about the combined issue of weak charges, weak sentencing, and it all revolves around weak MN sex offender law. Over a dozen examples just like this and worse in just two years and in Washington 


County alone. Check out 
http://wcwatchdog.com/local-sex-offender-articles/ and subscribe for free sex offender updates like this post.

Rapist, Alan Douglas Running, from Forest Lake, is finally behind bars... but only for
just over four years. With good behavior, even less time. He will have the maximum of 10 years on the sex offender registration after release. The sentence alone is alarming. However, what's worse is how he remained free over 90% of the over a year it took to convict (this is common throughout the state). The only reason he spent 42 days in jail, as opposed to none, was because he had two conditional release violations and a total of three warrants out for his arrest during this period of time. Yet time after time the judicial system and weak MN sex offender law let him back out. It all started with the weak charges of only 3 degree criminal sexual conduct of a mentally impaired or helpless victim, stalking, and burglary. The final two charges were dropped to add insult to injury for the rape victim and rape victims across the state. The lawyer representing him was Kevin McHugh Morrison.


Read Criminal Complaint 1 and 2 on how an anonymous tip lead investigators to obtain a search warrant on Al Running in April of 2017 for his house and computers. Detectives were lead to a woman who had a restraining order on him for stalking her in 2015. He was convicted of violating that order in 2016. Police discovered videos Alan Running self recorded with hidden cameras he secretly placed inside her home. In one video he stated how he wanted to kill the woman for ruining his life. Another showed him sexually assaulting her when she was unconscious. He was arrested in June, two months after the discovery, and charged with only 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct, burglary, and stalking. Later, as investigators further searched the "over 100,000 files" of porn on his computer they found 2 files of child porn and confirmed the images were of real children with the center of missing and exploited children. They arrested him again and charged him with two counts of possessing child porn (innocent until proven guilty on those two counts).

If our weak laws and justice system can't detain a man who: video recorded himself raping a woman;
video recorded himself threatening to kill the victim;
broke into her home;
stalked her;
was found with child porn videos;
and violated condition of release twice...
not to mention his criminal past of multiple DWIs and violating restraining order... What rapist can our system serve justice to?


It's a fact MN has the weakest sex offender laws in the Country:

The sex offender list is NOT public in MN; but 47 states do share the data. There are nearly 20,000 registered sex offenders in MN and only about 700 are level 3 offenders that you occasionally hear about moving into the "general area" of a city.

Last year and this year not one sex offender bill passed. Half the bills to make stronger sex offender laws were held back in the house. Senator Warren Limmer called them "non starters" and refused to discuss them in conference committee. The rest were killed in the Senate by the lead of Senator Limmer and Julie Rosen in conference committee. Both refused to comment so far.

If you hope to see any law change continue to contact law makers, especially Warren Limmer. 

It's clear that just because a homicidal rapist is convicted and sentenced to just 4 years, doesn't mean justice has been served. Therefore, if the punishment for ALL criminal sexual conduct crimes is raised than weak charges and convictions will be stronger. 

Tell legislators to also make the sex offender list public like nearly every other State in the County does. All but MN, DC, and Maine have public lists. Maine only has 2,700 sex offenders in their state though. Compared to nearly 20,000 in MN. 

For the growing list of the last know location of convicted sex offenders in Washington County: 

DEFENDANT: Alan Douglas Running 
AKA: Al Running, Alan Douglas, alface47
DOB: 9/9/1947 
CITY/RESIDENCE:
MN AGENCY: Forest Lake Police Department 

DATE: 6/12/2017 
CHARGES:
I: Criminal Sex Conduct-3rd Degree-Victim Mental Impair/Helpless; 
II: Stalking - Pattern of Stalking Conduct; 
III: Burglary-2nd Degree-Dwelling 
Article in Forest Lake Times:
DATE: 7/3/2017 
CHARGES: 
I: Possess Pornographic Work-Computer Disk/Electronic/Magnetic/Optical Image w/Porn; 
II: Possess Pornographic Work-Computer Disk/Electronic/Magnetic/Optical Image w/Porn 

DATE: 7/25/2018
DEFENDANT: Alan Douglas Running
DOB: 9/9/1947
CITY/RESIDENCE: Forest Lake, MN
AGENCY: Forest Lake Police Department

JUDGE: Gary R. Schurrer
CONVICTION: Criminal Sex Conduct-3rd Degree
SENTENCE: Committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for 53 months; 42 days credited;

$50 fine with surcharge and fees;

Conviction History from BCA:
1/10/2000 Convicted Traffic - DUI - Alcohol or Controlled Substance - Definition - Gross Misdemeanor
1/10/2000 Convicted Traffic - DUI - Alcohol or Controlled Substance - Definition - Gross Misdemeanor
12/8/2009 Convicted Traffic - DWI - Operate Motor Vehicle - Alcohol Concentration 0.08 Within 2 Hours - Gross Misdemeanor
1/19/2011 Convicted Traffic-DL-Driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety - Gross Misdemeanor
7/11/2016 Convicted Harassment; Restraining Order - Violate Restraining Order - Misdemeanor
*In no way do we wish harm to the convicted sex offenders outside the judgement of the law. Posting each criminal's public data anyone can get allows the public to decide from the evidence if they appreciate knowing such data. Such as what these sex offender's last known address is. No representation is made that the individuals listed here are currently on the state's offenders registry. All names presented here were gathered at a past date. Some persons listed might no longer be registered offenders and others might have been added. Some addresses or other data might no longer be current. Owners of Washington County Watchdog assume no responsibility (and expressly disclaim responsibility) for updating this site to keep information current or to ensure the accuracy or completeness of any posted information. All data was only accurate at the time of posting per Government sources provided. Accordingly, you should confirm the accuracy and completeness of all posted information before making any decision related to any data presented on this site. The information on this web site is made available solely to protect the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his or her family is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. Message us if you can verify us of an address or change in data.  Washington County Watchdog is not responsible for the accuracy of the content shared, refer to our linked government sources.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stillwater Loses Pro-BOLD Majority on the School Board who Closed 3 Schools

On the Horizon of New Beginnings for Stillwater Area Public Schools, Loss of Lehmann Jeopardizes BOLD Plan

STILLWATER, MN - A Stillwater Area Public Schools Board Special Meeting was held early July to appoint an interim school board member to fill former Stillwater School Board Member, Tom Lehmann's vacated seat. In a tabulation vote performed by the remaining six school board members, the vacant seat was won by longtime educator and former Stillwater Junior High
Principal, Donald G. Hovland. Mr. Hovland was selected from a pool of nine candidates and he brings 47 years experience in education, including secondary and post-secondary education. In addition to serving as principal at Stillwater Junior High, Hovland has worked as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, and for school districts in Montana and North Dakota. He has volunteered on the Human Rights Commission for the Stillwater City Council and is currently working with the "One Room Schoolhouse" project in Oak Park Heights. Mr. Hovland has resided in Stillwater for more than 45 years.

Beloved, Closed Schools (Withrow, Marine and Oak Park Elementary) Sit Vacant and Tug Heart Strings of Stillwater Area Public School District Residents

Mr. Hovland's school board seat appointment will last until January 2019. Hovland ran for a school board seat in the 2016 election and finished in seventh place out of ten candidates. Mr. Hovland made clear during the 2016 Stillwater Area Public School Board Election that he was against the Stillwater School District Administrations BOLD (Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover), which called for the closure of Withrow, Marine and Oak Park Elementary Schools. Hovland joins School Board Member's Mike Ptacek, Sarah Stivland and Shelley Pearson who were against the BOLD plan.  

School Board Members Paula O'Loughlin, George Hoeppner and Shelley Pearson up for Re-Election This Fall

School Closing Advocates and Pro-BOLD School Board Members Paula O'Loughlin and George Hoepnner are up for Re-Election in November, along with Shelley Pearson, and Don Hovland's newly appointed seat. The filing for dates for candidates to register will be held July 31st to August 14th. Newcomers in the race and declaring candidacy early are Stillwater Township Resident, Tina Riehle and Grant Resident Liz Weisberg. 

-Shannon Bryant

90% of Starry for Sheriff Campaign Donations Are From Special Interest

Dan Starry was customarily appointed Washington County Sheriff as he was second in command under Bill Hutton who retired as the elected sheriff in mid 2017. His campaign of "Keep Starry Sheriff" have many resident's mislead to believe he's been the elected sheriff for us. (Technically the position is an open seat.) The lawn signs are everywhere across the county, yet no one we've talked to exactly understands his campaign. Usually candidates for office can lay out specific ideas to improve or continue the success of the department's service to the voters. However, Starry's campaign website is void of ideas and full of the usual over generalized political promises to make residents more safe.  He could be a great guy and a dedicated officer of the law; however his campaign is empty and appears to offer promises and no proven ideas. 

What's not empty is Dan Starry's campaign fund. With over $10,000 he's got the grass roots campaign of Paul Hoppe beat five to one. Hoppe is the director of the city of Wyoming's Police Department and also running for Washington County sheriff. More about him here:
Experience Counts, Paul Hoppe Running for Washington County Sheriff Gives Clear Answers 
on Transparency, Crime Mapping, Sex Offenders, Felon Voting, and More.

Many questioned how such an uninspiring campaign could have all the campaign money and yard signs. We did some digging into the campaign finance data from the county:

Of the 47 donors with names, 41 of them work in Government or have special interest in the campaign (fair to say all 41 are special interest). Many of the donors work under Starry. Only 6 donors don't have a known special interest connection.

So that's 87% of his known donors are special interest! They've given $8,543. The 6 donors without a known interest in his campaign have given $905. There's $865 from 18 anonymous donors (under the $100 donation to know who they are)... so we'll not factor that in the $10,313 he's raised so far. So known donors total $9,448.

Of Starry's $9,448 in campaign donations, 90% of it was from his special interest friends. (including himself)  

When you vote for Washington County Sheriff think about where 90% of Starry's support comes from, big labor, politicians, and from people working in and around his position as the temporarily appointed Sheriff. 

Opposite to the questionable donations of Starry is the Paul Hoppe campaign who told us in an interview that he's not seeking special interest endorsements. Expanding on the conflict that arises when you take campaign donations from special interest stating "I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to insulate our employees from the politics of governing so the deputies can focus on serving the community rather than serving the interest of an individual.

Data:

All his division commanders gave:
Records / Communications - Commander Sara Halverson gave $250
Patrol Division - Commander Doug Anschutz  gave $250
Investigative Division - Commander Andrew Ellickson  gave $250
Jail Division - Commander Roger Heinen  gave $250
Courts / Special Projects - Commander Cheri Dexter  gave $250

Bunch of local elected officials and relatives of them:

County attorney Pete Orput gave $100
County Commissioner Fran Miron  $100
Lake Elmo City Councilor Justin Bloyer $200
Senator Karin Housley $100
Husband of representative Kathy Lohmer, Greg $100
Meredith Lake retired WC Attorney – and wife of deceased WC Deputy Bill Lake  gave $100
Mary L Waldkirch Tilley, retired Washington County Attorney gave $100

Lots of Government employees and relatives:
Jim Shoup, an IRS investigator $100
Russ Blanck, centennial lakes police department $100
Fred Fink, Washington County prosecutor $100
Lawrence Flaherty, retired WC Deputy Law enforcement $250
Kevin Mueller, WC prosecutor $250
Richard Mueller $250
Bruce Peterson, Forest Lake Police Department $100
John Kirkwood, was Ramsey county sheriff's department $100
Randy McAlister, cottage grove police seargent $100
Joal McAlister $100
Dick Mah, "US Government" $100
Teri Grimm "US Government" $100

Tons of Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) and their relatives:
David Heuer, sergeant, $200 
Brian Mueller, Interim Chief Deputy and special ops trainer $250
Lori Mueller $250
Rebecca Bromme, sergeant, $100
Pat Olson, Retired WC commander $100
Jay Thompson WCSO, $100

Questionable Donors:
Jeff Gort $100 (one of the Cottage Grove Cops who shot a suspect who later won a lawsuit)
Gary Swanson, retired WCSO, $100               
James Fure, retired WCSO, $100 (Both Swanson and Fure were in an investigation where both hosted a wild stag party with two other sheriff's where a fellow sheriff was held down by 6 men and forced  to have a stripper dance on him while on a stage. They were not convicted due to lack of proof they were involved with the crime.)  

special interest:
Patrick Erickson, Law enforcement tactical training association and retired WC deputy $100  
Warren Ackerson, for Glock hand guns $100
Joe Isaacs, permit to carry activist $100
Shelly Richard, Stillwater Med Group, $250

Members of his campaign and relatives:
Glen Bona filed his campaign committee with a starting balance of $840
Brian Bona $250
Roger Bona $250
Dan Starry $1,653.91

Not special interest donors?:
Ed Eccleston gave $5 
Michael Jordan of Stillwater gave $250
Deborah Jordan of Stillwater gave $250
Pat Herold of Stillwater gave $100
Eric Heil, of Rogers gave $150
Lori Heil, of Rogers gave $150

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Experience Counts, Paul Hoppe Running for Washington County Sheriff Gives Clear Answers on Transparency, Crime Mapping, Sex Offenders, Felons Voting, and More

On the ballot in Washington County this fall will be the election to replace former sheriff William Hutton who retired. Paul Hoppe, the director of public safety for the city of Wyoming for the last 9 years is running for the open seat. He's lived in Washington County his entire life, been in public safety for 27 years, worked in the Oak Park Heighs PD, Washington and Hennepin County Sherriff's office, with the FBI, and more. All this information is out there. What's been missed by the local media is how important it is to elect a sheriff who will address the issues effectively with proven experience and specific ideas. Things the other candidate can not and does not offer.
See: 90% of Starry for Sheriff Campaign Donations Are From Special Interest


Key to a successful county sheriff is communication, transparency, and approachability. With over 40,000 followers to the social media pages of the Wyoming Police Department Hoppe oversees, one could say he's writing the book on it. The benefits of this outreach and his leadership are best explained by Paul Hoppe in his responses below.


Topics discussed are:
-Specific ideas to get tough on child rapists and sex trafficking
-Web based crime mapping he uses so residents can look up real time to see what's happening
-"intelligence based policing" with a Records Management System (RMS).
-Reporting data to the public in easy to access and meaningful ways
-Field technology to drive better outcomes
-The use of social media to inform residents and how it solves and prevents crime
-How accepting union money influences ability to serve the public
-Felons (like convicted sex offenders) voting
-and more


At Washington County Watchdog we rarely cover candidates for office because they don't usually offer anything someone would consider better than the opponent. That, and the fact the local media usually does a decent job letting you know the details on their work history and the vague campaign promises to be "fiscally responsible, transparent, and help the community." But every so often there's a person who shatters the mold and enters into a race without the hollow promises; has a proven track record; has a focus for the real issues; and proven ways to better the current system.


Below are questions the moderators at Washington County Watchdog came up with to ask Paul Hoppe. We thank him for his time and openness to share. His responses are in Bold font and some highlights of his responses are edited to large font by the writer. The text of his responses are unedited. Photos added are by the writer alone.

Interview by Matt Behning.


1.) The media hasn't done you justice in their articles. It wasn't until we heard your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show (starting at about 47 minutes in) that it became apparent your not an average textbook leader in law enforcement. It seems many rate
success in numbers of arrests or tickets issued. You said that your PD in the city of Wyoming doesn't have ticket quotas and that you rate success in the number of problems solved and the number of problems that can be prevented. What are some tools or practices you use to see this through?


 One of the management philosophies I use to evaluate performance is “intelligence based policing”, which is data driving analytics that help us identify trends by examining data so we can be proactive and allocate our resources more efficiently and effectively.  The core to data analytics is a robust records management system (RMS) that tracks calls for service, names and addresses associated with calls, activity our employees are involved in, vehicles, evidence and crime reporting requirements and transparency to our community.  A state of the art RMS helps identify people or properties that are becoming problematic so we can intervene early to develop solutions that prevent future problems. By effectively extracting good data from our RMS we are armed with more reliable information to make informed decisions on how to director our employees’ time and efforts to reduce criminal behavior by predicting crime trends.  


Improving field technology, and business practices to better collect the data that goes into the RMS will improve the information we extract from the RMS to improve the data we use to make informed decision.  In 2011, I worked closely with Chisago County to successfully implement such a system which has proven to be instrumental in refining our performance expectations and how we do business; and as result we see better outcomes with more effective solutions.        


2.) It appears communication with residents and open sharing of data such as crime reports are effective in the public safety department you mange. Your department's face book page has over 9,700 followers who appreciate seeing everything from the arrests made to the funny posts about setting up a marijuana sting with chips leading into a live trap. It appears to be a great way to keep the public informed while at the same time growing a positive public perception of law enforcement. Is this something we could see from the Washington County Sheriff's social media if you were elected?


If we want to improve community trust we have to become more transparent.  When we originally launched our social media efforts it was with the intent of improving community trust and engagement by humanizing the law enforcement officer. Our department was one of the first nationwide to implement a new tone on social media which was less institutionalized and more engaging, we wanted our public to see us more as guardians than worriers. The results of our efforts have improved the sense of community between our residents and our Police Department; every day we have someone approach our officers on the street and strike up conversations. With more than 40,000 followers on our social media platforms we are one of the most followed police department in the state, and one of the most approachable.  


We use the power of our social media to promote public service announcements, partner with other departments to spread important information, build programming partnerships with our businesses, and seek the communities help in solving crimes.  We have experienced a nearly 80% solvability rate when we post requesting the assistance of the public in creating leads to help us solve crimes. The partnership between the police and the community is absolutely imperative when it comes to preventing and solving crimes, and our social media engagement is a proven example of how successful the partnership is.  If elected as the Sheriff, it will be my intent to continue thinking outside the box for new and innovative ideas that improve our service to the community, and the use of social media will be part of those efforts.

3.) Many people under-appreciate law enforcement and have a false perception of security until they are impacted by crime.  In addition to your department's popular facebook page, your PD participates in "https://communitycrimemap.com/." The site shares where local police action is taking place. (in addition to where some sex offenders are located). Can you expand on this technology? Do you think this could be used County wide by the Sheriff's department if you were elected?


In 2015 we launched our web-based crime mapping so the public could be easily informed about the police activity happening in our community and within their specific neighborhoods.  Each day we push our crime data to a web-based platform that allows residence to see our police activity by location and crime type, on a daily basis. The crime data is represented on a map, and residents can click on represented incident to get the public call data.  The mapping is completely interactive so the viewer can control which data they want to see, and zoom in on a specific neighborhood.


No longer does a resident have to wait for the weekly paper to come out to see what’s happening in their neighborhoods or be limited to only those crimes the paper chooses to report on, or make a formal records request that may take days to respond to; instead the information is at their fingertips with just a click of the mouse.  Our community members see the officer working in public, hear the sirens in their neighborhoods and want to know if it is something they should be concerned about. We also want to reassure the public the officers are working hard on their behalf and our online crime mapping can answer all those questions. I believe its import to keep the public informed and today’s technology makes it easy to accomplish. An informed public can be a valuable resource when it comes to community policing.


This is all part of my initiative to improve Washington County’s field technology, and improving transparency.   

4.) It's admirable you're not seeking or accepting union endorsement like your opponent, it leaves behind big labor campaign donations; but it shows your support can't be bought. Do you have anything to add about how not involving unions in your campaign can translate to a better Sheriff for the residents in WC and to the officers you'd oversee?



I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to insulate our employees from the politics of governing so the deputies can focus on serving the community rather than serving the interest of an individual.  The Sheriff has a direct influence on the career path of the employees who report to the position, the position has the authority to promote, and assign job duties; I believe putting pressure on the employees, whether direct or implied, put the employees in a tough position knowing their response could affect their career path. To ensure the integrity of the Sheriff position, I believe there should be a distinct line that should not be crossed, and the responsibility to define those lines is the responsibility of the leadership and the Sheriff position specifically.  


I want employees who are focused on providing exceptional service to our community, not worrying about how a political endorsement will affect their career. When we insulate our employees for the candidacy process, we can eliminate political influence from the career path decisions and base those decision on merit. As a result, we start to focus on getting people in positions for the purpose of improving the organization, translating to improved organizational effectiveness which equates to better community service.  


I will continue to seek the support of the residence of Washington County, rather than seeking the endorsement from the labor unions our groups that sole represent the employees of the Sheriff’s Office.


5.) You acknowledged in your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show that Child sex trafficking is a top concern in Washington County along with the Opioid epidemic. As many know dozens of men a year are arrested in the child sex stings in WC and there's a big concern with child sex crime here. Do you have an approach to deal with this issue? Whether it's raising awareness by sharing arrests; advocating for funding from the over $220 million in the County budget; or pressuring the legislature who hasn't passed a law to increase penalties or monitoring of child rapists in two years.


Washington County Attorney’s Office has done a great job of spearheading the sex trafficking and human trafficking initiatives, I intend to continue partnering with them on these issues.  I believe improving awareness is the key to impacting these crimes, a significant number of these victims are solicited into the trafficking industry by skilled manipulators. If we can improve the awareness, educate at risk victims or those closest to them, we can identify potential victims early and get them the necessary resource to prevent them from being preyed upon.


The internet has increased the sex trafficking industry, by expanding the access to these crimes.  I believe we need more significant penalties on those trafficking online and legislation that shutdown online sites that engage in human trafficking with more significant penalties to those online providers hosting these adds.  


We also need to develop a robust digital cyber-crime lab capable of extracting the necessary evidence to effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators involved in sex trafficking activities.  


6.) The last Sheriff in office supported voting rights for released felons like the over 20,000 convicted sex offenders not in prison in MN. He urged the County Board to write a political letter asking legislators to change MN law to let felons vote. Many felons get their voting rights restored at the completion of their sentence. Do you support changing MN law to allow felons to vote too?


I don’t believe the Law should be changed.  I believe the felon should have to complete the entire sentence before their voting rights are restored, not just the incarceration time.  The post release disposition of continued parole, probation or stayed sentence is part of the debit to society. The debit hasn’t been paid until the entire sentence has been served which includes the stayed, probation or parole period.  The right to vote has a directing correlation on the laws that are created, part of restricting their right to vote limits the felon’s impact of selecting the individuals who have an impact on creating law. When you violate the current law, you should lose your right or at least have them suspended, to select you creates future law while the felony is serving a sentence for violating current law.  


7.) What else would you like to tell our readers about why they should vote for you?


I was born and raised in Washington County, raised my kids here and I want to ensure we have the right person leading the Sheriff’s Office to ensure our future generations have the same opportunities to raise their kids in the same majestic place.  This will require a proactive, visionary leader willing to challenge the cultural norms in search of better ways to serve our community. As a proven innovator, and effective leader experience matters, with 27 years in law enforcement, over 9 years as a current Police Chief / Public Safety Director, a Master’s Degree in Police Administration and graduate from the FBI National Academy, I have assembled the necessary experience to lead the Sheriff’s Office into the future.  


Our elected Sheriff has retired and this year you have a choice as to who will represent your voice in Law Enforcement.  I would be honored to serve the residents of Washington County as the Sheriff, I ask for your vote on November 6th; because "Proven Leadership" means a secure future.


Check out Paul Hoppe's website for more information:

Not paid for by any candidate, committee, PAC, or political group. Washington County Watchdog is a free blog, doesn't make money, and does not endorse candidates or political parties. Thoughts are of the author of the post and do not reflect others affiliated with the page.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

One Hundred Reasons in Six Miles, Mass Transit and The Scam on Developers

In Washington County the pro- transit propaganda is in full swing to lure in businesses along the proposed Gold Line from Woodbury to St. Paul:  

Yet the writing is on the wall for the nearly half billion dollar bus corridor after it had federal funding denied indefinitely, or at least as long as a republican is president. But it's not stopping politicians from telling developers whatever they want to hear. 

It's a well known fact that transit planners constantly over promise what a transit line will deliver. Some even admit the mistake  and call it a failed experiment. Whether a train or bus line, mass transit lines let us all down. Whether it's the people that are killed being hit by the trains and buses every year by speeding down busy streets (they're impossible to stop quickly); the thousands of crimes such as assaults and thefts at each of the lines every year; slow serviceunreliable service;  the billions of dollars they spend to provide no traffic congestion relief; or the millions in yearly operating costs that are nowhere near covered by the riders.

Perhaps the biggest undocumented destructive force of mass transit lines is the con sold to local businesses and developers close to the transit lines. Before the transit line is built the planners tell existing businesses the line will bring them streams of customers. For developers they say people will flood the area looking to live in high density housing and shop along the transit line. The trap is set and like a moth to a flame some businesses and high density housing complexes are built. The Met Council blindly says that over eight billion dollars has been spent along the transit lines in the metro. Taking credit for development that would have likely happened regardless of the transit line (like US bank stadium).  

However, do the transit lines really deliver the boom to the local economies? Or is it just a temporary illusion, a fragile house of cards built on bad promises? If you listen to the local media and the politicians you hear the billions that have been spent along the lines and see pictures of the ribbon cuttings at beautiful new buildings. But how are they doing years after they are built? There's been little follow up.

What better transit line to fact check the hype than that of the newest transit line in the heart of the metro, the Green Line. Completed in 2014, at a cost of a billion tax dollars, it runs 11 miles from St. Paul to Minneapolis and planners promised that the corridor would transform and improve the struggling area along University Avenue. Planners claim $4.2 billion in development happened because of the Green Line. Again, anyone can point to an impressive new 5 story apartment building and claim it's delivering on the promises; but what good are the apartments if they are empty? What good is a transit line if constructing it killed many of the existing businesses and seriously hurt the survivors when being built? (when customers couldn't reach them). How much shopping can a person do and carry it with them on the train or a bus?

To provide the most comprehensive answer possible we give you pictures of over a hundred closed down businesses, empty store store fronts, and struggling high density housing begging for renters. It's been four years since the Green Line opened so there's no claiming that it should be given time to prove itself. The pictures are screenshots off Google from 6 miles along university ave. Excluding the end of the line within the UofM because the area is stable before and after the Green Line came. Also excluded is the couple miles that wind behind the capital buildings and then over I-94 and into Union Depot. It'd be unfair to expect development on the capital grounds and on the mile from there to Union depot because of the high rise office buildings that are already occupied.

The over 100 images from a short 6 mile stretch of road is undeniable evidence. There's no claiming that big areas were overlooked in this tour with so many pictures. No one claims the area was a sought after area for development before the Green Line. Many images show the area was doing better before the green line. At least as good as a business can do in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Both are known for their oppressively high taxes and anti-business policies such as $15/hr minimum wage, removing parking ramps and on street parking in exchange for bike lanes.  Don't forget St. Paul's 24% tax increase. Combine that with the State's designation as the second worst State to live in for taxes and it's no wonder politicians and transit planners have to deceive development into building along transit lines like the Green Line.

Hopefully this article leads to further follow up with the developers along transit lines that have clearly been let down with the lies that they would lead them customers. With coverage of this, future bad investment along transit corridors can be prevented. Especially the Gold line that is likely not going to be built!

-Matt Behning


Click on first picture and scroll through if images of the proof of closure are difficulty to see.