The Gopher State's own Jeff Yager ducks into a shady side street to let us know that the great city of Minneapolis is considering banning all pedestrian traffic in city alleys. Civic leaders note, with some pride, that this would put the city ahead of the rest of America in the race to make everything suck. Houston, Oakland, and other metropoles have banned alleys in certain neighborhoods, but the City of Lakes will vote today on whether to close all 455 miles of alleys in town. The big sticking point seems to be whether all Minneapolitans should be banned from walking down alleys or whether the restriction should only apply to the poor:
"They want it in my part of the world," [Council Member Robert] Lilligren said Wednesday. "This would give the police and the community an additional tool to hopefully eliminate that kind of traffic to help ensure the safety of all of our citizens."
[Rutgers University criminal justice prof.] Clarke, on the other hand, said a more targeted solution is more sensible.
"Why does it have to be city-wide? I don't think there is much sense in that," said Clarke, author of a 2002 U.S. Department of Justice report, "Closing Streets and Alleys to Reduce Crime: Should You Go Down This Road?"The best thing to do is to focus on alleys in poor areas that are often exploited for crime," he said.
I've always liked the Mini-Apple, and the North Star State generally, for its blend of blue-state living and red-state prices (or maybe it's that Minnesota offers Canadian style right here in America), but who can defend a city council that has deadlocked over this issue because they have their public safety committee has an even number of members? The council committee voted 2-2 on this issue last week, prompting council president Barbara Johnson (voting in favor) to declare, "This is a tale of two cities"—an inspired witticism in a metropolitan area universally known as the "Twin Cities."
And in one last thing that makes you go hmm, consider this cri de coeur from a local resident:
At last week's meeting, Rosie Cruz said she supports the proposal. She's tired of seeing the prostitutes harassing her son and loitering near her backyard in the Phillips neighborhood.
"I'm sick of it," Cruz said.
If nothing else, we'll get to test the old law school stumper: If you get a legal abortion in an illegal back alley, have you broken the law?
Update: Go go, Gophers! The full council has rejected this silly bill with all the force of 1,000 10,000 lakes.