Saturday, May 06, 2006


The View From The Cheap Seats
By Jerry Haferkamp

I like Bart Simpson. For those unfamiliar, the Simpsons are T.V.’s most dysfunctional cartoon family. Unfortunately, their antics also reflect life around us.

I recently quoted Bart in reference to the woman who, according to sworn deposition, conspired to commit voter fraud. “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove anything.” would be Bart’s comment. I don’t think there will be further prosecution in this case. After all, Dottie won and the backers of the recall have thrown in their sacrificial lamb already.

This week’s Bart comment is, “Darned if you do; darned if you don’t.” This is in reference to the City Council’s predicament concerning Frenchtown. This area is sorely in need of life support. However, the mechanisms that help in this effort also include eminent domain. As seen by the public outcry across America, people don’t want to see some people ripped off to benefit an already wealthy developer become wealthier.

Some of the businesses have asked that the Council give them the same tax breaks they would give the developer, and they will use them to improve their property. It sounds reasonable, but why should businesses in Frenchtown get benefits the businesses on First Capitol or West Clay don’t? The St. Peters paper had a picture of a Frenchtown business with an “anti” eminent domain sign. If you look closely, you would see tall weeds growing in the picture. If the businessman won’t get off his duff and cut the grass, what ever would make us think he would maintain his property?

One of the speakers spoke of a woman whose deceased husband left her with a mobile home that she hoped would house her for her remaining days. If she is displaced, where will she go? At a previous Council meeting, one councilman suggested she move to another park. Mobile home parks won’t accept older homes and certainly not at the pad rent she now pays. If she is forced out so the developer fattens his bank account, the developer should provide her an apartment at the same rent she now pays for her mobile home pad. Fair is fair.

On the other hand, there is little excuse for the condition of some businesses in the area. Look at Don’s Auto Body. Dave Tritz and his son Adam have re-invested some of their profits to turn a business that some may deem undesirable in an historic area into an asset to Frenchtown. When they needed to expand, they renovated the beautiful home next door into their offices. Some of the other businesses should take notice. Business and residences can live side by side, but it takes extra effort from the businesses. As with the Tritz family business, the extra effort shows.

Sorry, Council. It’s inevitable. You are indeed “darned if you do; darned if you don’t.”

Of course, that’s just the view from the cheap seats.