Sunday, December 28, 2008

NPR affiliate’s NIMBY-response to public transportation

I had to laugh when I read a Pioneer Press post about All Things Liberal NPR’s Minnesota Public Radio’s angry opposition to just the sort of public transportation project NPR and its affiliate keep insisting the public should support.

But this particular project goes just a little too close to Minn. Public Radio which is screaming “NIMBY!”

Joe Soucheray can’t resist some gentle reminding and ridiculing - -

Our building trembles, sometimes, but perceptibly. It is unmistakably a tremble, and I can't imagine what brings it about because the heavy machinery is across the river, where the paper is printed. I've worked in newspapers that house the presses, and when those babies start rolling, you have to grab a strap and hold on because the place feels like a submarine that just got the dive command.

Probably, old buildings like ours occasionally settle themselves even more comfortably on their haunches and it is nothing to get worked up over.

It only comes to attention, the trembling down at this end of Cedar Street, because up at the other end of Cedar, the pastors at Central Presbyterian and the Church of St. Louis are worried about what might happen to their buildings when they start construction on the Central Corridor light-rail line and, after, when the light-rail trains, which are not light at all, rumble past. …

Minnesota Public Radio, also on Cedar, is even more worked up than the Rev. Paul Morrissey at St. Louis and the Rev. David Colby at Central Presbyterian. Those are only churches.

At MPR, they have themselves convinced they are doing the real work of the people and the prospect of a train interrupting a whispery-voiced interview with a Bulgarian poet or throwing some folk singer's guitar out of tune has them threatening to move or sue or do something that could foul up the whole project. …

The argument could easily be made that public transportation and all it connotes has had no better friend in the media than MPR. Why, the prospect of us politely shuffling aboard a train while carrying our cloth MPR bag to hold the vegetables we purchase at various small local markets has been right up their editorial alley.

Except now, when they might actually have to be the train's neighbor. That's when they fire off letters and unleash the lawyers and plead for a public understanding that their studios, more than any other studios, apparently, are too delicate and fine-tuned to withstand the bells and whistles and rumbling of the great rolling collective.

(The train will go past our building, too, but none of us can really make an argument that it would disrupt the creative process because we are often yelling at each other, anyway.)

Metropolitan Council President Peter Bell said Monday that "Cedar Street remains the route."

Where it leaves a fellow like me is in limbo, a term you would learn at St. Louis or Central Presbyterian but not at MPR. Light rail is a boondoggle that is being shoved down our pocketbooks and we all know it and we can't do anything to stop it. If I thought MPR had a chance to stop it, I'd have to contribute to one of the 20 or 30 fund drives they hold each year, but they can't stop it and they know it and all they can do is bluster. …

[Maybe] MPR will leave the sustainable urban core for the sprawl of a suburban industrial park and the kind of transportation in a snowstorm that only a gas-guzzling SUV can reliably provide.

Joe Soucheray’s entire post’s here.

I think it will make you smile.


AMac said...

In 2004, Randall O'Toole blasted the concept and implementation of Light Rail in the 46-page PDF, "Great Rail Disasters." It's an interesting polemic. Here's a link to it, via the web-page of a pro-Light-Rail critique.

The national and local NPR news programs are so predictable and so predictably slanted that it must have been a wonder for MPR listeners to hear them arguing against Light Rail. Pigs can fly? Stuff White People Like, where are you?

JWM said...

Dear AMac,

You're bang on as usual.