by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I drove to the office today. This makes me an Enemy of the People. I don’t feel like a bad person, but evil is rarely self-conscious. It thinks it is doing the right thing. Even the mustache-twirling top-hatted villain in an old silent movie waited until the rent was overdue before he evicted the plucky, desperate heroine. The act of driving is bad enough these days, but driving into the city is becoming even more laden with sin; if I were pure of heart I would have been biking in the unseasonable sleet, buffeted by a perpendicular wind, and perhaps knocked under a bus — which would at least have guaranteed my ascent into heaven, as I had been sanctified in death by a symbol of virtue.
Instead I drove the brief distance, parked on a surface lot next to a pen of bikes, half of which are chained and abandoned like skeletons in a dungeon. Since I’ve obviously chosen the path to perdition, my sins may be compounded tonight: I intend to drive to a suburban shopping center. It’s a strip mall. O Wretched Nation, with your death-strewn seas of asphalt! Cry, Mother Earth, for the easy access to Bed Bath and Beyond!
What have we wrought?
Nothing that can’t be unwrought with a little planning. …
… The commercial area is dependent on automobiles. The low-slung shops and chain restaurants that populate the area are, you suspect, regarded with horror, and must be done away with somehow.
“What’s not standing the test of time is the late-20th-century strip mall,” said Steve Elkins, who, according to the article, “represents the area on the Metropolitan Council.” By “represents” the author doesn’t mean “was elected by people who agreed with his platform” — Met Council members are appointed by the governor. The Met Council may override local governments if the need arises, which means it has the power to invalidate the actions of elected officials. This is sometimes necessary, when elected officials do not realize that certain things are not standing the test of time. Like a mall with an occupancy rate of 99 percent.
That’s right. The Southtown shopping center is 99 percent leased. Makes you wonder if there’s a three-foot-wide storefront that has gone unrented since Yardstix ‘R’ Us went out of business. If something is that successful, it might be — and bear with me, because I’m riding off the reservation here and heading for the Crazy Hills — because people find it useful, and go there to exchange money for goods and services.