St. Paul mayor, City Council at odds

Further sniping, which will almost certainly hurt the city, must be avoided.

Considering all levels of government seemed to have been poisoned by partisanship, President George W. Bush’s proclaimed era of uniting and not dividing has proven to be anything but. Partisanship has filtered down from the federal government to Minnesota, as evidenced by the shameful spectacle of the last legislative session and the vitriol between the St. Paul City Council and Mayor Randy Kelly.

St. Paul’s infighting is unique because it is between factions within the Democratic Party. However, in many ways, it illustrates the enduring problem of the Democratic Party: its inability to unite on a focused ideology.

Whether it be fights over civil rights in 1948, Vietnam or Walter Mondale’s perceived elitism, Democrats have a history of infighting. How else can one explain that Democratic presidential nominees included candidates such as from the proudly liberal Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and the admittedly conservative Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. St. Paul is a microcosm of Democrat infighting, pitting Mayor Kelly against the City Council.

In a move led by Kathy Lantry, 7th Ward, and Jay Benanav, 4th Ward, the St. Paul City Council recently ousted Dan Bostrom, 6th Ward, a moderate to conservative ally of Kelly, in a show of political muscle. With Kelly’s proposed budget in its early stages, expect further sniping between the mayor and City Council.

At the core of the St. Paul split is argument over taxes. For example, council leaders favor some raises in property taxes, while Kelly does not support an increase, and refuses to budge. Property taxes have not gone up in 11 years, and Kelly’s decision to not even consider a small increase is impractical. Kelly prefers to collect the money through selective fees.

Hopefully, St. Paul’s leaders can look past their ideological differences and compromise. Citizens need leaders committed to the common good and willing to work out differences. Strict partisanship is not helping at the national or state level. It surely will not help at the local government level.