It’s a beautiful day outside, a little warm, but nice to be back at the 3rd Place for my Wednesday office hours. Since the Foundation has taken over management of the space, we have some new co-office people to add to the old and it looks like we’ll be able to keep the space open for people who need an inexpensive office situation as well as for community meetings, etc. With our lightweight folding tables we can even clear enough floor space to handle a small yoga class or seminar. With the library hours tightening, it does offer an evening alternative where a book, craft or discussion group could enjoy a glass of wine or beer while communing with friends.  Contact me if you have any of those needs or others and let’s talk. Rates are very reasonable.

Now I have to get on the soapbox a bit. Joe Soucheray, Mr. Garage Logic, had a column today about saying no to the St. Paul Public School levy this November. In his usual bar stool philosopher “no facts, just opinions” style, he lobbied against the levy as a waste of money.  There is ample evidence the 2006 levy made an important difference to our district’s capacity to educate one of the largest districts in the state with one of the lowest levies. Even if the levy passes, St. Paul will still have the lowest per student levy in the metro. LINK

We have over 70 different languages spoken in our school system. If a charter or private school can’t provide services for a student’s special needs, they can refuse the student, public schools can’t, they have to figure it out. They are mandated to do it, even thought the mandate is completely underfunded.

Joe can complain all he wants about paying $65/yr more (if his house has the median city homeowner value of $149,000 – in addition to $726 current total school taxes.) to support the future of our city. That’s about $2.25 a day. I know the economy has been tough, but that seems like a pretty small investment in something as important as our youth.

Here are the facts about school funding in Minnesota from the Dept of Education:

Based on available information, real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) state aid to Minnesota public schools declined by $1,401 (14.7 percent) from FY 2003 to FY 2011 in constant FY 2011 dollars. Largely in response to the decline in state aid, real per pupil property taxes increased by $900 (135.8 percent). Because the levy increase was not sufficient to replace the aid reduction, the total per pupil operating revenue for Minnesota public schools fell by $501 (4.9 percent).

It’s not a matter of school’s wasting money. There can, and always should, be attention paid to effective and efficient use of funds. 2003 was the last year before the “No new taxes” movement began its destructive work. While no for- or non-profit entity is perfect, the St. Paul Public School District has gone through wave after wave of cuts. They are showing some success with less not more money. They should be rewarded with at least a small increase to make up for the continuing loss of state aid.

Joe would be hard-pressed to find a school district in the metro that is trending toward less taxes. Wake up and smell the coffee, Joe, the city you call home needs your support, not your lazy, muddled criticism.

The soapbox is now unoccupied.

D12 - St. Anthony Park Pop-Up Shop Closing Party:  Thursday, Aug 31, 4-8 pm. You are invited to an open house this Thursday to celebrate the work of all of the Pop-Up Shop tenants. As some of you may remember, this summer, Starling and the St. Anthony Park Community Council partnered to create the Shop. From June through August, the vacant storefront just west of Raymond Ave (2401 University Ave) was sub-leased by eight different individuals or groups, becoming home to galleries, shops and labs during 1-4 week rentals.  It was a great success and will hopefully attract a permanent tenant to that space…sounds like another zombie crawl coming up. Zombie Productions LLC, has applied for a sound level variance for live music at Midway Stadium on October 13, 2012 from 2-10pm. The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 pm on September 19, 2012 in the City Council Chambers. Contact Mark Kaiser with comments…Town Hall meeting and Business Fair is Sept. 26, 6-8pm at Luther Sem's new coffee shop in the Olsen Campus Center. Our new legislators will talk about their vision for the neighborhood, chat about your vision and we all can enjoy free food and a chance to win some great door prizes…Sept. 15 is the Garage Sale, Sept. 26 is the Neighborhood Clean-up and Oct. 6 is the Home Tour. Find out more at their website

Schools – are all having their fall open houses tomorrow night. Como Sr. High is at 5:30pm, Murray Jr. High kicks off with a picnic in the parking lot from 5-6pm followed by orientation from 6-8. StAP Elementary is 4-6pm…Murray’s award-winning Pilot One-on-One Tutoring Program is looking for tutors. Contact Cindy Thrasher to find out how you can pick an hour to help a good student get better. Cindy makes it very easy to get involved.

Listserv – thefts are being reported during the last days of summer and the state fair. Unfortunately, that seems to be par for the course. The latest was a couple bikes from a locked porch on Raymond. Stay alert…

StAPnotes – Sarah Deming has moved her Serendipity flower shop from Milton Square to right next door at the 3rd Place. Building owner, Steve Townley, split the first floor so we both fit nicely. She will do mostly events but also retail by appointment…The city has agreed to help fund a new Monkey Island playground but the neighbors will have to come up with some additional contributions to make it work. You can donate at the bank…St. Paul Cookie Co. on Raymond and Territorial in SSA was closed temporarily but has bounced back with the support of its fans. Get down there and enjoy some delicious cookies and help a valued business owner to stay open…I finally had dinner at the Colossal Café for the first time since it extended its hours. Delicious, nice little beer and wine selection and, of course, wonderful service. We are lucky to have so many choices for quality dining in our area. Let them know you love ‘em, get out and enjoy!

That’s all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.