Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taking Met Council to Task

This article ran in Twin Cities Daily Planet on Sept 24:

Some say we criticize Met Council for no reason, we don't know what we doing, light rail will be good for us. If that's true in four years my business and everybody else will be better off and we will all be happy. But we don't know what will happen. That's why we criticize the Met Council. They are not the only one we are taking to task. There's the city, and there's also the county. I have talked to the mayor, the city council person, and the county commissioner. They all say they support businesses and they don't want anybody to go out of business because of the light rail. They say they want to help but they don't commit to anything.

The Met Council they don't even pretend to want to help small businesses survive light rail. They say we will give you loan or marketing. How can that help me when costumers cant get into my business or I can't afford to stay on the avenue. The Met Council is against helping businesses make up for losing customers and sales when they dig up the street. They said that in the paper, it was Peter Bell or somebody working for him.

Peter Bell is not elected so he can do and say whatever he wants. The elected official will say things to please you but don't commit to anything. We business owners are taking all of them to task but they don't do anything. When light rail kick us out, they won't even miss us. They will have a shiny new light rail and other businesses to replace us. It will be mission accomplished for them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Straw

We visited about a dozen University Avenue businesses today. Met Council keeps telling business owners that light rail is going to do a world of good for them, bringing in more customers from near and far as if the light rail will magically improve everyone’s life. But businesses don't buy it. They are surprisingly realistic. They know what’s going on. They know the parking will be gone. They know they will have a tough time going through construction. They know their taxes will go up. They know when the light is built they might not be around. One thing they all know now business is down due to the bad economy. They are struggling. One restaurant owner said she could barely cover her rent last month. She asked if we knew a place where she could get a sign made cheaply to advertise her desserts. She doesn’t know how long she will last if business don’t pick up.

Another woman who has owned a large building of shops for 15 years and now that’s half vacant is losing the building to the bank. When the bank takes over, she don’t know what she will do. All the shops will close or move. She said the shops don’t want to stick around for the light rail.

A small restaurant that opened two years ago is closing. The owner is looking for a buyer. He said he’s got family to take care of. But he also said with the way business is, he doesn’t want to deal with what’s coming down the line (in the middle of the avenue). He wants to get out before his business goes under.

People think or wish light rail is going to do a miracle for businesses on University Avenue. It ain’t. These people don’t know anything about running a small business. They just need to talk to a business owner for 5 minutes about how things are. Nobody does that with them. Nobody. How are you? How’s your business doing? Could be better. Staying alive. Slow. Surviving, barely. Just ask and listen. They will learn that with the economy so bad, light rail will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Owners know this. They know their business like nobody’s business, they know what’s going on. They don’t believe the hype of light rail and the rosy picture painted by the Met Council.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

History Repeating Itself

What we are asking for is fair compensation because light rail will affect our businesses negatively. We are asking for support to keep our businesses alive during construction and after. The Met Council calls this a handout.

Did you know this? The Met Council, which will build the LRT on University Avenue, will use tens of millions of dollars to help the U of M and Minnesota public radio, because of the effect of light rail. Are they more special then our businesses on University Avenue? Is that why they get support and we don't? So when the met council gave the fund to help them, did they call that a handout?

I was just wondering what they call it because obviously they say that they are not giving any businesses “handouts”.

So, again the point I made in my speech, are they trying to remove all of the small businesses on this part of university? So when we all go out of business during the construction, are they going to say that it just happens, they didn’t deliberately kick us out? That’s what happened to the old Rondo’s Black community, they got kicked out. The government came and moved everyone and just put a highway through where peoples’ home and businesses were, where they lived their whole life. As a minority business owner, I can understand how the Rondo people feel. Now are they trying to do that to me? It will be the same thing if I go out of business because of light rail. It makes me wonder how people can get away with this kind of thing. Just my thought!! – L.B.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thank You to Our Supporters

I was sitting on University Avenue this afternoon and just felt so sick thinking about what is going to happen a year from now. Would businesses still be busy? Would there still be cars coming through and people stopping at local businesses? We all work so hard to accomplish what success we have. We made university what it is today. What will the future hold for us? Sometimes you just got to take a break, go out and sit on University Avenue somwhere and just observe. Supporters, the light rail could take it all away from us. I just feel so upset at times but I have to stay strong. I will not give up!! Thanks for your support!!

Fair and Just Compensation

The Met Council spokesperson Laura Baenen is quoted in MPR saying: "There's absolutely no money in the project budget for handouts, or to give people money," said Central Corridor spokeswoman Laura Baenen. "We're not doing it."

This is an insult, a slap in the face, for business owners. The Met Council must think business owners are stupid. Who is asking the Met Council for "handouts"? Do people who work for the Met Council, who are paid with tax dollars, understand the words "fair compensation?" Does Peter Bell, Met Council Chair, understand?

We are NOT asking for handouts from anybody. Least of all from the Met Council. We run our businesses with no help from nobody. What we gain, we worked hard for. Nobody gave me any handouts. We are doing fine without the Met Council. You think we going to depend on you for handouts? We didn't ask for the LRT. You going to shove it down our throats, drive away our customers. If my business will suffer because of their LRT, the least the Met Council could do is work with me in good faith to save my business.

This is how the Met Council deals with the business owners on University Avenue. Peter Bell lets his PR speaks for him, instead of getting out there and having real conversations with business owners about their concerns. If Met Council thinks all we want is handouts, they haven't been listening. Their PR strategy is to make us look like dumb asking for money for nothing. Well they look stupid, arrogant for saying that.