Each time there’s a big project in St. Cloud, the usual suspects tell us that they support the project, then encourage the citizenry to follow suit. That type of thinking has led to one disastrous decision after another. Most recently, the usual suspects (St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, aka GSDC, Mayor Kleis all DFL legislative candidates and the ISD 742 School Board) insisted that building a new Tech HS wasn’t just the best option. They insisted it was the only viable option for the citizenry. The truth is that the Board’s option was the worst option. Even though it was the most expensive option for taxpayers, that didn’t matter to the usual suspects.

The usual suspects often act like spoiled brats. They want what they want when they want it. Anyone getting in their way gets steamrolled. As for Tech, the best option might’ve been refurbishing and expanding Apollo. Enrollment in ISD 742’s grade schools is shrinking. Enrollment in Tech and Apollo combined was approximately 2,500 students in the last statistics we had. The point is we didn’t need a Taj Mahal-class building for Tech. Simply put, spending $105,000,000 on a school that’d hold 1,800 students is a major waste of money.

Further, it’s insulting to think that we need to spend $19,000,000 on refurbishing Eastman Hall on the SCSU campus. The state already spent lots of money on the ISELF Building, remodeling the Brooks Hockey Center and building the Coborn’s Plaza apartments. Each time these major projects were proposed, the usual suspects voiced their support for these projects.

Another high priority with the usual suspects supposedly is air service from St. Cloud to Chicago. The usual suspects support the latest study that they hope will cause the county commissioners to sign onto a regional airport authority. One of the Stearns County commissioners is quoted as saying this is the first he’s heard of the latest study. Nonetheless, the usual suspects unconditionally support the latest efforts even though they don’t have a plan going forward.

Rarely do these players listen to the people. Instead, they spend their time telling people how great their latest big project is. The truth is that St. Cloud isn’t the growing city it once was. That’s because the usual suspects haven’t set the right priorities. They’ve endorsed crony capitalist projects that are in their self interests, not the public’s interests.

Building an apartment complex for the Wedum Foundation hasn’t benefitted SCSU. Building an expensive high school won’t shrink the achievement gap. Conducting another study of the airport won’t bring back daily regional air service. Meanwhile, the citizens’ property taxes continue to rise while more cost-effective options are ignored.

Thank the usual suspects the next time you pay your property taxes.

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