Martin Andrade takes a dispassionate and logical approach to this question and finds that indeed, the Hennepin County DA’s office bears some responsibility for the massive increase in crime in Minneapolis in the last few years.
The typical DFL response — that cuts to state aid are responsible for the surge in crime doesn’t hold much water. St. Paul, a city right next to Minneapolis with an equally diverse population and many of the same basic problems, has seen crime rise at a rate lower than the national average of 2.5% for violent crimes. Yet St. Paul was also the “victim” of much of the same cuts in local assistance funds. Basic logic says that if one factor is predominantly responsible for an effect, it should have the same effect in all places where that factor is present. Yet that certainly isn’t the case.
Even if one accepts that it’s not totally fair to put all this on Klobuchar’s shoulders, and there are certainly a number of factors which have exacerbated the level of crime coming out of Minneapolis, she is still the DA of Hennepin County. She is still responsible for prosecuting criminals, and if a bunch of recidivists start committing crimes in her jurisdiction that is not a very positive recommendation of her skills. I think Andrade’s argument is quite right: the actions of the DA’s office have indeed lowered the “opportunity costs” of crime to the point where violent offenders just aren’t sufficiently deterred from committing crimes.
Granted, the utter decay of the Minneapolis police force hasn’t helped — political correctness has tied their hands and there is no leadership at the top, betraying the hard work of those officers who want to do their jobs and do them well. Nor does it help that Minneapolis has an utterly dysfunctional political culture “led” by an ineffectual mayor and a City Council that consists of DFL hacks. Minneapolis is an always has been a one-party city — and look at where that’s led them. In contrast, St. Paul has done well under the Democrat-turned-Republican Norm Coleman and the moderate Democrat Randy Kelly. Now that St. Paul’s DFL base has turned against Kelly for the apostasy of supporting President Bush and elected yet another feckless hack, perhaps St. Paul will begin to see some of the same problems that Minneapolis has.
In any event, whether one lays the blame on Klobuchar’s feet or the Minneapolis political machine, the source ends up being the same: the DFL’s inability to do what needs to be done to run the city of Minneapolis. For too long Minneapolis has been a one-party town, and whenever a political party, be it Democrat, Republican, or otherwise is freed from the pressure of having to compete for office the result is a political system that serves itself rather than the public. (I’d argue that Sioux Falls was much the same way, except Sioux Falls is smaller and is more or less immune from the problems of a big city. If the trend in its local governance continues along with the amazing population growth around the city, that could change.)
Minneapolis is not well served by one-party rule, and the DFL’s complacency on key issues has made Minnesota as a state slowly slide more and more towards the GOP. As people take a good hard look at Klobuchar’s real record: what she’s actually accomplished rather than what she claims to have accomplished, her current position at the top of the polls may well begin to slide.
UPDATE: In the last graf, I meant to say Minneapolis rather than Minnesota – my mistake.