Soucheray: Instead of a pit tax, let’s sell naming rights

Admittedly, the worst pothole season in a generation, as it is marketed by the City of St. Paul for tax-raising purposes, has produced some magnificent fissures, dead-end canyons, blowouts, explosive debris fields, chalk craters, and strange rooms so large they are marked with traffic cones.

Why, you can see our streets from space!

I’ve been here before, every winter and spring. Minnesotans know the science of the freeze-thaw cycle like Californians know their atmospheric rivers — which cured the drought — or Oklahomans know Tornado Alley. And I haven’t even seen the worst of it. Spring begins on Monday, March 20. We’ve got at least another month, maybe more, before long-lasting warm weather treatments can be thrown into smooth holes and trowels.

Everyone seems to have their favorites. I especially like Fairview Avenue between Ford Parkway and Highland Parkway on the west side of the street. The destruction there is almost cinematic, staged for a gory scene from a World War I movie. In those two blocks or so, there is unimaginable axle-shattering ruin. Southbound drivers best be on high alert. If it moves too far to the right, I don’t get home in time for dinner. They are doomed, perhaps frantically waving from the roof of the car while waiting to be rescued by helicopter.

Another block of torment awaits south of Ford Parkway. Oh, it’s a top portion of fractured suspensions and flat tires.

West Seventh Street heading east from Montreal Avenue is a no-go zone. If you’re in the right lane, I hope you’ve been minding your own business. You are going to disappear. You’re gone, never to be heard from again.

Our mayor, Melvin Carter, has the audacity to propose a 1% increase in the city’s sales tax to fix the streets. A pit charge. Not. We pay property taxes for something as simple as waterways. But our property taxes don’t fund the basics. It seems our property taxes fund an ever-expanding city government that keeps inventing unrecognizable job titles populated by people who can’t be held accountable for performance or achievement because we don’t even know what they’re doing.

We need more trucks and shovels. We don’t need another directory of belonging and feelings.

If we have to raise money, can we at least have fun? Let’s sell pit naming rights. Not the silly names for the state snowplow naming contest, but real names. We could leave a legacy, a kind of modern version of the stained glass in the church, something to talk about at the vigil.

“Old father was proud of his pits. He bought three.”

It would bring us together as the community we should be. You could come home and say, “I hit a Miller.” Or your car is in the shop and you could say, “I’m stuck in a Soblaski.”

We will be outmatched either way. If the streets don’t catch us, the taxes will. I would buy some.

Be careful there.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” podcast can be heard at

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