Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

A statement from West St. Paul city council ward 1 candidate Bob Pace appeared in the November 2016 issue of the St. Paul Voice:

“[Bob Pace’s] top priority is to put the current Robert Street project on a spending freeze until it is determined how it will be funded. He wants to make the City business-friendly and would work with developers ‘instead of against them,’ in the continued revitalization of all business districts.”

The idea of a spending freeze on a nearly finished project raised some eyebrows. Turns out that’s not what Pace actually said.

Here’s the actual statement Bob Pace gave to the Voice outlining his top priorities:

“To work with developers to continue the revitalization of Robert Street and the rest of the cities businesses, to try and put a hold on spending money on projects that are not absolutely needed until we actually have the money. The citizens can not keep taking tax increases at the current rate.”

So he never called for a spending freeze on the Robert Street project.

However, Bob Pace also said this in the Pioneer Press:

“I also want to stop any further spending that is not needed on the current street project until the city actually has the money.”

I asked Pace to clarify what he meant, and here’s what he said:

“I’m not stupid, I know we can not freeze spending, nor do I want to. I have a business on the street and it’s in all businesses’ best interest to complete the project as it stands, with no further additions until it’s all paid for.”

Pace’s concern is primarily with keeping taxes low:

“I’ve had numerous people, especially elderly on fixed income, complain about higher taxes and they can not afford them. I had one guy tell me his rent went up and the landlord told him it was because of taxes. Whether that’s right or wrong, these people are real and some are scared. There is no doubt all our taxes will rise because of the street.”

Ward 2 candidate John Justen also expressed frustration with his comments being restated.

I reached out to the St. Paul Voice for a comment, but they haven’t responded yet (let’s keep in mind that they only put out one paper a month—I wouldn’t answer emails the same day either). I also feel for writers who are likely on a tight deadline for minimal pay. Generally it’s far easier to just post candidate comments verbatim (like the Pioneer Press did) and it takes a lot more time to rephrase statements into a story like this. Often reporters do that to better summarize what’s being said and give equal space. But it’s hard work. Remember that local newspapers are being slashed to the bone, and the rest of us feel that pain in the lack of local coverage.

In general, don’t believe everything you read about the candidates. Even if it comes from them. Especially when it sounds too good (or bad) to be true. If my flurry of election blog posts teaches us anything, it’s that we should reach out to the candidates and ask our own questions.

I also go into more detail on the West St. Paul ward 1 city council race between Bob Pace and Pat Armon.

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