What Does Botched Fireworks Cancellation Mean for St. Paul?

Apparently the staff at City Hall didn’t get St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s memo on cancelling the annual July 4 fireworks show due to budget concerns.  Columnist Joe Soucheray, a longtime mayor himself of Garage Logic, had a field day in the Pioneer Press.

Possibly because there are too many people in too many layers of city government, that word apparently did not reach the people who are responsible for the city’s official website. Right there on a featured page of the city of St. Paul — I saw this July 5 — is a photograph of exploding fireworks and the caption “Celebrate the Fourth of July in St. Paul.’’


And then the body of type reads “Fireworks on the Fourth of July have long been an Independence Day tradition in our city as a way to commemorate the signing of our nation’s declaration of independence.’’

But for perhaps the first time since St. Paul became St. Paul, the July 4 skies were dark and devoid of pyrotechnics. You may recall Mayor Carter also made national headlines by disparaging the national anthem in his first speech upon taking office a few months ago.

“Our national freedom song is an ode to slavery. This is the American paradox, passed from generation to generation, dating back to the noble group of rich, white, straight male landowners who embedded into our founding principles a yearning for a set of God-given rights they sought to secure for only themselves.”

Soucheray points out that Carter’s inauguration in January cost about twice as much as the $100,000 budgeted for the fireworks. But rather than view Carter’s scrapping of the Independence Day celebration as another backhand to America’s heritage, Soucheray says this should be just the start of fiscal accountability.

Then there can never be another dime spent on anything frivolous, especially and including the preposterous intention of starting up some pipe dream fund to send every kid in the city to college. That has to go. That has nothing to do with running a city. From here on out there can never be another dime spent on any celebration of any particular community or group or organization with whom the mayor might have previously been aligned.

The bar has now been set and we can watch in awe as a great new financial awakening will wash over all of us as common-sense spending at last takes the stage of city government.

Why, if fireworks on the Fourth of July are considered frivolous by the mayor of a capital city, just imagine how much money we might save. Property taxes will go down for sure. We will be so flush that the streets will get a facelift.

Yet on July 4 something was missing in St. Paul. A chance to come together in a celebration that bridges our differences for a day.

But think of it in the mayor’s terms. It was a budget decision that can only signal better times for all of us in the future. Not one thin dime will ever again be spent on the frivolous.

Carter has set the bar.