There’s no turning back now

Published 9:43 am Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ground has been broken for the new Mower County Jail and Justice Center in downtown Austin.

There’s no turning back now.

Mower County is investing three square blocks in crime.

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Oddly enough, many people still have questions about the project. Mr. Knowitall has the answers:

FAQ No. 1: How big will the darn thing actually be?

Answer: Two stories high. Austin Daily Herald reporters in the second-floor newsroom of the old Marigold dairy building will be able to stare eye-to-eye with the people they write about in police reports.

FAQ No. 2: How many prisoners will the jail hold?

Answer: It’s been scaled-back, officials like to say, from a 250-bed jail to only 128-beds, which is like saying the nation’s debt is only one trillion instead of 3. It’s rural Minnesota. People drive around dogs sleeping in the middle of the road. If it’s ever filled to capacity, that’s more people than the Mower County commissioners attract at their annual cookie party. Nobody does hard time for the crime behind bars any more. They’ll turn it into an elderhostel in no time.

FAQ No. 3: Is this one of President Obama’s economic stimulus package projects?

Answer: Investing $30 million on criminals is not stimulating by any measure.

FAQ No. 4: Will the facility have a basement?

Answer: No. That is, unless there’s some tunnel-digging after midnight. Any resemblance between escaping prisoners in orange coveralls to Austin Utilities workers is unfortunate.

FAQ No. 5: Are they trying to control the costs of the project?

Answer: All change orders must be approved by the county coordinator in advance. Any gold toilets and Italian marble floors that slip through the cracks will be done while the coordinator is on vacation.

FAQ No. 6: Is crime increasing in Mower County?

Answer: Only on Wednesday “church night,” during the week, when the largest number of deputies are patrolling the back roads in Mower County.

FAQ No. 7: What is this thing going to cost taxpayers?

Answer: Every effort is being made to hold the line on spending, to trim costs at every opportunity and to ease the impact on taxpayers.

FAQ No. 8: No. Really. What is this thing going to cost taxpayers?

Answer: Prepare to see lots of one-armed or one-legged people lining up at the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer office to pay their property taxes.

FAQ No. 9: What impact will a jail have on downtown Austin?

Answer: There’s always been a county jail in downtown Austin throughout history. This one will be bigger than all the rest combined. It will spawn economic development all over. Soon, there will be new businesses on North Main Street: bail bondsmen, pawn shops, ankle bracelet outlets, Robes-Are-Us franchises and Pant Suits for Professionals boutiques, Rent-A-Lawyer drive-throughs, No Extradition Here travel agencies, Fine Time ATMs, Urine Samples To-Go and Make Yourself Invisible body paint. My only worry, when audiences go to the Paramount Theatre at Christmas time to see the annual Michael Veldman and Friends holiday show, count the friends: There should be only two guys and two females on stage. Anybody wearing handcuffs with a Prison Pallor tan and singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” in a jump suit is not part of the act.

FAQ No. 10: Is it too late to file a petition asking elected officials to give taxpayers the opportunity to register their opinions on the issue?

Answer: The creators of the Minnesota Statutes — retired state legislators, I believe — anticipated that would come up and astutely inserted specific statutes to prevent that part of democracy from happening.

Whew … at a time like this, wouldn’t a joke about old people having sex be a stress-reliever? I think so:

After his exam, the doctor said to the elderly man: “You appear to be in good health. Do you have any medical concerns you would like to ask me about?”

“In fact, I do,” said the old man. “After I have sex, I am usually cold and chilly; and then, after I have sex with her the second time, I am usually hot and sweaty.”

After examining his elderly wife, the doctor said:

“Everything appears to be fine. Do you have any medical concerns that you would like to discuss with me?” the doctor asked the wife.

The lady replied that she had no questions or concerns. The doctor then said to her, “Your husband had an unusual concern. He claims that he is usually cold and chilly after having sex with you the first time; and then hot and sweaty after the second time. Do you know why?’”

“Oh, that crazy old coot!” she replied. ‘That’s because the first time is usually in January and the second time is in August.