Drugs! Gangs! Terrorist Attacks!

class=img_thumbleft>St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly's budget speech yesterday garnered

front-page headlines

because he proposed raising property taxes for the first time in a dozen years. If the Mayor gets his way, the three-percent bump in the levy will primarily be used to hire 25 additional cops next year.

But neither daily paper took note of another curious aspect of Kelly's speech: the over-the-top crime hysteria. At times he was downright Bush-ian in his rhetoric.

The Mayor's initial foil was the city's "massive crisis of methamphetamines"--the drug currently being blamed for all of society's woes. According to Kelly, meth use is leading to "sights never before seen by law enforcement." (The crack epidemic apparently bypassed St. Paul.)

But Kelly reserved his most lurid warnings for the city's gang problems. The Mayor detailed the threat of an emerging, multi-national gang with roots in El Salvador dubbed MS-13 (also known as Mara Salvatrucha). He stated that these gangsters have been known to engage in beheadings and grenade attacks, and likened the organization to Al-Qaeda. Kelly claimed that there are currently 13 of these gang members operating in the state of Minnesota.

Naturally he then went on to invoke the attacks of 9/11. "The idea that it can't happen here has to be replaced with the understanding that it might happen here," he warned.

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