Lavern Rippley rips the monied elite of the east side

You’d better have your historical and metaphorical wits about you if you’re going to decipher Lavern Rippley’s guest column in this weekend’s Northfield News titled The rental situation calls for drastic measures (membership not required to read it online). Rippley is a professor of German at St. Olaf and owns numerous properties in Northfield, both rental housing and commercial.

rippleyl_clr.jpgNorthfield’s rental ordinance-in-the-making is turning into Marxist-Cromwellian, Postvillian class warfare. No open street brawls, no physical injury yet but plenty of hurt. Mass legislation is proposed to blanket our whole region to skirt a local scene of class warfare – guillotining members of all three estates, lords, clergy and peasants. Badly needed in the proposal though absent from the approach thus far is a dash of ordinary common sense.

Hence my proposal: Acknowledge that Northfield’s class warfare can be confined to a local region – the East Side Neighborhood. Unlike the class warfare of medieval Europe, this one is different. Here the first estate is comprised not of kings but of the monied elite of the east side neighborhood. The second estate is best labeled not as scholarly monks but as members of the fifth finest college in the nation, perhaps in the world. The third estate more accurately delineated this time is comprised of the intellectually gifted students at that highly endowed and richly acclaimed fifth best. Thus for the first time in history we have elites of whom the first is striving to cannibalize the other two. Let’s not waste our time legislating for all of Northfield. Let’s cut to the chase with a solution.

I got Cs in history but I’m pretty sure Rippley opposes the proposed change in the rental ordinance. What else is he saying exactly? East side homeowners and some Carleton students are snobs for wanting more controls on the rentals?


  1. Tracy Davis said:

    From everything I’ve heard on this issue, the problem lies more on the WEST side and St. Olaf students, so I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I live right next to two rental houses, on the villified East Side, and I’ve got no problem with the status quo. But that’s just me. Unless I can wrap it up in pseudo-literary lingo, I may not be as persuasive.

    April 24, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Curt… I had no idea that Postville, Iowa was culturally significant.

    Tracy, I thought the problem was more prominent on the West side, too. Maybe our producer, Mathias Bell, can shed some light on this.

    April 25, 2007
  3. Mathias said:

    Perhaps it is because the name Lavern Rippley is one that needs no introduction, but I feel that the Northfield News byline is a little misleading. It reads:

    “LaVern J. Rippley is a St. Olaf College professor and a Northfield resident for 40 years”

    Does everyone know that this man owns a large proportion of Northfield’s property (67 units, last I heard), and these proposed ordinances would directly effect him more than anyone else?

    Carleton and its students have a role here, but does anyone want to have lavern purchase the lot next door, whether its rented by students or others?

    April 25, 2007
  4. So much irony in LaVern ripping into the “monied elite”…

    It’s well known, particularly among college students, that when you’re losing a debate and have no real rational recourse, a sure-fire trick for regaining the upper hand is to compare your opponent’s position, in any way possible, to the philosophy or tactics of Hilter.

    Underneath the grandiose and obfuscatory wording of his commentary is nothing more than LaVern falling back on that most potent straw man. Talk about overextended historical allusions. Completely groundless metaphors proffered out of pure financial interest. Sad to read such muddied jabs from an academic who, at the very least, should know how to write for his audience in an honest and straightforward manner.

    April 27, 2007

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