by Candace Oathout
Why do we have a National Planning Association promoting a cookie cutter approach to remaking the landscape of America? We see the same two and three story attached townhouses being built in every community coast to coast. We see the same “traffic solutions” being put into place in every city and town no matter the differences in terrain, climate, or existing character of individual communities.
Do we really think creating the sprawl of density along transit corridors that destroy first and second ring suburbs is a good idea?
- Corridors take private property
- Destroy mature landscaping
- Divide neighborhoods in Kenwood, St Louis Park, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal to name a few?
- Demand more development and density in established, fully-built-out communities
- Cause cities and towns to lose their character as they fall victim to the sprawl of urban density
In the realm of transportation we have the Metropolitan Council who’s planning and actions are:
- Promoting loss of affordable housing in first ring suburbs
- Creating unsafe driving conditions on local neighborhood streets
- Increasing conditions dangerous to pedestrians, bikers and drivers as they negotiate in street tracks and at-grade crossings. There have been 12 fatalities since the Hiawatha line and the Green line have started operating.
- Causing negative effects to existing residents, noise, traffic congestion
- Promoting gentrification of neighborhoods
- Train tracks that are in many places less than 100 feet from the residences along the rail corridor.
- Creating congestion caused by trains passing through residential neighborhoods every 7.5 minutes for 6.5 hours on week days.
In Crystal, for example, there are two heavy rail lines and the proposed light rail line that intersect in the area of West Broadway and Douglas Drive. The current heavy rail lines cause major traffic backups on both Douglas Drive and on West Broadway when their 100 car trains rumble through, stopping all traffic circulation for 10 to 20 minutes straight. This happens several times day and night. What will happen when light railcars (passing as frequently as every 7.5 minutes) are added?
By Andrew Richter
Since John Budziszewski is going on about how precious this Highway 81 money is, I thought I’d go through the history of this issue.
Back in 2009 Hennepin County wanted to fix Highway 81. The road wasn’t in good shape and needed some work. However, they refused to fix it unless the city of Crystal pitched in for the cost. Personally, I found this to be absolutely disgusting that a county would try to charge a city with fixing a county road. Of course, it’s all our money, but I still felt this wasn’t right. Instead, of fighting for citizens of Crystal and standing up to Hennepin County, they weakly were going to let the county do this and they were going to levy about $534,000 on Crystal citizens to pay for it. I watched these meetings on TV and went to a few of them and John Budziszewski wasn’t there.
When my friends and I learned this was the council’s intent, we decided to organize a petition to put the issue on the ballot so the voters would have a voice in the process. Mr. Budziszewski didn’t sign our petition, didn’t help us, and wasn’t at any of these meetings.
On September 15, 2009 myself along with my Community Solutions colleague Jason Bradley and several others went in front of the city council and voice our opposition to the tax and the council’s attempt to throw out our petition. The city council and Mayor ReNae Bowman basically told us to go to hell and voted 7-0 to pass the tax onto us the citizens. So, in other words, the Crystal City Council allowed Hennepin County to “levy: Crystal taxpayers to pay for a county road. the tax was to be collected from 2010-2014, meaning they are about to expire in 2015.
John Budziszewski was not at this meeting nor did he speak about it nor did he sign our petition. Where were you?
In 2010 the Charter Commission changed the criteria for a petition which made it harder to do in direct response to our activities. John Budziszewski wasn’t at the meeting event though he was running for the city council at the time.
When I ran for mayor in 2012 one of my pledges was to return that money to the taxpayers. I wanted this for two reasons; I feared the old council would just find a way to spend that money and I thought that money should have never been there in the first place. It’s funny, I don’t remember John Budziszewski telling me he agreed with me on this issue. I don’t remember him saying, “Hey Richter, what a great idea, I agree with you!” No, he supported his liberal buddy Mayor Bowman.
Mr. Budziszewski is now revising history. He’s now acting as if he is the great defender of returning the Highway 81 money to the taxpayers. He claims that the city “promised” top return this money to the taxpayers when the money was levied. I take issue with this. I was at these meetings and I don’t ever remember that and I’d like to see some evidence of it. Like I said, the fact they would spend it was one of my fears. I also don’t ever remember Mr. Budziszewski saying he wanted to return that money to the taxpayers until he was running for re-election and now needs some issues.
Now my gut instinct is still to return that money to the taxpayers. However, their current public works fiasco has opened up my mind a bit. We could use our building fund to pay for the public works building and use the Highway 81 money to rebuild that fund. This would save Crystal taxpayers over $1 million in interest costs because we wouldn’t have to deficit spend (oh excuse me, bond since that’s not debt according to Mark Hoffman). I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on that idea, but I’m drifting in that direction. Mr. Budziszewski won’t even hear of it and won’t negotiate with the council on paying for the public works building. personally I think he should just stay home, why even come to the meetings if you’re just going to sit there and repeat campaign lies?
The bottom line is this; Mr Budziszewski did nothing to prevent the city from levying the Highway 81 money. He did nothing to stop changing the city charter to make a petition harder. He said nothing about the issue until he was up for re-election. So how now has he become the great defender of returning this money?
Again, this guy needs to go…..it’s that simple.
By Andrew Richter
Ramsey city council candidate Wayne Buchholtz isn’t just a target of the city council and liberal financier Jim Deal. Now he is a target of vandals in Ramsey.
The vandalism is so bad, it made the news.
You can see the story HERE
This is disgusting conduct but it’s not a total shock considering what we’ve seen in Ramsey lately. Hopefully these vandals get caught and prosecuted. Wayne Buchholtz isn’t a quitter though, so game on!
By Andrew Richter
Only with the Met Council would this be news;
The Metropolitan Council has released a public comment draft of its latest Regional Transportation Policy Plan (TPP), and metro residents will be allowed to give input on their community’s transit needs.
Oh wow thank you so much! Incidentally, look at the wording; we have a transportation plan but we are talking about transit.
Updated every four years, the TPP creates policies that are derived from objectives regarding public transportation, creating a course of action that will improve transportation choices and needs based on input by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and representatives from city, county and transportation agencies. The plan was last updated in 2010, and this new iteration will be known as the 2040 TPP.
In other words, these so-called experts figure out how to get grant money, go to focus groups and figure out what words to use, then try and “sell” a plan to cities and counties. If there is anytime left, residents get a say, but of course, the plans have already been made.
“When the Blue Line Extension was selected as the locally preferred alternative, the cities and the counties said, ‘We want transit, we want it on this line, and we want it to be light rail instead of bus rapid transit or streetcar,’” said Metropolitan Council spokesperson Meredith Vadis. “When that was selected … the council then said, ‘Yes, we’re good with this, too.’ What we do is amend the TPP. The TPP is essentially a long-range transportation policy plan.”
No we don’t, we don’t want any of it.
This new amendment will emphasize the encouragement of residents biking and walking, expanding the MnPASS lane system and expanding transit services. Additionally, the plan will address transportation strategies, land use and local planning, freight investment and highway investment.
According to the Met Council, the metro area will add 824,000 new residents and 550,000 new jobs by the year 2040, necessitating a shift in transportation options and responding to the demands of changing demographics and an evolving economy. The council is allowing residents to speak their mind on what transit and transportation changes their communities would need to accommodate such shifts.
Yeah right! When have these projections ever been right?????
“There’s a lot of different interest from the public,” said Vadis. “We may hear from people who say, ‘I really want to see transit on my neighborhood street corner in the future.’ Or, ‘I take this major artery to work (and) it really needs to see improvement.’” “There’s all those different kinds of competing interests, and those are comments we take into consideration,” Vadis continued. “There’s just so many different things that we could hear from people, and we want to hear all of it.”
Oh bull sh**! You’ve got your minds made up, now it’s all about “taking comments” after the fact to make it “look like” you’re listening…..get rid of this God D** Met Council. Oh wait, I forgot we can’t live without the Met Council right ReNae Bowman?
By Andrew Richter
Well, Crystal is not alone when it come to condescending and arrogant people on their city council. The city of Ramsey is closing the gap. When Ramsey citizen Wayne Buchholtz asked about a recent land deal he was the victim of a disgusting personal attack by council member Randy Backus.
Now first I must disclose that Buchholtz is running for a city council seat, however that is no reason to personally attack him. He is a property owner and a taxpaying citizen who regularly attends council meetings and work sessions. And, he like everyone else, has a right to come to open forum and voice his concerns, regardless of whether he is running for office or not.
Mr. Buchholtz had concerns regarding a current sale of a parcel of land owned by the Ramsey HRA. The details of the deal were only made public after the fact. Buchholtz asked several questions regarding the price of the sale which just over $3 a square foot. He pointed out that the city had recently sold other parcels of land for three times the price. Buchholtz did concede that every deal is different but the difference in price is significant. Also the city was going to assume the expenses of the utilities infrastructure and there was no price tag to that.
Buchholtz also pointed out who the owner of PSD LLC is a man named Jim Deal who is a big financier of DFL causes. He, in fact, financially back five of the seven council members including Mayor Sarah Strommen. To see his company receive a piece of land for such a low price after financially backing is at least questionable and it does raise your eyebrows. There is a such thing as an “appearance of impropriety.”
After he spoke Mr. Buchholtz was personally attacked by council member Randy Backus; “I know it’s the night before primary, I would ask candidates to go knock on doors instead of creating political issues where none exist.”
So, in other words, if you’re a candidate, stay home and shut up.
Backus then went on to blame previous councils for buying land and claimed Mr. Buchholtz has political signs on their property so he’s to blame! He then gave this ReNae Bowman like quote directed at Buchholtz;
Backus: “I wold ask our staff how much time this guy has cost us doing witch hunts and searching for things that don’t exist and secret deals with the boogeyman. Anybody want to venture a guess on how much time, how many calls, and e-mails we gotten from this one person looking for things that aren’t there…..I’d go knock on doors if I were you.”
Well, that’s nice; council members talk about how much they want to hear from citizens and how they want citizens involved in their community UNLESS they disagree with the council or question their actions.
Mr. Buchholtz tried to defend himself against Mr. Backus but Mayor Sarah Strommen wouldn’t allow that. In fact, someone was whispering in Mr. Backus’s ear to “not answer him.”
Mr. Buchholtz showed up at the next meeting as well on August 26. What happened there you ask? Tune in for part 2 next time!
Watch the VIDEO here
By Andrew Richter
I knew this was coming a few weeks ago but out of respect for my source, I decided not to reveal that but here it is;
After years of conflict with the city and a February pink slip, former Crystal Police Officer Alan Watt has filed suit against his former employers in Hennepin County District Court.
The suit names the City of Crystal, Police Chief Stephanie Revering and City Manager Anne Norris as defendants. It alleges that they retaliated against Watt after he spoke out against misconduct in the department, violated his constitutional rights by punishing him for affiliating with a citizens’ group as a private citizen, terminated him because they believed him to be suffering from a “mental impairment,” and retaliated against him for reporting discriminatory treatment.
Watt is seeking back pay, that he be reinstated to his job or be awarded front pay for the money and benefits he would have earned going forward, and $50,000 in compensatory damages.
The city’s response to the lawsuit denies those claims, and argues that the defendants’ actions were taken for “legitimate, nonretaliatory, and nondiscriminatory business reasons.”
League of Minnesota Cities Attorney Jana O’Leary Sullivan, who represents the city, Revering, and Norris, said Watt had a history of misconduct himself, including accessing police records for personal reasons, leaving his gun on a table prior to a meeting with a supervisor, violating the directives of his supervisor, disregarding the chain of command and violating Minnesota’s government data practices act.
Personally I think its’ scary if ANY ONE of those things are true.
Watt was formally fired on Feb. 28 after a years-long dispute with city and department officials. He alleges that he was retaliated against for speaking out against department misconduct, including an incident involving the West Metro Gang Strike Force, which resulted in the Ramirez family, who were Crystal residents at the time, having their belongings confiscated and never returned.
Word on the street is that the Ramirez family has moved back to Crystal……which seems like an odd development to me if the Crystal police are so bad.
“We actually have no record of him complaining or him sort of taking on that Ramirez incident,” said O’Leary Sullivan, who also said that an investigation did happen and that no wrongdoing was uncovered.
Watt also alleges that he was punished for attending events with Communities United Against Police Brutality, which he believes violates his freedom of association under state law.
“He was speaking out, not in his capacity as an officer, but in his capacity as a citizen,” said Joni Thome, Watt’s attorney. “Because the city is a political entity, it can’t tell him what he can’t say as a private citizen.”
I have no issue with Mr. Watt associating with the group CUAPB but I think it was a serious mistake. They were no help to Mr. Watt and if anything I think they hurt his case, not helped.
Watt also takes issue with the city’s requests for information regarding therapy sessions he was undergoing throughout the dispute, which he believes to have been excessive and constitute harassment. He also believes the city discriminated against him for the perceived disability, as well, explained Thome.
“All I can say is they’ve done everything humanly possible to ruin my reputation and make things difficult for me,” said Watt in an Aug. 20 phone message. “Of course, they said the same things about Sergeant Erkenbrack and settled with him.”
Erkenbrack, a former police sergeant, alleged that he was demoted and ultimately fired for similarly speaking out about department misconduct. The city maintained that it had just cause for his termination, and said as much in the settlement agreement.
Erkenbrack received $160,000 in his settlement, and was reinstated as a sergeant.
While Erkenbrack and Watt’s cases are decidedly different, Thome did not rule out the possibility of a settlement, and said she had made an offer, which the city rejected.
“The circumstances of the termination in Watt’s case are very different,” said O’Leary Sullivan, mentioning independent investigations into Watt’s misconduct, “progressive discipline” levied against him and the lack of a union grievance as differing circumstances.
Personally I hope there is NO settlement. I’d like to know what actually happened here and not have the case locked away in a box somewhere where nobody sees it. I was disappointed that the Erkenbrack case was settled.
Now, I have been quiet on my opinions in this case (even though I do have them) and I’ll hold back on that for now. We’ll see what happens…..
By Andrew Richter
You know, you’d think someone who got 26% of the vote in the primary and came within 8 votes of being ousted would show some humility. Then again, we’re talking about John Budziszewski.
Yesterday on his facebook page he took a cheap shot at the three victorious primary challengers for the city council seats;
Budziszewski: “4th Budget Meeting again no Dahl, no Kolb, no Parsons oh my.”
Nice! What a charmer you are. Why do they have to show up for these meetings? Jeff Kolb has been a regular at council meetings and work sessions for the past two years and has served on the Planning Commission. How can anyone question his dedication? Olga Parsons and Elizabeth Dahl are smart people who have been at many council meetings recently as well. They, unlike the current people running for re-election, will actually bring new ideas to the table and a fresh set of eyes.
This reminds me of former Mayor ReNae Bowman attacking Jim Adams and myself for not showing up to budget meetings back in 2012 (I was knocking on doors trying to talk to residents to take Mayor Bowman’s job for the record). Could this be a similar attack? It’s right out of the Bowman playbook. Anyone wonder who is advising Mr. Budziszewski?
Ward 3 Resident Lynn Haney made the following comment on his page: “My question is this, are residents allowed to speak at these meetings? If not, they may be listening to them online like I do.”
Good point, residents are not allowed to speak and you can listen to the audio but Mr. Budziszewski was having none of it and offered this smart ass response:
Budziszewski: “I’m sorry. I was mistaken. I thought they were seriously running for city counsel with an emphasis on the budget. My bad.”
Nice spelling……I guess nobody can run for the council unless they attend these boring meetings where no new ideas are discussed. Maybe they were out knocking on doors and listening to the audio tapes afterwards. What’s wrong with that?
I’m wondering what Mr. Budziszewski was doing at the budget meeting since he has nothing to offer. He’ll just want to bond the public works building and move money around from other funds to make it “look like” there’s no tax increase hoping we’re dumb enough to fall for it.
Here’s an idea Mr. Budziszewski: how about come up with just one idea, one budget cut, one positive things to say from this alleged “fiscal conservative.” Nah, I’m asking too much.
You can see Mr. Budziszewski’s facebook post before he erases it HERE
He doesn’t allow people who disagree with him to comment on his page but perhaps you can email your disgust though he never responds;
Maybe you’d like to call him since his phone number is on his facebook page;
Tell him Pat Summerall sent you.