By Andrew Richter
Well tonight is the big debate here for the three city council seats that are up in Crystal where the three incumbents John Budziszewski, Mark Hoffman, and Joe Selton are facing stiff challenges from Olga Parsons, Elizabeth Dahl, and Jeff Kolb. The debate will take place tonight at Crystal City Hall. So I thought I take a few moments to tell our audience what to look for tonight.
*The incumbents will attack
The incumbent candidates all embarrassingly lost their primaries. They combined to win 29% of the vote in the primary which was perhaps the worst showing in the state and in the campaign overall, they’ve been out yard signed, out door knocked, and outworked. It doesn’t mean the November election is over, but it does mean that they’ve been working from behind. So look for them to come out swinging. This, of course, could backfire like I think it did against Johnny B in the first debate where his performance really hurt, but I don’t think these three can help themselves. The challengers will have to maintain their composure.
*Look for planted questions
The incumbents and their friends will try hard to stack the deck with their dumb questions to make the incumbents look good. Look for questions about solar panels, the 281 referendum, and what committees people have served on so the three council members can get softballs.
*Look for the DFL Endorsement to be Mentioned
It’s funny how Community Solutions is often accused of “dividing the community” be certain former mayors yet it’s this group of councilman that have tried to turn this election into partisan warfare. I think, though, the incumbents think that “being DFL endorsed” is the key to winning so look for them to say that over and over and over and try to portray their opponents as radical conservative/libertarian in a desperate attempt to score partisan points with scare tactics.
That’s what to look for…..I’ll have a recap as soon as I can!
By Andrew Richter
Well is really a shock, after all light rail is for us “little people.”
Most members of the Metropolitan Council rarely use the public transportation system they are in charge of overseeing, based on transit pass usage and a Star Tribune survey of the 17-member body. Met Council members receive a free transit pass as part of their appointments to the board. Information obtained through an open records request shows that 10 of those passes were never used in the past year. Five council members swiped their cards between 10 and 21 times, while just two registered more than 70 rides.
They get “free rides” do they? It’s not free……it’s paid for by taxpayers.
By comparison, a full year of two-way weekday commutes would rack up closer to 500 rides. “We should ask whether members of the council have sufficient expertise about transit … to be managing a transit system. Do they understand the problems at a deep level?” said University of Minnesota professor David Levinson, who researches transportation systems and has written about the need for transit decisionmakers to commute on their own product.
The information is not entirely complete, since members occasionally flash their pass to a bus driver, board light rail without swiping or pay another way. The data provided by the Met Council showed pass usage, but did not connect a pass to a specific user. One newer member who commutes by bus frequently was not aware members were entitled to the pass. But interviews and e-mails with each member show that few incorporate public transit into their daily lives — if they use it at all.
Some Met Council members said they try to take a bus or light rail once or twice a month, while others reported very limited usage. Those who are not retired or working from home said they drive because their jobs require them to make frequent midday trips. Several also cited lower frequency service in their suburban locales as a major hurdle.
“I know that my colleagues, even those who may not be using transit themselves, are listening to and being responsive to constituents who are frustrated that there could be more and better transit service,” Council Member Jennifer Munt said.
Senior staff at Metro Transit, who participate in a friendly transit usage competition, fared significantly better. The 33 staffers in the challenge have averaged 127 rides since January, with general manager Brian Lamb racking up 617 rides on the bus or light rail.
The Met Council is perhaps the most powerful unelected body in the state, and also the most scrutinized. Appointed by the governor, its part-time members oversee Metro Transit — a division of the Met Council — in addition to regional transportation planning, waste water and regional parks. They represent districts scattered across the metro area, stretching from Chaska to Mahtomedi and Ham Lake to Lakeville.
Met Council board members are not the only ones facing scrutiny for their ridership. Similar questions about how often transit board members use their own systems have arisen recently in other cities, including Chicago, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. A man’s challenge in September to have Utah Transit Authority board members depend on transit for one week was largely ignored, but generated local headlines. Twenty years ago, San Francisco voters even passed a ballot measure urging their public officials to ride more.
Typical of Limousine liberals……it’s like sending sending your kids to private school because you have money and power and then preventing others from doing the same.
By Andrew Richter
My friends I’ve been around the block politically. I’ve seen good and bad candidates, I’ve seen good and bad yards signs, I’ve seen good and bad lit pieces. Crystal Ward 1 Councilman Mark Hoffman’s smear job on Elizabeth Dahl is hands down the worst.
Quite frankly, this is sad to see. Like I’ve said before, I’ve had a grudging respect for Hoffman over his time on the council and when he ran for mayor in 2004 I voted for him. Despite his slander against me last summer, I still don’t have feelings of hatred for him despite what is said about me. But things change. Mr. Hoffman’s power is on the line and he is desperate to keep it. That’s what happens to people. The same thing has happened to John Budziszewski.
When this happens, someone’s real personality comes out and with Hoffman we are seeing the true him. We’re also are seeing the state of this race. Mr. Hoffman is obviously worried he’s going to lose.
If you got this lit piece, you’ll need your reading glasses. The print is so small and the piece is so wordy that you’ll need either reading glasses or a microscope. Hoffman may want to fire his campaign manager if he has one. The piece starts off innocently going blah, blah, blah about how Crystal is a nice safe place to raise a family and that he’s fiscally responsible and conduct himself in an open manner. That’s funny enough but then comes a hilariousline;
Let’s keep Crystal a great community and not experiment with ultra-conservative thinking.
Mr. Hoffman this shows how little you know; you take credit for being fiscally responsible or you could word that fiscally conservative, then he rips on conservative thinking. The fact is that Hoffman is a tax and spend career politician. He votes for every spending thing in front of his face. Fiscal responsibility means that you have to say the word NO to something. I don’t know what is “ultra-conservative” about wanting lower taxes, a smaller city code, and a more responsive representative. To Mark Hoffman that is a radical concept that has no place on our city council. I guess people who disagree with you should just shut up and move out, they clearly aren’t welcome in Crystal.
He then shows a picture of him standing by solar panels that you can barely see with the following paragraph;
The solar panels installed value is $997,946.00
Huh? Installed value? You mean they COST $997,946.00! Why the word games?
Through the use of energy credit and grants, Crystal total cash outlay was $66,000.00.
Now this isn’t really about solar panels, it’s about attitude and spin. Tax credits and grants are your tax dollars under a different name. Tax credits are subsidies from taxpayers and grant money is tax dollars from another form of government. Of course, Mr. Hoffman thinks this is “free money” and has no respect for this as YOUR MONEY. YOU ALL paid every sent for this project. And how about bonding for the public works building which is going to cost much more than paying cash? Is that “fiscally responsible?” How much money in interest will that cost taxpayers Mr. fiscally responsible?
Then comes the ReNae Bowman like cheap shots;
My opponent called this frivolous spending.
Really? Where and when did that happen? I’d like some documentation of this. This has been called a “feel good” project by Council Candidate Jeff Kolb and who was he quoting? That would be YOU sir! Just so people know, this statement is a complete and total lie.
It is only frivolous if you have never worked on a city budget, or worse yet, never attended any of the Annual Budget Work Sessions, to which she was invited.
God, do all of you just lock step say the same thing? First, ReNae, then Johnny B, then Hoffman. Is this all you can come up with? So Elizabeth Dahl isn’t at your boring meeting where you, Joe Selton, and Johnny B don’t have one idea between the three of you. Is it possible she is door knocking and listening to the meetings when she gets home? Is that allowed?
My opponents Libertarian philosophy is not to spend on community benefits or expand anything at the governmental or environmental levels.
Do I even have to comment here? Again, this shows are how little you know. I’m not a libertarian spokesman, but libertarians often argue for personal liberty and constitutional government. And what are your views on the limits of government again Mr. Hoffman? Oh yeah this;
“You know, the City, we can tax anytime we want to, and for any reason we want to. We can tax, and cover our butts.”
Mr. Hoffman also put on his piece “darn right I feel good.”
Oh yippy! Hey my wallet is lighter but who cares, you feel good and since you’re the most important person on earth, that’s all that matters!
Now, I know some of you are probably angry reading all this and that was my initial reaction as well. But, the more I think about it, the more this smells like desperation. The whole piece is a defensive diatribe that reeks of someone who thinks they are losing, Show me a candidate that was up 20 points who’d put out a lit piece like this?
Will this work? Who knows, I’ve given up predicting this stuff. Clearly, though, Hoffman is trying to win using labels and smears. That’s all he has for his 20 years on the council.
I suggest you call Mr. Hoffman and tell him what you think of his tactics 763-536-0385
Emailing him is worthless since he never answers but you can try MrkHoffman@aol.com
Do I have to remind you to vote November 4????
By Andrew Richter
OK I’ve watched all the candidate profiles for the three city council races in Crystal and I’m perplexed with what I heard from the three incumbents (you can go to the News 12 youtube channel to see them). All three of them go on and on about being responsive to citizens and listening to their concerns.
Now, I know during election time everyone cares, everyone listens, everyone is concerned but this is off the Richter Scale (not named after me). I can tell you first hand that I have emailed this city council steadily for the past 6 years and Mark Hoffman, Joe Selton, and John Budziszewski have never responded to my emails once! I know that these three don’t like me, that’s fine. I know they disagree with me on the issues, that’s fine also. But, perhaps in six years you could respond at least once?? Is that too much to ask? John Budziszewski is one of my “representatives” on top of that.
When my colleague Jason Bradley emailed the city about speeding on his street last summer, Mayor Jim Adams, Council Person Julie Deshler, and City Manager Anne Norris all responded to him and guess who didn’t; oh that’s right old Johnny B! All the while this guy takes credit for “traffic calming measures!” I guess he only cares about traffic if you vote for him!
I’ll say this too; even former Mayor ReNae Bowman despite her dislike of me, always responded to my emails even if the exchange was less than friendly. I can handle that though, what I can’t handle is the untruths about responsiveness.
By the way, I had a great time at the Light of Crystal event a few days ago. Thank you to Shawn Smith for his dedication in putting it on. It was also great to see Mayor Adams and Councilperson Deshler there. Council candidates Jeff Kolb and Olga Parsons also stopped by. I had a great conversation with former candidate Karen Lincoln. Missing in action were Hoffman, Selton, and Budziezewski. I don’t know why, but you’d think coming and chatting with a group a residents would be a good thing to do three weeks before an election seeing as they want to “listen to us.” Whatever……
Sometimes it just means more to hear it for yourself. Here is Crystal Councilman Mark Hoffman uncut, and in context:
By Andrew Richter
As much as I complain about Crystal, the New Hope city council is just a train wreck;
The City Council adopted the 2015 Preliminary Budget and Tax Levy at its meeting on September 8. The preliminary 2015 General Fund Budget is $12,066,631, which is an increase of $607,739 over the 2014 budget of $11,458,892. The general fund levy would increase by 4.26 percent and the overall levy would increase by 3.95 percent.
Wow! This is just incredible. Look at those increases! I suppose paying all that money is the “responsible thing to do” right New Hope?
Oh and you will glad to know what some of this money is going towards! Check out these “essential services”;
Continue police department/city hall facility space needs study
Continue Emerald Ash Borer removal/replacement program on public property
P&R initiatives such as Movies in the Park program
Consider city‐wide professional survey and continue to promote Nextdoor.com program
Consider new position in police department to work with community services/crime prevention
Gee, how can New Hope function without this stuff? Oh and you will be glad to know the following;
$277,500 has been included for increases in wages and benefits, including union contracts, continued implementation of the compensation study and step increases, a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for employees and the city council, additional IT resources, a crime analyst position, and a storm water position budgeted in the storm water fund.
So there are no cuts, everyone gets a raise, they want to do movies in the park, hire more employees, plant trees, and promote nextdoor.com!
And as always in New Hope, the budget passed 5-0! Look at all that dissent! Come on New Hope, elect some new people this year!!!!!
By Andrew Richter
Well, Mark Hoffman has responded to my charges that the incumbent city council candidates are using the YES 281 vote to help themselves, but before I get to his comments, here’s a little background;
I’m not arguing that people should vote for or against the referendum. Any attempt to claim otherwise is a lie. What I am arguing is that the three incumbents are using partisan things not relevant to their current jobs to get re-elected. I heard about Crystal city council members colluding with the Yes 281 crowd about three weeks ago. I had nothing linking the two together until I saw the work session agenda for October 9 so I went forward with the story.
By the way, I also have a source within the YES 281 crowd, so my enemies might want to watch what they say about me there…..
When I wrote my article alleging a collusion, it brought Mr. Hoffman out of hiding. His comments are in blue;
Mr. Richter, I take your first paragraph with double meanings and feel it is also quite appropo to bloggers who are high on there own positions or anti-positions.
I have no idea what that means. It’s nice to know that bloggers who break stories and keep voters informed are so well thought of. I guess I should just sit and watch Storage Wars or Ice Road Truckers and leave the work to you right?
I will save you some effort. I am the one who asked the city manager if the school district referendum was going to be on the agenda for discussion at our council meeting.I was informed Mayor Adams did not want it to be. So be it, at least it is a discussion that will happen at a work session and a consensus will be reached.
And why is that? What does this have to do with what you are elected to do? Maybe Mayor Adams wants to do the job he was elected to do not make political statements on city time?
I do not know if the mayor informed you that all elected officials in the School District were invited to meetings by Superintendent Sicoli to ask the cities for there help. Crystal Council has yet to have that discussion.
I haven’t spoken to Mayor Adams at all, but why are you obligated to help the school district? Isn’t it their job to “sell” a referendum? Does the school district endorse city initiatives?
As I am sure you already know, the surrounding communities have expressed there views on supporting strong schools. You are correct that the information in our packets was the school districts literature to promote the referendums. I have not seen anything in print that has opposed the referendum, so I am hoping you can forward it to Anne Norris by Thursday so we can all have the opportunity to discuss.
Mr. Hoffman it isn’t my job to do your research for you. I’m not telling you to vote yes or no. If you want me to do your research for you then you can pay my consulting fee. There’s plenty of anti-school stuff out there if you just look. My point is that you’re going to just take what the district says and decide on that like you did with Green Step. It isn’t due diligence. By the way, will any information change your mind?
Then came the petty ReNae Bowman like cheap shot;
I know as a Tea Party advocate you are not high on taxes being used for anything. As you well know, you once stated at a Council work session you were applying for a position at, if there was a pothole in front of your house, you should take the responsibility to fill it and not the city. I do not agree.
I never said any such thing. The only position I’ve ever applied for at a work session that Mr. Hoffman was at was the Charter Commission and I was asked about changes in the Charter. I talked about article 1,5, and 9 and never said a word about potholes. This is just an attempt to make me the issue and change the subject. Like I’ve said a million times to anyone who can read English, government has constitutional duties and responsibilities; and for local government it is police, fire, roads, parks, and water & sewer. Now I may disagree on how much we spend on these things or how much we pay employees or on how we pay for it at all (bonding, assessing, or on the budget) but that’s not the same thing and you know it.
The League of Women Voters is having a Informational meeting on the 8th at the School District Offices and I hope you can attend to learn all the facts or voice your opinion.
I’ve already watched board meetings on this, I know the district’s selling points and again, I don’t care if this is voted up or down. What I care about is candidates like you who are trying to use the Yes 281 vote to get yourself re-elected.
Everything is not always a conspiracy, one must ask the right question of the right people and not be afraid of the answer.
I didn’t say everything was a conspiracy, and if this is a conspiracy then you’re doing one bad job of conspiring.
Now, I don’t think I’m wrong on this and I’m making this judgment based on actions that I’ve seen. I’ve concluded the following;
Mark Hoffman, Joe Selton, and John Budziszewski are trying to use the DFL and the YES 281 vote to get themselves re-elected. Nothing else makes any sense. Mr. Hoffman if this is all false then where is your campaign website that states your positions and lists of accomplishments? Where is your facebook page where you can update people on your campaign and connect with people? I drove through your neighborhood today Mr. Hoffman and saw no yard signs for you, where are they? Are you out pounding on doors to try and get people’s votes?
Or are you sitting back hoping these labels do the work for you? It may work or it may not but quite frankly I’m baffled by this. Mr. Hoffman should, and to be honest he does, have a long list of accomplishments and reasons to re-elect him. Just because I disagree with his views doesn’t mean he has nothing to run on.
I don’t think I’m wrong about this, in fact, I think I’m uncomfortably close to the truth.
I will also say this; I don’t hate Mr. Hoffman at all. I once voted for him in fact (it was against ReNae but given that choice I’d vote for Mark again). I disagree with his votes and the way he is campaigning. I’m more then happy to continue a dialogue on this subject or any other for that matter.
To be continued……