No Apologies


By Andrew Richter

Some of you have probably heard about Mark Hoffman tyrannical rant about my post regarding the pathetic and despicable behavior of John Budziszewski. He called me a malicious liar and threatened my spot on the Planning Commission. He then tried to laughingly link Mayor Jim Adams to me saying he should be “embarrassed” to have come on our podcast. Hoffman’s fake outrage was all a calculated move to try and link me with Mayor Adams and other people running for the council. I have since resigned from the Planning Commission. I’m not going to let anyone threaten my freedom of speech or become an issue that a desperate politician clings on to try and play the victim. It was hard to resign for I love the commission but Mark Hoffman is not going to bully me into keeping silent. John Budziszewski doesn’t deserve anyone’s respect and I will continue to speak out against his arrogant conduct.

It’s too bad. I’ve always had a grudging respect for Mr. Hoffman. When I moved back to Crystal in 2003 I voted for Hoffman when he ran for mayor in 2004 (I doubt he voted for me). He’s known my father for a long time as well. I know his wife is very ill and I feel very sorry about that. Having said this, we are in the arena of politics, and it’s time to take off the gloves.

For the record, I stand by EVERY WORD I wrote about John Budziszewski. Every word was the truth. Did I go over the top in name calling? Yes perhaps, but I challenge readers to go back and read my whole post and you tell me is laughing, giggling, and eye rolling while others are talking is not awful behavior. I was disgusted by it and called him out on it and will continue to exposed him for the liar he is. His behavior was absolutely horrible and the fact Hoffman would defend him says a lot about him. Hoffman whines and complains about decorum from commission members but I’ve never heard him complain about that before. When former Mayor Bowman said vicious and horrible things about me and my group where was Mark Hoffman? Where was his outrage? Mayor Bowman continues to send vile and disgusting emails to Mayor Jim Adams and Mark Hoffman is nowhere to be found complaining about that.

Now, I’m not trying to play the victim here. That’s their tactic. I’m also not trying to censor Bowman. She can say what she wants and we will expose it here. She was in full form at the debate last night, shaking her head, making faces, snapping at others, her usual conduct. It’s so likeable.

But in Mark Hoffman’s world it’s one thing if one of his elitist buddies acts that way, but when someone like me calls him out on it, then I’m the bad guy!

The fact is that Mark Hoffman longs for the way it used to be. Back in the days when he and Dave Anderson, and former Mayor Pete Meitsema faced little opposition, if there was opposition it wasn’t organized like it is now and nobody was out there leading the charge for change in the city.

But, those days are over. Hoffman and his clique are desperately trying to hold on to power. They’re so desperate that they have to have a state representative door knock with them to try and save them. And the truth is that we here at community solutions have a bigger microphone than he does. I know the numbers and our blog, TV work, podcasts, radio appearances etc have a larger audience then council meetings do. It’s a new world and we aren’t going anywhere and no councilman is going to silence me.

We post daily, hourly, by the minute if we have to. Game on.

 

 

July 23, 2014 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

Candidate Forum Tonight!


By Andrew Richter

Hey everyone, don’t forget the debate tonight! Come out and get involved!

July 22, 2014 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

District 281 Employees Cash In


By Andrew Richter

It’s that time! Time for the taxpayers to pay up to District 281! No I’m not talking about the referendum this year, I’m talking about their ridiculous employee contracts!

District 281 principals will get two salary increases and a larger contribution to their health insurance in a new employment agreement between the district and the Robbinsdale Area Principals Association. The agreement, which is retroactive to September 2013 and is effective through the 2014-2015 school year, calls for a 2.25 percent increase in the principals’ salaries for each year of the two year contract.

District principals will also receive a $2,000 “Professional Responsibility Stipend” in the second year of the contract as part of the district’s Alternative Compensation plan. $1,500 of the stipend is designed, “to compensate principals for responsibilities and goals supporting and achieving” tenured and non-tenured teacher evaluations. $250 is given to aid principals’ personal leadership goals and another $250 goes towards their cultural leadership goals. A “Memorandum of Understanding” will be drafted, effective for the 2014-15 school year, specifying those responsibilities and goals.

A Stipend? What is that? Some liberal version of merit pay? $250? With what these guys pull down a year what’s the big deal if they don’t get it?

The district’s contributions towards its principals’ health care plans will also be increased by $50 per month in the contract’s first year and $35 per month in its second.

Let me translate that: That is a raise of $600 a year in year 1 and a $420 raise in year 2.

Clarifying language was also added to the contract regarding payment for unused sick leave. The two pay bumps will increase the average elementary principal’s salary from $109,000 to $112,000, the average middle school principal’s salary from $117,000 to $120,000, and the average high school principal’s salary from $121,000 to $124,000.

So with 10 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools (not counting Highview) that add up to AT LEAST $1,566,000 in salary for the 14 principals. I’m guessing they are getting AT LEAST $40,000 in benefits as well. So that means it cost $2,126,000 just for principals!!!!!!!

The employment agreement was ratified by the association on June 12 and unanimously approved by the school board at its July 7 meeting.

Look at all that dissent!! You mean even the “conservative” Mark Bomchill voted yes??

Sicoli’s contract

Supt. Aldo Sicoli also reached an employment agreement with the district, which was unanimously approved at the same meeting.

Once again, nobody willing to stand with the taxpayers.

Unlike the principals’ contract – or the recently-approved contract between the district and teachers’ union – Sicoli’s agreement is not retroactive. It will begin July 1, 2015 and run through June 30, 2018. Until then, Sicoli and the district will operate under the terms of his current contract.

When the contract does take effect, it will provide Sicoli with a 1.25 percent salary increase during each of its three years. It also adds language to bring it in line with the Affordable Care Act, as put forward by the Minnesota School Boards Association, said Board Director Sherry Tyrell. Sicoli’s health insurance plan and the district’s contributions to it will not change, however.

In addition, Sicoli will be paid a flat stipend of $450 per month for vehicle mileage instead of being compensated per mile, as he had been previously. Board Director Sherry Tyrell said that the “vast majority” of nearby districts have similar plans for their superintendents.

$450 a month!!!!!! Where does he live Milwaukee? How many of you get paid to drive to work?

According to data supplied by Tyrell, those districts include Edina ($700 per month), Bloomington ($600 per month), and Wayzata schools ($700 per month). Districts with lower stipends include Eden Prairie ($400 per month), Brooklyn Center ($250 per month) and Richfield (no stipend).

Oh well we all know government; monkey see monkey do. How about we do something different? Let’s follow Richfield’s lead and offer nothing. Maybe other districts follow us. How about we be leaders not followers!

Sicoli will also be paid $100 per month for cell phone usage – including data. The superintendent’s current yearly salary is $186,501, and the district pays the premium for his health insurance plan. At the conclusion of the agreement in 2018, Sicoli’s salary will be $193,582.

What? $192,000 a year and he can’t pay for his own frickin’ cell phone?

And they want money for a referendum……..

Article

July 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

A Strange Visit


by Jason Bradley

I was paid a surprise visit today by Crystal Councilmember, John Budziszewski, while he was out door knocking for re-election. I welcome anyone that is running and wants to chat to drop by, but I was somewhat stunned by Mr. Budziszewski’s arrival. He shook my hand, looked at me somewhat quizzical, and said “You look familiar… you’re Jason Bradley!” (I might be inferring the exclamation point here, as the proper punctuation sequence might more resemble this: :-/ -but I do hear that expression more than you think I might.)

I was somewhat taken aback at his next sentence, “Do you know you are supporting property tax increases with her sign in your yard?” Now, we here at Community Solutions MN have a storied history of not handing out endorsements of candidates, but this should infer that it was not John’s sign in my yard, but I had made a personal decision to support a female candidate that doesn’t share a last name with a former president. I couldn’t believe he tried to pull this on me, of all people! (After all, he knew whom he was speaking with.) I said, “C’mon, John, you and I both know the City Finance Department said that assessing the Mill and Overlay projects would cost more than putting it on property taxes. He said something about 60/40 that didn’t jive with what came from the Finance Department.

I told him that even if Mill and Overlay were added to the property taxes (the way road maintenance always used to be done here), the candidate I was supporting was making it a priority to cut spending from other parts of the budget. He then inferred that she was lying to me about that. How would he know? In fact, how would he know her position on Mill and Overlay funding? I can’t find his source online anywhere. Can you please share the source with me? The only other option I have is to believe that you are spreading unfounded lies about your opponent, because I know she never told you her position. If, however, you have the facts about her positions above, please share, and I will post them here.

I went on to say I had known her quite a while, and he replied, “Have fun with your thoughts”, and turned around and left, to which I replied, “have a nice day”. What a strange visit! I mean, not once did he refer to a letter I sent him and my other City Council members a few weeks ago with serious concerns about my neighborhood. Each other letter recipient has touched base with me, including City staff. Yet, John has never responded. It takes him feeling the pressure of a primary upset to come to my door, and he still doesn’t address my heartfelt concerns of two weeks ago?

His prompt departure left so many other questions unanswered: Why did he fight so hard against a citizen filling the citizen representative slot on the West Metro Fire Board? If he’s not in favor of extra spending, why did he vote for the solar panels on the Community Center? How is an assessment not a tax, merely because it’s not reflected in the budget? What are you doing to mitigate the negative effects of the changes to our neighborhood? We had so much more to discuss, Councilmember Budziszewski, and then you were gone. Oh, we hardly knew ye.

July 16, 2014 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Destination City?


By Andrew Richter

I swear, all Golden Valley does is sit around and dream up new ways to spend our money;

As Golden Valley City Council continues to brainstorm ways in which the city could become more of a destination, it relies on the help of some passionate residents. Following voiced interest from several residents, City Council discussed its options and approved the forming of a group known as Destination Golden Valley. The group consists of nine residents: Mark Boemer, Stephen Dent, Cara Letofsky, Karla Rose, Kathryn Barksdale Simpson, Sara Barrow, Joe Kaplan, Miquel Purvis•McMoore and Mike Schleif.

Its goal was to think up ways to make Golden Valley more attractive to businesses, residents and visitors alike. “Our interest was to improve our city’s image and make Golden Valley more ‘cool,’” the group stated in a report submitted to the council.

More cool? How about you start with a new mayor…

Kaplan, a new resident of Golden Valley, has spent his entire life living in Minneapolis until now.

Poor guy, no wonder Golden Valley looks so great.

“I love Golden Valley so much,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Gee….take a cold shower…..

The group formed in January and has met four times thus far. On June 10, group representatives reported to City Council on developments to date. According to the report, the group spent time determining its role and purpose in the city. “It was determined that we would like to provide input into the city council about opportunities that may help Golden Valley distinguish itself as a community,” the report states. From that mission, the group categorized its priorities into two categories: business and community. Within those categories came subcategories. The following lists include a few of the subcategories chosen by the group.

Business

•Events

•Online, social media

•Commerce

•Parks and recreation

Don’t we have these things already?

Community

•Events

•City infrastructure

•Parks and recreation

•Community outreach

•Online, social media

After deciphering categories, group members voted on top priorities that would fall under each category. Those priorities are as follows:

Business

•Connect all businesses (small, medium, large) together via a “Golden Valley Business Link”

•Build clusters of small, independent and unique businesses in the same geographic area

•Encourage more independent bars and restaurants in Golden Valley

•Put pars and restaurants near or in city parks

•Encourage a co•op or Whole Foods to Golden Valley

A Whole Food would be interesting, but is it really the goal of the city for push certain types of businesses? Why not just create a good business climate and let the market dictate who comes and goes.

Community

•Indoor or outdoor swimming pool and hockey rinks

•Make Golden Valley Days a week•long event to include fireworks, Medallion hunt, duck races, kids Olympics and other events

•Architectural tours of Golden Valley’s mid•century homes

“Speaking personally for me, it was about encouraging growth within the community and bringing people to the community,” Boemer said. “… Making Golden Valley stand out, encouraging development, encouraging open space when we can. To me, that means an internal focus.”

Architectural tours? Pools and hockey rinks? looks like a slew of unnecessary spending.

The City Council discussed the purpose of the group and its work thus far to decide what the next steps should be. Many council members were optimistic about the ideas.

“To me, it was like we were sitting in the dark and you came and turned a light switch on,” said Councilmember Andy Snope. “You guys are on the right track. I’m 100 percent for it. This is what I’ve been thinking.”

Nothing like a liberal like Snope to swoop in and take the credit….

Councilmember Larry Fonnest agreed this was a step in the right direction.

No surprise there either.

Despite positive vibes, some council members had concerns regarding the cost of certain ideas.

“The only one thing I have to put in is we do have to think about the financial,” said Councilmember Joanie Clausen. “Sometimes we have big dreams but we have to pay for these things. I think it would be good to have a task force.”

Oh my God! A task force? Seriously?? What are we paying city staff $100,000 plus to do?

Councilmember Steve Schmidgall also voiced concern. “I would certainly never say no to anyone wanting to involve themselves in hyping up Golden Valley,” Schmidgall said. Schmidgall points out the city currently has 147 people involved in commissions and committees. He is concerned about the time and resources it takes to maintain a large number of groups. “I just want to keep an eye on the scope we’re generating,” he said. “Certainly, this sounds like a great thing.”

The group’s findings was the first of many steps to bettering the city, according to Mayor Shep Harris. “The real goal of (Destination Golden Valley) is to look at what can we do that we aren’t doing right now that will enhance the quality of life and make (Golden Valley) more attractive,” Harris said.

So says Boy Wonder.

Following the June 10 meeting, council advised city staff to form a draft as to what the future task force would look like, how it would operate and what it would do. Staff will present the draft to the council at an upcoming meeting. Applications for interested residents will be accepted and the council will appoint a number of residents to the new task force in a few months.

One option would include Golden Valley partnering with Discover St. Louis Park, a similar group motivated to better its city. The two entities could create a visitors bureau for the west metro. It is uncertain if the partnership will occur at this time. More information needs to be discussed before decisions are made.

“I do think this is a priority for our city,” Harris said. “We’ve got a lot to brag about. We’ve got a lot of strengths. I don’t think we’re bragging about it yet. We’ve got some strengths, we have to capitalize on them. We have some weaknesses that we have to develop and market.”

You know, I want to commend citizens for getting involved here, but if you truly want a great city, you shouldn’t be looking to government to give it to you. Go out there and make Golden Valley great! Buy local, utilize the parks that you already have, eat at the restaurants you have now. Don’t wait for the city to “give you” something.

Notice they didn’t mention light rail making Golden Valley great……..

Article

July 10, 2014 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

Consultant for Bottineau?


By Andrew Richter

Here’s some more wanted tax dollars;

Although Hennepin County is far from seeing a completed Bottineau Light Rail line, progress continues on the proposed transitway. According to Golden Valley City Planner Jason Zimmerman, Hennepin County hopes to name an engineer for the proposed line by end of summer.

Can I apply? My first proposal will be to not do the project.

Planning Advisory Committee

Last October, the Golden Valley City Council appointed the Bottineau Light Rail Transitway Planning Advisory Committee to tackle the design and proposed station that could be located in Golden Valley.

Another waste…..

The committee is comprised of representatives from various city commissions such as the Planning Commission, Environmental Commission, Open Space and Recreation Commission and more. The committee has met several times since its inception.

So it’s just the usual city cliche.

Zimmerman acts as the committee’s staff liaison. Zimmerman reports to the council each month with updates. His latest update was presented June 17. Within his update, Zimmerman reflected on past activities and introduced the project’s next phases.

Update

In May, the county held an open house and public hearing to receive comments, concerns and questions from residents regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The city of Golden Valley held a joint commission meeting to discuss the comments further.

Following the comment period, the city submitted its comments to the county for revision. All comments, concerns and questions are to be addressed in the Final Environment Impact Statement.

Like not doing the project at all.

Those interested in reading through the comments can do so at bottineautransitway.org. According to Zimmerman, Hennepin County will be interviewing interested consultants and engineers for the next few months.

“Hopefully, by the end of the summer the engineering team will be on board and that will kick off the next two-year project development phase where they’ll start really laying out the exact alignment, station location and infrastructures – all those details we’ve been looking forward to,” he said.

While the Planning Advisory Committee has been meeting, its workload has been light until now. The committee has begun receiving information to look over and digest – the first piece of which was a market study.

This study explores the first four stations of the transitway and what the market could support in those areas (housing, commercial). The study is designed to generate ideas within the committee.

According to Zimmerman, the county plans to host open houses at each of the four stations by the end of the year.

Oh yippy!

“Hopefully, by next January or February there will be station area plans that will come out in a more finished form,” he said.

I hope not.

For now, the committee looks forward to meeting more frequently as the project gets underway.

And hopefully it never does.

It’s hard to say that this is a waste of money since the entire project is a waste.

Article

 

July 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

CUAPB Tactics At Their Finest


By Andrew Richter

I knew it was only a matter of time when the Minneapolis based CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality) would show their true colors. It was amazing though how quickly it happened.

On Wednesday June 25 Ward 2 council candidate and Planning Commission Member Jeff Kolb had his kickoff party at his house. Though Jeff is a friend of mine, I was unable to attend because of our End the Met Council Night. Last weekend Kolb told me of the strange events that occurred.

The first thing that happened was that a woman was driving by filming Mr. Kolb’s house as well as taking some pictures. It turns out that the woman was Section 2 CUAPB council candidate Karen Lincoln. What she was doing taking pictures of someone’s campaign kickoff is beyond me. Memo to Ms. Lincoln; If you want to be elected to the city council, I suggest you knock on doors of the people you want represent and ask them what they think about the issues rather than spy on a person’s campaign.

A little while later, another woman drove by taking pictures. When Mr. Kolb went out an confronted the person as to what they were doing, the woman wouldn’t give any answers. Kolb asked her who she was and she wouldn’t identify herself and claimed here “for a friend” but wouldn’t identify the friend. She then said she was “working for company” but wouldn’t name the company. Strange huh? Later that night Kolb discovered that the woman in question was Debra Rosario, the wife of CUAPB council candidate Randy Rosario. Kolb then called Rosario and told him what happened. Rosario was apologetic and claimed that his wife “did this without his knowledge.”

Now, I should say that Jeff Kolb has accepted the apology and has told me personally he wants to “move on.” But, me being the asshole I am, I’m not willing to drop this just yet. What I’m going to say in the rest of this article come from me, and is not written for Jeff Kolb or his campaign. I feel the public has the right to know of this incident.

First off, I have to say that it’s difficult for me to believe Randy Rosario completely here. I ran for Crystal Mayor in 2012 as most us remember (and I’m sure are trying to forget) and I can’t imagine my girlfriend at the time or my campaign manager going to my opponent’s house to film and take pictures without my knowledge. This also strikes me as a typical CUAPB campaign tactic of intimidation. If they were taking pictures and filing it must of been for a reason right?

Another CUAPB tactic is to race-bait and I don’t appreciate Rosario’s race-baiting on his website. He claims that since 30% of Crystal citizens are minorities, we need minority representation. I don’t know where Rosario gets his figures but according to wikipedia (which could be wrong) to correct figure seems to be more like 22%. I’m sorry but being American-born of Puerto Rican dissent is not a qualification to be on the council. There are so many issues facing the city, that we don’t need to inject race. To me, I see the hand of CUAPB on this one since they tried to race-bait when Officer Alan Watt got fired claiming that since he was the only black officer the city must be racist. Quite frankly, i think injecting race is somewhat pathetic.

I don’t know Randy Rosario. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy and he seems like someone of substance. But, I would advise him to run his own campaign independently free of Michelle Gross’s wrath. He should focus on positive ideas, not being an advocate for fired police officers (which the council according to the city charter can’t do anyway). I’m hoping he does this but his website is filled with CUAPB stuff HERE and HERE. I hope he ditches this.

I also hope that this incident at Jeff Kolb’s campaign kickoff is not an indication of the CUAPB tactics in this campaign, but unfortunately I think these types of things are part of the game plan. Are you going to come by my house and take pictures now????

 

June 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm 5 comments

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