Community Solutions Podcast- School Choice


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew take a break from city issues and talk education. School choice: few topics seem so clear cut but are so contentious. Why? In a world where we have public, private, charter, and home schools, what’s the harm in finding what works for you and your child? I don’t think most reasonable people would argue that, but when vouchers are brought up? Oh boy, get out of the way! We’re going to walk through this landmine-ridden field tonight and see if we can help make sense of it all for you. We’ll at least give you some things to think about.

 

June 27, 2017 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

Opat and Lunde…..One in the Same


By Andrew Richter

Well Mike Opat and his DFL supporter Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde aren’t too happy the funding for their little pet project Bottineau Boulevard Ligth Rail isn’t coming anytime soon.  Now they have taken to making threats that they are “going to do something about it.”

Elected officials in the northwest suburbs want to move forward with the Bottineau Blue Line Light Rail Transit Extension project regardless of the status or future of the Southwest Green Line Extension project. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said at a Blue Line Corridor Management Committee meeting June 15 that they are tired of the Southwest Green Line extension project holding up the Blue Line Extension, and they need to do what is in their power to advance the Bottineau project as quickly as possible.

Yes shove it down our throats.

While several barriers to the project’s completion have been passed, some funding sources for the Bottineau project remain uncertain, and the schedule for completion has been pushed back. Previous projections for the project’s revenue service opening date were for late 2021, and now the Bottineau Project opening date projection has been pushed back to mid-2022. The project office plans to apply for a federal grant in May 2018 rather than September 2017, as was previously scheduled.

The recent dissolution of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which allowed Hennepin County to raise its sales tax by a quarter-cent to a total half-cent effective Oct. 1, 2017, will provide state and county shares of funding for both the Southwest and Bottineau lines. The move comes after a Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature refused to provide state funding for either line during the 2017 session.

And while local funding has been committed to both projects, questions of federal transit funding under President Trump remain unanswered. The project would need to be identified in the federal budget before the Federal Transit Administration would accept an application for a full funding grant agreement.

That said, the Southwest and Bottineau Light Rail projects are two of five projects that are nationally recognized on the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts report, according to Dan Soler, Blue Line project director. Among other issues slowing the Bottineau Line’s progress is negotiations with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

Keep Stalling!

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said Brooklyn Park will take action to move the Bottineau project forward. “We’re not going to sit back anymore,” he said.

OOOOOOOHHHHH Mr. Tough Guy!

Delays on the Bottineau project, which includes reconstruction of West Broadway along the line, impact Brooklyn Park beyond transportation issues, Lunde said. “I always hear ‘Southwest, Southwest,’ and I understand it from a big picture, but my concern is that … every time there is a delay, the city delays other things,” he said, citing a water main break on West Broadway the week of the meeting.
“We have residents, we have business owners who are lining up waiting because they’re in limbo,” Lunde said.

The line also effects poverty levels, as some people in Brooklyn Park struggle to commute to high-paying jobs, Lunde said. “Every year that things get delayed, that’s just one more year of people who don’t have access to opportunity,” he said.

What? So high paying jobs are at risk from a light rail line that doesn’t exist?

Lunde said Brooklyn Park will continue to support the county and Met Council, but will launch its own lobbying efforts to drive public opinion and influence future gubernatorial candidates to support the project, regardless of what happens to Southwest. Lunde said he does not accept the position that negotiations with BNSF need to finish with Southwest before they start for Bottineau.

“One more lawsuit hits Southwest, then suddenly my city is impacted by things that we have no control over, and I think that we are done being there,” Lunde said.

“I understand Southwest needs to be built. I understand the system, but our city is waiting, and we’re done waiting,” Lunde added.
Opat said he agreed with Lunde, and that his primary concerns were the Met Council’s negotiations with BNSF. The Met Council should not take the position that Southwest negotiations should conclude before Bottineau negotiations begin, he said.

Opat and Lunde agree…..what a shock!

“Right now, clearly the decision has been made to negotiate in complete … with Southwest because that’s the way the railroad wanted it, and we’ll wait until another day to negotiate around the Blue Line,” Opat said. “And with everything in my being, I oppose that strategy.
“Waiting is what we’ve become accustomed to up here, and I’m tired of waiting,” Opat continued. “Everything we do up here ends up ‘Oh, just hang on and be patient, trust us, we’ll get to it,’” he said.

“It’s time to press on, but we should press on with some attitude for this project, because otherwise, I really think we could be sitting here another three or four years and having the same discussion,” Opat added.

The legislature and the President are clearly under the skin of this liberal and so-called Republican….I see keep it up!

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June 23, 2017 at 11:08 am 1 comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Race Relations and Local Government


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew try to parse through a very touchy subject. We actually recorded this before the verdict in the Yanez case came out, and the emotionally-fueled response that has erupted across social media and into the streets. We had just gone through our own Black Lives Matter protest in Crystal. We wanted to try and take the emotion out of it, and look at it academically. Local governments like to tout the word “resiliency”, but many haven’t planned for how to handle an upset of their peace and order, or how to make sure that freedom is applied equally to everyone in the first place, so that as a generation comes of age, they can live the American dream. These are just some of the deep topics we will discuss today. Plus, what’s a protest without a little Johnny B news, eh?

June 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm 1 comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Climate Cities


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew decide to discuss the Paris Climate Agreement. Why discuss a national/international issue? Because after President Trump announced that the United States was going to back out of the agreement, a number of governors and mayors piped up to say that they were going to keep the dream alive. Groups like climate-mayors have thrown their hats in the ring to make sure that they never give up on the fulfilling the tenets of the agreement. That means more taxes and regulation for you, the individual. We recently said that they would go around legislatures to implement cap and trade at the local level… again we were proved right. Sit back and enjoy!

June 14, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Guest: Crystal Mayor Jim Adams


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew go back to our roots and have a chat with Crystal Mayor, Jim Adams. After talking with the folks from New Brighton last week, it reminded us so much of where we started, that we thought it was time we revisit our origin. What happens when people stand up to abusive power and begin to govern. Do things really change? In short, absolutely they can. Maybe you read Jason’s recent article on Crystal. We’re going to discuss that stuff in depth, and more. What’s it like to actually govern? Can a city council stand up to the pressures of high density housing, complete streets, and “free” money? The answer is yes, and this podcast is about to give you a ton of hope for your city.

June 7, 2017 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

Budziszewski Marches Against Crystal


By Andrew Richter

John Budziezewski just never ceases to amaze me; and I don’t mean that in a positive way. This time he appears to be taking the side of Black Lives Matter in wanting Crystal police to be prosecuted in the shooting case of Khaleel Thompson. This group has already called for the four officers involved to be charged with murder and apparently Johnny B agrees with them since he was seen marching with them on May 31.

So the facts aren’t in and nobody including me knows what really happened but Budziezewski has already made up his mind. The officers are guilty without any right to a trial, any right to confront their accusers, or any presumption of innocence.

This conduct is totally and completely unacceptable. Even if Mr. Budziezewski sympathizes with BLM in his personal views, this goes above and beyond that. Mr. Budziezewski has a duty that is bigger than his personal views, and that is the duty he has to the city and the people. These police officers work in the city that he represents and to march against them and convict them in the court of public opinion is reprehensible.

What do you folks in Ward 3 think of this? This is your councilman! Make your opinion of him known. Email Johnny B at john.budziszewski@crystalmn.gov or call him at 612-207-3704. Let’s let him know what you think!

June 2, 2017 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- New Brighton


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew sit down with current New Brighton, MN City Council Member, Gina Bauman, and candidate for New Brighton City Council, Susan Erickson. Their story so mirrors ours, that we had to have them tell it. From working for months to get enough signatures on a petition to get something on the ballot, to shady tricks to disqualify that petition, and an attempt to reclaim their community. Their story is inspirational, but still unfolding. This story is, unfortunately, all too common once someone stands up to try and really challenge the current power structure. We’re here to tell you you can fight city hall, and this is how such stories begin.

June 1, 2017 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

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