Bidding Crystal Farewell


By Andrew Richter

Well, things happen in life my friends and tomorrow brings another journey for me. I’ll be moving out of my home town of Crystal and invading Champlin. Honestly, I leave my heart and soul in Crystal and it’s tough to leave but things happen for a reason. I want to take some time to say goodbye and thank some people.

I have to start by thanking some people. I’ll start by thanking the people who got me involved in the first place; my tag team partner Jason Bradley and local activist Candace Oathout. They had the vision of a group that focused on local issues and began this journey long before I did. I wouldn’t be here without them for sure.

I’m extremely proud of our current mayor and City Council. A big thank you to my Ward 4 councilperson Julie Deshler. While we haven’t always seen eye to eye she is the most tireless volunteer anywhere, a friend, and a total asset to the city of Crystal. Mayor Jim Adams and I have become friends and I have the utmost respect for him as our mayor (for another 4 years!). I was also overjoyed to see Jeff Kolb, Casey Peak, Elizabeth Dahl, and Olga Parsons get elected and represent our great city. Seeing them all on the council together brought a tear to my eye I’m not ashamed to admit.

I have to say goodbye to some employees at Crystal as well. City Manager Ann Norris and I haven’t always agreed on issues but I have a new opinion of her since serving on the City Code Task Force. She’s been a pleasure to work with. City Planner and now Community Development Director John Sutter is a great example of a public servant. Working with him on the planning Commission was awesome.

I’m very proud of our Community Solutions group and how big of an impact we’ve had in this area. This all began with a dispute over a project on Highway 81 followed by a petition that was rejected by the old Crystal City Council (none of whom are there anymore) and over the past seven we’ve gained such a huge audience to the point we are the most watched and talked about blog in this area. We gained copy cats and even the people who hate us read what we are saying.

We’re not stopping, folks! In fact, we have plans to expand everywhere across the whole state! Look out Minnesota! I’ll be keeping my eye on Crystal and continuing to report what is going on so don’t worry I won’t be far away!

Tonight is the City Code Review Task Force meeting and that is my last act in Crystal. I bid you farewell!

April 28, 2016 at 8:42 am 1 comment

To Do a Resolution or Not?


By Andrew Richter

Generally speaking I am opposed to city councils doing resolutions on state and federal matters or on ballot measures so, despite mt feelings on the Met Council, I’m not sure what I think of this resolution brought before the Brooklyn Park city council;

The coalition of metro area counties and cities pushing for legislative reform of the Metropolitan Council has asked the Brooklyn Park City Council for the city’s support. Rhonda Sivarajah, chair of the Anoka County Board of Commissioners, presented the primary concerns of the coalition, which includes Anoka, Dakota, Carver and Scott counties and 25 cities that support the initiative, during the April 4 council work session.

The council is expected to discuss the resolution of support at the April 25 regular meeting. Sivarajah also presented the reforms sought, including that the majority of the members of the Met Council be elected officials from the cities and counties impacted by the council’s planning and decisions. In the nearly 50 years since the Met Council was formed, the scope of its impact has expanded greatly, Sivarajah noted, while those sitting on the council remain appointed, and only accountable, to the governor. “We are the only metropolitan planning council in the nation where no elected officials sit on the council,” Sivarajah told the council.

With all due respect, an elected Met Council is a wrongheaded approach. This organization needs to be eliminated, not reformed. My fear is that if they are elected it will become the Park Board or Soil and Conservation where people have no idea what they are voting for,

The changes must be made by the State Legislature, and the coalition is asking cities to pass resolutions of support, to show there is broad-based support for changes, she said.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, are the sponsors of the Senate bill, and Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, is the chief House author of the legislation during this session. The House bill has been referred to the state Government Finance committee and amended to include that a committee of elected officials would make nominations for the governor to consider in his appointments, and establishing a blue ribbon commission to study the Met Council, its powers and governance and its relationship with local governments.

A Blue Ribbon Commission? Why does government need a commission to study itself? Who’s going to be on this commission? The same people who fund the Met Council? Sounds like a delaying tactic.

Brooklyn Park Councilmember Mike Trepanier wondered aloud the purpose of the council. He also pondered the possibility that elected officials serving on the council would face difficult decisions where the impact of a decision would be negative for their city, but positive for the larger area. “What’s the purpose of a planning agency? It is the big look,” he said. “My concern is how we rebalance this power, and not put individuals in these situations.”

Well, don’t we have that situation at the state and federal level too, Maybe we should appoint them? LOL

Trepanier also questioned where the Met Council and the Twin Cities match up with other planning councils in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

“We aren’t doing the best job,” Sivarajah said, noting the metro area’s disparities in affordable housing and minority poverty, issues that the council is supposed to address. The coalition is pushing for accountability, Sivarajah said, with the elected officials voted in by their citizens and then nominated to serve on the council.

Councilmember John Jordan said he supports the change, because the impact of Met Council decisions are very real, on housing, roads, transit and utility services. Those big decisions are made by people who aren’t part of the community, he said. “None of those people will ride our buses, flush our toilets or pay our taxes,” Jordan said.

As always, John Jordan makes sense but again I think elimination, not reform is the end game.

Mayor Jeff Lunde, citing the city’s complaint to the federal Housing and Urban Development department about the Met Council pushing the city for even more affordable housing developments, said he supports the change because the Met Council isn’t listening on housing. “I don’t think that everything that the Met Council does is bad, but I do think they could do better,” he said.

Oh wow Mr. Lunde! They could do better? What a tough statement!

Folks, as much as I oppose the existence of the Met Council, I’m not wild about municipal resolutions that quite frankly can simply be ignored. What say you?

Article

April 27, 2016 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

Bowman Wants No Labels, Then Name Calls


By Andrew Richter

Former Mayor ReNae Bowman is running away from her past and is trying to repackage herself as a new candidate. She has now launched a “no labels” campaign where she plans to “campaign only on issues.”imageReally? Well, as usual, those rules don’t apply to her. When she “announced” she was running for mayor again she had these lovely things to say about people in “her city” that disagree with her:

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The Crystal 20? What the hell is that? Sounds to me like a smart ass label but I thought you didn’t believe in labels ReNae? What are you and Joe Selton? The Crystal 2?

The council is dismantling government? Where exactly? What department has been gotten rid of you liar? And I love the praise of Laura Libby and her Green party with their .1% of the vote as “mainstream.”

Here’s some more examples of her views on “no labels,” no “personal attacks” and “keeping it focused on the issues” and how “she listens to the other side:”

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Wow that’s funny! Call people stupid but you don’t believe in labels right? You keep it on the issues right? You don’t believe in personal attacks right? How about this:

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Right wingers? Is that not a label? Shall we keep going?

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So you call Sarah Palin stupid, then you claim non-Republican, Tea Party, and Evangelical women are subject to abuse? Wait a minute, aren’t those labels? I thought you didn’t believe in that? I’ll keep going….

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Destroying America? Way to keep it on the issues!!! Bowman then claims there is an effort to stone women;

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Ha! Way to keep it on the issues!! Here’s another:

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Wait a minute; Republican, Tea Party, Libertarian, Evangelical, anti-government? Are those not labels? But you don’t believe in that right you liar?

We will continue to expose Bowman’s attempt to re-brand herself. we won’t fall for her garbage and neither will Crystal citizens.

April 27, 2016 at 7:29 am Leave a comment

What is Acceptable Attendance for a City Councilperson?


By Andrew Richter

It’s a shame this even has to be a subject, but on the Crystal City Council an issue is popping up: the attendance of Section 1 Councilperson Laura Libby.

I listened to the Crystal City Council Work Session on April 19 where a discussion took place about this. So I decided to do some research and honestly Libby’s attendance at council work sessions (where the bread and butter really takes place) is so abysmal I almost can’t believe these numbers are real. I’ve looked at her attendance at city council work sessions for the past eight months, which is a large sample size. I’m not cherry picking a week here and there. Anyhow, here it is;

Work Session Date/If Libby was there or not

September 1, 2015    NO

September 10, 2015    NO

September 16, 2015    YES

October 1, 2015    NO

October 6, 2015    NO

October 8, 2015     NO

October 20, 2015     YES

October 31, 2015     NO

November 5, 2015     YES

November 12, 2015     YES

November 17, 2015     YES

December 1, 2015     YES

December 10, 2015    NO

December 15, 2015     YES

January 5, 2016     NO

January 14, 2016    NO

January 19, 2016    NO

January 25, 2016    NO

February 11, 2016    NO

February 16, 2016   YES

February 18, 2016    NO

February 23, 2016     NO

February 29, 2016    YES

March 10, 2016     NO

March 15, 2016    YES

April 5, 2016     NO

April 7, 2016     NO

April 14, 2016     NO

April 19, 2016     YES

Attendance figures can be seen on the meeting minutes HERE

So she’s made 11 of the past 29 work sessions over the last eight months. That’s 38% attendance record. Seriously WTF?

At the April 19 work session Ms. Libby claims she’s “been sick” and maybe she has been but honestly, a 38% attendance over an EIGHT MONTH period is simply unacceptable.

I hope she recovers her health if that’s really the problem but folks, Laura Libby is being PAID to go to these meetings and represent Wards 1 and 2 and I’m guessing she’s not giving the money back. Don’t these wards deserve representation? If you had a 38% attendance record at your job, what would your boss say?

I know this much, Libby thinks of herself as some sort of Green Party celebrity so you know she’s not resigning. I can’t see her not running for re-election either and I predict her health will suddenly get better as campaign season approaches (wink, wink).

To me, though, the larger question is: what is an acceptable number of absences for a city council member?

April 21, 2016 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

Anyone See Some Waste Here?


By Andrew Richter

Oh God…..

Plans by the Three Rivers Park District and Brooklyn Park to redevelop the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the neighboring Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area have now reached the concept phase. The Brooklyn Park City Council members received their first look at the plans during the April 4 work session.

I mean how can you stand the excitement!

The concept plan, created by Three Rivers planners with community input facilitated by the city, includes a tree canopy walk to elevate park visitors over the park, a nature-based play area and a mini river that allows children to play and manipulate the water flow, as well as trails throughout the park to connect users to the river, nature and learning opportunities.

Huh?

The park district is already shifting events to the park and is committed to the work of redeveloping the park, DeJournett stressed.Three Rivers Director of Planning Kelly Grissman presented the plan, and Three Rivers commissioners Jennifer DeJournett and Steve Antolak and City Recreation and Parks Director Jody Yungers discussed the plan and the larger goal – to connect park visitors to the Mississippi River. The working name, at this point, for renaming the park is “Mississippi River Regional Park,” DeJournett told the council.

“We’ve already done that (shifted programming) to show that we mean what we say,” she said. “The board wants to do right by this park.”

The trails lead users to nature connection points that can facilitate fishing, hiking and biking, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, access to the river for canoeing and kayaking and nature exploration such as bug collecting, wetland and water quality observation, Grissman explained.

Bug collecting? Wetland observation?

The plans call for small and medium picnic areas, available without reservations. The first-come, first-serve shelters are a response to community needs, she said. The larger shelter would be used for park programs, but isn’t the large space the city is discussing with the signature event area task force. Grissman called the shelters “friends and family” size and available for impromptu picnics and gatherings. “We did hear from the community and across our parks, people want flexibility,” she said.

The tree canopy walk could be created using the elevation changes of the deep ravine behind the current visitor center, Grissman explained, noting that the structure would be accessible to everyone and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The walk could be connected to the play area, perhaps with a slide down and a climbing spot to get back up to the walkway. “It’s basically a suspended boardwalk in the tree canopy,” she said. “You get to pretend you are bird for a day.”

We get to pretend we are a bird for a day!! Hilarious!!

The plan could use the existing visitor center or include a new building, Grissman explained, as the plan doesn’t address the future visitor center possibilities. A shelter would be added in the southern portion of the 160-acre park and would be used in warm weather for education outreach and school field trips and in cold weather as a warming shelter for winter weather activities. The plan calls for the park to be open and accessible all year.

The plan includes a tunnel under West River Road to safely connect visitors between the park and the environmental area, Grissman explained. The off-leash dog park and archery areas would be revamped, and picnic shelters for up to 75 people and available for advance reservations would be featured. There would be paved and natural trails and nature connection points throughout the 97-acre parcel.

The city and Three Rivers began working on the plan last year, and the planners want feedback, Yungers explained to the council. To present the plan to residents and gather their responses, the city is hosting two open house events, on Wednesday, April 13 and Thursday, April 14, at the Community Activity Center. Both events are 5:30-7:30 p.m. with presentations of the plans at 6 p.m. each evening.

In an effort to involve residents near the parks, the city sent postcards to residents of five neighborhoods around the park and along the Mississippi River inviting residents to the open house events, Yungers explained.

Post cards for an open house? Let me translate; you can come see the plans after the plans have been made!

The presenters stressed that amplified sound is not part of the discussion for the park. In fact, amplified sound is prohibited in all Three River parks, DeJournett stressed. “That would be a departure for us, and for all of our parks,” she said. Amplified sound, Yungers noted, would go against the goal of connecting the park and park visitors to nature.

The plan did not impress Mayor Jeff Lunde, who said he’d be the toughest critic on the council regarding the park plan. “I feel that I’m getting a tree house,” the mayor said after the presentation. “I’m not to ‘wow’ yet.”

Oh yeah Mr. Lunde, we aren’t spending enough for you right? Maybe we need to put light rail next to it.

Antolak stressed that park district planners are still working on plan details. The typography of the land, the floodplain and the uniqueness of the park will come out in those details. The conversation between the city and park district must continue, he said, adding that the continued discussion will push the plan further. “We need to hear that conversation, otherwise (the park) will be something ordinary and plain,” he said.

In other words, there’s plenty of time to spend more!

The park, Lunde stressed, should already have impressive features, and the plan simply elevates it to what should already be there. “I’m getting what this park should have had,” he said.

This guy is unreal!

DeJournett stressed that it would not be fair to judge the design by what isn’t there and by the decisions and investments of prior park boards. The plan delivers “lots of bang for your buck” with many elements in the small part of the park that is developable land.

Yippy!

“This is a plan that will give you a beautiful amenity that is actually realistic,” she said. The park will be unique, Yungers said. But, as with many things, it is the details that make or break it. “The devil is in the details,” she said. “This could be exceptional. I am convinced. The canvas we are working with is in itself special.”

Councilmember Mike Trepanier questioned the benefit to the city, whose property gets improved but not dramatic new features in the plan. He concluded that the project will not be cheap, but that the park deserves to be well kept like others in the park district. “I do think we are getting towards ‘wow,’ but it is good to keep pushing, he said.

Is anything ever cheap?

The city’s next step in the process, Yungers said, is to formalize the planning partnership with Three Rivers. The city has budgeted $200,000 this year for master planning. The agreement and the funds would be used to advance the planning into the design development phase, where the plans become much more detailed.

$200,000!!!!

The city and park district could also apply for National Park Service grant funds, she said, as the Twin Cities area is one of eight focus areas in the country where the Park Service wants to get residents outdoors. The grant would be fully matched to $750,000. The council will get more information about the grant possibility as the planning process moves forward, she said.

Oh yes, go get that “free money!” Sick to your stomach yet??

Article

April 19, 2016 at 7:42 am Leave a comment

Ouch Baby, Very Ouch


By Andrew Richter

A nice letter to the editor recently highlighted Jeff Lunde’s tax and spend Brooklyn Park;

There seems to be no end to the cost of living increases in Brooklyn Park. First, tax increases to pay for street repairs is called franchise fees collected for the city by our gas and electric suppliers. Apparently the city administration feels if they call it a fee, the taxpayers will be too ignorant to see this as a tax increase.

You mean a fee and a tax are the same? LOL

Secondly, real estate taxable market value increased 9 percent for year 2016 and 11 percent for year 2017 enabling local government (city, county and school districts) to bleed the taxpayers more in real estate taxes. Third, now the water and sewer rates need to increase all while the city of Brooklyn Park threw away $6 million from 2005 through 2014 operating two golf courses.

Now I don’t know if these numbers are right or not but I can tell you that property value has little to do with property taxes. They go up no matter what!

Two businesses that are losing money every year and pay $0 property taxes because they are city owned. When will the power brokers in Brooklyn Park figure out they are not smart enough to operate golf courses and sell them to professionals who know what they are doing? The city, county and school districts could actually collect property taxes from these businesses if privately owned.

Dennis Schwickerath
Brooklyn Park

Like I said, ouch baby!

Article

April 19, 2016 at 7:06 am Leave a comment

Bowman Plays the Gender Card


By Andrew Richter

Well, some things never change; the Cubs still play in Chicago, the Statue of Liberty is in New York, the sky is blue, and ReNae Bowman is always, always, always the victim of something. She’s now playing the gender card in her attempt to re-brand herself. Well, check out this screen shot where she plays the gender card to try and get sympathy;

image

So rich there; ReNae do you ever wonder why people think you are abrasive, nasty, and vile? Perhaps it’s because that’s how you come off to some people??? Of course, that’s not your fault, nothing ever is right? You’re always the whining and crying victim.

Now she’s claiming to run a “no labels” campaign which is bordering on hilarity. I’ll save that for next time.

April 13, 2016 at 7:19 am 3 comments

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