Richter Pushes 12 X 16 Plan

July 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment


Crystal Mayor candidate Andrew Richter is pushing a bold new plan called 12 X 16. There are 12 major items he wants to address by 2016 (what would be his term if he were to win). Here are the 12 ideas from the post on his blog;

1) Work Sessions on TV and the Internet

We are going to create a city youtube channel where ALL city work sessions are going to be available to be downloaded. The public should be able to see the council debate these issues even if they can’t physically be at the work session. This is a great source of frustration for me since the council often reaches a “consensus” of what to do at a work session before ever listening to the public. This isn’t how you represent people.

2) Hennepin County Highway 81 Levy

When the levy on Highway 81 from Hennepin County expires in 2014 I will see to it that EVERY PENNY of the $534,565 gets returned to YOU the taxpayer. This levy was forced on us by the county to fix a county road to which the city readily agreed to pay. I will not support a “balanced approach” of spending part of this money nor will I throw it at existing city departments. It’s your money. This will be a nice $534,565 tax cut!

3) Re-stripe Our Roads Back!

I want to re-stripe our busiest roads from two lanes (or three) back to four over time. This was a horrible decision by this council and it shows their condescending arrogance. They met with the county, then agreed to re-stripe among themselves, met with only citizens who live on these roads, and never spoke ONCE to the public at large. As usual, your opinion wasn’t sought nor wanted. Nice representation! There’s no evidence those roads were unsafe and where’s that “study” the city was supposed to do on traffic flow?

4) Referendum on Spending and Major Special Assessments

According to our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, our tax levy was $4,238,849 in 2001. In 2010 it was $8,849,440! That’s more than a 100% increase. People are getting hit with special assessments all over the place on top of the general levy. The latest was phase 12 which cost over $5,000,000! Residents have told me how concerned they are about the cost of these projects and I’ve told them their opinions don’t matter. This council doesn’t care. They’ve already made the decision to go forward on it.

I propose two solutions; I want the general levy subjected to a referendum. I will propose a six-year referendum on the 2014 ballot. This way YOU get to LIMIT city spending (more details to come). I will also push for major special assessments to be subjected to a referendum as well so YOU can decide if you want to pay for all this or not.

The bottom line is that citizens only have “so much” money they can give up. You should be able to say NO to something. The government works for you, not the other way around.

5) Better Use of our Facilities

One of the little known things in the budget is how much money we lose on our buildings and recreation. We operate the Crystal Community Center every year at a 71% loss. Our Recreation Department operates at a 69% loss. And the Crystal Pool operates at a 29% loss. We can’t even make money selling concessions! How is this acceptable? We need to take a long hard look at what we are offering and doing. I’m not saying we have to make a profit here, but we can’t go on indefinitely like this. I will be open to all suggestions.

6) Support West Metro Fire

I support shared services like West Metro Fire and I think that perhaps Park and Rec can be a shared service in the future. The cost of leaving this organization would be tremendous on our citizens and I don’t get why Crystal wants to do this. That said, I would make some changes. For example, I want every council member and city bureaucrat off the Fire Board. This Board should be about overseeing a fire department, not about political agendas. Second, I want these meeting on TV and the internet so citizens can see them!

7) Code Reform

There are way too many city codes! This is supposed to be a free country! We have personal liberty and economic freedom (or at least I read that somewhere). My goal is to go through this code and repeal outdated and unnecessary laws starting with the ban on overnight parking. Our police officers have better things to do at 3AM then hand out parking tickets. I also want to get rid of fees for remodeling your OWN HOUSE! I want to repeal at least one city code EVERY COUNCIL MEETING!

8) Charter Reform

Here is a statement from our charter;

“This charter is to be construed liberally in favor of the city, and the specific mention of particular powers in this charter is not to be construed as limiting in any way the generality of the powers conferred by this section.”

In other words, this charter is not seen as limiting government. That’s all you need to know about what this council thinks of your rights.

I also want to make it easier to do a petition and put in term limits for the council. You should live to serve, not serve to live.

9) EDA Reform

The city has no business in real estate. Limits need to be put on the city’s Economic Development Authority (actually there is no EDA since the EDA is the council). They shouldn’t be running around buying any property they want. I was at an EDA meeting in August 2010 where a council member joked that “As an EDA we can do whatever we want whenever we want to do it.” The council then burst out laughing. That’s what your council thinks of its authority. Like everything else in government, we need limits. Only in extreme cases like when a house is unsafe to live in should the city step in with a purchase. Otherwise it is a private transaction. Government did enough to screw up the housing market so let’s stop the madness.

10) General Government Changes

Our federal and state governments have checks and balances and separation of powers. We have none of this in our city government. The mayor acts basically as an at-large council person. The executive is a city manager who is unaccountable to the people. I propose the following;

*Eliminate the section 1 and Section 2 council positions and replacing it with one “at large” seat

*Make the mayor an executive, separate from the council. The mayor will have veto power.

*Three votes will be needed to pass the council and four to override a veto.

*This makes the mayor a full-time city employee. We can then remove an administrative position.

This gives our government the proper checks and balances we have at the state and federal level.

11) Budget Reform and Cutting Spending

Cutting spending is a must and it needs to happen at all levels. We are not getting smaller as a government, in fact, total assets the city owns has increased $27,000,000 since 2003. So I’m proposing to do the following;

*We need to switch to zero based budgeting. This is where every department starts every year at zero, not at what they got last year. We fill the NEEDS like police and fire first and go from there.

*We need to reduce the number of employees we have. In 2010 there were 84 FTE (full-time equivalents)  but in 2004 there were 79. Let’s walk that back to at least 79 or fewer by 2016. We can do that by attrition or reform.

*Sell off property and stay out of the real estate business!

*Remove the city from the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities. This will be an annual savings of $7,617

*Does the city really need to spend $13,000 handing out awards and $2,500 on an appreciation dinner? That should be at least cut in half if not more.

* I will not provide “seed money” to any business. That’s crony capitalism. I want to get government out of the way and let YOU decide winners and losers. I want less government in business and more business in government.

12) Changing How We are Represented

Unlike the current mayor and council, I will hold public hearings and listen to you, then talk about the issues at a work session that will be televised and on the internet, and then make decisions at the next meeting.

The current council meets at a work session, talks about an issue, comes to a consensus on what to do and how to vote, and then holds a public hearing. They know what they are going to do before we get to argue our case for or against! That is ridiculous. It makes people feel like they aren’t being represented and it has to change.

Andrew Richter’s blog

Andrew Richter’s website

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Entry filed under: City Government, Crystal, Mayor.

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