I must say, I’m impressed with the attention our little group has gotten over the last week. First, Crystal Councilmember Mark Hoffman called out my colleague Andrew Richter in a city work session for an article he wrote. Next, Councilmember John Budziszewski brought up my name in the MN League of Women Voters candidate forum, and distorted a conversation we had. Lastly, ReNae Bowman, the former mayor of Crystal, penned a strange hit piece last week, espousing her opinion on an event we held that she did not attend.
In 2010, ReNae endorsed John and Mark. A more conspiracy-minded fellow might almost think it was a coordinated attack.
First, a little background: Community Solutions MN was a group born out of desperation. When I discovered the plans for the reconstruction of County Road 81, and its effects on my neighborhood, I worked with others to fill up the council chambers to stop it. Only, it passed. Something seemed wrong. We buried our heads in articles and books to learn (and educate others) about local government. We were troubled by some of the trends we found.
That brings us to today. We’ve been active in the community reporting on local issues that most people don’t hear about. We’ve conducted metro-wide local candidate training, and have been asked to speak at events across the Twin Cities. We have encouraged individuals to get involved in the process by running for office or joining commissions, and we’ve seen people get involved across the metro. Does that sound like the activities of an anti-government or anti-community group?
The truth is, we disagree with a lot of the actions of the Crystal City Council. We feel that reasonable people can disagree, but unfortunately some of our elected officials, past and present, don’t subscribe to that theory. When we started going to city council meetings we were condescended to, insulted, and treated like we just weren’t smart enough. We have been called “conspiracy theorists,” “anarchists,” “un-American,” and worse. Ms. Bowman has a long history of intemperate behavior toward those who disagree with her. In fact, just the other day she was mocking the non-incumbent candidates at the forum and being combative with attendees. So her pleading to stop the name calling and fear-mongering are pretty disingenuous.
Councilmember Hoffman has displayed that same condescending attitude (without using the inciting language) to concerned citizens at council meetings, further weakening his outrage about the behavior of others.
The most curious of all might be Councilmember Budziszewski, who claimed at the candidate forum that I told him (Candidate for Section 2) Olga Parsons wanted to raise property taxes. I said nothing of the sort. The disagreement here is that John is in favor of assessing and bonding for big spending items because it doesn’t show up on the budget. This is a more expensive option to the taxpayer because of the associated interest in the payback phase. So while John is going around saying he isn’t in favor of raising property taxes, he’s at the same time voting in favor of assessing and bonding, which are just taxation by other names. I know for a fact Olga’s platform includes reducing overall city spending, and for him to claim that I told him otherwise is patently false.
I’m disappointed in the tactics of our elected officials, but not discouraged. Community Solutions MN will continue fighting for liberty and good government, despite the contempt of those who disagree with us. After all, they only have themselves to thank for our existence.
Jason Bradley is a musician and a co-founder of Community Solutions MN, who’s lived in Crystal for 15 years.