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?
Entry filed under: Agenda 21, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, City Government, Community, County, Crystal, Golden Valley, Hennepin, Mayor, Met Council, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth, Robbinsdale. Tags: jeff Lunde, John Jordan, Met Council.