An Elected Met Council is No Better
By Andrew Richter
One would think that all this talk about reforming the Met Council would make me as happy and yes, it does make me smile. However, I think some critical things are missing from the debate here that I just can’t stay silent about.
Ideas for reform can be seen in a recent Sun Post article HERE and Crystal City Councilman Jeff Kolb does a terrific job summarizing a letter that five council members in Crystal recently signed (Read that HERE). Other cities and counties have adopted similar stances. Trouble is, what exactly are these resolutions or letters proposing to do?
Though it is nice to see all the criticism of the Met Council and while I greatly admire the members of the Crystal City Council, all of these reforms miss the ultimate problem; the Met Council doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be eliminated. At a minimum, its power needs to be reduced. As long as the Met Council holds the power that it does, it is pretty much useless to elect members.
Electing members or staggering their terms doesn’t do much to reform this body. Of course, appointing the Met Council amounts to total communism, but my fear is that an elected Met Council will go the way of the Park Board or Soil and Conservation. people will be voting for members and have no clue what they are actually voting for. If we elect a Met Council and they continue to have the power that they do, we may as well just eliminate city councils altogether.
I also vehemently object to elected members city councilmen and county commissioners sitting on the Met Council. These people take an oath to represent their constituents, not to go sit on some other board. You can’t serve two masters. It is not “representation” for a councilman or a county commissioner to get themselves appointed to another layer of government.
A great case in point is the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which is made up of five of the seven counties here in the Metro area. They get to divvy up the money from the 2008 gas tax in transit projects. Even though elected county commissioners sit on the board, voters have no control over who gets appointed to this board nor do they have any say in what projects they fund. We elect county commissioners to oversee their county, NOT to decide what transit gets funded in ANOTHER county.
If we want REAL reform how about we advocate to take away the Met Council’s power to implement a direct tax? Or maybe we advocate taking away their authority over housing, or transit, or comprehensive plans? How about our legislature demand reforms or refuse funding? These are the things that will bring REAL reform.
The conversation is a good starting point, but it is nowhere close to where we need to go. As Winston Churchill put it, it’s not the beginning of the end, it’s more like the end of the beginning.
Entry filed under: Agenda 21, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, City Government, Community, County, Crystal, Golden Valley, Mayor, Met Council, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth, Robbinsdale, Taxation, Transportation. Tags: Crystal City Council, Met Council.