Posts filed under ‘City Government’

MNGOP Punts Local Elections Again


By Andrew Richter

Well another election season has passed and it’s yet another season where the Minnesota Republican Party sat out local elections. The consequences of doing this are once again killing any attempt to “paint Minnesota Red.”

Folks I’ve been politically active for fifteen years. I’ve worked hard for conservative/republican/liberty minded candidates. I’ve served as an election judge, a caucus convener, a vice chair, a campaign manager, a delegate, a state central delegate, a consultant, and a candidate myself. I’m been a part of winning campaigns and I’ve been a part of losing campaigns. The one thing I can count on year after year is the MNGOP will ignore local elections. The year 2017 unfortunately has been no different.

Personally I was naive enough to think that’s things would change after our Community Solutions victories in the city of Crystal the past 8 years where we’ve defeated the DFL and their union allies over and over. We’ve helped elect more republicans in congressional district five them the Republicans party has in the past 30 years. You’d think the party would take notice. You’d think they’d have my phone number on speed dial and want us to replicate this success everywhere. Yet that’s not the case.

The funny thing is that I’ve had so much hope every time we’ve had new leadership. Back in September, though, any hope of a change was dashed. I got a Republican fundraising letter from GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan. It contained the usual pep talk about electing a Republican governor, re-electing a Republican House, and electing Republicans to Congress. Of course, it was missing several crucial points. First of all, there was no mention of the United States Senate race; a clear signal that the GOP has already conceded that race. They’d never say that but my guess is they do nothing for that race outside of lip service. And, as usual, there was no mention whatsoever of local elections despite the fact that 29 cities were holding elections in November. In addition to that, there were dozens of school board elections and 145 school operations and capital levies on the ballot.

How does this not even get mentioned by MNGOP? There was no list of cities that had elections, no mention of school board races or referendums where millions of tax payer dollars were on the line, and no effort whatsoever to get out the vote. It’s almost as if local elections don’t exist. On Election Day there wasn’t a peep from MNGOP or Carnahan about it on social media. The DFL isn’t sitting out these races. Their union groups and activists were working the phones, handing out literature, and getting people to the polls while the Republicans were doing nothing.

Of course the results were awful for conservatives especially in school referendums where 50 of the 61 operating referendums passed. In addition, 47 often 84 capital referendums passed. That’s means 67% of the levies passed for a whopping $1.5 billion!!  What’s the point of winning elections at the State level if we are just going to let school districts get their money uncontested at the local level? Why bother?

Putting money and time in nothing but the sexy races has never worked nor is it any kind of new idea. We’ve had Republican Governors before. We’ve had Republican Senators before. We’ve had a Republican House before. Yet Minnesota isn’t a red state. What’s missing? The answer is winning local races. Republican indifference has always struck me as odd. Aren’t the Republicans the party of the bringing things back to the local level? So why don’t they practice what they preach?

Here’s the message: if you are candidate at the local level, MNGOP won’t do anything for you. If you are a BPOU leader and you want to change city hall, you’re on your own. Only the sexy races matter and the Republicans have been continuously losing those races anyhow.

Now let me fair: there are people at MNGOP that probably see things my way and want to help. We have good and dedicated people. However, until there is a majority on the executive committee willing to make changes, we will be stuck where we are. And we need a chair with a vision to do something different. It’s not going to happen in the short run but here at Community Solutions we aren’t just staring at 2018 and nothing else. We have a long-term view of winning elections and it will remain that way. It’s time for MNGOP to get on board!

 

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November 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm 5 comments

Help Wanted: An Opportunity for Third Parties to Govern


Help Wanted

by Jason Bradley

Here is an article I wrote for the monthly newsletter of a Minnesotan third party organization. I thought it was worth repeating:

It’s no secret, America has a two party system. Republicans and Democrats have ruled the landscape since the demise of the Whig Party in 1854. George Washington warned us about political parties, “by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  The third party is an important part of the American political landscape.

Third parties give Americans a chance to vote their conscience. It’s been difficult, however, for them to break through at the federal and state levels of politics. So, how do third parties break through? One school of thought is to keep pressing to get that magical 5% that will gain them major party status, and then to repeat the feat in state after state. That is the hard way.

I propose that there is an easier way to gain your candidates name recognition and real world governing experience. That is through getting involved in nonpartisan elections like for city council, school board, and county commissions. No one knows what party you belong to, and it gives you an amazing advantage. I know these races can seem like small potatoes, but it really is the entry level position to play in the governing game. We tend to set our sights on higher office, without respecting the process that it takes to get there. It takes patience. Minnesota has 1,790 townships, 853 cities, 87 counties, and 328 school districts. Add in park boards, soil and water conservation seats, and all of these bodies’ appointed commissions, and we figure there are over 30,000 nonpartisan seats available in Minnesota alone. There’s no reason third parties can’t hold a number of those seats.

How do I know this? I live in the Fifth Congressional District, which is held by Keith Ellison. It is about 60/40 Democrat. Yet, in the city of Crystal, we figured out a way to rally the community to vote out the entire city council (of endorsed Democrats) from office. The previous city council was not acting in the best interest of the residents, and we formed a group called Community Solutions MN in response to change Crystal’s government. As we have educated ourselves, we feel like we needed to take our message across the state of MN, as most cities face the same issues.

We have helped to coach, mentor, train, and educate BPOUs, activist groups, candidates, and newly elected officials on how local government is organized, how it operates, how to run a competitive election race, and how to tell the story of and for your community that helps them become educated on local issues. We have helped others to win local elections in places outside of Crystal, as well. I am confident that these results can be repeated statewide.

What can you do? First and foremost, get on a city, county, or school board advisory commission. Just go to their offices and fill out an application. They will interview you, and once they vote you in, you are instantly put in a place to give feedback and advice to the governing body. It’s usually only one evening per month. Some are fewer. That’s not a lot to ask. Secondly, run or help someone run for local office. Once you get on a commission, you start to build experience that you can use on a resume to run for office. Start local.

Community Solutions MN is a resource for like-minded people that want to get involved locally. We run a blog and a podcast filled with nine years of local knowledge. We want to share it all with you. We answer your questions, because we don’t want you to feel alone. We also can create customized training for groups or individuals, along with providing strategy for specific localities. Together, we can win.

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Live and Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.

Jason on Google+

November 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm 2 comments

Robbinsdale Plays Follow the Leader


By Andrew Richter

For years here we’ve been telling you how cities are the world’s biggest copy cats. The city of Robbinsdale is proving us right! From the Sun Post;

The Robbinsdale City Council is reviewing the city’s tobacco regulations, specifically as it relates to the substance’s accessibility to minors. The council last reviewed the regulations in 2014, following 2013 updates to policies after the introduction of e-cigarettes to the market.

City Manager Marcia Glick said the county’s health department periodically contacts the city to discuss possible gaps in regulation specific to new products that arrive on the market, and to address youth access to those products. In May, the county contacted city staff after Edina increased its age limit for purchasing tobacco products

So in other words, Robbinsdale is taking marching orders from the county. What happened to representing Robbinsdale? Who cares if Edina did something? Why is that a reason for Robbinsdale to do this?

The council entered discussions about potential ordinance updates in June. In mid-July, the council authorized enlisting the aid of the Public Law Center to review the city’s current tobacco ordinances and to help prepare the suggested changes. The council has since met with tobacco vendors to discuss the proposed updates, and will soon host a public hearing about the issue.

The suggested amendments to the city’s tobacco regulations, intended to reduce youth access to products, include:

– Updating the license application to include a section that collects information to investigate whether the applicant has had previous sales violations related to licensed products, which would add a basis for denying a license for offenders;
– Updating the city’s code to conform to state statutes;
– Considering raising the city’s legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21;
– Restricting the sale of flavored products (excluding menthol, mint and wintergreen) to vendors who only sell products to ages 21 and older, and those who derive at least 90 percent of their sales from licensed products;
– Requiring a minimum price and package size for cigars, with proposals for a five-pack minimum at $13, or a single cigar at $4;
– Requiring child-resistant packaging for liquids that contain nicotine;
– Deferring to state law for underage use, possession, or purchase and eliminating local penalties;
– Adding a penalty for anyone underage using false identification.

So the city wants to price fix, raise the smoking age, and increase penalties. Why? What is the problem? What Robbinsdale resident has brought these concerns to you? Or are you just doing something because someone else is? This is not representing We the People!

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the council chambers at City Hall, 4100 Lakeview Ave. N. The public is welcome to attend and voice opinions and concerns.

Yeah like a decision to do this hasn’t already been made.

 

September 19, 2017 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

ReNae Bowman Should Resign


By Andrew Richter

It was just three short years ago when former Mayor ReNae Bowman’s allies on the Crystal City Council intimidated me to resign from the Planning Commission for telling the truth about a councilman’s behavior. Bowman praised these council members for their “courage” in attacking me. Well, now she is the chair of the Environmental Quality Commission and let’s look at some of her recent comments;

Her first comment was about the Crystal Ball last spring;

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I’m sorry….white persons ball? Were there signs that said white only? Talk about delusional…..the council and volunteers work super hard to hold a city gala and get called racist for it. Where is there evidence of racism?

This next beauty is Bowman calling on council members to be held personally liable for the actions of others;

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What? Personally responsible? Ms. Bowman you know damn well that the council doesn’t hire and fire officers, nor do they train officers. Police cadet programs are not administered by the city of Crystal. Besides, if you felt so strong about this why didn’t you propose to hold the city council personally responsible when you were the mayor? Opinions sure are different when you and your friends aren’t in charge…..

Her complete and total hatred of Mayor Jim Adams and Council Member Jeff Kolb is obvious here;

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Using the mayor’s office for personal gain to grow his business? Where is the evidence of that? Calling Jeff Kolb a creep? OK it’s obvious you hate them but this is beyond hate.

But she saves this doozy for last;

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Look at that? She, as the current chair of a commission and as the former mayor, is encouraging residents to falsify a survey. Think about that. How is this acceptable? This conduct can’t go unchallenged.

I publicly call on Ms Bowman to resign. If she refuses I want the city council to vote her out of her position. Let’s apply the same standard to her that was applied to me. I know she will play the victim like she always does but it’s time we stop being intimidated by her. Let’s confront her on her behavior. She is going to hate me, Mayor Adams, and the city council no matter what we do, and she doesn’t deserve the position she holds.

August 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm 1 comment

Budziszewski Marches Against Crystal


By Andrew Richter

John Budziezewski just never ceases to amaze me; and I don’t mean that in a positive way. This time he appears to be taking the side of Black Lives Matter in wanting Crystal police to be prosecuted in the shooting case of Khaleel Thompson. This group has already called for the four officers involved to be charged with murder and apparently Johnny B agrees with them since he was seen marching with them on May 31.

So the facts aren’t in and nobody including me knows what really happened but Budziezewski has already made up his mind. The officers are guilty without any right to a trial, any right to confront their accusers, or any presumption of innocence.

This conduct is totally and completely unacceptable. Even if Mr. Budziezewski sympathizes with BLM in his personal views, this goes above and beyond that. Mr. Budziezewski has a duty that is bigger than his personal views, and that is the duty he has to the city and the people. These police officers work in the city that he represents and to march against them and convict them in the court of public opinion is reprehensible.

What do you folks in Ward 3 think of this? This is your councilman! Make your opinion of him known. Email Johnny B at john.budziszewski@crystalmn.gov or call him at 612-207-3704. Let’s let him know what you think!

June 2, 2017 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

Develop MN 2016 Plan


dev mn logo

by Jason Bradley

In a recent article, I introduced the centralized oligarchy, Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO). I had also mentioned that they had created an overarching comprehensive plan for all of Greater Minnesota, called the Develop MN 2016 Plan. It’s stated purpose is to align economic development efforts across Greater MN.

The document puts forth a number of ideals

  • Collective voice/collective leadership
  • Providing access to safe and affordable housing
  • Preserved and protected natural resources
  • Financing options that support sustainability, diversity, and expansion
  • Well-developed and maintained water, sewer, communications, and transportation systems
  • Partner with local, regional, state, and federal partners for implementation

MADO brought in the St Cloud Quad counties and the 11 counties of southeastern MN to participate in development process. They drafted 10 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies to guide all of the change they are looking to implement.

Remember how we said that they all steal ideas from each other, making them all the same? They state right in the plan that this was drafted by reviewing best practices by the U.S. Economic Development Association (EDA), National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), and examples of statewide comprehensive plans developed in other states. They use buzzwords like “economic resiliency”. “Resiliency” is a buzzword used by groups like ICLEI.

They base all of their on 4 Cornerstones: Human Capital, Economic Competitiveness, Community Resources, and Foundational Assets.

Human Capital: Labor Force- Greater MN’s prime labor force (25-54) is projected to decline by 5.2% by 2025, yet they want to grow labor force participation by 2% between by 2021. They think that they can accomplish this by “expanding the participation of mature workers to make up for the shortage of new workforce entrants” and increase childcare options so parents can join the workforce. So by getting people to delay retirement and offering welfare to pay for childcare, that will make up for people not entering the workforce. What happens when the mature workers do retire or pass on? Who replaces them? The new crop of mature workers are already working. They also believe that by increasing the percentage of people who attain bachelors degrees will help. Won’t that just take people from one industry and place them in another? That just creates a worker deficiency somewhere else. One of the ways they want to do this is “embracing emerging  populations through targeted educational programs”. In other words, providing education for immigrants for professional training. How do they plan to attract immigrant communities to come?

Economic Competitiveness: The plan touts the values of entrepreneurship and innovation. They think, however, that small business growth happens when small businesses obtain more access to public and private funds. They call to utilize public-private partnerships for increased lending. They want to fully fund regional Small Business Development Centers at the state level.

Community Resources Cornerstone: They want to actively recruit and nurture emerging community leaders. They are waiting for you. They are looking to form networking groups, development opportunities, and succession planning programs. Succession planning groups? Like, naming an heir-apparent? Let’s get involved. We can own the future! Other goals center around arts and culture, tourism, natural resources, and water quality. Of course the natural resources section is full of climate change talk and making sure we reduce our carbon footprint, by advocating for comprehensive plans and land-use policies that prioritize these actions.

Foundational Assets: Under Broadband Access, they claim that 88.29% of Minnesota in under-served with affordable, high speed broadband. Affordable broadband? Is that some new kind of right? Really? Guess what, they want to advocate for state and federal funding to make you pay for it. Under transportation, they want increased funding and to make local governments take sustainability and resiliency into account. Of course we should  plan for the future and for emergencies, but keep in mind, these are both loaded buzzwords. The next section is “Active Living” (speak of buzzwords). This pushes a designation called a “Bicycle Friendly Community Program” of which 13 communities in Greater MN are so designated. The goal is to increase the number of bikeable communities. They also want to increase the number of communities that adopt a Complete Streets policy. They want to increase funding for bikes, pedestrians, and regional trails. There’s even a transit section, where they claim a need to fill an increasing “mobility gap” by funding more rural public transit systems. In “Water-Wastewater Infrastructure”, they want to secure funding for infrastructure, especially as tied to affordable housing. Yep. Affordable housing, transitional housing, funding for demolishing “blighted” housing… the housing section advocates for all the same concepts that the Metropolitan Council does for the Metro.

As you can see, there is so much here that is the same as in other urban and suburban comprehensive plans. MADO is lobbying for a single, unified vision across MN. Why? Are the needs really the same for the forests of northern MN, the plains of western MN, or the valleys in the south? Absolutely not! Therefore the plans should be unique to not only the areas, but the very cities and townships they serve. Your plans have seen the light of day. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Live and Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.

Connect with Jason on Google+

Jason on Google+

 

 

May 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm 1 comment

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Annexation


By Andrew Richter

Folks we’ve been harping on the Met Council and the League of Minnesota Cities lately, so I thought it was time to check out what is happening in Greater Minnesota by looking into what the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is up to. And what did I find???? Check this out: They want Greater Minnesota to oppose Senate File 1795 because…..

SF 1749 prohibits a city from pursuing an annexation if the potential annexation area is covered by an orderly annexation agreement with another city

On paper this may sound reasonable, but what happens in practice is that a township will often put two cities against each other to get the best deal for the township, rather than what is best for the region’s development.

What? Best for the region’s development? And who is to decide that? Doesn’t a township have the right to decide for itself what is in their best interest?

Let them know that SF 1749 is harmful because:

  • It stifles economic development, particularly in Greater Minnesota.
  • It will prevent cities from having a say in how they develop, and instead gives townships disproportionate leverage in negotiating orderly annexation agreements.
  • It would be a stunning restriction of property owner rights:
    • A landowner could be denied the right to connect with city services when building a home.
    • A business owner could be denied the right to build or expand a business.
    • A city may not be able to include property purchased for public purposes—such as for wastewater treatment, water supply or an industrial park—in its own boundaries.

Yeah right! What bunch of garbage! First off, economic development is not stifled by elected local government acting in the best interests of the people who voted for them. They have no obligation to cater to regional planners. Some of these towns and townships want to stay small, they don’t want to be carved up into bike paths and bus routes.

Townships have disproportionate leverage? Shouldn’t they? Cities should have it easier to “annex them?” If townships have no leverage, then eventually they are all going to be eaten up by the nearest big city.

A property rights defense are you kidding? Cities deny permits to build or expand all the time and they deny many communities the right to privately use well water, instead forcing residents “on the system.” And wouldn’t it be terrible that a city couldn’t use eminent domain or buy land. Doesn’t the government own enough?

Read the article HERE 

There’s plenty more where that came from!

April 29, 2017 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

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