Posts filed under ‘City Government’

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.

 

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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

The Story of New Brighton Part 1


By Andrew Richter

OK my friends it’s time for us to tackle yet another city. Now it’s the city of New Brighton. Now to tell the whole story here I have to do it in parts. This one is going to introduce you to the types of things that are going on there.

To set the stage here, New Brighton has elections in the odd years and after the 2015 election was considering a change to make their election in even years. Now my friends, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know how much I hate odd year elections so you may think this something I’d jump at but how they presented doing it is the problem.

After introducing a change to city code, councilman Brian Strub made a curious amendment. He proposed to both lengthen and shorten the city council terms. The new mayor at the time, Val Johnson, had just been elected to a two-year term. Two council members had also been elected to four years terms that would be up in 2019. Strub’s proposal was to extend the mayor’s term to 2018 and shorten the terms of those elected in 2013 to three years so they’d be up in 2016.

Do you follow all that? How can they extend the terms of one member and lengthen the term of another? That makes no sense!

HERE is a link to the meeting. The discussion begin about an hour into the meeting. It’s an interesting discussion.

Heres one question; Is this even legal? Find out on the next blog post!

April 21, 2017 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

Coming to a City Near You!


By Andrew Richter

Now folks over the years here we have warned you that local government is using the environment as an excuse to take away your freedom of choice when it comes to trash collection. The latest circus is in the People’s Republic of St. Paul;

When Bobby Stewart, a third-generation trash hauler, saw the list of items the city of St. Paul expects collected alongside residential garbage, his eyes almost crossed. If the city gets its way, Christmas trees would be picked up from residential homes every January. A barrel full of lawn waste and up to eight additional bags of leaves and grass clippings would be carted off throughout the year for an extra fee. And collection of three big and bulky items annually, such as sofas, refrigerators and tires, would come standard.

Meanwhile, a contract for residential citywide trash collection would also include a labor peace agreement, allowing employees of the trash haulers to unionize. “On the one hand, they want unions,” said Stewart, 31, whose maternal grandparents launched Highland Sanitation in 1950. “On the other hand, they want a cheaper price than the current market. And the current market doesn’t have unions. … They want us to do a lot more (for less).”

Of course they do…..low price with a high wage!

The St. Paul City Council voted last July to move toward organized trash collection, but discussions — which have produced three proposals to date from a consortium of 15 haulers — have bogged down over four key issues.

Here’s an idea: why don’t you let these companies compete for the business of citizens????

As a result, the council on Wednesday will vote on whether to assemble a committee of city officials to consider putting collection out to bid or issuing a separate request for proposals, even as negotiations with the haulers continue. The goal remains to launch organized trash collection in 2018 or 2019.

“The resolution would direct us to set a dual track,” said Ellen Biales, administrative programs manager for St. Paul Public Works. “The council members are feeling this keeps the city’s options open. We’re still hoping we can come to an agreement with the haulers, but if we can’t, this keeps us on track.”

Negotiations between the city and the coalition of haulers have hit an impasse over four key areas: pricing; labor peace agreements; centralized billing; and the possible creation of a single legal entity made up of all the residential haulers in the city.

As a result of a decentralized system adopted in the 1970s, 11 local, independent haulers and four regional or national chains roll down St. Paul alleys, with costs and services that can vary dramatically from house to house.

Yes, it’s called independent contracting. Different companies offering different services to people who want different things.

In St. Paul, picking a garbage plan can be almost as confusing as choosing a cellphone or cable package.

So what? It’s called a free market!

“We’re trying to standardize the prices,” Biales said. “It’s a tough conversation because it’s a big systems change. New residents to the city are just mystified that they have to figure this out on their own.”

Let me translate that: you’re trying to do a one-size fits all by taking away people’s freedom of choice.

Under state law, before trash collection can be put out to bid like any other major contract, the city must first attempt to negotiate a citywide collection system with a consortium of haulers. Since August, negotiations have spanned 11 meetings and resulted in three proposals to the city.

“We’ve made significant movement from the first proposal to the third proposal,” said Anne Hunt, the city’s environmental policy director. Hunt has led negotiations for the city alongside recycling and solid waste program manager Kristin Hageman, with research help from Deputy City Attorney Rachel Tierney and Foth consultants.

The haulers say they’re frustrated.

Jim Berquist, 66, of Ken Berquist and Son Disposal, said 90 percent of his business is based in St. Paul, and has been since the 1930s. Putting citywide residential garbage collection out to bid could force him and 11 employees — several of them family members — out of business. “If we lose the contract, my company is over,” Berquist said.

Meanwhile, the rough rollout of a citywide alleyway recycling program that began in January has provided fresh ammunition to critics.

The haulers recently launched a Facebook page — “1st Choice St. Paul” — where they ask residents to “tell City Hall that they should be focusing on solving the current budget … and fixing their failed recycling program before digging into our garbage.”

No they are too busy putting garbage companies out of business.

Trash haulers say they are being asked to provide more services than they currently do, at lower cost. That includes annual Christmas tree collection, an optional 64-gallon barrel of lawn waste and eight additional bags, and up to one cart switch per year.

The haulers say each of their three proposals to the city has slashed prices compared with the one before. “The haulers have made some movement on prices,” Biales acknowledged, “but I think what we’re asking for is very competitive with the marketplace right now.”

Meanwhile, other costs are rising for trash haulers. Berquist noted that Ramsey and Washington counties have bought a garbage processing plant in Newport, which will likely raise fees once the plant’s contract with haulers expires at the end of the year.

In addition, the city is requiring the haulers to sign labor peace agreements guaranteeing they will not interfere with workers’ attempts to unionize, which could add to costs.

My friends, I’m telling you that this discussion is coming to a city near you. Someone somewhere on a city council (Johnny B) or on city staff is looking at this a plotting to pursue it! Watch for it!

 

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April 10, 2017 at 10:57 am 1 comment

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