Posts filed under ‘City Government’

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!

 

Article

 

April 10, 2017 at 10:57 am 1 comment

Mayor Mark Korin Fighting the Met Council!


By Andrew Richter

Out in Oak Grove the Met Council has found a formidable opponent in Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin who is fighting their regional planning tooth and nail.

In Oak Grove, residents can have a slice of the country — acres of land between houses, room for horses and riding ATVs — just 30 miles from Minneapolis. That peaceful Anoka County setting is at the center of a battle over exurban sprawl and the power of the Metropolitan Council, a fight spilling into the State Capitol where lawmakers are pushing to roll back the regional planning agency’s authority. City leaders want more land made available for developing homes on 2½-acre lots, but the Met Council is enforcing a decade-old compromise that preserves rural land in a corner of the city until there’s demand for traditional suburban subdivisions.

“It’s like a cartel,” said Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin. “They’re dictating … with the belief that they know what’s best for growth patterns.” The battle pits the city’s vision of houses on large lots against regional planners’ desire to limit “unsustainable growth patterns.” The impassioned debate illustrates the Met Council’s daunting task of protecting rural land from sprawling development in a way that still gives cities enough flexibility to grow as they wish. And it comes amid renewed criticism, particularly among Republicans, that the appointed board has grown too powerful with too little accountability.

“I’m the speaker of the House. I can put it in a bill that makes it very difficult for the governor not to sign it — which is going to cause problems for the Met Council in other areas,” Daudt said.

Metropolitan Council plans have long aimed to preserve rural areas ringing the Twin Cities until there’s demand for development dense enough to cover a fair share of related regional infrastructure costs, from roads to sewer service. Sprawling development there could impede that growth in the future, the agency says. So the council works with cities on plans guiding the number of houses allowed per acre.

Met Council officials say housing policies are part of the reason wastewater treatment rates paid by metro residents are below the national average. But housing built on 1- to 2½-acre lots has nonetheless chewed up land in Oak Grove and other Anoka County cities like Andover and Ham Lake. Undeveloped and agricultural land fell from 83 percent of Oak Grove’s total acreage in 1990 to 68 percent in 2010.

“It’s inefficient and it throws costs onto the rest of the region that we all have to bear,” said Jim Erkel of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, noting the need to redesign roads for more traffic and bring sewer pipes to areas with failing septic tanks. “It almost always results in a demand for regional investments, but its density is too low to support them.”

Can you be anymore arrogant? In other words, the hell with what residents in these cities want, we should all just give up our freedom to the collective! Also why is it that these cities can’t take care of their own water? The Met Council is using water as an excuse to control local government.

It still feels like the country, though, amid the rolling cropland owned by Dory Smith, who has about 100 acres in the corner of Oak Grove with the special designation to remain more rural — no more than four homes per 40 acres. She’s interested in developing some housing, but she wouldn’t recoup enough with 10-acre lots. “This is sugar sand out here,” said Smith, a Realtor. “I need to put in a ton of money to get anything out of it. And I’m done doing that.”

Nearby, 72-year-old Everett Kalbow is the youngest of six siblings who own what was once the family farm. They’re trying to sell the land, but interested developers say the rural designation is a problem. “They couldn’t get enough parcels out of it to pay for all of the cost of putting in streets and so on,” Kalbow said. The conflict is yet another headache for the Met Council related to its $26 million East Bethel wastewater plant that went online just east of Oak Grove in 2014 — growth intended to help pay for it hasn’t yet materialized.

Before plans for the plant took shape in the mid-2000s, the Met Council had approved Oak Grove’s requests to carve up farmland and build houses on 2-acre lots. Once the city was earmarked for potential sewer service, however, the Met Council stopped granting the requests for large-lot housing because such development conflicted with long-term sewer system plans, including the plant, the agency said.

A 2007 compromise between Oak Grove and the Met Council allowed most of the city to continue growing with large lots, but preserved rural land in the southeast corner — an area with poor soils for septic systems.

The Met Council says it spent money based on that agreement, investing $3.5 million to make the sewer pipe larger for Oak Grove. But local leaders say the compromise didn’t feel like a choice — they needed Met Council approval of their plan for other development to continue — and the land shouldn’t be held back for growth decades from now.

“They have these delusional plans of maybe, possibly, in 2050 or 2060 or 2080 that there might be a need for three homes per acre? In the middle of nowhere? Does that make sense to you?” Korin asked.

When is it ever a compromise with the Met Council?

Council staff said current plans don’t include sewer service in the area before 2040, but that can change with the housing market. “If that development pattern takes 30 or 40 years to show some resurgence, there’s still an actual strong environmental argument for why we shouldn’t have wells and septic systems in that part of the region,” Duininck said.

An administrative law judge ruled against Oak Grove when the city challenged the Met Council’s plan last year. Korin said the city will submit plans reclassifying the land to the Met Council and is prepared to take the issue into district court if necessary. Lake Elmo took the Met Council all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court in the early 2000s in an unsuccessful fight over regional development plans.

The legislative measure’s chief author is freshman Rep. Cal Bahr, R-East Bethel, who made Met Council reform a key issue in his 2016 campaign. “They want to tell everybody how to live their life or how they think people should live their lives,” Bahr said. “But not everybody fits into that mold. Some of us like to have a little more elbow room.”

Of course, Met Council elimination is the ultimate goal but Cal Bahr is still fighting the good fight. Mark Korin is also doing that and we need more mayors like him!

Article

March 31, 2017 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

Uh Oh, We’ve Got MADO


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What has ten parts, covers Minnesota, and ruins everybody’s fun? Give up? It’s MADO! What is MADO, you ask? It’s the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations! Now I know you’re all excited. You heard about the Northwest Regional Development Commission (NWRDC) in my last blog post. Well, that’s only one of ten regional planning organizations in this group. You can’t run, and you can’t hide. This organization covers all of Minnesota, except for a narrow strip from about St. Cloud to the southeastern corner of the state. A big chunk of that area is Met Council territory. You heard me right; the Met Council isn’t even included in these ten regional planning organizations.

Other than the aforementioned NWRDC, there are nine other groups, that combined, control the majority of Minnesota’s landscape. Just to the east of the NWRDC is the Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) based out of Bemidji, and then the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) is to the east of that, based out of Duluth. To the south of the NWRDC is the West Central Initiative (WCI) out of Fergus Falls. To the east of the WCI is the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) based out of Staples, and to the east of that is the East Central Development Commission (ECRDC) based out of Mora. South of the WCI is the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC) based out of Appleton, and to the east of that is the Mid-Minnesots Development Commission (MMDC) based out of Willmar. South of the UMVRDC is the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) based out of Slayton, and lastly, to the east is the Region Nine Develpment Commission (R9DC) based out of Mankato. Is your head swimming? Good, because it should be! In fact, the map looks like this:

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So, ten regional planning organizations all under one umbrella, being centrally planned. What can go wrong? I hope to look into and explore each of these organizations in the future, but first, let’s look into MADO. What is it? What does it do?

MADO’s purpose is to create economic development in greater Minnesota. It is a network of Regional Development Organizations (RDO’s), state and federal agencies, and communities. The various RDO’s are governed by a board of directors of elected officials and special interest groups. RDO’s were authorized by the Minnesota Legislature in 1969 (thanks, guys), and are designated by the United States Department of Commerce. There are federal funds in the form of grants at the very least. Some of the services they provide are: community development, comprehensive planning, grant writing, transportation planning, housing planning, emergency planning, and environmental planning.

MADO has constructed the Develop MN 2016 Plan (Comprehensive Development Strategy for Greater Minnesota). We will  tear this plan apart in another blog article, but here’s what you need to know right now. MADO put this plan together to align greater MN under four priorities: Human Capital, Economic Competitiveness, Community Resources, and Foundational Assets. These are all designed to foster shared prosperity among the communities of greater Minnesota. They also talk about the need to have a strong and credible, collective voice. Collective? Shared? Those aren’t accidental words, and most hard-working folks in greater Minnesota would never anticipate their true origin. This is, however, all about an equalizing economic agenda. My friends, regional planning has run amok in Minnesota. It matters not where you go. You can not escape it. We will have more on this. You can be sure of that.

 

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+

March 19, 2017 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

More TOD Coming to Brookyln Park


By Andrew Richter

Guess what is coming to Brooklyn Park!

The Brooklyn Park Economic Development Authority unanimously voted to authorize staff to purchase surplus righ of way land leftover from Highway 610 construction. The parcel, at the northeast corner of the Highway 169 and 610 interchange, will be bought with the intention to sell it to Target Corporation for their north campus development.

The cost to purchase the approximately 23 acres of land will be $2.2 million. Currently, the land is owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Target has an existing development agreement with the city stipulating that Target has a right to buy this land from the development authority when MnDOT makes it available for purchase. Moreover, the agreement stipulates that if Target buys the land from the development authority, Target will purchase the land at the same price the authority paid, and cover all of the city’s out-of-pocket costs. Target will have 180 days to purchase the parcel from the development authority. If Target does not purchase the land within this period, the city can land bank the parcel until it is needed for the later development of the Oak Grove Parkway light rail station.

Oh yippy!

Jennifer Jordan, senior project manager for the city, said the costs to hold the land would be minimal, and would primarily be for mowing and potential waste removal. Target cannot purchase the land directly from MnDOT. Councilmember Mark Mata said the city should not mow the parcel if it purchases the land. The city should lease the land to a farmer until development, if possible, he said. Jordan said an MnDOT lease on the land with a farmer has expired, so the city could explore leasing the parcel to another farmer. Councilmember Bob Mata agreed with Mark, and said the city should lease the land to a farmer.

Funding for the parcel would come from tax increment funding, Jordan said. To her knowledge, after Target purchases the parcel from the city, the funding would be returned to the tax increment fund.

Did I ever express how much I hate TIF?

By the why does Target keep getting these little sweetheart deals?

Article

March 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

Introducing The Northwest Regional Development Commission


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For quite a while now, we have discussed the ills of regional planning as implemented by the Metropolitan Council. They issue faulty population projections, force light rail and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) on communities, and require one-size-fits-all comprehensive plans from Cities, under threat of discipline. Is the Met Council alone in their actions? Are there other regional planning groups in Minnesota that do the same type of work? Let’s explore… introducing the Northwest Regional Development Commission.

The commission was created in 1973 by local government units under the authorization of the Regional Development Act of 1969 . Like the Met Council, it is an unelected body with levy power to collect property taxes. It includes the counties of Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau. It stretches all the way from the Northwest corner of the state, westward to the west shore of Lake of the Woods at Roseau, and southward to Perley. The commission has 35 representatives (Counties, Cities, Townships, School Districts, and special interest groups). These members set policy and direction for the commission. Monthly business is handled by an appointed board of directors (one member from each county and an at-large Chairperson).

What kinds of business does this group handle? Are they really some shadow government group that meets in a smoky back room to control an entire region of Minnesota? Well… no, not really. They do it right out in the open. They tackle aging, arts, economic development, emergency operations planning, business loans, community development, and transportation planning. Why we need a regional planning commission to tackle these issues in a part of the state that is so spread out, I’ll never know.

Let’s take a look at their community development program. They offer a number of services, including tourism promotion, GIS mapping for recreation promotion, art and culture promotion, grant writing, comprehensive planning, zoning and mapping for local government, disaster mitigation and recovery, regional planning and project management, and housing. There are five housing subgroups that deal with affordable housing (Inter-County Community Council, Northwest Community Action Agency, Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and Northwest Regional Development Commission).

Transportation planning includes highway corridor studies, rail planning, port of entry issues, aeronautics planning, transit planning, scenic byways, regional road prioritizations, trails, and enhancements. The Commission handles transportation planning for Areawide Transportation Partnership (ATP) 2. They meet annually to develop and review a three-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).

As you can see, there are many of the same facets to this regional planning body as to the Met Council: affordable housing, comprehensive planning, and transit. Now, does the NWRDC have the same iron-fist policy as the Met Council? How autonomous are the cities in this region? Those are questions that we’ll only begin to learn the answers to as we begin to review the comprehensive plans of the cities in that area. So stay tuned as we begin to uncover some of these hidden layers of government.

 

 

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+

February 21, 2017 at 3:30 am Leave a comment

Brooklyn Park Pushes Racist Resolution


By Andrew Richter

The Brooklyn Park city council is out of control. At tonight’s meeting Racist Councilmember Susan Pha is going to introduce a resolution supporting immigrants and refugees.

Of course the devil is in the details. Few people if any will actually read the resolution. View it HERE of course on the last three pages. It is filled with hate-filled liberal divisive rhetoric but the last statement gets me:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Brooklyn Park strives to be a united and welcoming community strengthened by the extraordinary diversity of our residents. We stand against division, bigotry, hate, and fear. We do not tolerate discrimination, hate speech or violent acts committed against any individual or community.

Then you should take a stand against a washed-up Pop star calling for people to bomb the White House or looting when a conservative speaker is on a college campus. Where’s your advocacy of diversity and free speech Mrs. Pha?

We will advocate for the civil and human rights, freedoms and interests of all of the members of our community, regardless of skin color, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, country of origin, sexual orientation, lifestyle preference, economic status or any other identity.

In other words, any dissenting opinions are racist and need to be silenced.

Of course, the truth is Pha is the racist. She is the one who seeks to divide us among racial lines when it comes to every issue; housing, transit, immigration etc. She speaks for the PC police. It is people like Pha who PREVENT a rational discussion about immigration or race. She is a disgrace. I’m not afraid of your race-baiting Mrs. Pha and you won’t silence me. Why don’t you go back and run one of your fake companies.

Despite the stupidity of this resolution, I expect that it will PASS. Yes I think it will pass! I especially think this after reading Mayor Jeff Lunde’s rants. Of course I’m not objective in reading Lunde’s comments. I think he is a useless mayor. He claims to be a conservative and he is anything but that. Check out these “conservative” comments:

Lunde recently wrote a meandering and contradictory article on the issue. He said:

The Brooklyn Park City Council has not declared the City as a sanctuary city.  The City has, however, adopted policies over the years that are sensitive to how we interact with our diverse population.

So what’s that mean? Sensitive?

The City of Brooklyn Park has NO authority to enforce federal laws, nor do we have the authority to change or influence them.  Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen has repeatedly stressed, “we’re not in the business of looking for undocumented immigrants or asking immigration status.”

Do you see the code language here? Lunde refers to illegal aliens as “undocumented immigrants.” Also look at the inconsistency; you are not a sanctuary city, yet you don’t look for illegal aliens or ask their status. Isn’t that a sanctuary city?

Check out this comment:

If, however, someone who does not have documentation regarding immigration status is stopped for something like a routine traffic violation, nothing would be reported to immigration authorities.

Sounds like a sanctuary city to me!

Finally, I completely understand that many of our city’s immigrants are experiencing fear and anxiety.

Why? What are you fearing? If you are here legally then what’s the problem? Enforcing the law is enforcing the law.

This is one of the many reasons I refused to vote for Mr. Lunde when he ran for senate. Some on my side have criticized me for this claiming a write in vote is a vote for a Democrat, but I’m tired of choosing between DFL and DFL light. Lunde is no conservative, period.

We will update the vote tonight!

Lunde comments are HERE

February 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

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