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Right before Christmas, Andrew and I sat down with Jack and Ben on the Up and at ‘Em podcast to discuss local government. Newly-elected Crystal Council Member, Nancy LaRoche also joined us on the brown couch. It was full of laughs and a little serious stuff too. We discuss some of what’s been going on in Crystal, why it’s not been reproduced anywhere else, and how easy it really could be. Gather around the Christmas tree, tune in, and share with your loved ones!

December 26, 2016 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

Bowman the Sore Loser with a Capital “L” Part 1

By Andrew Richter

My friends, I’ve said this for years; you can tell someone’s character in defeat. We all know ReNae Bowman’s has a lot of class it’s just all low. Perhaps it has never been lower with her latest facebook rant. Her lies are so vast and so complete that I have to make three posts about it!


Now I don’t know where to begin here; first of all I dont know what happened to Charlie and neither does she. However, in her arrogance she claimed that it’s probably without merit. What do you have ESP or something. Later she says this;

img_0442Of course it’s a personnel matter! Mr. Hanson has privacy here and there’s no reason that his employment termination should be out there for Bowman to see. Then she says that she hoped he sues the mayor! What kind of a sociopath hopes someone gets sued?

The funny thing about it is that the Crystal city charter is very clear; the mayor and the council do not decide personnel matters. It says so very clearly in Chapter 2 section 2.11;


So as you can see, neither the mayor nor the council can fire Charlie Hanson. As the former mayor, one would think Bowman would know that. She’s just lying about the council to try and make it look like there is something terrible going on and so she can trash the people in charge. She is simply an angry and bitter old politician who is jealous of the people who defeated her.

Stay tuned for part 2!

November 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm 1 comment

Crystal City Council Post-Election Analysis


by Jason Bradley

On November 8th, 2016, we experienced one of the more exciting elections we’ve had in a long time. I’m not saying that because my candidates won (after all, Opat and Ellison both kept their jobs), but because we saw a political class that was not able to predict what was about to happen. The election results provide a window into the psyche of the American voter.

I would like to take a little pride in our pre-election prognosis, especially when much of the media had no idea what was happening. We, here at Community Solutions MN, without a single indicator, poll, or primary, gave a pretty accurate preview of both the Crystal and Champlin elections in our previous podcasts.

Let’s take a look at the Crystal Races, and analyze the results. First off was the mayoral race between Mayor Jim Adams and former mayor and challenger, ReNae Bowman. Out of 10,747 votes (78% of all registered voters in the city) Jim got 5,900 votes (54.9%) and ReNae got 4,791 votes (44.58%). 10% is a huge difference. It proves that you can’t run a campaign on half-truths and distortions. Secondly, you need to be a decent person. You can’t go around and publicly defame your opponent, his colleagues, his supporters, and city volunteers. They are potential voters that will never break your way when you insult them. To this day, she has not made a public statement thanking her supporters or volunteers. She has posted plenty of hate-filled, conspiracy-laden, gender and race fueled rants to her personal Facebook page though. People remember those kinds of things. She still has not called Mayor Jim Adams to concede or congratulate him. Should we expect anything less from the person that refused to approve the canvassing board’s results after her first loss to him? Gratitude, kindness, and class go a long way, and unfortunately, I think Ms Bowman has burned too many bridges to ever run for office again. Also, can we put to rest the idea that party identification gets you nothing in a non-partisan race? Despite her calling out her party affiliation from the highest rooftops, it did her absolutely no good. People want your loyalty to your community, not your party.

In Section 1, Nancy LaRoche got 2,701 votes (54.31%), to beat Therese Kiser’s 2,230 votes (44.84%) for Laura Libby’s open seat. This one wasn’t a surprise either. Nancy is a super hard worker and extremely nice. Knowing her character and work ethic made this an easy pick for us. I will say this, Ms Kiser called Nancy on election night, and they have had a cordial relationship, post-election. Thank you for being an example on how to accept a difficult outcome with grace, and running a good race.

In Ward 4, there were also no surprises. Julie Deschler is very popular because she is so involved in her community, that it will be hard to ever unseat her.  She was the big winner with 1,607 votes (67.75%) to Jeff Munson’s 742 votes (31.28%). As long as Julie is running, she’s got the upper hand in Ward 4.

Lastly, we will look at Ward 3. This is the one race where we weren’t sure the incumbent would win. Councilmember Casey Peak was upset with 1,113 votes (46.76%) to John Budziszewski’s 1,258 votes (52.86%). The slim 145 vote victory can be attributed to a few things: 1) John has better name ID than Casey. Casey is very smart, but kept a pretty low profile for most of his time on the Council. In much of the late polling I did, I found that people just didn’t know who Casey was, despite his seat on the Council. I think people also forgot the negativity attached with John’s name two years ago in the way he went after Councilmember Olga Parsons and her supporters. 2) Referring back to John’s image problem from point one, John ran a very quiet race. This helped him to stay out of the limelight and rely on name recognition to pull him through. If Casey had put John in the limelight, it would have been a much different race. 3) Lastly, this race stayed dormant for far too long. I firmly believe that the momentum was shifting to Casey, but he just ran out of time. If the race had begun to heat up in July, the results would have been different. It will be interesting to see how John handles his second chance on the Council. He can come in and be the name-calling obstructionist, or take a cue from his win and lay low, rationally discussing his point of view. The first option will assure him that this will be his final term. The second may buy him many years in those chambers. We’ll see what he decides to do.

Well, there you go. Once again, we did a pretty good job calling these races. It just goes to show how important it is to know your community. When we predict a race, it’s not based on a hope or a wish. It is based completely on execution of strategy and public knowledge of City issues. I’m excited to see what comes next for Crystal. It’s undergone some big changes for the better. I anticipate more to come over the next couple of years. Congratulations to all of the winners!


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+

November 15, 2016 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

Final Thoughts and an Appeal on the Crystal Municipal Elections


by Jason Bradley

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Some of us will go out and pull the lever for our favorite candidate. Some will pull the lever for the candidate they hate the least. Far too many will not go out to vote at all. Some who will vote are informed, some are misinformed, others are entirely uninformed. If you read Community Solutions MN, you can be rest assured that you have the best information at your fingertips.

What started out as a quest for information eight years ago, turned into fascination (okay, maybe more of an obsession), and then into reality. We began an experiment that has turned into experience. It was little more than hope when we began, but has now brimmed into confidence.

Local politics is about doing what’s right for people in your community, not towing the party line. That’s why these are non-partisan races. Yet, we have four candidates in Crystal (Bowman, Budziszewski, Kiser, and Munson) that have run to a party and shouted their affiliation from the rooftops. Who can tell me what the Democrat position is on parking bans, or the Republican position on backyard chickens? It just doesn’t work that way.

I remember a recent mailer that came endorsing ReNae Bowman from the AFL-CIO that stated her support of fixing bridges and fair pay. Those are not city issues! Cities don’t set wages, save for their own employees. There are no more bridges in Crystal needing attention. The Bottineau Boulevard bridge is brand new! What is this mailer even saying, other than pandering to special interest groups on association alone?

Instead, the ex-mayor and her slate have embraced the Met Council and their ivory tower mandates for a city they know nothing about. She (and Johnny B during his short-lived stint on the Council) has run to special interests pushed by state and county government, and publicly made fun of residents that tried to express opposing views.

The former mayor has lied about increased taxes during this campaign. While, yes, the tax levy is going up this year, the hidden taxes (such as street assessments) are going away. No more getting hit with a huge one-time tax, plus interest if you can’t pay it right away. You will see these payments spread out (minus the interest) over time on your property taxes. Taxes under Bowman and Johnny B went up every year without eliminating special assessments!

She has lied about the impacts of paying for the public works building with available cash. She said that the decision to pay for the building with available cash drained our reserves and hurt our financial standing. That’s not true. Moody’s has stated that our cash reserves are strong, and the current bond rating reflects that sentiment. The city saved money by paying in cash!

Bowman and Johnny B have frequently disparaged the people she had to work with. She called Vets and the VFW they attend a “crony clubhouse” that gave bribes to Julie Deschler, a Council Member she didn’t agree with. The only problem? It was completely false! She accused Councilmember Kolb of stealing her husband’s lawn signs. Again, false! She has tried to rake Mayor Adams through the mud numerous times. She called her opposition “Trumpsters” without any justification. She ripped the City Code Task Force, a group of citizens that volunteered to review our City Code for unnecessary or outdated ordinances. Remember, she also called Andrew, myself, and other residents nasty, vile, conspiracy theorists, un-American, anarchists, and more.

Speaking of street reconstruction, it shows that Bowman does whatever is politically expedient, versus basing anything on principle. For example, she was all for paying cash for the public works building, before she was against it. After she flip-flopped, she stated her reasoning for bonding a large portion of it as that the payments should be spread out over time, to disperse the cost over future generations of residents. Yet, she wants to nail the homeowner with the full cost of street repairs (plus interest), rather than spread out the payments over time. That is unprincipled and intellectually dishonest.

I want to remind people of the political climate over the last two election cycles. It was tense here in Crystal. ReNae and John were ousted because of their lack of respect for people and their affinity for allowing other governmental groups to come and do as they please in our city. She has lied to residents about plans to redevelop the Crystal airport. She refused to approve the canvassing board’s election results when Mayor Adam’s beat her. She approved of corporate welfare to build the Crystal Medical Center, despite the protests of the residents of that neighborhood. Her farewell address was laden with bile and disdain for the will of the people. The tone has indeed changed over the last two years, and it should be pretty noticeable to the community.

You have a choice. You can vote for a slate of party loyalists that will do whatever is necessary to pay that party back for their support and keep their support going forward, or you can think about casting your vote for their opponents (Adams, Peak, Deschler, and LaRoche), three of whom have shown that they do the people’s work, and one that would make a fine addition to this Council because of her servant’s heart. Crystal is a better place to live because of the work this group has done: we can raise chickens for food, point-of-sale inspections are a thing of the past, work sessions are finally being recorded and available online, the Canadian National rail line conquest has been stalled, railroad quiet zones are coming in 2017, the City Code Task Force has reviewed our code for outdated and unnecessarily restrictive ordinances, maintained Crystal’s strong financial standing, and have exposed hidden taxes, so that they show up on your property tax statement. No more tax surprises! Now you have the facts; go vote!


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+

November 8, 2016 at 1:41 am Leave a comment

John Budziszewski Has to Go

Tomorrow’s the big day. You have a choice to make. Before you do, please be informed. You can’t trust someone in a local race just because they ascribe to a certain party. These are non-partisan races. Now, I’m not a name caller, but I’m going to reblog this because it does show some important character traits about one of the candidates. Character is everything. This blog post caused a lot of controversy in the day, so be warned, and vote smart.

Community Solutions MN

By Andrew Richter

The June 17 Crystal City Council meeting was full of fireworks. This wasn’t a pre 4th of July celebration, it was debate about how to fund mill & overlay projects. I’m not going to get into the issue here. If you want to know more about it you can listen to our interview with Mayor Adams HERE. In this post I want to focus on is the behavior of one person on the council.

You can tell a lot about a person by their body language. I was watching council members faces while other people we talking. Even though this was a passionate debate, I thought for the most part it was respectful. The one person who acted like a total jerk was section 2 councilman John Budziszewski.

When he was first elected, I didn’t know what to make out of Budziszewski. He was quiet, mild-mannered…

View original post 443 more words

November 7, 2016 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

We Make Our Final Case

By Andrew Richter

Folks, I know that the presidential race and some people down in the dumps and with Donald Trump and Mrs. Clinton that is understandable. But remember what we’ve been preaching for years here; the local races are what matter the most. They aren’t the sexiest jobs but they are the most important.

In Crystal the choices couldn’t be clearer. You can choose four good and honest people; Jim Adams, Casey Peak, Nancy LaRoche, and Julie Deshler. This will keep Crystal moving forward in a positive way. I’m very proud of the way they’ve conducted themselves. Their opponents have been partisan, they’ve name called, they’ve lied, they will do anything to smear their opponents in order to win.

Mayor Jim Adams has run a good and positive campaign making his case for changing Crystal financially in contrast to ReNae Bowman and her message of hate. Adams wrapped up his case on his facebook page:

In my final post before election day, I want to thank every one of you who has supported me, both during this election, and during the last four years as mayor. It truly has been an honor to serve, and I hope that I’ll get another chance to do it again for another term.

I made a deliberate decision to run a positive campaign and not respond to the negativity, name-calling, and deliberate misrepresentation of facts from my opponent. Time will tell if that was the best election strategy, but it was a strategy that would allow me to focus on the positive and feel good about the results, either way.

I love this city and have always done what I think is in the best interest of its citizens. That’s what I promised to do when I ran the first time, and that’s my promise if elected again.
Thank you all, and God bless.


Thank you Mr. Mayor.

Councilman Casey Peak also wrapped up has campaign with these thoughts:

With election day quickly approaching I’m reflecting on the past 4 years. I made a vow to fight for people’s rights and liberties and can honestly say I feel good about the results. I have had debates on everything from people’s rights to provide for their own food (backyard chickens); to whether or not someone leaving their cars on to warm up in the winter times warranted a collective right of the city to be able to enter their cars and take their keys, locking them out of their cars. I am proud to say at every turn I voted for the people’s liberties in this fine city.

At times it was rough. At times I questioned how much good I could do since part of being in office restricts my freedom to speak my mind. Especially when lies and misinformation are told. My neighbors are not tools nor are they dumb. They deserve honesty and truth. After 4 years and countless hours, in reflection of my deeds, I can say I made an impact. And I did it with honesty and integrity. I can say indeed I showed citizens that we still have people who care about Our rights. I will never lie or mislead you for personal and political gain.

I have been honored and blessed to serve my community, friends, and neighbors with my actions. I am proud to include you all in that respect and would be honored to serve for another 4 years. I would ask you all to raise your voice in support by casting a vote this Tuesday for me again. I will always put the rights of my citizens first.

Thank you Casey. What a contrast you are to that pompous John Budziszewski.

Nancy LaRoche has been a class act and put out this video thanking her supporters:

Thanks Nancy!

And what more can we say about Julie Deshler. She’s a class act, a great volunteer, and just one of the best people I know. Ward 4 couldn’t have a better representative. She also made a closing statement we’d like to share:


Once again Julie, thanks for serving. We have a great city council in Crystal and we have a great chance to keep it that way! Get out and support these people on Tuesday!

November 6, 2016 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

2016 Champlin Election Preview

In this episode, we examine the local races in Champlin, MN. We take a look at each contest and give you our expert opinion. Champlin is a little different animal than our usual topic (Crystal), but an interesting study, nonetheless. Grab some popcorn, fire up the internet machine, sit back, and enjoy!


November 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

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