Posts tagged ‘Community Solutions’

Dropping by the Up and At ‘Em Show


Up and at Em logo

Jason and Andrew dropped by the Up and at ‘Em Show to talk to Jack and Ben. Talk quickly turned to comprehensive plans and city ordinances. We then sat in for the News Bag and a great conversation with Senator Dan Hall. Listen here: Up and at ‘Em podcast.

February 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

It’s Comprehensive Plan Time Again


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by Jason Bradley

Well, if you’ve been hanging around us for any length of time at all, you know that we are a little critical of the procedure for creating and approving comprehensive plans in metropolitan Minnesota. I probably haven’t given my full viewpoint enough publicity, but believe it or not, I’m not against comprehensive plans in theory. I am a planner. I believe that without a well-formulated plan, you have no idea where you are going. If you have no idea where you are headed, you will end up somewhere you don’t want to be. A detailed comprehensive plan can define and preserve the character of your community. It can help your city to run smoothly and prepare for emergencies.

That’s not what we’re talking about here. In the metro area, the Metropolitan Council creates a massive regional planning document that includes land use, housing, transportation, water, and parks. The latest Met Council concoction of faulty forecasting and trendy buzzwords has been dubbed “Thrive MSP 2040”. It boasts “One Vision, One Metropolitan Region”. Sounds warm and cozy, doesn’t it? All of the aspects of the plan must reflect the five outcomes: Stewardship, Prosperity, Equity, Livability, and Sustainability. We will get into more of the details of this plan in future blogs. Today, however, I just want you to understand that it exists. It exists, and drives all of the decisions made in your community.

The Met Council has the authority to force Cities to write and submit a new comprehensive plan every ten years. The city must write its comp plan in conjunction with the standards outlined in the regional plan. If it does not, the Met Council can ask them to go back to the drawing board and resubmit. The Met Council can continue to do this as it sees fit, impose fines, or exact other heavy-handed measures. The ability of a City to actually do what is in their best interest has been greatly limited.

So no matter if you live in Minneapolis, Minnetonka, or Marine on St. Croix, your city is slotted for increased rental units (including affordable housing), transit accessibility, an interconnected park system, mixed use development, reduced lot sizes of new developments, and other regional planning darlings to fit their consistently poor population forecasts, no matter if it fits into the character of your city or not.

So, what can we do? Ideally, a wave of Thrive MSP 2040 opponents would have been elected to city councils back in November. I’m not certain that happened. These comp plans will be written this year, and completed in 2018. Some elections will happen this year, so get on that, you cities that have odd year elections! In every city, we need to fill every open seat on every planning commission. All anyone (and I mean anyone can do this) needs to do is to go down to city hall and fill out an application. You go interview in front of the council, and they pick the best one (don’t say anything too crazy).  The planning commission advises the city council on the comp plan. That’s why it is important to get those spots. A single city has little hope of standing up to the Met Council, but a group of them standing together has a much better chance.

So, there you go. It may not be an election year for most of us, but there is still something worthy to fight for. Let us know how we can help you.

 

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 2, 2017 at 1:46 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions MN Radio Podcast- President Trump: Are All Politics Local?


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On our latest podcast, we thought that we’d discuss something a little different. We took a look at President Trump’s election, and how his policies might affect national and local governing. We talk about how the decisions made at the federal level can put pressure on local governments to accept federal dollars that aren’t necessarily in their best interest. We hope you enjoy it!

January 30, 2017 at 9:46 pm 1 comment

Community Solutions Back on Up and at ‘Em


Up and at Em logo

Andrew and I were on the January 8th episode of Up and at ‘Em with Jack and Ben. In this episode we were able to discuss our story, and a little more about the nuts and bolts of how we do what we do. We also were able to discuss some of how we envision being able to make changes across the state. Tune in and share with others that want to make a change in their communities!

January 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions on the Up and at ‘Em Show


Up and at Em logo

Listen here: https://overcast.fm/+HDf13bulk

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

Crystal City Council Post-Election Analysis


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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

The Dark Side Of Corporate And Government Collusion (An Update)


by Jason Bradley

As explained in Andrew’s recent article (https://communitysolutionsmn.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/crystal-getting-railroaded/), that the Canadian Pacific (CP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads (BNSF) are looking to share some track to relieve congestion from the conjunction of the Northtown and University yards by joining the two companies’ tracks in Crystal and sending CP trains (running east and west north of 49th Ave and south of 52nd Ave) down the BNSF track (running north and south alongside Broadway Ave) toward Minneapolis. According to Crystal City documents, only one or two trains use the BNSF track per day, and several dozen use the CP track. The CP trains are up to 4,000 ft long, which according to the City “would simultaneously close all four of the Crystal crossings: Douglas Drive (CR 102), West Broadway (CR 8), Corvallis and again at West Broadway.” They go on to say, “Trains of up to 5,600 feet have been observed on the CP. If these are diverted to the BNSF, then the 45½ Avenue crossing in Robbinsdale also would be closed simultaneously with Crystal’s four crossings; meaning that all crossings between Winnetka Avenue in New Hope and Highway 100 in Robbinsdale, a track distance of 2¼ miles through a fully developed urban area, would be closed by a single train”. This will hamper police, fire, and ambulance. While we can pull other Cities’ resources away (if they are not already indisposed) for fire and police in case of a blocked crossing, I don’t see where medical back-up can come from in time. We’re talking about people’s lives here.

To build this connector track, they will need to take land from North Suburban Towing/ Thomas Auto Body, Red Rooster Autoparts, and Midwest Mastercraft. I’m sure you’ve already seen some of the markers on Broadway between the railroad tracks and Corvallis. The railroad already told North Suburban Towing to take their fair price, because they were going to take the property anyway.

You heard me right. The federal government gave eminent domain rights to the railroads in the 1875
General Railroad Right of Way Act. Now, whether you agree with it or not, when families acquired land in the Homestead Act, railroads were not even a figment of someone’s imagination. To build the railroad network, one might be able to make a case for using eminent domain, but now? The railroad system is built from coast to coast. It’s one thing to strike a deal for land; it’s another for a private business (which the railroads are) to be able to steal land away with the wave of a hand.

According to the State of MN and the railroads, there’s nothing we can do about this. City staff says, “The City’s legal counsel have advised that the proposed rail connection is not subject to any local, county or state permitting or review processes.” MNDOT did a grade crossing safety study last year, and did not include these plans in their report, that would allow for funding to correct any adverse effects of this project. MNDOT and the railroads are refusing to consult with Crystal. These robber barons are so sure of their place in the social pecking order, that they won’t even give the City the time of day. In the January 17, 2015 article “BNSF, Canadian Pacific to link Twin Cities rail lines” in Trains magazine, they are already talking like it’s a done deal. Quotes such as “A new connection will be built” don’t leave a lot of room for an alternate plan. The railroads repeatedly deny having plans or drawings, but are already working on purchasing the land. Why would you do that without a plan? Once the railroads decide to go, it will happen fast. Word on the street is that the project completion date is slated for end of this summer. Cities need to work quickly, and start now.

If you are in Robbinsdale and Golden Valley, you will be the recipient of all this new rail traffic. Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and New Hope, we will be calling your resources away any time there is an emergency and the CP trains are blocking emergency vehicles.  What are you going to do about it? I would ask that Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and New Hope all throw their support behind Crystal. I ask that you write a letter to the City (asap) telling them that you support not only their position, but any steps they deem necessary to maintain control of traffic within their City. Helping us will only help you. Several dozen trains a day blocking all of the crossings for extended periods of time will increase strain on your departments.

This antiquated law from 1875 is no longer necessary. Why is a government giving eminent domain powers to a private business? Why the favoritism? I’m pretty sure I can speak for many of the residents of northeastern Crystal when I say that we’re tired of the competition between Mike Opat, CP, BNSF, and the old Crystal Council, to make our corner of Crystal the dumping ground for every undesirable project they can imagine.

As Pink Floyd said (and I might be paraphrasing a bit here), “There is no dark side of corporate and government collusion, really… as a matter of fact, it’s all dark.

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Liveand 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 12, 2015 at 8:52 am 2 comments

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