Posts tagged ‘comprehensive plan’

New Hope To Double Down on Bad Decision


Green Step

by Jason Bradley

Ok, it’s no secret that we rarely agree with much of anything New Hope does. From a $25 million bond for the new police station/city hall project, to giving a developer a $6.574 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district over 23 years and a $350,000 loan for a single luxury apartment complex, to major property tax increases annually, to assessing franchise fees, to refusing to allow a citizen to sit in the “citizen seat” on West Metro Fire, to… well, we could go on forever. This city wouldn’t know a good idea if there was grant money attached to it.

That brings us to another beaut of a decision. New Hope is discussing increasing its involvement in the MN Green Step Cities program. You can read the article I saw in the Sun Post here. Here’s a little history: New Hope joined Green Step back in January of 2015. They are at step three of five, and looking to advance to step four. They have completed 76 actions. There are a whopping 120 out of Minnesota’s 853 cities that are involved in Green Step. That’s 14% of Minnesota cities, not a great percentage.

First off, somebody needs to create a BINGO game for our blog and podcast. One of the spaces would certainly be “City Staff Pushes Idea”. Well, guess what? You can mark that square. Another space would be “decided in a work session”. If you were next to the free space, you are already 3/5 of the way to BINGO! Are work sessions a bad thing? Not necessarily, so long as there is a record of the discussion. New Hope does put their packets up on their website, but you have to physically attend the meeting to know where elected officials really stand on issues, and catch it early enough to give feedback to the city before decisions are already made. Maybe someday recorded work sessions will be an expectation in most cities.

Green Step is often referred to as a “free and voluntary” program. Maybe it is to join, but that’s the end of it. MN Green Step Cities are much like the Columbia House or BMG CD Club. Remember that? You can get 10 CDs for a penny, and all you have to do is buy eight more at $20 a piece over the next two years. Not every step in Green Step is bad. Like this one: “Efficiently use existing fleet of city vehicles by encouraging trip bundling, video conferencing, carpooling, vehicle sharing and incentives/technology.” Less wear and tear on city vehicles will save money in the long run. When cities join, they often have already met some of the criteria, and can find themselves completing eight actions to get to Step Two quickly. But once they get you in the door, that’s where the “free” ends. How free do these steps sound? “Provide a financial or other incentive to private parties who add energy/sustainability improvements, meet the SB 2030 energy standard, or renovate using a green building or energy framework.” “Replace city-owned parking lot/ramp lighting with Dark-Sky compliant, energy efficient, automatic dimming lighting technologies.” “Modify a street in compliance with the city’s complete streets policy.” There are plenty more just like those. You have to complete 70 steps to get to Step 3. That’s a bit of an investment. There are plenty of restrictions and mandates listed in those steps, as well. It really is not free in any sense of the word. See all New Hope’s actions on the Green Step website.

How do you get to Step 4? New Hope will have to implement additional steps, but agree to keep metrics on those steps as well, with reporting to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. With those steps come massive restrictions and regulations. They measure things like: City Population: Vehicle miles traveled per person, per day; new affordable housing units as a percent of all new housing units; Residential gallons of drinking water used per person per day; or Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from travel, Tonnes CO​2e. But hey, I’m sure It’s still free and voluntary to maintain this level of membership. New Hope estimates it will take 100 staff hours to complete this step (also not free), and are inclined to do this incrementally over time, rather than make a big push. Isn’t 100 hours over time still 100 hours? Won’t 100 hours cost more over time with staff pay raises and benefit increases?

We have always asserted that this program is the local Cap and Trade club. I’ve made the case above. Judge for yourself. Listen to our podcast on the subject. Here we have a city that hasn’t ever met a regulation or a spending project that they haven’t liked. Yet, not one person in the City of New Hope wants to throw their hat in the ring and do something about it. You have a city just to the east that has made a stand to become debt free, put hidden taxes into public view, eliminate outdated and restrictive regulations… and New Hope keeps doing things as they always have.

If you live in New Hope and are sick and tired of this, there are two seats up for grabs this year. You know were to find us…

 

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.

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February 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Guest: Olga Parsons


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew welcome Crystal City Council Member, Olga Parsons. No matter where you live in MN, this is podcast is for you. Over the past three years (since 2015), there has been a group of newly elected city council members that have been willing to break the mold. Their innovation has caused Crystal to implement policies not straight out of the latest American Planning Association trade journals, but to craft ordinances and draft planning that represents Crystal. Some of what they have done is starting to be discussed in other cities, but there is a long way to go. So, pull up a chair and listen to all that has been accomplished in three short years, and dream about what is possible where you live. Where are all the other people with the skills and intellect to do these kinds of things where you live? Stand up and be counted!

Just launched!!! At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We just launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

February 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- The Truth About Complete Streets


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew discuss Complete Streets. Maybe you’ve heard of them and maybe you haven’t, but I can guarantee that you’ve most likely seen them. No matter where you live in the United States: big city or small town, rural or urban area… cities and counties are passing complete street policies. What does this mean? What are they really? Are they as fantastic as advertised? We discuss it all here so you can talk to your community all about it.

Just launched!!! At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We just launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

February 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- We’re Missing the Big Picture


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In this episode, we discuss the common misnomer that you can say that your state is of a political persuasion when you are worried about the state level races and not the local ones. So much money passes through local governmental bodies, and combined, more than at the state level. Regulations that cannot get through state legislatures are being implemented directly at the local level (i.e. increasing minimum wage, raising the minimum age to buy tobacco, ranked choice voting, etc…). We have to start taking nonpartisan races seriously. We have to start filling advisory commissions. Every year that goes by, and we think that these races and appointed seats don’t matter, is another year we miss out on building a solid political foundation. It’s like building a million dollar house on a foundation of crumbling cement block. No matter how sturdy that house looks, it’s being undermined by a foundation that refuses to support the house. Serving in local government is not a lesser job. We have to realize this and fix the problem.

December 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- But This is Free Money!


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew are talking about grants. Don’t check out on this one. Grants fund a number of projects in your city, and/or county, and/or park district, and/or school district, etc, etc… These projects are heralded, because someone else is paying for it. It’s “free” money. Is it really free? Who pays for these grants? Are you sure that you don’t? Every grant has strings attached. It pays for all or part of a project being done in a specific way, and is often with disregard to the character, history, or population of the community that is slated to receive the grant. It can be as simple as putting lights on a little league field to as complex as redesigning a city center to meet the environmental “standards” du jour. So tune in and share with your community!

December 7, 2017 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Is New Hope Out of Control?


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew discuss three distinct issues being discussed by the New Hope City Council: 1) organized garbage hauling, 2) the proposed maximum tax levy for 2017, and 3) the details of the new city hall/police station/fire station/public pool project. New Hope may be completely out of control, but they are not alone. These are three subjects that your city has faced, is facing, or will soon face. It doesn’t matter where you live, this podcast will help you understand your community better. Don’t you go anywhere!

 

 

 

September 7, 2017 at 3:28 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Guest: Crystal Mayor Jim Adams


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew go back to our roots and have a chat with Crystal Mayor, Jim Adams. After talking with the folks from New Brighton last week, it reminded us so much of where we started, that we thought it was time we revisit our origin. What happens when people stand up to abusive power and begin to govern. Do things really change? In short, absolutely they can. Maybe you read Jason’s recent article on Crystal. We’re going to discuss that stuff in depth, and more. What’s it like to actually govern? Can a city council stand up to the pressures of high density housing, complete streets, and “free” money? The answer is yes, and this podcast is about to give you a ton of hope for your city.

June 7, 2017 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

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