Posts tagged ‘Minnesota’

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


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?


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

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

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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