Posts tagged ‘MN’

Community Solutions Podcast- Who Are the North Metro Mayors?


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew introduce you to an organization that you’ve probably never heard of: The North Metro Mayors Association. Mayors… from the north Metro… associating? You may ask what’s wrong with that. Well, it is yet another organization whose members pay dues with your tax dollars for lobbying power in St. Paul to drive a predetermined set of the same old policies that we rail against on this blog. In many ways this group isn’t a lot different than The League of MN Cities. Heck, it’s hardly a group for mayors as much as its a group for City Managers. It’s also a place where these City Managers can work hand-in-hand with select member businesses. At least there’s a clear accounting of our tax dollars… not so fast. This week’s podcast is sure to open your eyes.

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!

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February 22, 2018 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Crony Capitalism in Our Cities


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew start with a Local Lowdown segment that highlights the aspirations of New Hope to become a Step 4 MN Green Step City, with all its costs and regulations. You can read a more in-depth article here to find out why you must keep your city out of the club. We also discuss an issue in Robbinsdale, where they are excited about the Blue Line Extension… until they find out they don’t want the strings that go along with the “free money”. Sounds like something we’ve talked about before…

In the main event, we discuss the trend of many cities to give preference to certain businesses over others. It may come in the form of tax abatements,  Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts, loans (sometimes interest free), major transit projects, or other gifts that favor one business over another. While we want to assure businesses think that our city is a great place to do business, giving out corporate welfare isn’t the answer. Yet, many businesses have come to expect it. Do companies like Target really need special breaks? We talk all that and more this week!

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 15, 2018 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

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.

Jason on Google+

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- Do Levy Limits Work?


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew discuss the idea of placing levy limits over local governments. It sounds like a good concept, right? Set the maximum for property tax increases and spending is held in check… unless it’s not. Do levy limits work, or do they cause local governments to get creative in new types of taxes and fees, raise other existing taxes and fees, or a combination of both? We’ve had them before. What happened? Is there a better way to cap tax increases? I hope that this conversation helps you to think about levy limits in all of its pros and cons to make an educated decision on where you stand.

January 24, 2018 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Podcast- Why We Need Caucus


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In this episode, Jason and Andrew discuss the importance of caucus to the cause of local politics (and as a result state and national politics, as well). We get so lost in the idea of a straw poll mattering one way or another. State and federal politicians (and politician hopefuls) use caucuses one way, but as voters on the local level, we need to look at caucus in a completely different way. Some folks are calling for an end to this practice in favor of a pure primary. We argue that if we lose the caucus system, we lose the battle for local control. Find out why, and then get involved at your caucus this year!

January 17, 2018 at 5:06 pm Leave a comment

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