Posts tagged ‘MN’

Dropping by the Up and At ‘Em Show

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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

Community Solutions Back on Up and at ‘Em

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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

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Listen here:

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 Councilman Jeff Kolb Takes On The Met Council


by Jason Bradley

Yesterday, the Minnesota House held a hearing in the new Subcommittee on Metropolitan Council Accountability and Transparency on House Bill (HF75) which is possibly the most important of the new Metropolitan Council-related bills. The others are fairly benign, but this one would make any Met Council plans and projections advisory in nature. Why is this a big deal? Because the Met Council has largely operated as a cabal of thugs, pushing City and County governments around, binding them to policies that are bad for their area, and projections that are consistently incorrect. Should this bill pass the house, it will most likely fail in the Senate, and most definitely fail at the Governor’s desk. Still, we need to start this move toward weakening (and eventually eliminating) the Met Council now, and never give up until we win.

That leads us back to yesterday. City Councilman Jeff Kolb testified in front of the House Committee on the abuses of the Met council upon Cities, and particularly ours (our City has sent the Met Council numerous letters in disagreement of certain policies, which have largely gone ignored). His testimony can be found here. I will not repeat what he said. You are capable of reading it for yourself. The real story is this. Folks like me have been pressing for limitations or expiration of the agency for a long time, and we are finally starting to see some traction.

The Met Council has threatened Cities with revoking grants and litigation for refusing to fall in line. I know I’ve told this story before, but I remember when the old regime was in power, and the Met Council ordered all of the Cities in the metro to do mandatory sump pump and footing drain inspections. I did my research and found existing Supreme Court jurisprudence about exact incidences like this, and that search warrants needed to be issued to do the inspections. The City Attorney (bless his heart) discounted my examples without ever reading the opinion of the justices, and ex-Mayor Bowman (who is on record as loving the Met council) said that 1) the Met Council would punish the City if they didn’t comply, and 2) if I didn’t allow the inspection, my water would be shut off and I could dig a well. Charming. She also said that issuing warrants was not feasible because it would be bad to arrest so many people over this (proving that she believed it’s just easier to violate people’s rights, and she didn’t understand basic public concepts like the difference between search and arrest warrants). That, however, is a whole ‘nuther story.

At any rate, it is refreshing to see the Crystal City Council take the lead on this issue. We have become a dumping ground for unsuitable projects, from light rail, to increased housing density, and smaller lot sizes. I applaud the new Council’s stand on the Met Council and the freight rail. It’s about time we had representatives in this city that are not afraid to show some teeth. They are taking a leadership role among the rest of the metro area. The old Council would have just found a way to make it work at our expense… and don’t you ever forget it.


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 26, 2015 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

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

by Jason Bradley

As explained in Andrew’s recent article (, 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

Andrew Richter and Jason Bradley on the Radio!

By Andrew Richter I’m glad to inform everyone that Jason Bradley and myself Andrew Richter will be guest hosting for Brad Carlson on AM 1280 this Sunday December 28 from 1-3 PM. In hour two we are planning to have Crystal Mayor Jim Adams as a special guest. Tune in and listen!

BIG UPDATE!!! Mayors Jim Adams (Crystal) and Mark Korin (Oak Grove) will join us in hour 2! You won’t want to miss this!  -Jason Bradley

December 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

I Claim This Land In The Name Of… Duluth

by Jason Bradley

90 by 20

Duluth at Canal Park

No, not “Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut” (the French explorer), but “The City Of”. Let me back up a bit. I first was introduced to the concept of “annexation” while studying a comprehensive plan for the city of Hutchinson, MN. In it, were tight restrictions on what kind of businesses or developments were allowed to be located in neighboring townships, and the “right” of the City to annex those townships if they grew too large for Hutchinson’s liking.

Let’s forget for a moment that as citizens of this great country we have the right to associate with anyone we so choose. In other words, if a group of people want to get together outside of a city’s limits and form their own government (under Minnesota’s township laws), they have the right to do that, and many people have, often to escape punitive regulations or taxes from a larger city. This goes to the heart of property rights. If I choose to invest my money into a property in a location I like, with a level of regulation and taxation I can deal with, then for another City to swoop in and attach that township to itself goes against the very principles of free association and property ownership.

Now, I know this area very well. I grew up here, and spent much of my youth driving and biking in some of the townships that surround Duluth. You, basically, have four cities: Duluth (being the largest), Proctor, Hermantown, and Cloquet (a little further south). (I am purposely leaving Superior out, as it is in Wisconsin, and I don’t foresee Duluth reaching beyond state boundaries.) These cities are surrounded by a number of townships and unincorporated villages. This loose association has been kept, to try and keep taxes low and regulations non-invasive. The problem comes in when these larger cities want to annex (or basically expand their borders to include all or part of a township) them to add to their tax rolls and LGA. These cities often keep larger businesses from locating themselves just out of the City limits for more favorable conditions.

Over the last couple of years, Duluth decided to pick a fight with neighboring Rice Lake Township. (Rice Lake Township is northwest of Duluth.) It voted at a City Council meeting in 2013 to annex 240 acres (almost half) of land from the township. Rice Lake, however was having none of that. They have fought tooth and nail to keep Duluth out. Duluth backed off last December, and Rice Lake is looking to shed their township status for that of a city. A judge is now hearing their case.

In 2012, Proctor (my alma mater) decided that it was going to annex Midway Township, because the city was in some dire straits and needed the growth (go Rails!). Needless to say, Midway didn’t take to kindly to the hostile takeover (the third attempt since 1991), and went running to Duluth to consider annexation to keep Proctor at bay. Let me get this straight. You didn’t like what the Gauls were doing, so you ran to the Romans? You see, there aren’t a lot of good choices to some of these townships when a City comes knocking. They can let it happen (much to the chagrin of the residents), court another City and cross their fingers, or incorporate and take on all sorts of financial risk that comes with incorporating as a city. Since Duluth took over the strip of land along I-35 as you come into Duluth, they have reaped the benefits of the commercial expansion of that area.

According to MN Statute, annexation can occur 3 ways: 1) ordinance 2) order of the Municipal Board 3) orderly annexation.  They go on to say “Under Minnesota Statute 414.033, cities may annex land simply by passing an ordinance declaring that specific parcels of land are now part of the city, so long as certain conditions are met. The ordinance process may be initiated either by the city or by petition of property owners. This is the most common form of annexation. In fiscal year 1994, 220 annexations by ordinance occurred involving more than 7,500 acres. A city may annex land by ordinance if it has given 30 days notice of a public hearing on the annexation to all towns and all landowners within and contiguous to the area to be annexed and any of (a certain set of) conditions are met.” Again, the City has unlimited time to get all of their ducks in a row, discuss the terms, and come to agreement among themselves. The public gets 30 days notice to organize. Anyone else see a problem here?

What will the future hold for these townships in the Duluth area? Duluth is surrounded by these townships. Do Thompson, Lakewood, Duluth Township, Gnesen, Normanna, Canosia, Fredenberg, Solway, and the other townships need to worry that Duluth is coming for their land? If the Municipal Board doesn’t allow Rice Lake to incorporate will Duluth come lay siege again? You see, none of these townships can trust their giant of a neighbor. Mayor Don Ness has a “90 by 20” initiative, where he wants the city to grow to 90,000 people by 2020. The problem is this: Duluth has been shedding both jobs and population for decades due to an agenda that has been hostile to industry, and pro tourism (aka: minimum wage) jobs. The population signs read 89,000+ when I graduated from high school. I know, because I saw them every time I came down the hill from Proctor. Today, they read 86,128. IN 1930, Duluth had over 103,000 residents. Do you see a trend?

Clyde Iron left. U.S. Steel left. Diamond Tool left. To their credit, they snagged the Airbus maintenance facility… and then again after it had been closed for three years, but the scales tip heavily toward the industrial exodus of the late twentieth century. While a city (especially a city with Duluth’s unique charm) should have these tourism-based jobs, you also need to have good paying jobs that keep people from moving away. Annexing the local townships is no way to get your population to 90,000. That does nothing to change the economic fortunes of your city. Yet, Duluth keeps voting for the same people that are facilitating this downward trend and willing to violate the rights of assembly and property enjoyed by their neighbors in the townships (whether MN statutes excuse it or not).

I love Duluth/Proctor/Hermantown. I have so many good memories of my youth. It pains me to see what they have done to that city. Duluthians, I know you can do better. It’s time to find some City Council folks with a different agenda so you get a different result.


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+

<rel=“author” href=“”>Jason on Google+</a>

December 2, 2014 at 9:18 am 1 comment

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