The Economics of France Ave. Trail: A Bicyclist's Viewpoint

France_Ave_Trail.JPGMark Stoltz, a Bloomington resident, offers a conservative view on the economics of the France Ave. Trail. Mark enjoys biking and has been an avid cyclist in the metro area for the past 25 years

Years ago, as I was contemplating a career change, I enrolled in some prep courses for an MBA.  One class was Economics.  The professor kept asking us the essential point of economics.  Most of us responded with it's the study of supply and demand.  The professor kept asking the question over and over and with the class thoroughly stymied, he said, "Economics is ensuring that goods and services are put to their highest and best use."

Which begs the question of roadway, bike ways and the France Ave. proposal.  Are our financial and road way resources being put to their highest and best use when roads are remodeled to be bike friendly?

Here's what we know:

If we examine the proposal from a road way perspective, the four lane foot print remains.  The bike path isn't taking away lane miles like some programs do; they usually call that a road diet or traffic calming.  In Minneapolis, some of these bike lanes are causing more automobile traffic congestion and removing valuable street parking for cars.  The bike and walking path does have an existing, although much smaller, footprint.  It's been there for the past 25 years I have been biking around Bloomington. 

The trail, which serves both walkers and bicyclists, does need some repair.  Also, as a gentleman attending the open house noted, portions of France Ave uses a blacktop based curbing instead of concrete and the snowplows will break chunks of it off during the winter season. 

Which brings us to the proposal.  The goal is to provide more separation between motorists and pedestrians and cyclists.  The proposal would require a significant remodeling of the trail, especially when it comes to where it transits the 9 Mile Creek and Marsh area.

From a lane mile perspective, this is a costly project and has the potential of being invasive to property owners in the area. 

Read more

Edina Neighbors Weigh In Against France Ave Skyscrapers

EstelleEdina.jpgBecause alert neighbors got involved, a recent developer proposal to build a 26-story building and 22-story building on the West side of France Ave at 69th Street (6900 / 6950) was not approved by the Edina City Council at a lengthy October 17 hearing. 

(Graphic credit - Ryan Cos.)

It appears this may not be the last time Cornelia neighbors, other Edina residents, City Staff and the Council themselves will suffer such undue stress. During the past 3 years, instead of saying “NO” up-front to out-of-scale projects that don’t conform to the Comprehensive Plan, the Mayor and Council have shown willingness to consider significant variances.

Edina’s Cornelia neighborhood began to develop in the mid 1950’s at the same time Southdale Center was being built.  From the beginning, City planners recognized the need to transition from the commercial interests along France Avenue and the residential neighborhood to the west. For the five blocks between 69th Street & Gallagher Drive, the Comprehensive Plan set upper limits on total height (4 stories / 48 feet) and density (30 units per acre). Over the last 60 – 65 years, the Cornelia neighborhood has not receded.  Nor has the need for a transition from the commercial to the residential gone away. The Cornelia neighborhood now has well over 1000 single-family homes and a collective real estate value easily worth $600 - $750 million.

The reasonably defined transition area that has served well since the area began to develop in the mid 50’s is still in place.   But it has increasingly been the target for developer requests for variances.

Part of this is due to a drive toward “affordable housing” goals as set by the Met Council and accepted by Edina’s strategic planning process. 

Read more

What's Fair in Edina School Board Race

education-2107914_640.jpgThe Edina Sun Current has recently published some letters to the editor that call into question its claim to balance and unbiased fact checking. 

Two examples:  On October 19, the Sun Current published a letter written by Steve Timmer.  On October 26, the Sun Current published a letter written by Ana Jennings.  Both were highly ideological, with statements that should have been checked but clearly were not..

Timmer’s letter casts inaccurate aspersions that should have been checked before the letter was published:

 

  • The letter blasted the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) article that raised concerns about the curriculum in the Edina school system without taking issue with any of the points in the article.  Rather, it dismissed it by questioning how the distribution of the piece was funded (tying it without proof to the Koch brothers).
  • The letter states that Owen Michaelson, Chad Bell, and Faisal Deri “clearly have the imprimatur [my emphasis] of the SD49GOP, well, and the Koch brothers, too.”  The implication that Michaelson, Bell, and Deri have at any time sought the approval of the Koch brothers is inflammatory and unjustified. They attended and spoke at a Republican event just like they attended and spoke at a League of Women Voters event.  Do they therefore have the imprimatur of the LWV?
Read more

Paulsen Attacked for Expression of Sadness

Erik_Paulsen_Tweet1a.jpeg

Is it any wonder that thoughtful individuals are reluctant to be active in politics?  One would think that all of us would welcome Rep. Paulsen’s heartfelt message of condolence above.  Sadly, it simply invited more mud-slinging.

Read more

Edina Liquor Monopoly Losing Revenue - Why - How to Solve

For many years, some Minnesota municipalities have maintained a tight control over the sale of alcohol within their borders.  Historically, the justification of this control centered on maintaining community standards and attitudes.  However, there is another reason which propels municipalities into the liquor business.  Many cities discovered that if they can create a government-controlled monopoly by banning the private sale of an item, they can noticeably increase government revenue.  This can prove to be a fleeting benefit.

Edina_Liquor_Pic.jpgLet’s take a look at local liquor sales.  Edina has operated three liquor stores for decades. The profits from the liquor sales help fund parks, arts, and pay down capital.  In 2012, nearly $1.5 million in profit was generated by liquor sales in Edina. Unfortunately, no one in the Edina city government thought that would change.

But it did.  The liquor profits fell to $600,000 in 2015, the last year in which figures are available. The 2017 figures may decrease even further. Regrettably, no one on the City Council or the City Administration budgeted for fluctuations in that revenue stream.

Read more

Edina School Controversy Comments Continue

education-2107914_640.jpgIn July we reported  on John Hinderacker's series of articles regarding indoctrination and intimidation at Edina Schools. SD49's Bill Holm has been following the continued comments from Edina parents and students to Hinderacker's articles on the Center of the American Experiment site, and highlights more of their specific examples.

 

Partisan Politics and White Privilege in Edina Schools

We have heard periodically of the left-leaning pronouncements of teachers in the Edina School System.  These sentiments apparently were on full display when Donald Trump’s election became clear last November. 

John Hinderacker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, began to get phone calls and emails from concerned Edina parents in late June. He reported: “On November 22, 2016, 80 teachers–a remarkable number–signed an editorial addressed to the student body. The 80 teachers who signed this editorial align themselves with the Democratic Party and its candidate, Hillary Clinton.”

Mr. Hinderacker, and others, proceeded to gather detailed information on the teachers’ “manifesto” and more complaints from Edina parents.  They then published a series of eye-opening on-line articles based on these complaints

Read more

Edina Considers Reviving 80 Year Old Rail

Dan_Patch_Meeting_864x428.jpgEdina is considering a study to operate light rail commuter trains on the Dan Patch corridor.  If the citizens that turned out for the “community engagement forum” on July 25 were any indication, supporters in the standing-room-only crowd were decidedly in the minority.

The Dan Patch Line is essentially a single track that runs from Northfield to Savage.  It then crosses the Minnesota River into Bloomington and runs north along the east side of Hyland Park.  It continues north through Edina to St Louis Park, staying west of Highway 100. 

The information provided at the forum may be accessed by CLICKING HERE.  When reviewing the information, consider that

  • After a $400,000 study and considerable local opposition, local legislators did not support a light rail operation in this corridor in 2002. 
  • Freight traffic will continue on this single line, and will likely increase.
  • To reduce costs from earlier estimates, the commuter trains would have to run on the same track, without an increase in right-of-way, over 14 same-grade road crossings, with unique cars that cannot operate on the other existing light rail tracks.

  • Edina needs the support of the cities of Bloomington, Savage, and St Louis Park to make going forward with a study realistic.  Several of the Bloomington city council candidates do not support this option now. 

Edina will continue to gather community feedback, with a follow-up meeting scheduled for September.  Edina residents are urged to let their city council members know of their concerns about pursuing the proposed $30,000 study.

Read more

Edina Schools Controversy - Better Board Needed

education-2107914_640.jpgThe Center of the American Experiment (CAE) has just published disturbing stories about partisan politics being injected into the Edina Public Schools.  A  group of 80 teachers thought it was appropriate to publish an editorial in the Zephyrus, the “official news site of Edina High School,” lamenting the election of Donald Trump.  Their editorial stated:  “you’ve heard and read a lot of calls for unity for the school and the nation.  This letter is not one of them. . . .  We will teach rebellion against a broken world.”  The leader of this group of 80 teachers is Tim Klobuchar, a relative of US Senator Amy Klobuchar.  CAE’s conclusion “For whatever reason, the Edina public schools are paying Democratic Party activists to indoctrinate their children.”  Even more disturbing are comments on the story from Edina parents and students, describing other instances of this politically biased behavior in the school.  The most recent articles were published in the last few days on the Center of the American Experiment website here and here

This follows close on the heels of another story, this one from Intellectual Takeout regarding politically charged teaching about “social justice,” racism and white privilege at Highlands Elementary School.  The story is available on their website here

Four of the seven seats on the Edina School Board are up for election this fall on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.  If you agree that students are being deprived of their right to a sound education by teachers who substitute partisan propaganda and bullying for normal instruction, work with us to return ethical teaching methods to the Edina school system.  Help us identify school board candidates who will stand up for this change. The filing period for candidates seeking to run is from August 1 to August 15. 


Dayton: Case Study in Failure to Negotiate in Good Faith

The 2017 Legislative Session might have gone down as one of the most productive in recent memory.   More likely, it will be remembered for the governor that didn’t have the honor and self-confidence to live with the compromises that he and his team negotiated.  

Several of the predictions made by the panel at our Spring Conversation almost came true.  The panelists predicted that negotiations would proceed during the final week of the session, and no special session would be needed.  In fact, the negotiations between the Republican legislative leaders and the Governor and his staff went down to the wire.  A short extension was required to sort out the details, but the Governor ultimately signed the budget bills.  A government shutdown was avoided.

Negotiation_numbers_personal-95715__340.jpgThis should have signaled a triumph for all.  Instead, Gov. Dayton exercised a veto of a line item that funds the legislature after July 2017.  His intent is to force the Legislature back to the bargaining table to secure more of the DFL hot-button items (reduced tax cuts, licenses for undocumented aliens, tighter teacher credentials) -- items that he had agreed to forego in the earlier negotiations.  In the June 3 opinion section of the Star Tribune, a thoughtful article written by Paul Gazelka and Kurt Daudt  details why he’s wrong.

While the Republicans achieved some important goals this session, they clearly did not achieve everything.  Not all of the budget surplus was allocated for roads and bridges and for tax cuts.  Republicans did not get tax credits for private school scholarships (OAK), and harsher penalties for blocking highways and other transportation hubs were not included in the final bills.  While not all that he wanted, Dayton got more money for his personal crusade for pre-K education. 

As former Senate Minority Leader David Hann said during the Spring Conversation, Dayton simply doesn’t know how to negotiate – he doesn’t “”get” the concept that both sides need to be happy at the end.

While the major media in Minnesota have been largely silent on Dayton’s potentially unconstitutional action, we can hope that Minnesotans let the governor know that he should accept what he got and be done with it.


Video Jeff Johnson Light Rail at Mar 28 dinner

At our March 28, 2017 dinner meeting, Jeff Johnson presented convincing reasons to not build the proposed light rail lines.  Watch here.

 

 

 



Join our Email List Contribute Register to Vote

connect

get updates