Design to Begin on Eden Prairie Station, But SWLRT Funding in Doubt

Metro_Transit_Light_Rail.jpgIn August, the Star Tribune reported that the Eden Prairie city council had reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Council to begin the design efforts on the Town Center station on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit (SW LRT) line.  This is the station that had been deferred two years ago when the costs of the SW LRT exceeded budget. 

Hasn’t funding for SW LRT been denied by the Minnesota legislature and dropped from the 2018 federal budget proposal?  Why are plans going forward to design a station on a light rail line that will not be built? 

It is difficult to keep score on the SW LRT.  Even if one reads the whole Star Tribune article, it is difficult to fully put it in perspective.  Let's review the bidding as we know it:

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MN Voter Fraud - Fact or Myth?

Andy Cilek, the executive director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, recently took the Star Tribune to task on their statements dismissing potential voter fraud in Minnesota.    

Cilek pointed out that their arguments against the possibility of voter fraud need to be examined carefully because they involve several fallacies:

  • Bias of the cited source

  • Ill-defined studies

  • Use of irrelevant data

MN_Voter_Alliance_Logo.jpgOn August 12, the Star Tribune published an article about the suit that the MVA planned to file to get access to Minnesota voter registration data.  The article ended by noting critics that say “these groups are searching for solutions to a nonexistent problem.”  It cited a 2014 study that examined 1 billion votes between 2000 and 2014 and found only 31 incidents of documented fraud.

How can the study data be relevant when court records show that known voting crimes in Minnesota occur at a rate at least 1,000 times the frequency cited in the study?

There were 369 voting convictions in Minnesota between 2008 and 2014, in a period when fewer than 10 million votes were cast.  Compare that to the data cited in the study:  31 incidents of voter fraud out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014.  The best that can be said is that the study was limited and ultimately irrelevant to the questions of voter fraud being raised by MVA in Minnesota.

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A Paved River Bottoms Trail in a Flood Plain?

small_rb_event.jpgAgainst all common sense and FEMA guidance  the MN DNR is asking for funding from the City of Bloomington and the Metropolitan Council, and preparing preliminary plans to pave 12 miles of trail, 14 feet wide, along the Minnesota River Bottoms, in a flood plain. That would require destruction of the last portion of a natural habitat that is mostly untouched. And although full funding hasn’t been secured, nor have historical, archaeology and environmental impact studies been completed, the DNR plans to start construction (i.e., habitat destruction) in 2018, per statements made by the DNR in a March 27, 2017 City Council study meeting. Bloomington did not offer funding. 

A local group “Save the River Bottoms” is working to stop that habitat destruction, while supporting modest improvements along the current trail.

Currently a historical, natural surface, trail spans the 12 miles of Bloomington’s southern border / the river’s northern border. The path pre-dates the 1969 legislation (Minn. Stat. Section 85.015, Subd. 6 ) that designated it part of “The Minnesota Valley Trail.”  It had been used by hunters, outdoorsmen, birders, and children of the local communities.   There are now areas that have boardwalk, gravel, or woodchips but much of the path is dirt. Per Bloomington resident and trail-user Ellen Rohe, “It is maintained by a yearly sweep from the DNR to remove the big stuff but the majority of the work to keep the trail open is done by volunteers from the users of the path, with no cost to the taxpayer.”

Small_View_from_Cedar.jpgMs. Rohe further described the eastern section alongside the current trail:  “The portion in between Cedar Avenue Bridge to 35W is bluffs.  What isn’t a bluff is a marsh.  What isn’t a marsh is a swamp.”  And she also commented about the proposed paved trail:  “The DNR would be responsible for maintaining the trail.  On a flood plain.  Where it floods.  All the time.  It was flooded last fall.  Right in the spot that they are trying to put in a 14-foot-wide paved path.”

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Antifa Protesters Destroy Hennepin County Flag

Antifa members proved once again on August 14 that they are more anarchists than peaceful protesters.  Rather than make a simple statement opposing the weekend march by KKK, neo-Nazis, and far right groups in Charlottesville, VA, they blocked transportation, destroyed county property, and aggressively intimidated reporters.

These self-styled anti-fascist demonstrators started by rallying in Minneapolis in front of the MN GOP offices on Franklin Avenue.  They protested the Republican Party’s support of President Donald Trump, who they accused of supporting racist behavior. They ignored statements issued earlier by MNGOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan and Republican Congressmen condemning racial hated and bigotry.

Republicans were not the only target of the anarchists’ ire.  As reported by Alpha News, who also posted the video above, the demonstration was accompanied by chants of “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand.”

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Large Turn-out for SD 49 & 50 Family Picnic

Cropped_and_Resized_Food_Line-1.jpgOver 100 people came out for our annual picnic to enjoy great food, listen to the speeches of several candidates & talk with them informally and also to share ideas with fellow Republicans.  We were joined by

  • Governor candidates Jeff Johnson, Matt Dean, and Keith Downey’s daughter, Sarah. 
  • Attorney General candidates Harry Niska and Doug Wardlow
  • MN House Rep. Dario Anselmo and former House Rep Chad Anderson
  • MN GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, MN GOP Secretary Barb Sutter, and National Committeewoman Janet Beihoffer
  • Bloomington City Councilor Eldon Spencer
  • Minneapolis city council candidate Fadumo Yusuf
  • Edina school board candidate Faisal Deri
  • Bloomington city council candidate Larry Frost
  • Bloomington school board candidate Beth Beebe

The Greek and Somali food items were a special treat this year.  The Gyros and tzatziki in pita pockets were very popular.  Abdi Hirsi’s Sambusas were wonderful.  Tom's Famous roasted corn on the cob lived up to its deserved reputation.  The salads and baked beans were great complements.  All topped off with watermelon, brownies, and a selection of chocolates.

Cropped_Resized_Mike_Lehmann_Stokes_the_Republican_Fires.jpgThanks go out to volunteers like Russ and Trish Burnison, Dino and Matt Balafas, Dar Gray, Tom Hulting, Wayne and Carolyn Wenger, Mary Doughty, Barb Sutter, Louis Tiggas, Rick Davies, Mike Lehmann, Beth Beebe and those selfless souls on the preparation and serving line and helping with games.  You made this picnic an outstanding success.

Our gathering was of such significance that it warranted a visit by a DFL tracker.  When the candidate speeches began, he started filming.  At that point, he was asked to leave.  While the park is a public space, we rented the  picnic pavilion and our event was not free to the public. 

See more of our picnic photos below.

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Eldon Spencer Draws on City Experience for Bloomington City Council Service

spencer_web.jpgEldon Spencer was appointed to the Bloomington City Council in March and is running for election to represent District 2 for a full four-year term.  He sat down with us to discuss his experience and his advice to others that might consider being candidates for local government office.  The following is a condensed version of that interview.

You may view the video by Clicking Here.

SD49GOP:  Eldon, tell us about your experience in being selected for the Bloomington City Council.

Eldon:  Thirteen applicants applied to fill a vacant council position.  The Council narrowed it down to four after each of the applicants had a chance to make their pitch.  After questioning each of us for a half hour, there were two rounds of votes.  They eventually chose me to finish the open term.

SD49GOP:  Have you run for office before?

Eldon:  I ran for the city council in 2001.  The primary was on 9/11/2001, a day that will be pretty hard to forget.  I immediately challenged my opponent to suspend our campaigns for a couple of weeks before resuming politics as usual.  It compressed the campaign, but I think it was the right thing to do. 

SD49GOP:  Being a councilor for a city the size of Bloomington is a very responsible position.  Tell us about your experience in city planning, operations, and oversight to be ready for the job.

Eldon:  I served on the Planning Commission for six years.  You deal with important issues, such as land use and some of the fiscal expenditures of the city.  You identify the facts that are critical in preparing a record for the City Council.  You make recommendations that they are free to accept or reject.  You get a sense of the minds of the individuals who work for the city as well as the public on various types of issues.   

One can also make a difference outside of government.  Bloomington has great service organizations and places of worship through which to affect the community and its individuals.  My Rotary Club has worked on a program called Strive at Jefferson High School that helps kids who have been underachievers but are ready to turn their lives around.  Service organizations can do many things well and very cost-effectively, saving taxpayer dollars. 

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SD49 Turned Out for Edina's July 4 Parade

Parade_pic_1.jpgJuly 4th proved to be a beautiful day for a parade in Edina.  The traditional parade celebrated veterans, local politicians, and community organizations.  Two dozen energetic members and friends of Senate District 49 represented our local Republican Party in grand style.

Vince Riehm choreographed the bearers of the SD49 banner at the front of our procession.  Carol Kerr and John Ward lent a touch of elegance to our delegation with their vintage convertibles.  Carol’s iconic inflatable elephant rode perched on her car, while Guled, Liban, and Amar Hirsi held up posters from the passenger seats of John Ward’s red Mustang.

MN Attorney General candidate Harry Niska and Congressional candidate Frank Drake joined us in our mile walk.  Adding to the high energy of our delegation, Ben Baribault drove a go-cart that he designed, built, and decorated himself.  Alex Fink joined with his decked-out scooter. 

Thanks to Nancy Carlson, Carol Kerr, and friends for hosting us to Root Beer floats and Rice Krispy bars at the conclusion of the parade.

Watch a quick video with some photo highlights 

And see More photos below

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SD49 Budgets 30% for Funding of Local Candidates

SD49_Budget_Info_Picture.jpgThe Executive Committee of Senate District 49 is driven by three primary goals – to identify, endorse, and support district Republican candidates; to inform Republicans of local activies and issues; and to organize and build the base of local Republican Party support.  

We work to achieve those goals through volunteer efforts (the district has no paid staff) and targeted spending planned over two years, aligned with the two-year election cycle.  Our projected budget for the 2017-2018 cycle is about $65,000.  Thirty percent (30%) of that is earmarked for funding of Republican-endorsed candidates running for the MN House and Senate in Senate District 49.

The following table breaks out expenses as a percentage of the two-year budget:

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Bloomington City Council to review Hyland Greens Housing Construction RFP at June 26 meeting

Hyland1_1.jpgThe Hyland Greens Golf Course occupies 63 acres in the heart of Bloomington (and House District 49B), at 10100 Normandale Boulevard.  Purchased by the city of Bloomington in 1974, it has been run by the city and is losing money.

The Star Tribune reported in February 2016 that a task force set up by the city recommended retaining the golf course and finding ways to fix its finances.  The task force urged that a golf management consultant be hired, but also allowed for the sale of roughly 10 acres that became available when the city relocated the driving range.

The Bloomington City Council will hold a public hearing during its meeting on Monday, June 26, to consider approving a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop the former driving range for private residential development.  The RFP states, “the City will also consider selling additional Hyland Greens Golf Course land provided a golf course readily accessible and open to the public is retained…” 

The council meeting is open to the public and will convene at 7 pm in Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road.  

For more information about the Request for Proposal, the targeted development, and intent of the original task force, please continue reading.


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School Board Candidates Needed

education-2107914_640.jpgSchool districts in Bloomington, Edina, Eden Prairie, and Minnetonka will be holding school board elections on November 7.  If you are interested in your local schools and the quality of the education they are providing, you should seriously consider running for the school board in your district.  The window of time to explore what it will take is getting short.  The period for school board candidates to file is as early as July 28 to August 11. 

The Senate District Candidate Search committee will be open to talk with candidates that seek our support.  If you are considering running, or if you are willing to volunteer and to help with these campaigns, please contact Randy Sutter (952-835-8917) or Mike Lehmann (612-839-0761).

Eden Prairie School District 272 will have three members up for election in 2017.  Affidavits of candidacy are available from the district’s Administrative Services Center at 8100 School Road, Eden Prairie.  The candidate filing period is open from July 28 to August 11.  Forfurther information about school board elections, contact Laurie Hemstock at or call 952-975-7072.

Edina School District 273 school board will have four spots up for election.  Questions regarding affidavits of candidacy for the Edina School Board should be directed to Margo Bauck, 942-848-4004 or email  Edina has not yet published the filing period, but in the past it was late July - August 11.

Minnetonka School Board will have three seats up for election in November.  The candidate filing deadline is August 15, 2017.  Please call 952-401-5000 if you have any questions.

Bloomington School Board will have four seats up for election this year.  The candidate filing period is August 1 to August 15, 2017.  If you have any questions pertaining to filing procedures or reporting, please contact Jennifer Hazel at 952-681-6402.

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