Mayor and city council candidates need to be evaluated based on how they would govern. We support candidates that have been willing to be open and truly listen to the residents of the city. We have grown increasingly concerned with the degree to which decisions in Bloomington have been made behind closed doors.
Bloomington’s City Council has approved initiatives that increase the role of government and increase city expenditures, like organized trash collection and (it appears) mega-sized community centers. They have rejected legitimate requests of citizen groups that these decisions be put to referendums. Even when the city council chartered a citizen panel to advise them on the Hyland Greens golf course, they picked probably the least favored recommendation and moved to sell off some of the land for development.
In Bloomington, it is time for a new approach to governing the city. It is time for a change in the make-up of the City Council.
We recommend Ryan Kulka (Mayor), Brian Clemens (At-Large), Al Noard (District 1) and Susan Woodruff (District 2).
For more information on these candidates and their positions, CLICK HERE . This link also provides information on the Bloomington School Board races.
City Council and School Board races have been touted as non-partisan races, as if the recommendations of political party organizations somehow compromise the independence of the candidates. Yet partisan groups, like Edina Indivisible, and organizations with a strong vested interest, like Teachers Associations and Public Employee Unions, have been free to release their preferences without a murmur of concern.
It is time to recognize when local races cease to be non-partisan. In those races, it is appropriate for the views of local conservative groups like the SD49 Republicans to be heard.
In the Edina School Board race, that time has certainly come. In separate announcements, Education Minnesota/Edina (the Edina teachers union) and the Senate District 49 Democrats both issued recommendations. And they are for the same three candidates.
It is more than ironic when, for the second election cycle in a row, the Edina Teachers Union has chosen not to endorse former teachers. This year, they passed over Linda Friede, a recognized education intervention specialist and former math teacher.
As the curriculum in the Edina School System has become politicized, so now has the election. We stand with the parents who are questioning why Edina’s education standing in Minnesota has gone from 1st to 10th. Unlike the DFL, we don’t support a school board that is a cheerleader for the administration. We believe that the board should govern the administration.
Our recommended candidates believe that data on academic performance needs to be open and available, and decisions need to be driven by what clearly works.
In the election for Edina School Board, I will be voting for the candidates who
- believe that Edina Schools should focus on helping each student become the best they can be.
- support grouping students in classes according to their abilities and allow the teachers to set the pace for their students.
I will be voting for Sarah Patzloff, Linda Friede, and Lou Nanne.
In 2013 the Edina School Board adopted a policy of “All for All”. There was, and still is, an education gap in Edina schools. One key focus of the plan was “looking at all district work and initiatives through a lens of racial equity”.
While the goal was noble, it did not work. State test scores (MCA) are one measure of academic achievement. 8th grade math scores ranked South View middle school as the number 1 middle school in Minnesota in 2008. In 2017 it was the 37th best school. MCA test results for 10th Grade Reading declined from 1st in 2013 to 19th in 2018. The test changes every year so there is some variability in results each year. The ranking of Edina Schools dropping relative to other Minnesota schools is very concerning because everyone takes the same test.
Another way to look at academic performance is to evaluate students to see if they are at, below, or above grade level. In 2017 65.6% of students were at or above grade level in math. In 2019 only 49.1% of students were at grade level in math. Reading had 63.5% of students at or above grade level in 2017. That declined to 59.0% in 2019.
All of the focus on racial equity has not improved the scores of those it was meant to help. All groups have declined.
So what happened? The purpose of education is to grow each individual toward their full potential in order to pursue their dreams. Previously classes had been organized by student’s abilities. The “All for All” program, in the search for racial equity, classes have a mix of abilities. This made the job of our great teachers, much more difficult.
How can you push and challenge the high achievers without leaving everyone else behind. Conversely how do you set the pace where the bottom 1/3 of the class really learns the material, without boring other students.
We need to go back to a focus on educational excellence, not racial equity. Sarah Patzloff, Linda Friede, and Lou Nanne are committed to achieving education excellence in Edina schools.
Hundreds of Minnesotans, including many from SD49, attended the Protect Kids Rally September 22 at the Capitol. There was no coverage / reporting on the event from the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press, but the Mille Lacs News and this week's Alpha News provided information about the attendees, speakers, and the issues. The Child Protection League offered this Press Release on the Rally, which they organized, and estimated the crowd size as close to 800.
As we prepare for the 2020 elections, we should reflect again on the tragedy of Detroit’s bankruptcy (July 18, 2013). Then MN GOP Chair Keith Downey’s “Three Lessons” from that event sound a warning for MN now. As explained below, Detroit’s failure was due to 1) High Taxes, 2) One-Party Rule and 3) Corruption.
It is telling to consider whether our Minnesota DFL governor and House legislators learned anything.
On July 18, 2013, the city of Detroit, Michigan, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt, estimated at $18–20 billion. Detroit is also the largest city by population in the U.S. history to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
From a peak of 1.8 million in 1950, the population of this once-great city was reported by The New York Times to have dropped by July 2013 to "700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets."
Six years ago, Keith Downey reflected on three lessons policymakers should take away from the Detroit bankruptcy. Let’s look at Keith Downey’s Three Lessons :
Lesson 1 -- High Taxes. The most important lesson is understanding why Detroit failed. Governments receive most of their revenue from taxes. Taxes come from the local economy. A tipping point was finally reached when well-meaning liberal policies outweighed the taxpayer’s ability to pay and government leaders could not say “no” to the spending. Eventually, enough businesses and taxpayers left the core city, decimating their tax base until they could not pay for all of the things they wanted the government to fund.
The question for Minnesota policymakers is “Where is our tipping point?” Over the past six years, Republican leaders in the legislature have forced first Gov. Dayton and then Gov Walz to say “no” to some of the spending the DFL has sought in order to balance the budget without raising the taxes. We all know now how this has turned out – low unemployment, more jobs, increased funding for schools, higher consumer confidence and increased revenues to the state treasury.
With one exception. In 2013, when the DFL had a majority in the House and Senate, nobody in state government said “no.”
In an article in the Sunday, August 11 edition of the Star Tribune (front page, Minnesota section) entitled, “Owner uses MOA as project collateral”, Eric Roper wrote about the 49% stake in MOA that the Triple Five Group pledged as collateral to secure the construction loan for their New Jersey mega-mall. “This leveraging of MOA came as a surprise to Bloomington officials, concerned that the megamall makes up about 10% of the city’s tax base.
The article goes on to quote Baltimore-based retail consultant Nick Egelanian, “They are making a huge bet on American Dream and obviously putting part of the Mall of America at risk in it.” He noted that the Triple Five Group is banking on high-profile attractions to stimulate retail sales, and there’s no agreement among the industry experts he consults with about whether it will work.
Eric Roper noted that “tax dollars would pay $50 million for a parking ramp and skyway to the mall, as well as up to $8 million to clean up the site.” The article did not make clear if these figures include the $20 million that the city has paid as its share of the water park design effort. It is important to note that Bloomington tax payers are also being asked to consider more than $50 million for a community center.
In an opinion piece in the Thursday, August 15 edition of the Star Tribune (front page, Business section) entitled, “Financing for MOA water park is baffling”, Lee Schafer wrote, “Taking on the risk of a big entertainment venture isn’t a typical burden for local governments anywhere … The problem is that the water park – which would cost about $250 million just for construction – does not seem viable with private market money.”
Schafer points out, “if you need a nonprofit to own what sure looks like a private entertainment business that can’t be financed in the private capital markets, you can simply rent one. If you need a public agency to issue the bonds that will finance the deal, one of those can be rented, too.” So the City of Bloomington is proposing to have a Wisconsin agency issue tax-exempt bonds to finance an entertainment project in Minnesota owned by a special-purpose affiliate of a Louisiana non-profit. And Bloomington would back all of this up by imposing additional sales and use taxes at the Mall of America that would kick in to cover any shortfall in cash flow.
So more taxes may have to be paid by tenants at the Mall of America to help attract.more visitors to the Mall of America. As Lee Schafer concludes, “Is everybody really OK with all this?”
In May, one of our readers wrote to Sen. Melisa Franzen asking why the Minnesota legislature was approving more funding to the University of Minnesota, especially when the University openly intended to give money to non-citizens for tuition. Calling out the University administration statement that it is “dedicated to supporting student success, regardless of a student’s immigration status,” the reader asked Franzen why Minnesota taxpayer dollars should be spent to help non-citizens.
Almost three months later, the reader received a response from Sen. Franzen that appears to miss the point. “I understand the importance of continuing to provide strong funding to the University,” she wrote. “I am in support of increasing the accessibility of higher education to those residing in Minnesota first and also bringing talent from outside of our state.”
Franzen then seemed to acknowledge an obligation to respect the source of state-provided funding. “I am in full support of the funding for the U of M as long as it is accountable to taxpayers of the state.”
Then, turning on a dime, she concluded, “These funding decisions benefit our state as they lead to a more educated workforce fostering economic growth and encouraging businesses in our state to stay and hire local.”
Does she not realize it is a crime for an employer to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant, even if that new hire has a U of M diploma?
Our Democrat State Senator Melisa Franzen (on the left in photo) was one of six panelists invited by Rep. Ilhan Omar to speak at an Omar town hall supporting "Medicare for All." The town hall was on July 18, 2019.
Franzen's quote of the night: ". . . in my district, Senate District 49, I both have Ilhan Omar and CD5. And I have Rep. Dean Phillips in CD3. And I love them both."
Somehow, after 7 years as our State Senator, we expected a bit more depth and a few solid reasons why she supports the idea of "Medicare for All". However after carefully listening to the event video and even reading a transcript, it's still unclear what Franzen's position is on the issue.
The invited panel members were: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rose Roach, the executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Erin Murphy, a former Minnesota House Majority Leader, Minnesota state Sen. Melisa Franzen and Dr. Dave Dvorak, an emergency medicine doctor.
The Bloomington League of Women Voters hosted a Primary Candidates Forum July 10.(Gene Winstead, mayor for the last 20 years, is retiring.) The 5 mayoral candidates and their web sites (click on links) or facebook pages (navigate to these from FB):
- Ryan Kulka is our SD49 Republicans recommended candidate, as reported in our July 1 News. Ryan is an entrepreneur, business owner and life-long Bloomington resident who has experience managing budgets and people. https://www.kulkaformayor.com/
- Tim Busse, has been on the City Council for 4 terms. He believes there is much work left do, but defended the previous mayor’s leadership and previous council activities on the $250M water park, the new community center and the river bottom trail paving. https://www.busseforbloomington.com/
- Sharon Christensen, whose background is in health services and union representation, feels she can bring needed change to the city. (FB) Sharon Christensen For Bloomington Mayor
- Rainer Einsmann is a German immigrant who served in the Army, taught high school and worked in employment services. He has two main concerns: lake invasive species and closing the MOA on Sunday to benefit small businesses. (No web site or FB page as of date of debate)
- Dan Niziolek has been involved with city government in Minneapolis and St Paul for 27 years and feels mid-course corrections are needed to solve crime, traffic, jobs, lack of citizens voice and the water park problems. Supports more community engagement by city government. (FB) Vote Dan For Mayor
Based on the audience questions selected by the League of Women Voters, the issues addressed in the debate were the $250M Mall of America water park, the cost and location of the new community center, paving of the Minnesota River bottom trail, city government transparency, affordable housing, equity, ranked choice voting.
The full video of the debate is now available. CLICK HERE to view.
Here is a summary of each candidate’s statement when asked what their top 3 priorities would be if elected:
- Affordable living -- a combination of jobs, transportation, and housing—not just minimum wage or targeting housing developers.
- Bring transparency to city government through coalitions and committees.
- Increased financial responsibility.
The consensus among attendees of the July 10 Bloomington League of Women Voters Forum for Primary Candidates is that the "At Large" City Council race is among progressives. SD49 Republicans will not be making a formal candidate recommendation.
The video for the entire debate is now available. CLICK HERE to view it.
These Four City Council – At Large candidates will be on the ballot for the August 13th primary election.
The listed campaign sites all are on Facebook, navigate from FB
• Jenna Carter: (FB) Jenna Carter for Bloomington City Council
• Brian "Clem" Clemens: (FB) Brian "Clem" Clemens for Bloomington Council
• Judy Gelina: (FB) Judith Gelinas
• Larry James Hotchkiss: tbd
Three of the four candidates’ for the City Council – At Large position attended the debate. Larry James Hotchkiss had a family situation and could not attend. Candidate responses clearly showed a progressive liberal bias.
Unlike the questions selected for the mayoral debate, there were many audience questions regarding diversity, inclusion, racial equity, sanctuary cities, and illegal immigrants.
All three of the candidates had derogatory remarks regarding Bloomington’s “welcomeness”. The candidates indicated they would not cooperate with federal law enforcement officials in advising them of illegal immigrants in Bloomington and several suggested Bloomington become a sanctuary city.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hotchkiss does not have a web site or facebook site allowing us to assess his views, so at this point we feel there is no candidate in this race who is not liberal or progressive and is acceptable to Republicans. If this disappoints you (too), please think about how you can prepare to run for the City Council in the future.