Are Bloomington Officials Doing Their Homework?

SD49_Budget_Info_Picture.jpgLast week's Bloomington Sun Current included an excellent guest editorial column by Pam Pommer. Pommer, who has a lot of common sense, is a Bloomington resident and graduate of Lincoln Senior High School.

Pommer starts out, “I’m increasingly frustrated lately with government officials enthusiastically implementing new initiatives but apparently before doing adequate cost/benefit analysis and asking tough questions:

“Can they be implemented now or do other things have to be in place first?"

"What if the program isn’t successful? What if it is too successful?"

“Can we afford it?”

Pam Pommer goes on to write from a very practical point of view about several Bloomington issues - water rates, organics recycling, curbside cleanup costs, plastics recycling, and the city’s promotion of a world expo in Bloomington.
If you haven’t read it, it is worth a look. CLICK HERE


Edina School Board Heard Parent, Student Concerns

education-2107914_640.jpgParents and students spoke February 1 to Edina School Board officials about continued concerns with the curriculum used for 10th Grade English, contending that the content was inferior, fifth-grade level, and that instructor-led classroom discussions were indoctrination and intimidation, not education.

Read more about the meeting at the Center of the American Experiment  CLICK HERE


Bloomington’s New Utility Rates are Unfair to Larger, Younger Families

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Eldon Spencer, until recently the Bloomington City Council District 2 representative, expressed his concern about Bloomington's new water utility rates in a column posted in the January 7 Sun Current.  We are re-posting his column below.

The Bloomington Sun Current’s Nov. 30 headline noting “New rates offer added incentive for water conservation” should have been expanded with the words “for some Bloomington families.”

The Bloomington City Council’s unanimous adoption of a new rate structure with increased penalties for higher usage, without adjustment for household size, effectively punishes larger and younger families. Many of these families will be penalized despite having a real need to exceed the newly lowered 6,000 gallon per month level, above which the cost per gallon rises by more than 75 percent.

At the same time, the two-tier system provides scant conservation incentive to most single person or “empty nester” households, thus making the desired incentive structure both under-inclusive and over-inclusive.

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Why Musician Left Stage After Guest Artist's Insults

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The following is excerpted from posts by Manny Laureano, first trumpeter with the Minnesota Orchestra.  During a concert on December 2, Laureano walked off the stage after the guest artist, Rufus Wainwright, spoke out about “evil” Republicans.

Picture credit:  Joel Larson

 I did something that was fairly unusual for one of our concerts, especially a Pops-type show, so, it’s not like I didn’t understand there would be consequences of varying types… but, there comes a point where you can’t sit and bear it.

Wainwright is not someone whom I knew anything about until he showed up for rehearsal. I figured our director of Presentations had to know he has a big following of loyalists and that’s why we presented him, because we would have a big crowd. I had no ax to grind with this guy. I didn’t know him from Adam. I even went to my ultimate source for such things, the musicians of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and asked them about him. They had no clue other than he has a famous cover of “Hallelujah” from the movie Shrek. That’s how I went into it.

The rehearsals were fine, as he didn’t do any of his between-tune-audience chats. When he got to Cantique de Noel I was actually happy to hear him do it in French. I was less than happy when he 1) made it clear that he was only going to sing a Christmas tune because he was asked to (thanks for sucking it up and doing us the favor), 2) made a big deal about what a hero he was for singing it in a higher key and 3) decided it would be fun to translate the text so that they would have a double entendre that had as a punchline something about “falling on your knees for deliverance.” Funny guy. I was not among those that found it cute. Fine. I let it go.

The second half was the problem. Before the second tune in which I had an extended solo he found it necessary to rant about the recent and unfinalized tax bill. He was very upset about it and talked about Republicans as being “horrible people that had to be stopped” to the bravos and delight of his followers.

So, I stopped.

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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. 

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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. 

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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?
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Paulsen Attacked for Expression of Sadness

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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.

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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.

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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

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