The Bloomington Charter Commission met in special session on Thursday, June 9. The Commission had only one item on its agenda – to acknowledge the receipt of a petition signed by 2,500 Bloomington residents. The petition had more than enough signatures to put an amendment to the city charter on the ballot this fall.
The petition asked that the City’s Charter be amended to read: “Unless first approved by a majority of the voters in a state general election, the City shall not replace the competitive market in solid waste collection with a system in which solid waste services are provided by government-chosen collectors or in government-designated districts.”
Before the Charter Commission adjourned, the Commission voted unanimously to acknowledge the petition and forward it to the city for verification of signatures.
Bloomington officials have had two earlier opportunities to respond to the concerns of a significant segment of Bloomington residents. Both times, they have chosen to ignore those concerns by either finding flaws with the referendum petition or arguing that state statues preempted an initiative petition. They continued to publish assurances that Organized Collection would begin this fall.
The petitioners are simply saying that Bloomington residents should have the right to vote, up or down, the imposition of Organized Trash Collection. A government action that denies residents the right to choose their own vendors, to assemble on their own to negotiate with those vendors, and that constrains competition by dictating exclusive zones where each vendor can operate certainly cries out for a vote. It is to the credit of the Charter Commission that it rightly chose to recognize the significance of the petition and voted to pass it on to the city.
Gov. Dayton has vetoed the bipartisan tax bill. He created another St Paul Stand-off that didn’t need to happen. The Governor is citing a wording error in the bill’s language as justification for playing politics.
The bill contained middle class tax cuts, property tax relief for small businesses and farmers, and some tax incentives that will diversify the Iron Range’s economy. At $259 million, it represented less than a third of the projected 2016 budget surplus, but it would have delivered on a Republican promise to turn a portion of that surplus into tax relief for Minnesotans. It was a bill that passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in the House and Senate. It passed in the House 123-10. It passed in the Senate 55-12. Republicans certainly “worked across the aisle” to get very worthwhile results.
So worthwhile that Gov Dayton is now using the tax bill as a bargaining chip. He is bargaining that Republicans will agree to more spending and possibly higher taxes to secure his agreement to call a special session on the bonding bill.Read more
Senator Melisa Franzen Disguises Taxes as “New Sources of Funding”
Is Melisa Franzen a wolf in sheep’s clothing? In a recent newsletter to constituents, Senator Franzen (D) described her approach for funding the transportation bill as “a comprehensive, long-term approach that increases NEW DEDICATED FUNDING” (emphasis ours). In other words, she’s supporting a LONG-TERM TAX INCREASE. But why not just say that? Why use terms that disguise the truth?
Of course, given her proclivity for supporting fiscally irresponsible tax and spend policies, it’s not surprising that she’d advocate for a tax increase. But why is she not being more straightforward and honest with her constituents?
Perhaps Senator Franzen isn’t proud of the policies she supports. Or perhaps she just wants to pull the wool over our eyes. We Minnesotans pride ourselves in being reasonably well-educated and fiscally literate. We know that a tax by any other name is still a tax, and if taxes need to be raised we’d like to be presented with them honestly.
Fortunately, we have the opportunity to vote this year to send a more honest representative to St. Paul. We can vote for Mike Lehman for State Senator. He is fiscally responsible. He tells it like it is, using straightforward terms. He will be a welcome replacement for Melisa Franzen, who apparently doesn’t mind trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
Franzen’s deceptive language is a consistent pattern. Read on for more Franzen twists of truth.Read more
The Edina school district has been forced to reveal the true priorities underlying the $124.9 million referendum that it foisted on the public last May. You may recall that the school district sold the 2015 referendum, in part, as being about school safety and critically needed school security improvements. The district’s sales pitch focused on school safety and school security improvements precisely because the district knew that child safety sells.
The district sent its spokespeople out throughout Edina to convince us that our aging elementary schools were falling apart and that our children’s safety was at risk at schools that were designed at a simpler, and presumably safer, time. To address this fact, the district promised that one priority was to improve security at all of the elementary schools. Their plan was to renovate each of the elementary schools to allow for a single point of entry, funneling all visitors past the office.
Coming on the heels of well-publicized school shootings, the district’s rhetoric was well designed to sow the maximum level of anxiety among Edina parents and citizens. Although only a tiny fraction of the referendum spending, just $7.9 million, was actually earmarked for security improvements, the taxpayers bought the district’s sales pitch.
We now have learned that building fancy new athletic fields are far more important to the school district than our children’s safety, belying the district’s sales jargon.Read more
Claims and Counter Claims on State Borrowing
Little progress has been made public on the transportation bill, tax relief, or the bonding bill. Instead, the media has recently printed a number of claims and counter-claims. Republicans want to prioritize spending and limit borrowing to sustainable levels. Gov. Dayton and the DFL-controlled Senate, with support from the Star Tribune, continue to push for major increases in the level of state borrowing.
Read on to learn how the DFL bonding proposal means higher debt without promised jobsRead more
As revealed during the 2015 referendum, the Edina School District desperately wants to be like other school districts. Rather than forging its own path, as Edina has done for decades as it has become a leader in K-12 education, the District is now instead officially a follower engaged in a tireless quest to copy what it calls its “peer” school districts from around the country. Indeed, in public comments, the District flaunts the administration’s frequent trips to California, Nebraska and Illinois to learn how to better copy other schools.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the District is following other school districts in contracting, by an April 25th vote, to spend well over $2,000,000 to install synthetic turf on four of the District’s athletic fields, including two brand new fields within the flood plain of Nine Mile Creek. This time, however, the District’s desire to keep up with its peers is risking the health and safety of its students, staff and city residents as well as hundreds of thousands of people living downstream within the Nine Mile Creek Watershed.Read more
In October 2015, five citizens brought a suit against the City of Bloomington. The Bloomington city council wished to proceed to impose “Organized Trash Collection” by fiat. The city council had rejected an initiative put forth by these citizens that would have denied the City the right to impede “the competitive market in solid waste collection” unless first approved by a majority of the Bloomington voters.
On April 25, a Hennepin County judge issued a ruling against the citizens’ suit. He observed that, “Nothing in the [Bloomington] city charter authorizes or requires the direct approval of a majority of the voters before the duly elected city council may act.” However, the judge further noted that if Bloomington’s citizens “wish to redefine the powers of the city council, they are free to seek amendment of the city charter.”
They will. Read more to learn why, and how you can help.Read more
In Part 1 of our coverage of Bloomington’s newly-imposed gas and electric franchise fees, we wrote that Bloomington has justified these fees based on a projected shortfall in city revenue for street and trail maintenance. The projected 2016 shortfall was $550,000. The City expects that the annual income from the fees will be $4.9 million.
The Bloomington city government had estimated street and trail maintenance costs at around $1.5 Million this year and $2.3 Million for 2017. The City appears to be anticipating an exponential increase in street and trail maintenance costs, even though the key raw material in pavement repair is petroleum. A review of the City’s cost projections appeared to be based on historically high petroleum costs. Those costs have now dropped, but the City staff was unable to indicate what the impact of those lower costs would be on their projections.
The City’s Pavement Management Program has previously covered a majority of these estimated costs (the street maintenance portion). However, the City is not offering any property tax reduction in light of the significantly higher income anticipated from the franchise fees. Rather, the City is simply saying that property taxes will now not need to be raised as much as might otherwise have been required.Read more
DFL targets metro drivers for $300 yearly tax increase
Proposed new taxes would cost the typical metro driver an additional $24.50 a month (almost $300 per year), according to the Star Tribune. The Dayton/DFL transportation plan raises taxes by $11 billion over 10 years.
A new 6.5% gas tax would increase as the price of a gallon of gas increases. One-half of one percent would be added to our metro sales tax for transit.Read more