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Northstar Departing for Insanity
John W. Palmer, Ph.D.

Last Friday I waited three hours to have 3 minutes to address the Minnesota House of Representative’s Committee on Transportation Finance about the possible extension by rail the NorthStar Commuter Rail line. During my three hour wait, I heard many people express their opinions and desires to spend other peoples money on a project they want.

When my chance to speak came I focused on the economics of commuter rail (nowhere in the USA do the fares cover the cost of operation and the average public subsidy is 47% of operating costs). Then I reminded the committee of the widely known definition of insanity (Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and again and expecting a different outcome).

A brief review using a case study approach covering the last 100 years of commuter rail in the USA helps explain why spending taxpayer dollars on an extension of the NorthStar Commuter Rail fits the definition of insanity. The interurban, early commuter rail, was of great importance to the eastern half of the United States from about 1890 to 1925. Interurbans provided passengers service between cities and towns. Interurbans were a cross between a tram and a conventional train. In 1915, there were 15,500 miles of interurban rail in the US. http://chicagocityofbigshoulders.blogspot.com/2013/05/electricinterurbans.html

My home town (Kenosha, WI) was served by one of these rail lines. The Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad (The North Shore Line) is representative of commuter rail’s history. The North Shore Line was one of the most successful interurban systems ever put together. The history of the company dates to the 1890s and in terms of the passenger traffic it carried during its peak years of operations was the second busiest interurban in history. Unfortunately, the company’s downfall was the plight of nearly all interurbans, the heavy reliance of passenger traffic could not sustain it forever and bankruptcy finally came after a long legal battle in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The North Shore once stretched from downtown Chicago to Milwaukee. Today only one segment, the Skokie Swift, remains in use for Chicago commuter service. Given the fact that the company operated high-speed service and was located in a highly populated region it weathered the 1920s downfall of the interurban and initially did fine after the Great Depression hit.

World War II brought back traffic level comparable to that of the great years of the 1920s. Total passenger traffic climbed from barely ten million revenue passengers in 1940 to almost twenty-eight million by 1945. By November of 1946 after nearly fourteen years of bankruptcy, the North Shore came back. But, trouble and crisis returned swiftly at the War’s end.

Passenger traffic dropped and kept on declining. In 1948, a prolonged strike lasting more than three months, shut down the system; only a better than 40 percent commuter fare increase enabled the company to meet the resultant wage increases and resume operations. In June, 1958, the North Shore asked for permission to abandon all operations. Five years later (1963) The North Shore ended service thus leaving only one passenger provider (the Chicago and Northwestern) serving Chicago’s north shore communities. http://www.tmer.org/Section/History/ Chicago_North_Shore_and_Milwaukee/index.html

Prior to 1970 most railroads providing commuter service to Chicago were financially stable due to the benefits of increased traffic during the war years, expansion of suburbia and modernization of their fleets. By 1970 costs were rising and revenues were declining and in1974 the Chicago Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was formed and commuter rail service became publicly funded and government operated. By 1983 after recurring financial difficulties RTA was reorganized shifting commuter rail to a subdivision called METRA.

Today the old Chicago and Northwestern commuter rail service along the north shore of Lake Michigan is operated by METRA. The similarities of METRA’s service from
Chicago to Kenosha, WI and the NorthStar are striking. METRA’s service to Kenosha covers 51 miles and the current rail based Northstar is 40 miles. Both services us main line rails of private railroads. The similarity ends when covering cost with fares is examined. Fares collected on METRA cover 55% of the cost of operation. Northstar’s fares covered only 20%. METRA’s service had about 1.8 million riders in 2017 compared to 737,000 on the Northstar service.

The difference in population density along the two routes probably accounts for the large difference in cost recovery since ridership and population density are highly correlated. The rail line from Kenosha to Chicago traverses some of the USA’s most densely populated corridors. The Northstar corridor has many miles of undeveloped land.

With commuter rail’s long history of decline that lead to unprofitability and now government subsidy to cover shortfalls in revenue and with clear evidence that ridership and fares are not going to cover the cost of operation, investing money in commuter rail clearly meets the definition of insanity. With the brief history of Northstar showing an inability to even come close to covering operating cost at the fare box, spending more money on the failing experiment with Minnesota commuter rail is crazy.

The DFL commissioners in charge of fixing MNLARS are really dancing on the head of a pin in their attempt to justify more money to fix MNLARS. Wait times have improved but they’re still unacceptable. Commissioners testifying this week said that “the workload for vehicle titles was at an all-time high at the beginning of 2018, taking the department about 90 days to turn around a title application. They say they are now able to get most titles issued in 40 days or less. As for driver’s licenses, they’re still working within a 120-day window.”

At this week’s hearing, the IT commissioner said “To say that it isn’t working is not correct. It does have problems but it is producing revenue for our state.” If that’s the commissioner’s definition of working, it isn’t a definition shared by people using MNLARS.

If the DFL thinks that MNLARS is working, the first question that needs to be asked is whether the people who’ve dealt with MNLARS are satisfied with MNLARS’ proficiency. I’m betting the vast majority of people would say no. In the people’s minds, the only metric that matters is whether MNLARS is quickly creates new drivers licenses with the smart chip and whether MNLARS quickly processes title transfers.

If the DFL can’t proficiently process drivers licenses and title transfers, then they should be fired ASAP. Further, if this problem isn’t fixed before the end of the budget session, then the DFL, including Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan and Speaker Hortman, should resign.

Check this out:

The system needs more money to bring on employees to fill holes in service, Dohman said. Part-time employees were brought on to help, but shortages still exist. It remains a question whether lawmakers will be willing to appropriate more funding to MNLARS, especially after footing the initial $93 million bill in 2017 and an additional $9 million in May.

In the private sector, this project would’ve been finished a year ago and under budget. In government, they’re over their originally-anticipated budget by $100,000,000 and off on the start-up date by 14 months. Why should I think that the DFL is capable of efficiently running government?

Anyone that thinks that government is efficient at delivering important services are either lying to themselves or lying to us. Predictably, neither the DFL nor the Dayton administration still hasn’t gotten MNLARS running.

Now, problems are being addressed, Minnesota IT Services Commissioner Johanna Clyborne told the MNLARS Steering Committee, but progress has been slow-moving.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Clyborne said.

MNLARS employees have received more than 32,000 applications for Real IDs this year and have mailed out just over a third, said Dawn Olson, Driver and Vehicle Services Director. Olson said she hopes the remainder will be mailed out by the first week in January.

I’m hoping to win the lottery before the new year starts, too. Based on past history, I’m betting there’s an equal chance of me winning that lottery and DVS getting the remainder out on time. And I’m not betting on winning the lottery in the next 3 weeks.

The commissioners admitted that it’s still taking more than 40 days to get drivers licenses out. Why doesn’t the state turn to a real IT company to fix the problem? At this point, the frustration level from the public is high. If the DFL doesn’t fix their MNLARS problem ASAP, there will be a political backlash. This project has already cost taxpayers $100,000,000.

Here’s something else worth considering: The DFL wanted Republicans to appropriate enough money to complete the project. Republicans refused, saying they wanted to have some control over the project. That’s why Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill and the DFL voted to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto. This MNLARS project is 100% around the DFL’s necks.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman said MNLARS employees were stretched thin as they were forced to switch from one role to another to cover phones or emails or license and title applications. “Driver and Vehicle Services is able to triage to bring down turnaround times momentarily, but we just can’t get ahead,” Dohman said.

In other words, DPS and DVS is no closer to fixing the problem today than they were last spring. It’s indisputable that this is a leadership failure. The only thing that’s in question is how to fix this. That’s something Democrats are terrible at.

They’re great at proposing new things. Unfortunately, Democrats run into all kinds of problems in the implementation phase. Think back to MNsure and Healthcare.gov. Those were total failures, too.

It isn’t surprising that people don’t trust government. A quick check of the history of government, whether it’s local, state or federal, shows how inept government is. That’s why it’s essential to elect solutions-oriented people in 2020. That’s who President Trump is. That’s the opposite of what Gov. Dayton or soon-to-be-Speaker Pelosi are. Unfortunately, I suspect that Gov.-Elect Walz will be just as inept.

That’s why I’m not expecting MNLARS to get fixed anytime soon.

According to this article, MN.IT is almost out of the $10,000,000 appropriated in late March. I’d argue that Ms. Clyborne is spending money like a drunken sailor but I think drunken sailors have more restraint.

Clyborne has had the $10,000,000 for 82 days! How can you spend that much money in that short of time? Spending at that rate would cause MNLARS to spend almost $50,000,000 in a year. MNLARS is attempting to pass the blame. According to the article, “Minnesota IT Services and the Department of Public Safety updated state legislators this week in a required quarterly progress report on ongoing efforts to fix MNLARS gaps and defects. Agency officials noted some improvements since their initial report was delivered in late April. But they also highlighted the looming financial problem. Another ramp-down of the repair work is coming, Minnesota IT Service Commissioner Johanna Clyborne said in an interview. She’s just not sure when. ‘We’re going to do as much as we can with the funding that we have and we’re going to have to make some tough decisions,’ Clyborne said.”

This is what utter incompetence looks like:

Discussions continue this week with deputy registrars, auto dealers and other MNLARS users to rank the repairs and improvements they want in the system, Clyborne said. She said the timing of the ramp-down will become clearer once the list of priorities is set. “The question is whether I ramp down in August or whether I ramp down in October or somewhere in between,” she said.

That’s a 2+ month difference in “ramp-down” time estimates. If you’re spending money and that’s the best you can do in terms of pinpointing spending, then you should be fired immediately for incompetence.

Saying that Gov. Dayton failed deputy registrars is extreme understatement. Nonetheless, he’s already started blaming Republican politicians for his failures. Dave Orrick’s reporting lays things out nicely by saying “It’s all the result of the faulty launch of MNLARS, a new computer system launched over the summer to handle vehicle title and tab transactions. It was a mess and largely still is, say deputy registrars, as well as car dealers, insurance agents and untold numbers of regular folks who waited in long lines or ran up against any number of roadblocks in their attempts to transfer a title or some other previously routine transaction.”

Don Davis’s article highlighted how the DFL abandoned the registrars:

The Minnesota House has failed to override Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of funding to reimburse local offices who struggled with the state’s new driver registration system.

It’s just the second attempted override in Dayton’s tenure. With just 79 House members voting to override Dayton on Sunday, it fell short of the required 90-vote margin. Most Democrats voted against overriding Dayton’s veto.
Dayton struck down the bill Saturday, saying lawmakers should have paired it with funding to fix MNLARS. That money is in a separate bill passed by the Legislature. MNLARS was plagued by problems since its summer launch. GOP Rep. Dave Baker says lawmakers owe it to deputy registrars to reimburse them for their extra costs due to problems with the system.

DFL members who voted for the bill initially voted to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto. That means that they put Gov. Dayton’s vanity ahead of the registrar’s financial needs. Saying that Speaker Daudt was upset with Gov. Dayton is understatement. Watch Speaker Daudt’s body language during this press availability:

About 12:25 into the press availability, Speaker Daudt spoke to the registrars bill, saying “Well, the deputy registrar bill, we are extremely disappointed that the Governor vetoed that bill. Even in his veto letter, he said that “I support this money for the deputy registrars. Confusing. Again, he keeps saying ‘send me a bill — an individual bill all by itself — a standalone bill’ and he vetoes it anyway. In reality, this bill had 101 votes going out of the House. I think we’re going to find out tonight if Democrats stand behind making these deputy registrars whole for the losses that have been incurred by the disaster called MNLARS and I hope that Democrats will stand with Republicans tonight behind these deputy registrars instead of standing behind this governor who has literally gone back on his word to these people.”

In his own press availability, Gov. Dayton said that he’d only sign the deputy registrars’ bill if it included ‘the other $33,000,000’ needed to fix MNLARS. Republicans told him consistently that they weren’t willing to write him a blank check, then hope that his IT team would fix MNLARS over the summer. Writing this incompetent governor a blank check with the belief that he’d fix that system isn’t just insane. It’s stupid. Why trust a governor with Gov. Dayton’s legacy of mishaps and mistakes and who can’t be held accountable now that he’s officially a lame duck?

When some of these deputy registrars go out of business or lose their homes, I hope they remember who stood with them and who abandoned them. Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill but DFL legislators abandoned them. DFL legislators supported their governor rather than supporting their constituents.

I hope these deputy registrars and their families remember that the DFL preached that they’re for the little guy — until their governor needs their votes. When they walk into the voting booth, I hope they feel like this:

Then I hope they vote for the people who will support them when it matters. They’re known as Republicans.

Gov. Dayton is quickly becoming known as the most inept governor in Minnesota history. In just the past year, he’s screwed up the implementation of a new MNLARS system, his Human Services Department failed to investigate the deaths of seniors in elder care facilities and didn’t notice the rampant fraud in child care centers. Other than those things, Gov. Dayton had run a virtually flawless administration this year. That’s until we got this statement from Rep. Dave Baker:

On Saturday, Governor Mark Dayton announced a veto of a bill authored by Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, to provide $9 million of aid to deputy registrars to help offset the numerous costs incurred following the rollout of the state’s vehicle licensing system, MNLARS. The bill, HF2835, passed on wide bipartisan votes in the legislature; 101-19 in the House and 46-20 in the Senate.

“By vetoing this bipartisan bill, the governor is once again failing to live up to his promise to take responsibility for MNLARS’ failures, leaving our deputy registrars behind as a result,” said Baker. “The failure of Governor Dayton and his agencies to produce a working licensing system is costing deputy registrars around the state countless dollars due to staffing of overtime work, slow processing times, and delays caused by MNLARS. It’s unconscionable to not lend a helping hand to registrars who are trying to navigate this broken system; the governor should be ashamed.”

Prior to Saturday’s veto, Governor Dayton nor his commissioners contacted Rep. Baker in an effort to reach a compromise. “As chief author of this bill, the Dayton Administration never contacted me to tell me of any issues with our bill language to provide relief for deputy registrars,” said Baker. “He has apologized and taken responsibility for the mess, but is doing nothing to help people whose livelihoods he has hurt as a result of the MNLARS mess.”

Think about this. The bill passed by veto-proof margins in the House and Senate. This is the definition of strong bipartisan support, something that governors have praised (and wished for) for years. Instead of signing the bill, Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would’ve fixed a situation that his incompetence created.

Gov. Dayton’s statement that he’s taking responsibility for the MNLARS mess isn’t a serious statement. It’s a PR statement aimed at avoiding a PR crisis. Taking responsibility requires quickly fixing the problem. Taking responsibility requires helping the people on the front lines who’ve dealt with this DFL-created disaster since its rollout. Gov. Dayton hasn’t done anything like that. Instead, he’s insisting that the legislature provide the ‘other’ $33,000,000 in funding to fix MNLARS. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the additional $33,000,000 is needed or that it will fix the problem.

That doesn’t matter to the DFL or Gov. Dayton.

UPDATE: Perhaps I spoke too soon:


Let’s see if the DFL will stand up to Gov. Dayton. Let’s see if they’ll hand him a well-deserved defeat on his way out the door.

UPDATE II: I totally agree with Sen. Newman’s statement on Gov. Dayton’s veto of what’s being called the Deputy Registrars’ bill:

Governor Dayton’s lack of empathy for the deputy registrars predicament is incredibly disappointing. His veto is an insult to the hardworking deputy registrars – many of whom are the sole provider of vehicle titles, license plates, and tabs for rural Minnesotans.

Small businesses are suffering, and in many cases, in grave danger of shutting down altogether, because of the incompetence of the governor’s own state agencies. His veto sends a message to these men and women that their work is not appreciated.

“I am not willing to exacerbate the suffering of these deputy registrars. The Senate is considering all options for moving forward, including the possibility of a veto override.”

The bill initially passed with veto-proof majorities in both houses. This time, it’s for real. Let’s see if the DFL will hand Gov. Dayton a well-deserved stinging defeat before achieving official lame duck status.

UPDATE III: The DFL is rallying around their failed governor:

Perhaps the people who wrote this LTE didn’t realize it but it frames an important question satisfactorily. Todd Holthaus and Dave Smiglewski state “A proposal making its way through the Minnesota House and Senate would ask voters to change the State Constitution to permanently dedicate the revenue attributable to the sales tax on auto parts to roads and bridges. These funds, almost $300 million per year, currently go to the state’s general fund, the same pool of money that supports things like schools and Local Government Aid (LGA).”

Actually, the truth is that the money from those sales taxes are used to pay for K-12 education, LGA, nursing homes, veterans care and a lengthy list of other things. It pays for things like Community Action Minneapolis, which used the money to fund Caribbean vacations for corrupt Twin Cities politicians. It also pays for child care fraud to help the ‘folks back home’. Back home in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, that is. Unfortunately, Messrs. Holthaus and Smiglewski didn’t think that information was important.

Make no mistake about it, Minnesota’s roads and bridges need help. However, diverting money away from the general fund will either cause pain to other important state programs or require the state to raise taxes to make up the shortfall. That is why we urge legislators and the public to reject this proposed constitutional amendment.

Messrs. Holthaus and Smiglewski didn’t admit that economies built on pro-growth policies matter. Holthaus and Smiglewski base their opinion on policies that aren’t pro-growth, that don’t unleash the private sector. The best way to consistently have enough money for government’s core functions is a strong economy. The DFL’s policies hurt too many people in rural Minnesota. The DFL’s buffer strip legislation hurts farmers. The DFL’s wild rice rule hurts miners. The DFL’s anti-fossil fuel policies hurt all Minnesotans.

Budgets are about setting priorities. For decades, the DFL has pushed the myth that funding equals great educational outcomes. The DFL hasn’t had a new idea on education since Wendy Anderson was governor. That’s because the DFL is owned by Education Minnesota.

According to this memo, the Minnesota House of Representatives has “passed legislation (HF4437) Thursday on a bipartisan 76-54 vote that would constitutionally dedicate existing sales tax revenue from auto parts to statewide road and bridge construction.”

Representative Paul Torkelson issued this statement after the legislation was passed:

Anyone driving around our state knows our roads need more work, and it takes money to do that. It’s my hope that this fall, voters can decide if it makes sense to use taxes already being collected from the sales of auto parts in order to continue this road and bridge prioritization. If they vote favorably, we not only will improve our transportation infrastructure but also support thousands of good paying union jobs across our state and put people to work.

If approved by the Minnesota House and Senate, voters would decide this November whether or not to redirect the already-collected sales taxes to road and bridge repair on state, county, township, city and small town projects.

Last year we approved a law to utilize existing tax collections to fund road and bridge repair, and the result is a multi-billion dollar investment over the next decade. This is the logical next step, as we always seem to have trouble finding needed resources as they are always in competition with other portions of the state budget. If voters decide to set aside this revenue, we can assure that it will be spent on roads and bridges.

Gov. Dayton & the DFL insist on funding light rail boondoggles while underfunding maintaining and building road and bridge repair. They’ve argued against dedicating this money by saying it takes money away from the general fund. This is Minnesotans’ opportunity to dedicate these sales taxes to funding road and bridge repair.

If auto-related sales taxes shouldn’t be used to fix or build roads and bridges, then they should be abolished entirely. To have them go into the general fund is to overfund government waste.

MNLARS remains the unfunny punchline to an unfunny joke. At this point, it almost feels cruel to criticize their ineptitude. Almost. This WCCO article highlights just how mixed up the department is.

For instance, “Shawn Sheely, who refurbishes motorcycles, got a surprise in the mail this week. ‘There was a title for a 2009 Harley Davidson, brand-new bike with one mile on it,’ Sheely said. ‘Clearly not my bike. I don’t own a Harley Davidson.’ He wondered if he is the victim of identity theft. ‘There’s a lot of potential messes that could come out of this,’ Sheely said. We ran the VIN number from the title through a number of websites, and on CarFax it came back as a 2009 Husqvarna motorcycle. Sheely did once own this kind of motorcycle, but he sold it three years ago.”

Rep. Paul Torkelson, the chair of the Transportation Finance Committee, said “We have many examples all the way from somebody who got their driver’s license with the wrong picture on it,” Torkelson said. “Onto titles, onto people who have two sets of license plates for the same vehicle.”

Though he won’t like it, MNLARS is part of Gov. Dayton’s legacy. Ditto with MNsure. When it comes to incompetence, the Dayton administration is the king of the hill.

Minnesota needs a competent governor, someone whose administration performs the basic functions properly all the time. Instead, our current DFL governor is a joke, a travesty. Why am I not surprised?

Torkelson said the issue of additional funding for MNLARS to fix the glitches will come up before the legislative session ends, which is in just two and a half weeks. But right now, Torkelson said he is not in favor of putting money into a system that is still clearly broken.

Rep. Torkelson, please don’t fund MNLARS repairs until we have a new, competent, and Republican governor. This isn’t Monopoly money. It’s real people’s hard-earned money. Treat it like it’s precious — because it is — though you wouldn’t know that from how Gov. Dayton spends the taxpayers’ money.

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According to this Strib editorial, the Met Council is just terrific. Apparently, they don’t think the same about Jason Lewis. The editorial’s opening paragraph states “Second District Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis is attempting to apply the heavy thumb of the federal government to tip the scales in a long-running debate over the composition of the Metropolitan Council. We think Lewis and the feds should keep their hands off. This is a matter Minnesotans can and should decide for themselves.”

Actually, it isn’t just a local matter. That’s because many bodies like the Met Council exist across the nation. Further, since the Met Council has taxation authority and the authority to usurp local jurisdictions, it’s insane to think that they shouldn’t be accountable to the people.

The editorial also says this:

We’ve also been skeptical about creating a “council of governments.” Its members would be politically beholden to the local constituencies that elected them, rather than the region as a whole. Instead, we favor instituting staggered terms for council members and employing a panel of local officials as a screening committee to recommend council candidates to the governor.

What’s so virtuous about a panel that’s accountable only to the governor? I don’t see anything worthwhile about that. Let’s further ask the question at the heart of this argument: why do these bureaucrats, plus the Star Tribune, fear the people? Governments are supposed to be of, by and for the people. This nation was started in part by the belief that there should be no taxation without representation. Who does the Met Council represent? The Governor?

That doesn’t sound like a governing body that governs with the consent of the people. That sounds like a dictatorial body.

The Met Council is filled with special interests. For instance, Jennifer Munt ‘represents’ District 3, “which includes the Hennepin County cities of Chanhassen, Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Greenwood, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata, and Woodland. Munt is the Public Affairs Director for AFSCME Council 5, where she leads marketing, communications and media relations.”

This isn’t about representing the people. It’s about representing the special interests:

Previously [Munt] was the Communications Director for the Hiawatha LRT project (2000-2005) and an Outreach Coordinator for the Metropolitan Council (1999-2002).

Munt hasn’t represented people in the past. She’s represented governments and special interests.

Here’s Jason Lewis’s statement on what his amendment actually does:

“Currently, and in contrast to federal law, all 17 members of the Met Council are appointed by the Governor of the State of Minnesota. MPOs nationwide are created with the intent to improve infrastructure planning and, especially, transit investments on behalf of constituencies across a given region. In 2012, Congress rightly determined that locally elected officials are best suited to represent those same groups. In our region, the failure of the Met Council to include locally elected officials as part of their governing board has undermined this key aspect of accountability to the people they represent.”

Background:

MAP-21 required that federally recognized MPOs that participate in transit improvement program planning, long-range capital plans, coordination of transit services, and that carry out other state activities, all of which rely on federal funding and grants, meet certain requirements. These requirements include a board makeup of locally elected officials, public transportation officials, and appropriate state officials.
The Metropolitan Council (Met Council) currently has a Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) that consists of local elected officials, but in August of 2015, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration ruled that the TAB lacked any voting authority and therefore the Met Council did not meet the threshold of MPO compliance.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration used a separate clause in federal law to “grandfather” the Met Council into compliance.

Our amendment does not seek to change the operations or scope of the Met Council. It does not attempt to change the activities of the board. It simply requires that for a board to be in compliance they need to have locally elected official representation consistent with every other MPO in the country.

In other words, the Strib appears to be running interference for the Met Council. Rep. Lewis’s amendment doesn’t change the Met Council’s responsibilities. It simply requires the Met Council into compliance with existing federal law. That isn’t “tipping the scales” in one direction or another, as the Strib implies. It simply forces the Met Council to comply with existing federal law.

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