Archive for the ‘Dave Kleis’ Category

It’s shameful to read an article like this one, then think that it’s called a news article. It reads more like a press release from the Central Minnesota Transportation Authority, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce or from Dave Kleis’s office.

The article started by saying “The first Northstar commuter train left Big Lake 10 minutes before dawn on Tuesday. St. Cloud commuters who started downtown on the Link bus left at 3:50 a.m. to catch that train. They arrived in Minneapolis before 6 a.m. I took the last Link and the last train on Tuesday morning, and it still felt early. My trip from bus, to train, to light rail, to the Minnesota Capitol in downtown St. Paul took nearly three hours, but it was easy, prompt and clean.

“For a few moments I felt like a traveler in Europe, looking over farm fields and forests from the top deck of a train. I’ve driven between St. Cloud and the Cities along Minnesota Highway 10 hundreds of times. This was more relaxing. After I arrived at the Capitol — I am the government reporter, after all — I wound up walking a few miles for coffee and a meeting off site. My feet got sore.”

It’s good that Ms. Hertel mentioned that she’s the SC Times’ government reporter. If not for that mention, I might’ve thought that she was the PR director for the Chamber of Commerce.

Later in the article, Ms. Hertel wrote this:

Wolgamott commuted to the Capitol on Northstar a couple times this year as he was pushing his colleagues to fund research into a route expansion. He preferred the train to “sitting in traffic, inching down the interstate,” Wolgamott said Tuesday. He brought his daughter Lily on one trip and they met conductor Vincent Roberts, he said. “She thought it was pretty cool to meet the conductor.”

That’s nice. That doesn’t tell the Times’ readers why this is a vital project. It’s just a cute story. On the other hand, this is important information that’s buried deep in the article:

Relph wants to get a sense of who would benefit from the extended route, so participating communities know how much to pitch in to the cost, which won’t be covered solely by ticket sales, he said. “This will be subsidized.”

The article doesn’t say how big the subsidy will be. It just says that there will be a subsidy. Then there’s this:

The cost of a route extension is not clear. A 2017 Legislative fiscal note estimated capital costs around $37 million. As lawmakers consider expansion of Northstar, $4 million is already allocated for facility improvements in Big Lake to maintain the existing fleet for 20 more years.

The more I learn about this project, the more it sounds like a total boondoggle.

There’s an old saying about boats. It says “A boat is a hole in the water surrounded by wood into which one pours money.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There’s another saying that dovetails with the first saying. It says “the 2 best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.”

With Northstar, unfortunately, there won’t be a day we sell it. The subsidies will never end. They’ll only get more expensive. The replacement costs for the train will be forever. Like the subsidies, those costs will only go up.

Just for comparison, there are more cars that use I-94 in a single day than there are riders on Northstar in a year. What’s more, I-94 pays for itself. Plus, it’s capable of transporting goods to markets. Northstar can’t do that if its life depended on it. At best, Northstar is a niche produce. At worst, which I suspect is likely, it’s a boondoggle.

This NY Times article has a loose affiliation with the truth. Saying that it’s slanted is understatement. Like much of its political ‘reporting’, the article has an obvious agenda. That agenda is intended to vilify President Trump and his supporters. (Shocking, I know, but it’s pretty obvious.)

Having known Dr. Palmer for almost 15 years, I won’t hide my contempt for the NY Times hit piece. Yes, it’s safe to say that that last sentence meant that the gloves just came off. The NY Times’ article pretends to be an authority on John Palmer. That’s laughable. Becoming an authority on Dr. Palmer takes more than the afternoon that the NY Times spent on the interview.

It’s pretty obvious that the NY Times’ article was intended to be a hit piece. Why else would they send a reporter and a photographer to St. Cloud, MN? This wasn’t meant to provide their readers with information. This was meant to slant opinions against Trump supporters. That’s apparent because of what the Times reporter quoted and what he didn’t quote.

For instance, the ‘reporter’ wrote “Mr. Palmer said at a recent meeting he viewed them as innately less intelligent than the ‘typical’ American citizen, as well as a threat.” The NY Times’ reporter interprets Dr. Palmer as saying that Somalis as being “less intelligent” than white Americans.

The fact that the NY Times didn’t quote Dr. Palmer directly is proof that they cut corners. They have the transcript or something close to it. How else would they be able to quote Dr. Palmer saying someone is “less intelligent”?

“The very word ‘Islamophobia’ is a false narrative,” Mr. Palmer, 70, said. “A phobia is an irrational fear.” Raising his voice, he added, “An irrational fear! There are many reasons we are not being irrational.”

In this predominantly white region of central Minnesota, the influx of Somalis, most of whom are Muslim, has spurred the sort of demographic and cultural shifts that President Trump and right-wing conservatives have stoked fears about for years. The resettlement has divided many politically active residents of St. Cloud, with some saying they welcome the migrants.

Newt Gingrich famously said that the United States isn’t a multi-cultural nation, that it’s multi-ethnic. He’s right. As a St. Cloud citizen, I haven’t seen much proof that suggests that the Somali refugees are interested in adopting the principles of the US Constitution. I’ve seen plenty of proof that says Somali refugees receive preferential treatment from St. Cloud law enforcement and other parts of the government.

Dave Kleis, the mayor of St. Cloud and a longtime Republican who now identifies as an independent, has voiced support for the resettlement program, but he has also drawn criticism for not forcefully denouncing groups like C-Cubed, which he refused to discuss in an interview.

It isn’t surprising that Kleis identifies as an independent. The reality is that he’s closer to a Libertarian than anything else. Kleis hasn’t shown leadership on the resettlement issue because he isn’t a leader. He’s argued, incorrectly, that refugee resettlement is a federal issue.

That’s partially true. It’s indisputable that the federal government sets naturalization policy. What’s equally indisputable is the fact that the Refugee Act of 1980 gives city government a role in the process, too:

The Director and the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1) shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.

(B)The Director shall develop and implement, in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and State and local governments, policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.

Kleis insists that this part of US Statutes doesn’t exist. Isn’t it interesting that the people who insist on the government enforce existing laws are getting called Islamophobic while those that ignore the law are considered enlightened? One of those enlightened souls is St. Cloud State President Robbyn Wacker:


Listen to the loaded language in the NY Times’ article:

Two years ago in St. Cloud, Jeff Johnson, a city councilman, introduced a resolution that would temporarily halt refugee resettlement until a study of its economic impact was completed. The idea arose, Mr. Johnson said, after he spoke by phone with officials from the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, an anti-immigration firm that has gained influence in the Trump era. The resolution was defeated, but its introduction caused significant uproar in St. Cloud, and pushed some residents to form or join opposing community groups.

What a crock of BS. CIS isn’t anti-immigration. It’s anti-illegal immigration. Notice how the NY Times conflates the 2 things as though they were the same thing? These aren’t idiots. They’re intentionally trying to put people like Dr. Palmer and Trump supporters on the defensive. Good luck with that.

The NY Times will undoubtedly use this hit piece to influence voters in their blatant attempt to defeat President Trump. The truth is that there’s a rational basis for distrusting the refugee resettlement program. Part of that rational basis is financial. Another part of that rational basis is religious. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen in St. Cloud, the biggest rational basis for opposing this program is because it’s establishing a 2-tiered system of laws.

I’m not talking about imposing Sharia. I’m talking about health inspections of Somali restaurants getting bypassed. I’m talking about citizens near Lake George calling in neighborhood violence, only to have the police show up 45 minutes later. (For those not familiar with St. Cloud, the SCPD station house is less than 2 miles away from Lake George. There’s no way it should take law enforcement 45 minutes to show up.)

I’ll finish by asking this simple question: does this sound like equal application of the law?

In the past, I’ve been pretty disgusted with the (lack of) quality displayed in the St. Cloud Times’ Our View editorials. Unfortunately for its readers, this Our View editorial is the worst Our View editorial I’ve ever read.

As is often the case, the Times’ Editorial Board couldn’t resist preaching from its moral high horse instead of doing its research. The editorial started by saying “St. Cloud, we have a problem. And it’s costing us dearly in respect, dignity and treasure. Our problem is not refugees. It’s not even an image problem, although we most certainly have one of those. If you don’t think so, Google ‘St. Cloud’ and click on the first New York Times article at the top.

Our real problem is that there are too many cowards in our midst. Yes, we said it: Cowards. Cowards who blanch at the idea of Somalis “just walking around” on a public trail. Cowards who cost local businesses thousands of dollars by overreacting to a mismarked security vehicle out of fear of Sharia law — which isn’t coming for us. It just isn’t, and only cowards believe it is.”

It continues:

Corporate America is not, by and large, interested in associating itself with hate of any kind. The cowardly among us keep perpetuating a local brand that makes it less likely we will be in the running for the next tech outpost or national call center. Convention schedulers are also keenly aware that attendees will look for details about our city and find our darkest side. Already this newspaper has been reached out to by travelers who planned to come to St. Cloud and changed their plans after the latest “branding effort.”

The smartest young people, the ones we need to attract to our companies, will be less likely to move here. Doubt it? Ask your kids if they’d Google a city before considering a job offer there. Our own young people, many raised with classmates and teammates and friends in a rainbow of colors, will think harder than they should have to about where they want to make a life.

Electrolux didn’t leave for South Carolina because of hate. It left because of Minnesota’s terrible tax and regulation system. It also left Minnesota for a right-to-work state. Why didn’t the Times mention that?

As for “the next tech outpost or national call center”, those companies don’t consider Minnesota because our taxes, transportation systems and regulations make us totally uncompetitive with the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. This isn’t mentioned by the DFL because their policies have hurt Minnesota. To admit this failure would be admitting that the DFL is a failure.

Listening to the Times is like listening to Dave Kleis and the Chamber of Commerce. In their world, everything’s just fine. In the real world, St. Cloud has been slipping for 10 years. This isn’t entirely St. Cloud’s fault. DFL state government needs to share in the blame by thinking it can tax the daylights out of everyone without consequence. That’s insanity.

This is why the Times isn’t trusted. Their opinions are insanity personified.

When it comes to the issue of refugee resettlement, Mayor Dave Kleis couldn’t be more wrong. Mayor Kleis has said that it’s unconstitutional for the City Council to get involved in resettlement matters. This LTE repeats that belief when it says “Kleis went so far as to call this unconstitutional when former council member Jeff Johnson pushed a similar line. City councils have no business or right to police the free movement of people within the United States, nor do cities set federal immigration policy.”

This mush is misguided at best. Let’s set some things straight. First, the federal government sets immigration and asylum policy. The “United States Refugee Act of 1980” still sets the policy. What Mayor Kleis gets wrong is thinking that city councils and states aren’t allowed any input into how migrant policy is implemented. Over the weekend, someone sent me information of a court case that deals with this. I wrote about that information in this post. Here’s the important part:

According to the press release announcing the lawsuit, Judicial Watch said “In October 2016, Judicial Watch made public 128 pages of documents it obtained from the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, showing a concerted effort by the mayor and a number of private organizations to conceal from the public their plans to resettle 100 Syrian refugees into the small southern Vermont town. The mayor and resettlement organizations shrouded the plan in such secrecy that not even the town’s aldermen were informed of what was taking place behind closed doors.”

Here’s what happened when the mayor and the State Department tried hiding information from that city council:

The aldermen eventually wrote to the U.S. Department of State protesting the plan and opened an investigation into the mayor’s actions.

Looking into refugee resettlement isn’t unconstitutional, especially when Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote into the bill that required the State Department to talk with local units of government before the fact.

That’s called collaboration. That’s the opposite of unconstitutional. It doesn’t require the federal government to relinquish its authority of setting immigration policy. It doesn’t require city councils to be silent ‘victims’ of federal overreach. Instead, it requires both levels of government to work together. I’d love hearing Mayor Kleis explain how that’s unconstitutional.

Finally, what Councilman Johnson proposed was a resolution that proposed a moratorium. He didn’t propose an ordinance requiring a moratorium on the refugee resettlement program. Since when is it unconstitutional for city councilmembers to state their opinions on federal policies?

When it comes to “listening to both sides,” it is quite clear that Brandmire is the one not listening. I suggest he go back and read Kleis’s comments for reference, and review the statements made by council members about previous attempts to limit refugees moving to St. Cloud. There have also been local events that specifically addressed the costs, though it’s clear from his column that cost is not the real issue – culture is.

Councilman Johnson’s resolution dealt strictly with primary resettlement. It didn’t (and couldn’t) deal with secondary resettlement. It would be wise if this person actually paid attention to what was actually discussed instead of worrying about straw-man arguments that were never made.

In this Strib article, Strib reporter Kelly Smith quotes St. Cloud City Councilman Dave Masters as saying “This one group [C-Cubed] doesn’t speak for all residents. I think we need to come together to work together to make St. Cloud a better place.”

This is the same Dave Masters who was offended when citizens showed up to a September City Council meeting wearing red caps that said “Make St. Cloud Great Again.” At the time, Masters insisted that St. Cloud was already great. (That sounds like Steve Laraway, doesn’t it?) How can a city with one-fourth of its people living below the poverty level be great?

A regular reader of LFR sent me some crime statistics comparing St. Cloud’s crime rates with Sartell’s crime rates. Here’s that graphic:

According to these statistics, violent crime per 100,000 people is about double in St. Cloud what it is nationally. With a high violent crime rate and exceptionally high poverty rate, how can Mssrs. Laraway and Masters tell people that St. Cloud is a great place to live?

Frankly, we need to fire all of these delusional politicians and replace them with people who don’t buy rose-colored glasses in bulk. I’d keep George Hontos and the 2 newly-elected city councilmembers and fire the rest — including Mayor Kleis. This isn’t a situation where a little tinkering around the edges will suffice. It’s a situation where real leadership and time-tested policies are required.

Carol Lewis, Jeff Goerger and Kleis must go. Ditto with Laraway and Masters. Eliminate any of these politicians’ supporters, too. We don’t need more of the same failed policies. If you’re interested in rebuilding St. Cloud and turning it into a prosperous city once again, it’s time to step forward. If you think that things are just fine as they are, I’d suggest that you consider spending more time with your family.

Mayor Kleis and the City Council are putting together the 2019 City budget so they want to hear from its citizens. Of course, that doesn’t mean they want to hear from everyone. They definitely don’t want to hear from the citizens who are collecting signatures to put a petition on the ballot.

A “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot.” According to Matt Staehling, the city administrator, the “initiative petition does not meet the legal criteria of an initiative pursuant to our city charter, state statute and long established case law in the state of Minnesota.” That’s too bad for Mr. Staehling because the Minnesota State Supreme Court disagrees with him.

A citizen watchdog group just handed the city of Bloomington an embarrassing loss at the Minnesota Supreme Court. The case started over the rights of residents of the Twin Cities suburb to choose their own garbage hauler. But more broadly the unanimous 6-0 ruling upholds the standing of citizens in home rule charter cities to bring petitions and place legislation on the ballot apart from and in opposition to the city council.

Staehling’s argument is that resolutions aren’t legislation, therefore, they can’t be put on the ballot.

Greg Joseph, the citizens’ attorney, said “What the ruling today says is that cities can adopt a home rule charter and that governs what happens in that city, period. And voters can go around the city, they’re not subservient to it.”

The taxpayers are getting hurt financially by the federal government not picking up the full tab for the Refugee Resettlement Program as required by the Refugee Act of 1980. The City Council acted irrationally last November by passing Jeff Goerger’s ‘Welcoming Community’ resolution. A significant number of St. Cloud residents were prevented from speaking against Goerger’s resolution that night. Why shouldn’t they have the right to put their petition on the ballot? (Notice that the ruling didn’t limit the petition to just legislation.)

Further, it’s rather hypocritical for Mayor Kleis to sit silent on this. In my past conversations, Kleis identified himself as welcoming hearing from the citizens, whether it’s in the form of ballot referenda or whether it’s in the form of town hall meetings. Kleis loves townhall meetings so much, in fact, that he’s got his own bus so he can get around and talk to people in their neighborhoods:

Mayor Kleis, since you love hearing from the people, it’s time to exhibit some leadership and get the petition on the ballot if they collect the required number of signatures. The citizens are tired of being ignored by this City Council. They’re tired, too, that jackasses like Dave Masters object to hearing from his constituents and that Carol Lewis makes rulings that violate prior Minnesota State Supreme Court rulings.

If people like Masters and Lewis think that they don’t have to listen to their constituents and that they’re above the Constitution, it’s time to fire them so they don’t have constituents.

Finally, it’s important to show up Monday night and tell Mayor Kleis and the 5 ostriches how you want your money spent.

Dave Kleis’s argument in this article is particularly flimsy. First, let’s start with what started the fight. It starts in the opening paragraph by saying a “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot. But some city officials say that would be illegal.”

Later, the article states “Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.”

Actually, this initiative is the direct result of the city council’s mishandling of Councilman Johnson’s resolution and the disrespect shown to the people by Councilman Goerger. The night that Councilman Goerger presented his resolution, the City Council intended to ambush Councilman Johnson and the people. Councilman Goerger’s resolution was given to the Council literally minutes before the vote. Discussion was limited at best. Later, Councilman Laraway called the question in an attempt to stop debate. The vote was taken on whether to end debate.

In her confusion, Council President Lewis adjourned the meeting without voting on the resolution. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wasn’t seriously debated. Further, people supporting Councilman Johnson’s resolution never got the chance to testify.

It was the most disgusting, chaotic City Council meeting I’ve ever watched. Council President Lewis looked as confused as Speaker Kelliher did on the final night of the 2007 legislative session. That night, Kelliher looked dazed and confused. But I digress.

Finally, Kleis’s argument is flimsy. Here’s what he said:

“To me, the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It gives only Congress that authority. It’s not the state. It’s certainly not the county or the city,” he said.

What Mayor Kleis is ignoring is 8 U.S. Code 1522(b), which states quite clearly that “The director shall develop and implement in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and state and local governments policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.”

Without question, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to work with local units of government. In fact, without that ability, it’d be impossible to smoothly administer the laws Congress enacts. Mayor Kleis knows this.

Then there’s this:

Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.

What a pile of BS. Shame on Mayor Kleis for making that flimsy argument. First, I won’t dispute the fact that immigration and refugee resettlement policy is set by the federal government. What I’ll passionately dispute is Mayor Kleis’s statement that this isn’t a city issue. It’s costing city taxpayers money. If Mayor Kleis wants to argue that there isn’t a cost to the city budget, I’ll passionately dispute that, too. Does he really want to argue that there isn’t a cost to the City for health inspections of refugee-owned restaurants? Will he argue that there aren’t any law enforcement costs related to refugees?

Just because there isn’t a line item that’s titled ‘Health Inspections — Refugees’ doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost associated with it.

Further, saying that there isn’t a cost with educating refugees, while not officially on the City’s operating budget, is foolish. How much property taxes do city residents pay to ISD 742 to pay for translators and English learning for refugees?

Mayor Kleis, why shouldn’t citizens have a say in such matters? It isn’t like you’re opposed to taking federal money for other things. Why are you opposed to telling the federal government that it has to pay for the people it dumps in our laps? It’s that or they reform the law so that it requires Volags to pick up the entire cost associated with resettled refugees.

If taxpayers pay taxes that support refugees, then we damn well better have the right to air our grievances. In fact, the Constitution gives us that exact right. It’s called the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Mayor Kleis, you should ask one of your legal eagles whether it’s legal to restrict the people’s ability to address the city government in terms of their grievances. If they’re honest with you, they’ll tell you that restricting the petition process to only ordinances is unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment.

We The People retain that right. That right isn’t given to us by the government. It’s given to us by “Nature’s God.”

Last night, the St. Cloud City Council disgraced itself by silencing a citizen. Specifically, Councilman John Libert, who is up for re-election this year, objected to Councilman Jeff Johnson recognizing a speaker. If you read my article last night, you know that the speaker Councilman Johnson wanted to recognize is John Palmer, a retired professor at St. Cloud State. Dr. Palmer holds the title of Professor Emeritus.

Last night, a faithful reader of LFR sent me a copy of the changing rules of order for the City Council. Saying that they reflect an autocratic mindset sounds over-the-top. The history and the detailed rules say something else. For instance, Rule No. 16 of the City Council Rules of Order “through August 2017” said “Recognition of Speakers a) Any member may recognize any person for the purpose of addressing the Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present.”

By the Dec. 11, 2017 Study Session, Rule 16 had morphed into “Recognition of Speakers: a) Any member, at a regular council meeting, may recognize any person for the purpose of providing testimony or addressing the Council on a specific agenda item being considered by Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present. Such recognition may also be extended at council study sessions with the consent of the majority of members present.”

Last night, a different rule was in place:

Recognition of Speakers: a) Any member, at a regular council meeting, including study sessions, may recognize any person, without objection, for the purpose of providing testimony or addressing the Council on a specific agenda item being considered by Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the right to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Dr. Palmer had the right to “petition the Government” and address their grievances. Had this happened in August, Dr. Palmer would have had the right to address the Council, though I suspect that Council President Lewis still would have improperly shut him down. She, along with the other ostriches, haven’t hesitated in restricting citizens’ speech rights if it’s speech they don’t agree with. What’s most infuriating is the fact that the rules that were in place last night weren’t approved by the City Council nor were they voted on in this form.

Think about that. Dr. Palmer was silenced by the city council president after she agreed with one of the city councilmembers who cited a rule that wasn’t voted on and that’s likely unconstitutional. Such reckless regard for the rules lead to anarchy like we saw last night. This is what that looked like last night:

Compare the St. Cloud City Council’s behavior with the behavior in this article:

“I feel like justice was finally served,” said Robin Hensel, whose refusal to move her chair at a 2013 Little Falls City Council meeting was at the heart of the court’s decision. Hensel, a grandmother and peace activist who frequently protests at Camp Ripley, said she never thought she would actually get charged when she moved a folding chair to the open space between the public galley and the City Council’s dais.

This is the major takeaway from that incident:

In its ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Hensel, saying: “The statute is broad and ambiguous, prohibiting any conduct or speech that ‘disturbs an assembly or meeting,’ whether expressive or not. An individual could violate the statute by, for example, wearing an offensive t-shirt, using harsh words in addressing another person, or even raising one’s voice in a speech.”

The Founding Fathers, aka the men who wrote the Constitution, wanted more speech, not less. They didn’t want speech being oppressed. They rebelled against that in their Declaration of Independence.

When Carol Lewis and John Libert silenced a retired professor, they trampled on a citizen’s right to free speech. What’s most alarming is that they silenced a man even though they didn’t know what he was about to say. It’s time to fire these autocrats the next time they’re up for re-election. It’s time to fire them because they’re autocrats, not constitutionalists.

Finally, Mayor Kleis bears some responsibility, too. As Dr. Palmer highlighted in the comments last night, Mayor Kleis didn’t fight against the constitutional missteps that happened last night. That can’t happen again. There’s never a time when the Constitution shouldn’t be defended. Last night, Mayor Kleis missed an opportunity to defend the Constitution.

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Saying that Mayor Kleis made a major mistake in selling city park land to Costco is understatement. The city councilmembers who voted to approve the sale should be terminated the next time they’re up for re-election. Ditto with Kleis. George Hontos’ op-ed explains things perfectly.

Hontos writes “First, the sale of 18.56 acres of city park land for Costco for $3.5 million was a give away that the mayor could have prevented. The city had an independent professional appraiser determine the land had a value of over $5 million. Back in Jan. 2018, before any purchase agreement was signed with Costco, a local developer offered the city $6.5 million, but the Mayor rejected this offer, saying it was too late in the process.”

Mayor Kleis isn’t the only person who should get criticized. Later, Hontos wrote “There was nothing stopping the Mayor from calling for a bidding process. Just as disappointing were the actions of my cohorts on the city council, there was nothing stopping them from voting the Costco offer down and calling for a bidding process. But they did not do so. Why? What happened to the mayor and city council’s fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers? Now they have given a deep discount on some of the most valuable commercial property left in our city.”

Mayor Kleis has touted himself as fiscally conservative. This transaction proves that he isn’t. This transaction proves that he isn’t that good of a negotiator. Then there’s this:

Second, a highly taxpayer-subsidized “affordable” housing project was approved and again I voted against this. Not that I am against affordable housing, but because of the way this project was billed as helping the affordable housing needs of our community. The developer and city staff billed this project to be one of the nicest apartment buildings in the area. The rents are so out of sync with market rate units. This project has a one bedroom apartment starting at $950 per month. After going on apartments.com I canvassed 30 local apartment buildings with one bedrooms. The average rent as advertised was $699.33 and not one was listed at $950. The majority of the city council, along with the support of city staff, has allowed a private developer to extract significant public assistance from taxpayers all in the name of affordable housing.

Providing affordable housing isn’t a core function of city, county or state government. Period. The government should keep its nose out of this stuff.

PS- The people that voted for the Costco transaction and the affordable housing need to be run off the City Council ASAP.

Now that Electrolux has officially announced that it’s moving to South Carolina, it’s time Minnesota admitted what Minnesotans have known for years. It’s time Minnesota, especially the DFL, admitted that we aren’t competitive with other states.

This isn’t shocking in that Minnesota’s taxes are far too high. Gov. Dayton’s tax-the-rich administration brought this on. The phony-baloney award that Minnesota received is meaningless. According to the award, Minnesota is “the 2nd-strongest state in the union.” The thing about the award is that they don’t consider whether Minnesota is competitive from a business standpoint.

Minnesota’s DFL politicians have insisted that all that’s been needed to have a great economy is a great investment in education. In the 1970s, that was enough. This is the 21st Century. That isn’t enough anymore. Other states have well-trained workforces, too. Unlike Minnesota, though, other states, like South Carolina where Electrolux is moving to, have low taxes and minimal regulations. South Carolina’s policies invite people to the state.

Mayor Dave Kleis painted this the best he could, saying “It’s significant. It’s one of our largest employers. It’s not welcome news, but it’s something where we can coordinate with a number of folks to find employment before the end of two years.”

Minnesota has 2 options to change this. If Minnesotans keep giving the DFL any of the levers of power in St. Paul, we won’t become competitive anytime soon. The other option is to elect a reform-minded Republican governor and maintaining reform-minded Republican majorities in the state House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate.

If Minnesota doesn’t elect pro-growth legislators and a pro-growth governor, Electrolux won’t be the last company leaving.