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This article announcing Gov. Dayton’s appointing of a new chairperson of the Met Council highlights the possibility of that appointee facing pushback when her committee hearing is held.

According to the article, “The Met Council has new leadership. On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced that current Chair Adam Duininck will step down from his role as head of the Met Council. In his place, Dayton announced the appointment of Minnesota State Rail Director Alene Tchourumoff to head the Met Council.”

Further into the article, Alpha reporter Preya Samsundar reports “Sen. Dave Osmek of Mound, who is expected to announce his candidacy for governor this summer, had been pushing pieces of legislation to reign in, and more recently, abolish the Met Council. On the last day of session, Osmek turned in a 214-page piece of legislation which states, “A bill for an act relating to local and state government; abolishing the Met Council.” Osmek has been pushing for reformation of the Met Council since 2015.”
Sen. Osmek’s credentials as a reformer are high. Jason Lewis’ reformer credentials are pretty high, too. Rep. Lewis is working hard in DC against organizations like the Met Council:

In Washington, Rep. Jason Lewis is also doing his part to ensure the council goes no further. In March, a bill authored by Lewis passed through the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in the United States House of Representatives.

“Under the rule, the Met Council, a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), could have expanded their boundaries and taxed the suburbs to help fund downtown projects,” Lewis told Alpha News at the time. “We’re protecting the ability of local decision makers to do what works for their own communities.”

Thank goodness for Jason Lewis for protecting suburbs like Prior Lake, Shakopee and Chanhassen. Let’s hope we elect a Republican governor and keep our GOP majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate so we can, at minimum, stop the Met Council’s authority to tax people without representing people.

Right now, the Met Council ‘represents’ Gov. Dayton. They don’t represent the people. Still, they’ve been given the authority to levy taxes. There’s no way that’s right.

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There’s no question about whether Gov. Dayton is dishonest. The only question left to determine is how dishonest Gov. Dayton is. I’d say that he’s exceptionally dishonest if I’m using this article to determine Gov. Dayton’s dishonesty.

According to the article, Gov. Dayton ” said that ‘the cost of inaction’ by state lawmakers had caused the price increase.” Gov. Dayton knows that the legislature has nothing to do with the price increase because Adam Duininck told him that the SWLRT project was being put off by the federal government. Commissioner Duininck told Gov. Dayton that “the federal government has no plans to execute a funding agreement until sometime in 2017 because of ongoing litigation regarding the project.”

The “ongoing litigation that they’re talking about is something I’ve started calling the Tunheim Lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit being tried in federal court. The Tunheim Lawsuit won’t start until Sept. 17, 2017. The FTA, aka the Federal Transportation Administration, won’t lift a finger until that lawsuit is settled. The earliest that lawsuit will be settled will be January, 2018.

That’s actually the least of the Met Council’s worries. It isn’t likely that they’ll win the Tunheim Lawsuit. It’s that they have no chance at winning the lawsuit that the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association might bring. The Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association hasn’t filed a lawsuit yet but if they did, they’d win.

This paragraph is wishful thinking:

The Council, backed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, has proposed to authorize $103.5 million in debt, with the Hennepin County Regional Real Authority and the Counties Transit Improvement Board contributing a total of $41 million — enough to ensure $900 million in federal dollars for the light rail project.

This isn’t based on reality. It’s based on what the Met Council, the Hennepin County Regional Real Authority and CTIB wish would happen. They know, though, that it won’t. They know it won’t happen because they’ve been told that it won’t happen.

There’s no question that people are resistant to change. They appreciate the familiar, which is why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change things that are broken. Sometimes, though, a dramatic shake-up is exactly what’s needed. The colonists knew that in the 1770s. There are lots of angry activists in the 21st Century who wonder if it isn’t time for another revolution.

This op-ed, which I linked to in this post, highlights the fact that the “council has broad authority, including the ability to levy taxes” but that the governor is their primary constituent. In the colonists’ times, they started a revolution. One of their chief rallying cries was “No taxation without representation.”

According to Dictionary.com, the definition for No taxation without representation “became an anti-British slogan before the American Revolution; in full, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” I can’t disagree with that last sentence. Taxation without representation is tyranny.

This paragraph especially stands out:

The mayors in their commentary suggested that elected city and county officials could not handle the workload or think “regionally” while representing both their municipality and a Met Council district.

There’s a simple explanation for these mayors’ preference. They want their initiatives to get rubberstamped and put into place ASAP. What politician enjoys the mess that’s created when making sausage? The Met Council is a mayor’s dream. They get their wish list enacted without having to cut deals with uppity peasants.

This nation’s Founding Fathers understood the appeal of mob rule. That’s why they designed a system filled with checks and balances. They wanted to thwart entities like the Met Council. They wanted the system to be messy because efficient governments are usually out-of-control governments that don’t pay attention to the citizenry, aka the uppity peasants.

Here’s the lengthy list of elected officials that signed onto this op-ed:

Scott Schulte is an Anoka County commissioner. Chris Gerlach is a Dakota County commissioner. Jeff Lunde is mayor of Brooklyn Park. This commentary was also submitted on behalf of the following local government officials. County commissioners: Rhonda Sivarajah, Matt Look, Julie Braastad and Robyn West, Anoka County; Tom Workman and Randy Maluchnik, Carver County; Liz Workman and Nancy Shouweiler, Dakota County; Jon Ulrich, Scott County, and Jeff Johnson, Hennepin County. Mayors: Mark Korin, Oak Grove; Kelli Slavik, Plymouth; Jim Adams, Crystal; Jeff Reinert, Lino Lakes, and Dave Povolny, Columbus. City Council members: Jim Goodrich, Andover; John Jordan, Brooklyn Park; Jeff Kolb, Olga Parsons and Elizabeth Dahl, Crystal; Dave Clark and Jason King, Blaine; Brian Kirkham, Bethel, and Bill Krebs, Columbus.

The time for a dramatic reform of the Met Council is at least a decade overdue. Further, there’s never a good time to give government the authority to raise taxes without giving people the authority to boot the bums out of office.

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This op-ed, written by an Anoka County commissioner, a Dakota County commissioner and the mayor of Brooklyn Park, highlights what’s wrong with the Met Council.

Their op-ed opens by saying “four suburban counties and 41 cities across the Twin Cities area have passed resolutions contradicting the group of mayors who wrote ‘Tweaks’ are, in fact, the best model for Met Council” (May 9), defending the current model of gubernatorial control of the Metropolitan Council.”

The next paragraph says “Those mayors argue that the current model is working well, needing only a few changes to the appointment process, and that any move away from gubernatorial control is ill-advised and impractical. They give the impression that counties and cities are working in a ‘highly responsive’ partnership with the council.”

I don’t know who those mayors are but if they think that the Met Council is “highly responsive” to the people living in the 7-county metro, then they aren’t fit for duty because they’re either incredibly dishonest or they’re stupid. This paragraph encapsulates things perfectly:

The council has broad authority, including the ability to levy taxes, charge fees and set regional policy. Cities and counties are the entities most directly affected by decisions of the council, making them the council’s primary constituents. Yet appointment of council members resides solely with the governor, effectively making the governor the primary constituent.

What part of that sounds like the Met Council is responsive to the citizens living within their authority? The Met Council will always be more responsive to the governor than to the citizenry because he’s the person who can hire or fire them. That’s a system that could be called ‘whatever the governor wants, the governor gets’. The last I looked, our system of government was built on the consent of the governed.

The Met Council is built on the principle of governing without the consent of the governed and the principle that there be the power to tax without representation. Here’s a revolutionary concept:

Many cities and counties believe that the council lacks accountability and responsiveness to them as direct constituents and that the authority to impose taxes and set regional policy should be the responsibility of local government elected officials.

This is what the reformers want:

We support reform that adheres to the following principles:

  1. ?A majority of council members shall be elected officials, appointed from cities and counties within the region;
  2. ?Metropolitan cities shall directly control the appointment process for city representatives to the council;
  3. ?Metropolitan counties shall directly appoint their own representatives to the council;
  4. ?The terms of office for any members appointed by the governor shall be staggered and not coterminous with the governor’s;
  5. ?Membership shall include representation from every metropolitan county government, and
  6. ?The council shall represent the entire region; voting shall be structured based on population and incorporate a system of checks and balances.

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Saying that the Met Council is accountability’s enemy isn’t just conservative consensus anymore. Thanks to Katherine Kersten’s reporting, we know that Jim Nobles, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, declared that the Council lacks “accountability,” “transparency” and “credibility.” Further, thanks to Kevin Terrell’s report, we know why the Council lacks accountability, transparency and credibility.

For those who haven’t given the Met Council much thought, it’s time to start thinking it through. For instance, how would the average citizen feel if they found out that “nearly all other large metro regions are governed by a ‘Council of Governments, composed predominantly of local elected officials accountable to the voters. Yet none of these COGs has the breath-taking power of the Met Council'”? How upset would people be if they found out that the “Met Council is the only regional authority that can independently increase taxes” but doesn’t “[provide] direct representation”?

Kevin Terrell’s report is as fascinating as it is infuriating. On pg. 25 of the 42 page report, Terrell lays out what’s at stake and some options:

GOVERNANCE: If you err, err on the side of more democracy, more local involvement, more elected officials. Every other council has more democratic governance than MSP.
Sample alternative governance structures
Gubernatorial appointees
Description: ?Leave the Council 100%, or a majority, appointed by the governor.
Advantages: Some believe this model defeats parochial interests in favor of regional “needs” and “efficiency.”
Disadvantages: We continue to have an unaccountable body with authority over duly elected officials.

That’s one option. Next, think of replacing the Met Council with an elected body like they have in Portland, OR:

Advantage: We would have representatives who are directly accountable for regional policy, spending decisions and outcomes.
Disadvantage: We already have local representatives who are charged with, and capable of dealing with the issues at hand. Why do we need another layer of government?

Another option is called the “Council of Governments” model:

Description: ?An assembly of existing elected officials, with representatives from counties and municipalities.
Advantages:

  1. We would have directly accountable and existing elected officials responsible for decisions.
  2. It mirrors the structure of other major regional authorities and would allow the region to eliminate several layers of inefficiency in transportation planning.

Disadvantage: Like most democratic processes, it can be a noisy and messy path to compromise and progress.If accountability is important to you, the current Met Council structure is the worst governing model imaginable. Saying that the Met Council “defeats parochial interests in favor of regional ‘needs’ and ‘efficiency'” is code for saying they prefer going through the motions so they can rubberstamp the governor’s agenda. They love being able to raise taxes without having to face the voters whose taxes they raised. It’s a liberal’s dream job.