Archive for the ‘City Council’ Category

Unlike the first time the St. Cloud City Council voted to censure George Hontos, this time they had the courage, if you can call it that, to vote in public. Nonetheless, it still was a disappointing display of bruised egos.

The good news is that the Council didn’t hide their vote. Now we know that the “ballots indicated Masters, Goerger, Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway voted ‘yes’ to censure Hontos; Steve Laraway and Lewis voted against censuring Hontos.”

I wish I was surprised that Masters and Goerger voted to censure Councilman Hontos but I’m not. Those 2 are the biggest disappointments on the Council. By far. I’d trade both of them for a bag full of Val’s French Fries and a chocolate shake. I’d consider the Val’s package a significant upgrade.

I’m most disappointed with Councilman Conway’s and Councilman Brandmire’s votes. Voting against the First Amendment is always wrong. A vote to censure Councilman Hontos was a vote against the First Amendment. It isn’t often that I agree with the ACLU but this time, I totally agree. It’s time the Council got back to governing by first principles. This vote was a vote on worst principles.

Rules 6-8 should be abolished ASAP. If the Council doesn’t vote to abolish those rules, then I wouldn’t be surprised if a court struck them down. Silencing the people’s representatives can’t be justified. That’s what the Council did last night. This shouldn’t shame Councilman Hontos. He did the right thing in speaking out. This vote should shame Councilmen Masters, Goerger, Brandmire and Conway.

Speaking of Councilman Hontos, he sent me this statement:

It was very evident this was an orchestrated action. I found it not surprising that some Councilmembers were aided by our City Attorney. I will look forward to the reaction from the ACLU. One important clarification Council member Conway misspoke in describing the open forum process. Here are the actual details, the meeting is adjourned, there are no minutes taken of what is said, there is no camera, and the individuals who speak are not listed in the minutes. That is different than what he stated.

On the deeper issue of turning off the cameras and adjourning the meeting before the public forum, I don’t know who’s hairbrained idea that was but that’s another thing that’s got to stop immediately. If the Council actually listened to the people, then they’d keep the cameras on, extend the speaking time from 3 minutes to 5 minutes and restore the forum to being part of the meeting. Finally, if it’s to have a meaningful impact, councilmembers should be allowed to respond.

At this point, I’m disgusted with the Council. They aren’t listening to their constituents. It’s time they started.

It isn’t overstatement to state that the Looney Left’s ideas on maintaining public safety is failing miserably. Lt. Bob Kroll certainly criticized Minneapolis City Council know-nothings in this article. Lt. Kroll stated that the City Council “ran on an anti-police agenda and they all made it. It’s ultra-left. It’s been [an] extreme Democrat-controlled council. It’s been that way for 22 years.”

The thing is that things are getting worse. Minneapolis’s Police Chief asked for an additional 400 officers. Minneapolis’s mayor asked the City Council for an additional 14 officers because he didn’t think he could get more than that. He was right. The City Council rejected the request for 14 officers.

Later in the interview, Lt. Kroll said “It’s an ultra-left agenda that [thinks that] the police are the problem. [They say] it’s a racially biased criminal justice system here, and we need to de-police. That’s the overtone of our council.”

Let’s remember that 7 City Council candidates said that they could envision a Minneapolis without police officers:

Candidates were asked if they could envision a Minneapolis without police, and what they would do as an elected official to bring the city closer to the abolition of police. Most of the seven city council candidates who answered affirmatively to the first question pledged to work to better fund education and social programs and address criminal elements at their roots in an effort to reduce the need for police officers.

The stupidity of local politicians never ceases to amaze me. What’s required for these idiots is a dose of reality. Do they think that gangs and other thugs will suddenly experience a change of heart and become ministers at the local church or become inspirational small business and community leaders? If they think that, then they’re nuts.

On the other side of the river, St. Paul is having its difficulties, too:

The latest in a recent spree of gun violence in St. Paul saw a man shot dead on Wednesday evening as he left Bible study with his young daughter and his father. The shooting was reported at 8:40 p.m. outside St. Albans Church at the intersection of Fuller Avenue and St. Albans Street North.

Investigators learned the victim was leaving the church after Bible study in a group that included his young daughter and his father. Gunshots rang out, with the victim running from the area. Meanwhile, the victim’s father – who has a valid permit to carry – drew a handgun and returned fire.

It’s the 20th homicide in St. Paul this year and the 6th in the space of just 17 days, a trend that has sparked concern by city leaders and police.

Back in 2008, I went through St. Paul’s operating budget. What I found was enough waste to choke a herd of horses. I remembering thinking that I could cut at least 30% of the budget without the public noticing. There’s no question that St. Paul can afford to hire more police officers. What’s needed in both St. Paul and Minneapolis is the political will to prioritize public safety.

That isn’t happening in either city in 2019. In fact, it’s heading in the opposite direction right now. The priorities are foolish and the leadership is nonexistent. I’m usually optimistic but I don’t see things getting better anytime soon.

I felt sick reading John Hinderaker’s article, partially because of the violence visited upon the young man in the video but mostly because it’s just a matter of time before that sort of thing hits St. Cloud.

Forgive my pessimism. I’m usually an optimist. After watching St. Cloud deteriorate the last 5 years, it’s difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Next Wednesday, St. Cloud’s Police Chief will participate in a propagandist’s dream event to tell everyone just how wonderful St. Cloud would be if it wasn’t for those awful hate-filled Christians antagonizing those pure-as-the-driven-snow CAIR activists.

People are leaving St. Cloud. Some are moving to southern states but most are leaving for Sartell, Sauk Rapids St. Augusta and St. Joe. They’re leaving because they’re disgusted with spineless politicians, rising crime in core neighborhoods, a city council that thinks that the First Amendment is optional and a school board that thinks that sneaking a bonding referendum for a $100,000,000+ Tech HS should be voted on by only those in the ‘education community’. (That’s why the school board kept everything hush until the Times accidentally ruined the School Board’s plans.) But I digress.

John’s post is about the young man who got brutalized in Minneapolis just outside Target Field. This is one of the videos of this disgusting event:

Day after day, week after week, month after month, Democrats hint that law enforcement is the problem. That puts police officers in the impossible position of having to do a difficult job without the full support of the communities they’re protecting.

Authorities admit that violent crime is up in Minneapolis, although they surround that admission with happy talk, which won’t be believed by anyone who actually ventures into the city at night. (The story is the same in urban St. Paul. One night last week, the St. Paul police lacked the manpower to respond to three shootings that happened more or less simultaneously in different parts of the city.)

Minneapolis’s mayor is a young man who worked briefly in my law firm and is obviously not up to the task. Members of the City Council are ridiculously left-wing and totally ineffective. In both Minneapolis and St. Paul, civic authorities are convinced that policemen are the gravest threat to “communities of color,” and therefore law enforcement should be scaled back, or only grudgingly reinforced in response to events like the one you see in the video above.

Then John notes what someone reminds him of:

A reader reminds me that I should have mentioned this: “Some Minneapolis candidates say they can envision a city without police.”

Seven City Council hopefuls and two mayoral candidates say in a local voter guide that they can envision a future Minneapolis with no police. Asked, “Do you believe that we could ever have a city without police?” two mayoral candidates and two incumbents and five serious challengers running for City Council answered “yes.”

The idiots on St. Cloud’s City Council aren’t that stupid but nobody’s mistaking them for Einstein’s relatives, either.

What St. Cloud needs is its version of Rudy Giuliani. If we don’t find that person fast, I hate thinking what depths St. Cloud will descend into.

When former St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson asked if I’d publish his opinions about the current City Council’s censure of George Hontos, I immediately accepted his proposal. Here is Councilman Johnson’s op-ed to LFR:

I find the censorship of St. Cloud City Councilman George Hontos nothing short of a retaliatory witch hunt. In the eight years that I served with Mr. Hontos on the council, he has always been well prepared, extremely knowledgeable, and never afraid to ask the tough questions. I once jokingly said that George probably knows more about city matters than the rest of us councilmembers combined. He has made himself consistently available to the citizens who want to speak to him about various matters. He represents his constituents extremely well which explains why he has been re-elected over and over.

There are certainly times when it is inappropriate for a councilmember to speak out about various matters. This would include personnel matters, any time the council is in closed session to talk about legal issues (like the city getting sued) or when the council is acting as a quasi-judicial body. Mr. Hontos’ letter to the editor clearly falls well outside these parameters and it was appropriate for him to exercise his free speech rights under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution regardless if the reader finds his editorial disagreeable or not. A public official does not check his/her 1st amendment rights “at the door of public service” when taking office by swearing an oath to the Constitution. Doing so would be hypocritical and I dare say, unethical.

Council Rule No. 6, which states council members “respect the majority vote of the council, and do not undermine or sabotage implantation of ordinances, policies and rules passed by the majority.”

City Council rules and Robert’s Rules of Order do not trump state and federal law. Sadly, I personally witnessed council members during my 8 years of service repeatedly violate Council Rules and Robert’s Rules which resulted in absolute chaos. The first time or two appeared accidental however it appeared to become willful. Look no further than my refugee resettlement moratorium proposal when I had approximately 8 minutes (from the council video) to read a Welcoming Resolution that appeared out of nowhere and then vote on it during the ensuing chaos. The welcoming resolution was never scheduled in advance which is an egregious violation of council rules and good etiquette. I felt like the public … both for and against my proposed resolution … were ambushed, which can be seen in this post. It did a great disservice to the public and eroded trust in local government. To be fair to everyone and to follow council rules, I clearly announced my proposed resolution weeks in advance, so everyone had a chance to read it and voice an opinion … for and against.
It appears that history is repeating itself with George Hontos taking the brunt of trying to do the right thing. According to this September 12th article in the St. Cloud Times:

Staehling said Thursday the city did not know the council was going to make a motion to censure Hontos ahead of the meeting — and said that none of the staff can recall the last time the council made a motion to censure a council member. “It was a scramble. It wasn’t expected,” Staehling said.

The city council has unwittingly taken proactive steps to reduce transparency. The article shows that the city council may have violated open meeting laws by having a secret vote on censoring Mr. Hontos. In my mind, it’s clear that open meeting laws were violated in using the secret vote which may be appropriate for Mason membership but not for a local government body. If another councilmember votes to censor another councilmember, should not the accused have the right to know and deal directly with the accuser(s)? Clearly, the public has a right to know how their council representative voted in a highly public meeting.

I am also deeply troubled that the public forum is no longer televised. There are some people in St. Cloud that routinely watch city council meetings on the local government access channel. A good friend of mine who can no longer physically travel to city hall to watch meetings will no longer be able to watch his neighbors address the council on quality of life or other issues of interest. Accessibility has now been diminished for some of our residents.

Perhaps what saddens me the most is WE THE PEOPLE is being replaced with WE THE GOVERNMENT. Local government is supposed to provide the greatest access to WE THE PEOPLE. I served on the St. Cloud City Council because I genuinely wanted my constituents to have a better life. On some occasions, individuals came to the open forum to publicly berate me or other councilmembers. Although it was uncomfortable at times, I want them to have the freedom to do so and the TV cameras is one way to hold government (me at the time I was on the council) accountable to them.

I actively listened and tried to learn from WE THE PEOPLE to educate myself and when appropriate, change my mind to help them with various problems. British economist John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Councilmembers should listen to learn from WE THE PEOPLE because it’s supposed to be representative government. Sadly, I saw that many councilmembers’ minds were already made up by eye rolling, looking at their watches, or clearly looking disinterested during some open forums when citizens came to address the council.

Clearly, George Hontos listens to learn and does not shy away from tough issues. We clearly need more people like him to serve in government. He should not have been censored. He should have received the coveted “Spine of Titanium” and “Grinding the Axe” awards.

Jeff Johnson
Former St. Cloud City Councilmember, 2010 – 2018

When the St. Cloud City Council voted to censure Councilman George Hontos, it may have violated Minnesota’s Open Meeting Laws. According to the article, “Mark Anfinson, an attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, said the law is clear that a public body cannot vote by secret ballot.”

Needless to say, the City offered a different perspective:

In an email to the Times on Wednesday, City Administrator Matt Staehling said he, City Attorney Renee Courtney and City Clerk Seth Kauffman consulted Robert’s Rules of Order before the vote on Monday. “We agreed that the guidance recommended (that) the subject of the censure does not participate in the vote but can participate in the discussion and debate (and) the ballot should be by confidential ballot,” Staehling stated.

Robert’s Rules of Order are helpful when the law isn’t clear. In this case, Minnesota’s Open Meeting Laws are quite clear, clear enough for the Minnesota Court of Appeals to render a decision:

Anfinson cites a decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in which the Mankato Free Press sued the city of North Mankato after the city refused to provide the names of job finalists for city administrator, conducted closed interviews with job finalists, and took a written straw vote to narrow the field of candidates; the results of that straw vote were not made public until later.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals wrote: “Secret voting denies the public an opportunity to observe the decision-making process, to know the council members’ stance on issues, and to be fully informed about the council’s actions.”

It’s one thing if the Council was voting to suspend a city employee. There are certainly times when a closed session would be required. Suspending or terminating an employee fits that situation. Telling a councilman that his First Amendment rights can be suspended by the government doesn’t fit that description.

Frankly, I want to know who voted that the City Council has the right to violate a person’s civil rights. Further, I want to know which jackasses voted to censure George Hontos. What Councilman Hontos did was entirely proper. City Council Rule No. 6, at least as much of it that is public, “states council members ‘respect the majority vote of the council, and do not undermine or sabotage implementation of ordinances, policies and rules passed by the majority.'”

That rule isn’t enforceable because it precludes a City Council member from representing his constituents by limiting his speech. How can any representative of the people effectively represent his/her constituents if he can’t voice his/her opinion on matters that’ve come before the board/legislature he/she serves on? That part of Rule No. 6 needs to be abolished because it’s unconstitutional.

Here’s the First Amendment’s text:

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.

How can the government stifle a person’s right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”? The idea that the City Council insists that its members “respect the majority vote of the council” sounds nice but it doesn’t respect the rights afforded to the people by the Bill of Rights.

It’s more than a little frightening to think that St. Cloud’s lawmakers are this constitutionally illiterate. What’s encouraging is that Councilman Hontos has stated on the record for LFR that he “will continue to represent the constituents of St. Cloud as [he has] been doing for 18 years.” As long as Councilman Hontos keeps fighting for these principles, I’ll keep voting for him.

For years, conservatives have said that most decisions should be made at the local level. That’s what’s recommended by the men who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That’s because that’s where accountability is theoretically greatest.

That’s increasingly not the case. I don’t know if this is isolated but a prime example of local governments shielding themselves from criticism happens when they shut off the cameras. A prime example of this is the St. Cloud City Council turning off the cameras and officially adjourning the meeting before starting Open Forum. For those not familiar with St. Cloud’s Open Forum, it’s a segment of the meeting when citizens have the opportunity to talk about things that they see happening in their neighborhoods.

Most of these speeches complain about overreaching ordinances, complaints about things not getting done fast enough or criticisms about votes that councilmembers have taken. Suffice it to say, it isn’t fun for the councilmembers to hear these criticisms. Another ‘feature’ of St. Cloud’s Open Forum is that the City Council isn’t allowed to respond in real time to their constituents.

Where’s the accountability if the Council isn’t allowed to respond to their constituents? That’s why I’ve titled this post ‘the accountability dodge”. Based on what I’ve seen firsthand, this segment of the meeting isn’t about listening to the citizens. It’s a segment of the meeting where citizens can vent but where the councilmembers don’t have to respond.

This is just a theory but this feels like a way to avoid accountability. It’s apparent that the City Council, with a couple of exceptions (specifically, George Hontos and Paul Brandmire), would rather just meet, then cast their votes, then go their merry way. The quote from yesterday’s post that Councilman Hontos had violated City Council Rule No. 6 was particularly upsetting.

I don’t have the text of St. Cloud City Council Rule No. 6 in front of me but what I know about the Constitution is that anything that violates the First Amendment is unenforceable. Therefore, Rule No. 6 is unenforceable.

Further, I’d argue that voting on a non-binding censure resolution was a total waste of time, partially because it’s non-binding but also because this vote was taken in private session. That’s the ultimate in not accepting accountability. If City Councilmembers think this is important to vote on, they shouldn’t shut down public debate. They should vote in public, though.

That isn’t accountability. That’s the definition of gutlessness.

It’s apparent that the City Council doesn’t value transparency. They talk a good game but their words are empty at best. First, the City Council changed the rules governing the open forum section of the meeting. Instead of letting a maximum of 5 people speak up to 3 minutes each on the topic of their choosing at the end of the meeting, the City Council changed the rules to adjourn the meeting first, then host the open forum after the cameras have been turned off.

Citizens were told that they wanted to do that to protect people who didn’t want to speak in front of the cameras. That’s total BS. That’s been part of the full meeting for years. Those citizens know that they’re being videotaped. From the times that I’ve spoken during that segment, I’ve never seen anyone who looked uncomfortable. Frankly, there aren’t that many people watching the City Council meetings so it isn’t like these citizens have reason to be frightened. That doesn’t mean that the things discussed during this part of the meeting are insignificant. It’s just that the viewing audience was that big.

Next, censuring a person doesn’t mean a thing. It has the impact of a resolution. It’s totally non-binding. Why should city councilpeople get upset when they’re criticized for the votes they’ve made? If you can’t stand the heat, don’t visit the kitchen.

I contacted Councilman Hontos to see if he’d like to make a statement for this post. He graciously accepted the invitation. Here’s his statement, published verbatim and without editing of any sort:

I pride myself as being a respectful, engaged council member who listens.
I am disappointed at the Council’s decision, which says more about it than me.
Providing factual information to the public about the Council’s decisions to the media is not a violation.
A Council is not a corporate board, America is built on the vigorous debate of ideas.
Our City faces many important issues, jobs, housing, diversity. The Council should stay focused on these issues and not distractions.
Furthermore, the first amendment gives everyone the freedom of speech. Just as our Supreme Court makes a ruling usually a dissenting opinion is written and published.
I will continue to represent the constituents of St. Cloud as I have been doing for 18 years. I want to thank all the positive feedback I have received. The people elected me for almost two decades now to ask the hard questions and to tackle tough issues.
George Hontos

Councilman Hontos is right. The Council’s decision says more about them than it says about him. What it says about them isn’t flattering, in my opinion.

Councilman Hontos is also right in stating that “America is built on the vigorous debate of ideas.” The day our elected people can’t stand transparency and vigorous, substantive debate is the day we’d need a major overhaul of our government. Hopefully, that won’t be required. This paragraph frightens me a little:

Conway cited rule No. 6, which states council members “respect the majority vote of the council, and do not undermine or sabotage implementation of ordinances, policies and rules passed by the majority.”

If that’s the total content of Rule # 6, then that rule needs to be eliminated. That sounds more like a speech code for collegiate snowflakes on campus. If one of the councilmembers disagrees with someone, then that councilmember should have the right to express that disagreement in any forum whatsoever. If the council has made a mistake and the individual highlights that mistake, then the individual councilmember has done the city a favor. (Yes, that means that the majority is sometimes wrong.)

If Councilman Hontos runs for re-election, he’ll have my vote. Councilman Hontos is one of 3 at-large councilmembers that represent the entire city. Now that Councilman Johnson has left the Council, the need for someone that “ask[s] the hard questions and … tackle[s] tough issues” is needed now more than ever.

In conclusion, I’ll simply state that it’s my opinion that the only reason for putting in a rule like that is to protect spineless councilmembers. It isn’t to keep confidential information confidential.

Last night, the Democrat politicians in St. Louis Park voted to restore the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance before City Council meetings. In so doing, the Council officially recognized that reciting the Pledge was patriotic and inclusive.

Actually, that isn’t what they said. “At-Large Council Member Thom Miller, who introduced the amendment, said…the harassment from nonresidents was too much. “To be perfectly clear, I fully support the change we made in June to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from our standard meeting agenda.” Nonetheless, he voted to restore the reciting of the Pledge. Did he just say that he’s just another spineless politician? I think so.

What needs to be remembered is how this got started. This started with a terribly flawed process. No notice was given that this rule change was going to be voted on. In fact, citizens weren’t allowed to testify on the issue. That being said, the process was intentional. The City Council intended for citizens to not be able to testify. The last thing they wanted was for a bunch of uppity peasants to raise a ruckus. Like Rep. Omar, the St. Louis Park City Council thinks that they’re the citizens’ betters.

They aren’t the citizens’ betters. They’re just a bunch of arrogant politicians. Rep. Ryan Winkler, the House Majority Leader, is a total lightweight and a charlatan. He’s from Golden Valley. In the summer of 2017, Rep. Winkler criticized the Supreme Court for its opinion on the Voting Rights Act, saying “VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.” When he was called on his usage of a nasty racist term, Winkler insisted that he didn’t know that Uncle Thomas was a racist term. At the time, I did a little digging into Winkler’s educational background. It turns out that Winkler graduated with a degree in History from Harvard. But I digress. Back to St. Louis Park.

The mayor, Jake Spano, missed the vote but issued a statement on the vote. He said that he wouldn’t have supported the rule change. That’s easy after the fact. Others were less diplomatic:

Ward 1 Council Member Margaret Rog echoed Miller’s sentiments, stating the feedback she’d gotten from residents had been “thoughtful and respectful” but that the same could not be said for those not from the city. “We don’t need to be at the epicenter of a manufactured standoff of what it means to be a good American,” she said, directing her message to St. Louis Park residents. “This circus needs to end.”

Stop making major decisions without asking for the citizens’ input next time. Had the City Council invited testimony before they voted, it’s likely they wouldn’t have made this mistake. Anne Mavity spoke out, too:

Anne Mavity, the councilwoman who proposed the original measure, remained defiant — even as she reversed her vote — and addressed the council’s critics. “I’m not sure that if you say the pledge three times a month instead of this two, you’re more patriotic,” Mavity said. “Or if you say it one time a month you’re less patriotic. That makes no sense.”

Defiant is exactly the right word. Mavity doesn’t care about the uppity peasants. That’s why she doesn’t understand them.

This is a fight over retaining one of the richest institutions of the United States. What other pledge states as a national goal “liberty and justice for all“? In Somalia, Ilhan Omar’s nation of origin, I’m betting that they’d be satisfied with liberty and justice once in awhile. By stating that each person is committed to liberty and justice for all, people are stating emphatically that our national goal soars high above our nation.

That’s why people want to come here. Yes, they enjoy the economic mobility, too, but most people fleeing their nations are fleeing nations where the laws are determined by dictators on a minute-by-minute basis.

That’s why it’s beyond odd that people want to eliminate the Pledge.

When it comes to the Constitution, lawyers should be relatively well-informed. John Ellenbecker is a long-time attorney in the St. Cloud area. In the interest of full disclosure, Ellenbecker and I were part of the same graduating class at Cathedral High School.

Ellenbecker’s constitutional ignorance was once again on display in this LTE’s comments when he said of Councilman Brandmire “In his Dec. 1, 2018 column in the Times Brandmire stated that he favors prohibiting additional Muslim settlement in St. Cloud (he described it as “I support the idea of closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here until we can assimilate those who are already here”) – which is contrary to his comment here. Closing the spigot is not a statement that you support a welcoming community. Closing the spigot is a violation of the constitutional rights of those he seeks to exclude from St. Cloud. Brandmire needs to clearly and unequivocally reverse his course and denounce efforts aimed at ‘closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here.'”

Having talked with Councilman Brandmire, I know that he understands that the City Council has an advisory role in the process, thanks to the Refugee Act of 1980. Saying that you support something isn’t the same as saying you’d overstep your authority. It simply means that he’d agree with that policy if that’s what the Trump administration settled on.

If Ellenbecker can’t figure out the difference between supporting something and writing an ordinance prohibiting refugees from getting settled here, then he went to the wrong law school. How is supporting a policy a violation of a refugee’s constitutional rights?

As for the statement that Councilman Brandmire’s statement isn’t “a statement that you support a welcoming community”, my questioning is ‘So what’? According to this website, the term welcoming community is kinda loaded:

The Standard will outline the policies, programs, and practices that local governments need to have in place —such as supporting new American civic participation; making services accessible; and engaging all residents, including both receiving communities and new Americans.

Apparently, conformity is required. If cities don’t conform, they don’t get certified. It’s impossible to hide the fact that WelcomingAmerica.com is about top-down, cookie-cutter government.

What part of that sounds anything like wisdom? The whole idea behind local government is to individualize policies to the greatest extent possible. WelcomingAmerica.com sounds like they operate from a federal government standpoint.

I strongly suggest that everyone read Councilman Brandmire’s op-ed. He doesn’t mince words nor does he sound unreasonable. It’s possible for people to disagree with him but it’s impossible to call him unreasonable.

As for Ellenbecker, he sounds like a Democrat who’s reading from DFL talking points. Whenever a Democrat talks about the Constitution, bet that it’s because it’s focus-group approved.

By now, the entire industrialized world knows that the St. Louis Park City Council voted unanimously to discontinue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings. That isn’t news so I won’t beat that horse. It’s already dead. What hasn’t been discussed is whether there’s a bigger story that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. In my opinion, there’s another story that needs covering that’s just as important.

Mayor Jake Spano got it right when he said “It feels to me like we may have missed a step there and if we had that conversation, we might have been able to hear from our community about how they felt about this action.” First, let’s dispense with the “may have.” The City Council intentionally skipped that step. This was an ambush, pure and simple.

This isn’t a new tactic. The DFL ‘nonpartisans’ in other cities have used the “inclusive and welcoming” argument before to push through unpopular resolutions and rule changes. When St. Cloud wanted to ambush Councilman Jeff Johnson with a resolution on refugee resettlement, the put the resolution on the agenda at the last minute, then arranged for special interests, including CAIR-MN, to speak when the microphones opened up. They made sure average citizens didn’t have the chance for input.

When St. Louis Park voted to drop the Pledge, the public didn’t have the opportunity to testify. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? When I led the Vote No campaign to sink the bonding referendum, I tirelessly told LFR readers that the ISD 742 School Board was trying to keep the referendum as low profile as possible. Stealth was its chief tactic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Are you sensing a pattern yet?

The DFL locally and Democrats nationally don’t win arguments anymore. They don’t bother trying, in fact. They call people who oppose them bigots or racists, instead. Once upon a time, Democrats consistently insisted on openness and fairness. Now, they insist on those things only when it helps them. There’s nothing consistent about it anymore.

During this past Monday night’s study session, the St. Louis Park City Council hoped to not to take public testimony:

According to WCCO news, the session was meant to re-address the council’s unanimous decision to drop the Pledge of Allegiance from council meetings. The session was not meant to include public input, but that did not stop community members from interrupting.

People were already pissed with the Council’s decision. They held this study session to plot a path forward. Their intention was to restrict or eliminate input from their constituents. What part of that sounds like a plan to resolve this outcry?

Passing this rules change without public input is what got the Council in trouble. Did they think that plotting political strategy without public input would help fix this problem? Only people who are totally out of touch would think that would fix things.

This looks like white gas getting poured on a raging fire:

The pattern that’s emerged is for Democrats to restrict public testimony and/or to accuse people who oppose them of being racists. Fortunately, the DFL hasn’t called these patriots racists — yet.