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At some point, the Met Council’s structure will get changed. The Met Council was created in 1967 when ” it lacked any regional perspective in governance or long-term vision. Development was intruding on such basics as sewage treatment and water supplies with untreated waste going into the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers and lakes and streams. Hundreds of individual septic systems and private wells foretold a public health disaster waiting to happen. There were no regional parks. Natural areas were under threat from haphazard housing projects and shopping centers.”

The key part of John Diers’ op-ed is the opening paragraph, which says “We recommend that the 1967 Legislature create a Metropolitan Council, directly elected by popular vote of the people, to solve the pressing area wide governmental problems of the Twin Cities in a coordinated manner. The Council would be responsible only for those area wide functions and services which cannot be handled adequately by municipalities and counties and which are specifically assigned to the Council by the Legislature.

51 years later, the Met Council is still an unaccountable body of government whose members are still appointed by the governor. That certainly wasn’t the type of government that the people who advocated for the Met Council envisioned.

Congressman Jason Lewis has introduced an amendment to legislation in Congress that would require all metropolitan planning organizations that receive federal funds have locally elected officials on their boards. The Metropolitan Council is presently exempt from that requirement having been grandfathered under earlier legislation. In a statement from Rep. Lewis:

“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.”

It’s time for the Met Council to comply with federal law. It isn’t doing that right now.

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