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.

7 Responses to “Kleis wants to hear from you?”

  • Terry Stone says:

    That expensive vinyl wrap bus is paid for by his campaign fund, I hope. Ostentation should not be at the expense of the voters.

  • Liz says:

    Thank you Gary for getting this important information out. I read the quote “It effectively says that the citizens are on an equal playing [field] with the City Council in terms of their ability to initiate and move [local] legislation,” as confirmation that this is the right course of action for St. Cloud’s disenfranchised voters. Everyone should support the petition, even if you disagree, you should still sign the petition in support of EVERY citizen’s right to be heard.
    The petition will be available at Monday’s City Council meeting for everyone to sign. To speak up about the budget, come to City Hall at 4:30 on Monday (before the City Council meeting) or call the Budget Suggestions Hotline at 320-650-3152 or email your comments to

  • Gary Gross says:

    Great points, Liz. Whether Kleis truly wants to hear from us or not, what’s indisputable is the fact that the City Council (with the exception of Jeff Johnson & possibly George Hontos) really don’t like hearing from their constituents, aka the uppity peasants.

  • Liz says:

    “Uppity peasants” LOL, I love it. I am also wondering about Terry’s comment too. Who did pay for the bus? I have seen several new vehicles that seem extraneous for a city of our size to own in recent years. The RV that was parked in front of the cameras at the mall after the “knife attack”, and the SWAT type vehicle too. Seems strange as I remember hearing Kleis talk about reducing the budget… digging into this further might be an interesting project.

  • Chad Q says:

    I would guess this will cost the City a pile of money to fight in court. Until the employees of cities are held personally liable for actions or inactions and not having access to the backing of the cities lawyers and insurance policy, city employees will continue to spit in the face of those who foot the bill.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Actually, the best way to inflict pain upon politicians is to give them the gift of unemployment this November. At minimum, it’s one of the best ways to inflict pain on politicians.

  • Beth Schlangen says:

    Would that make them Lofty Losers? Thanks Liz for Blog link.

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