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Monday, September 03, 2007

New Brighton City Council Elections - Game On

The upcoming election this fall is an important one that could determine the direction of New Brighton for years to come. We, the people of New Brighton, will have the opportunity to begin to repair the damage that the big spending command-and-control liberals on the city council have inflicted on the city and the taxpayers.

The seats currently held by Mayor Steve Larson and City Council Members Mary Burg and Ann Hoffman are all in play in the election. Given the abysmal record of bad decisions, reckless spending, disregard for private property rights, and the elevation of political considerations over the interests of the people by this Gang of Three, it is clearly time for the voters to jettison all three in favor responsible, fiscally prudent representation.

The Gang of Three have rammed so many bad decisions through the City Council on 3-2 lock-step votes it is difficult to determine where to start in making the case for their ouster. Here are a few "memory joggers" that highlight some of their major mis-steps:
  • The Gang of Three continued their aggressive, if not downright abusive, use of eminent domain to force land owners off of their property in the Northwest Quadrant (NWQ) redevelopment area. They also continued with their arrogant and condescending attitude toward the citizens and council members who questioned their decisions and offered some, at best, misleading explanations to the public on the city's practices. When called on the fact that the city's practices appeared to violate the new state law regulating eminent domain, Mayor Larson quickly, and almost gleefully, cited a loop-hole in the law that allowed the city to continue on with business as usual.

  • In the zeal of the Gang of Three to acquire all of the NWQ property the city ended up entering into some really bad financial deals (e.g. the Midwest Asphalt and US Postal Service agreements) that will impact the financial stability of the city for years to come. In addition, several businesses were removed from the city tax roles (and guess who gets to make up the revenue shortfall?).

  • What kind of financial investment is the NWQ to New Brighton taxpayers? The projected "pay off" date keeps getting pushed out farther and farther into the future as the project runs into new problems, many of which could have been avoided had the city done some more research into the known potential environmental problems of the area. Such mismanagement led directly to the city paying about $19 million for a large chunk of land that is environmentally suitable only for "green space" (I guess a city can never have too much green space, even with the expansive Long Lake Regional Park literally right next door). The NWQ redevelopment project has long missed its window of viability. The housing market is well past its peak and is now in a steep nose dive and other cities have already completed competitive developments with more and better amenities.

  • The inexplicable financial loss with regard to the acquisition of the Marv's Transmission site by the city. The Gang of Three rammed through the purchase for nearly twice the going market rate. The subsequent resale of the parcel to a private developer for about half of what the city paid for it (with the taxpayers picking up the tab for this gross financial mismanagement) is nothing short of outrageous. Why was this parcel even purchased by the city? It’s not part of the NWQ or other publicly known redevelopment project. The best explanation Gang of Three member Mary Burg could offer was that it was "ugly" and “doesn’t fit the vision” for the area. How can one put a price tag on logic like that?

  • Speaking of money-losing "investment" properties, how about the acquisition of Harry's Bar on Old Highway 8 by the city? For over a year this property has been off of the property tax ledger and is still a muddy, weed-infested vacant lot. As in the case with Marv's, this property had nothing to do with any on-going or publicly announced redevelop projects. Why did the city need to acquire this property?

  • Annual double-digit property tax levy increases for the past few years. The proposed levy increase for 2006 was 13.2% (about 3 times the rate of inflation). Last year the cycle appeared to have been broken, largely through the efforts of council members Sharon Doffing and Gina Bauman in strongly opposing the increases that were aggressively sought by the Gang of Three. In the end the levy increase was officially into single digits, but may not be as good as it looks as some "clever" accounting games were played with regard to how some long term costs were financed.

  • A general attitude of the Gang of Three that annual bonuses, raises, and/or benefits improvements for city workers are an entitlement that must be met regardless of the ramifications to the taxpayers or the financial status of the city.

  • Remember the wasteful spending of $4600 for a telephone survey of 400 people? This sham survey was a very transparent attempt by the Gang of Three to justify more spending and to take the heat off of their big spending policies. Not only was it a total waste of taxpayer money, the survey results backfired on the big spenders in spite of their lame attempts to spin it differently.

  • The arrogant and inefficient implementation of the sump pump inspection program. The Gang of Three took the attitude that the people could not be trusted to follow the guidelines/advisement of the Metropolitan Council with regard to sump-pump discharges and chose to implement a costly and heavy-handed "solution" to a non-problem.

  • The silly moratorium on animated electronic billboards. The Gang of Three quickly caved to the wishes of the League of Minnesota Cities (an organization that promotes the entrenchment of city government without regard to the best interests of the citizens). With so many other cities caving to the LMC anti-billboard position, New Brighton blew a golden opportunity to embrace this technology and be on the cutting edge of developing mutually beneficial working relationships with the private sector thanks to the short-sighted view of the Gang of Three.

It appears this blog may very well be the only place in-depth coverage and commentary regarding this important election will occur as, unfortunately, it seems that most of the reporters who had long-term familiarity with the various issues and goings-on at city hall have either left the local papers or have been re-assigned (enquiring minds want to know why...).

Be assured that we will present detailed analysis of the damage that has already been done by the Gang of Three and what further carnage to expect if the citizens of New Brighton don't effectively deal with the gang problem on the city council.

Stay tuned…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marv's Transmission alone should have them hanging their heads in shame. I believe their hired lawyer who advises the city on TIF and other real estate matters told them that such investments (boondoggles) such as Marv's Transmission are normal for any city. So some additional house-cleaning may be in order.

9/04/2007 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Mark N. said...

Gang of Three indeed! This bunch is more like the Three Stooges. These people have got to go!

I haven't heard or seen much of anything about the election. Has anyone stepped forward yet to run against any of them?

9/04/2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Daisy said...

Mark N.

Just a guy who already announced in a letter to the editor quite awhile ago. That would be one seat.
Do YOU have any suggestions?
What have you noticed in watching the Council overall?

9/04/2007 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You call them the gang of three, so what should we call your blog....

The gang that should not be

Misinformed, no name or fame

or just a waste of internet space

9/05/2007 9:20 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

9:20 PM anonymous -

"No name or fame"...that's certainly hard hitting, powerful, and insightful commentary, especially by someone posting as "anonymous".

Specifically, how are we "misinformed"? We would be more than happy to discuss any substantive arguments you come up with that warrant these people remaining on the council.

If we're such a waste of internet space feel free to spend your time lurking on someone else's blog. In fact, maybe you could start your own blog and fill it with some of your wit and wisdom! If you need help getting started you might try here for some pointers.

9/05/2007 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous (c/o K of C) said...

Oh you put me in my spot right hook. Is this where your blog started? I see a lot of similarities. Just babble, and a waste of space.

9/07/2007 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Long time viewer of the goings on said...

Anonymous critic of this post:

What is this rambling of yours? What do you actually know regarding this posting?
My guess is that you have a friend in the Gang of Three but have not taken the time over the years to watch council meetings and witness what has really been going on. You take your buddy’s word at face value? Sadly for you, hopefully you won’t stay misinformed. It is really a shocker when you wake up to see what others here have been watching and reporting for a few years.

9/07/2007 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Tired of Ungrounded Liberals said...

Hey, Mister Liberal Anonymous guy why dont you take Darla up on her challenge at the top of the page?

I thought so. Not even a liberal like you can defend the indefensable.

9/07/2007 1:10 PM  

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