Minnetrista Planning & Parks Commission – Apply Here!

Looking for an opportunity to be involved in your community? How about serving as a Planning or Parks Commission member for the City of Minnetrista?

These are volunteer advisory positions to the City Council that meet once per month and are a great way to not only learn about all the development projects in our city but to give guidance to the council. Minnetrista is growing and it’s important how that growth occurs.

Deadline to apply is Wednesday, November 23, 2022

There is one open Planning Commission seat and two alternate seats to be filled on the Planning Commission. There are three Parks Commission seats and one alternate seat to be filled on the Parks Commission.

Planning Commission: The Minnetrista Planning Commission consists of seven (7) members and two (2) alternate members who serve as a volunteer advisory commission appointed by the City Council. The Planning Commission is a recommending body to the City Council which reviews public and private development proposals for consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and the City Code. The Planning Commission meets the fourth Monday of each month. Each commissioner serves a four (4) year term.

Parks and Recreation Commission: The Minnetrista Park and Recreation Commission consists of five (5) members and two (2) alternate members who serve as a volunteer advisory commission appointed by the City Council. The purpose of the commission is to advise the City Council in the providing of recreational areas and facilities in relation to land use and citizen requests within the community. In addition to the five (5) members, a council member designated by the council is an ex-officio nonvoting member of the commission. The Parks Commission meets the second Tuesday of each month. Each commissioner serves a three (3) year term.

Applicants will be interviewed by the City Council prior to being appointed. For more information visit the City of Minnetrista website.

MGB Endorses Andrew Myers for House (SD45A)

I normally limit endorsements to Minnetrista city council candidates but our State House candidates are vying to represent Minnetrista in the legislature and one of them deserves your support. If you haven’t already met him door knocking, take a look at Andrew Myers’ “Your Backyard” website. You’ll see an experienced public official, attorney, small business owner, father and community leader who cares deeply about his district.

I met Andrew Myers several years ago when we were both city council members from neighboring cities, he from Minnetonka Beach and I from Minnetrista, both serving on the Mound fire board. What I observed there was a servant leader with a commitment to his community.

Andrew isn’t someone that goes along to get along. He’s someone who will stand up for his principles and values even in the face of controversy or conflict. I saw that firsthand when he stood up to pressures from other cities on the fire board and did the right thing for his constituents.

He’ll do the same in our State House dealing with tough issues on crime, inflation, education and more. I hope you’ll join me in voting for Andrew Myers for House District 45A.

Find your polling place and remember to vote on Election Day, November 8!

Minnetrista Council Candidates 2022 – Youngren and Lacy are MGB picks

The League of Women Voters city council candidate forum was Thursday, September 29 at city hall. I’m not a fan of the highly partisan LWV organization but they do seem to have a monopoly on local government candidate forums in Minnesota, so I went to listen. The video recording of the forum was just posted this afternoon.

Minnetrista city council candidates :
Heather Charles
Claudia Lacy (unable to attend forum)
Peter Vickery
Jake Youngren

In typical fashion many of the questions were leading. “How will you provide for Minnetrista’s affordable housing needs…” (which presumes a need) vs. a better phrased question: “What are your thoughts on developing affordable housing projects in Minnetrista?” which would leave a candidate the option of discussing the pros and cons of the issue. I encourage readers to watch the forum and listen for the premise bias in many of the questions.

The best one went something like this: “Would you support inviting bids for garbage services to reduce the costs of garbage collection for residents?” Who wouldn’t want that, right? What the question really meant was ‘Would you support putting all the garbage haulers presently doing business in Minnetrista out of business so the city would have a monopoly?’ Heather Charles supported this and was dropped from my list.

I was actually shocked to hear an honest question asked: “Would you support the city hiring it’s own professional engineer?” Come to find out, that question wasn’t one LWV came up with but was submitted by a concerned resident. In my years on the city council I had been a vocal advocate for hiring our own municipal engineer, so that WSB Engineering wouldn’t have total control over all the proposals, feasibility studies, design and contracting of all the city’s road and water projects.

Both Peter Vickery and Heather Charles dismissed what’s been called “the WSB problem” out of hand saying they thought the city wasn’t big enough to justify a staff engineer. Jack Youngren, took a more thoughtful approach, without dismissing the possibility, saying he would make the right fiscal decision after vetting the issue properly. Sounds like hope to me.

Youngren also demonstrated the same approach when asked about the controversial issue of affordable housing development in Minnetrista. Indicating it isn’t a foregone conclusion the matter has been resolved he said he would consider “when and if we want that…” The other candidates simply spoke of how and where to put affordable housing.

There was one council candidate missing last night because of an important family event. Claudia Lacy could not attend but I spoke to her by phone and found her to be very thoughtful in approaching city matters. She runs a local nonprofit (Langdon House) and would be an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars and has an impressive background in finance as well.

I encourage voters to watch the video of the forum and make up their own minds. I’ve made up mine. I’m voting for Jake Youngren and Claudia Lacy because they both appear to be candidates with a mind of their own, who take fiscal responsibility seriously, value competition and understand the role the council plays in holding vendors and the administration accountable.

The only candidate website that turned up today was the one below but watch The Laker for candidate surveys coming out soon:

Jack Youngren: https://voteyoungren.com/

Two open-seats on Minnetrista City Council in November election

I learned a few days ago that both Minnetrista City Council incumbents, whose terms expire at year-end, Pam Mortenson and John Tschumperlin, will not be running again.

When I pulled out the city’s “Minnetrista Messenger” Summer Newsletter out of my mail box just now I expected to see an announcement of some sort. I would think that’s fairly newsworthy. Seeing none I decided to fire up the blog to let everyone know.

2022 Minnetrista City Council Meeting

From serving on the city council I know how important it is to find good people, willing to do the work and to steward our tax dollars wisely. Local government affects you, your pocketbook, environment, schools and culture more than you know.

Interested in running? Stop by city hall (7701 County Road 110W) between August 2 and August 16 and register to be on the ballot in November. You must be a resident living in Minnetrista to run.

Some clear-headed thinking

Minnetrista residents owe a big thank you to a resident that cares enough about his city to research and evaluate water infrastructure plans and speak into them with some clear thinking.

Should the city spend $20,000 to $30,000 on engineering analysis to determine if it should buy $5K-$7K worth of water from St. Bonifacius to deal with Minnetrista’s water shortfall for summer irrigation requirements? Mr. Dakolios thinks not. How about just paying St. Bonifacius for the water?

Sigh…gun range discussions again

I haven’t blogged for quite a while; however, I just learned the building out of a gun range is once again on the Minnetrista city council’s worksession agenda Monday night, May 2 at 5:30pm. Meeting is at city hall so the public can attend.

There is no reason to incur hundreds of thousands of ongoing annual operational expenses over the years when there are plenty of gun ranges available for training our public safety officers at minimal expense. Other nearby gun ranges allow public safety officers to use them. This is just another excuse to expand facilities, budget and overhead that will lead to more property tax increases.

This issue was voted on in the community survey:

I’ve blogged about this issue a number of times here, here, and here. This is a bad idea that just keeps coming back. This is what happens when the government has a surplus of your money and desperately needs to spend it!

Let your city council members know what you think: lwhalen@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; amacgregor@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; creffkin@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; pmortenson@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; jtschumperlin@ci.minnetrista.mn.us

Critical Race Theory in Westonka Schools

Powerline Blog’s John Hinderacker posted an excellent discussion this morning on Critical Race Theory (CRT) being the top issue in school board elections throughout the country. I encourage voters to read it here: CRT: IT DOESN’T EXIST…AND IT’S AWESOME! The local Westonka community has had it’s share of these discussions and the issue will hopefully drive a much higher turnout to the school board election tomorrow, November 2, than most.

CRT, as Hinderacker states, “is a racist and anti-American set of dogmas” and is a vehicle to influence our students’ perceptions of the world and indoctrinate them. We must ask current school board members why they don’t denounce it. To claim it doesn’t exist is nonsense but unfortunately that is all the incumbent school board members are willing to say and how they have evaded the issue that everyone else is aware of.

GET TO THE POLLS, WESTONKA, AND VOTE!

November 2, Polls open from 7am-8pm. Two locations:

  1. Mount Olive Lutheran Church fellowship hall, 5218 Bartlett Blvd., Mound
  2. School district offices, Educational Service Center community room, 5901 Sunnyfield Rd. E., Minnetrista

To determine your polling location, use the Secretary of State pollfinder, http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Westonka Schools’ contempt for election law

Westonka Schools established additional criteria for people to serve as election judges on their absentee ballot board for their 2021 school board election scheduled for November 2. One had to have served as an election judge in the 2020 general election in order to serve. At least that’s what this Republican applicant was told by the school administrator.

The school board then appointed five school employees, who had not served as election judges in the 2020 general election, to their absentee ballot board and appointed them election judges as well. When they realized that ruffled the community they called a few ‘real’ election judges and scheduled them for a few absentee ballot board duty shifts. The problem is these five school employees, who do not qualify to be election judges according to the school’s criteria, are, and have been, scheduled on the ballot board duty roster without ANY election judges present since the beginning of October.

This means employees of the school are accepting and rejecting ballots for the same candidates who will have authority over them and their livlihoods. This is the very reason the legislature mandates that election judges, and not government staff, must accept and reject absentee ballots. Elections should be fair and free of any appearance of conflicts of interest. No one is accusing anyone at Westonka Schools of mishandling ballots and that is not the point here. The point is the Westonka school board has shown contempt for Minnesota election law by violating statutes they have been made aware of:

Putting 2 and 2 together

I noticed last weekend the supposedly brand new “independent” political committee promoting the incumbent Westonka school board candidates had not filed a campaign finance report, despite seeing lots of signs around town. So, I sent an email to the address listed on their signs asking why. I got a response on Sunday that they had filed their report with the school district. Miraculously Sunday afternoon their report was uploaded to the school district’s campaign finance page. Guess that was an oversight. I can overlook oversights.

What I first noticed, upon opening the We Are Westonka campaign finance report filed Sunday, October 17, was that the political committee’s expenditures far exceeded their reported contributions on this first (ever) report. In fact they only reported $100 in contributions while spending over $1,100 on signs and buttons. Hmm. A brand new committee isn’t going to have funds to carry over…unless they’re not brand new….I’m confused.

A campaign finance report is supposed to account for all contributions and all expenditures but this one clearly did not.

I noticed reports filed by Yes Westonka, the former political organization that pushed the school’s past bond referendums, and this is what I found:

  1. The Yes Westonka Annual Report 19-20 showed a $1,200 contribution from the Teacher’s Union and showed cash on hand of $1,498.20. To-date no subsequent reports show expenditures of those funds.
  2. The Yes Westonka Annual Report 20-21 shows $0 contributions, $0 expenditures but, interestingly, the “cash on hand” field was deleted entirely from the report. Was there a reason they didn’t want to show the $1,498.20 sitting in the account prior to the school board 2021 election? Did they think they could just delete a mandated field from a required report and no one would notice? What happened to the $1,498.20??
  3. The signature at the bottom of both Yes Westonka reports is Lori Wollner, school board incumbent Gary Wollner’s spouse. Well, that explains why they couldn’t use Yes Westonka as an independent political committee now, doesn’t it.

This is the kind of thing one could file and win a campaign finance violation over, but why? The complainant would likely incur thousands in attorneys fees and the political committee would get a slap on the wrist without any meaningful consequences.

Better to just let the community know and ask the school district why they are overlooking these violations.

VOTE FOR NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS ON NOVEMBER 2!

Planning & Parks Commissioners sought – Minnetrista

If you are a Minnetrista resident and want to get involved in your community consider filling out Minnetrista’s Application for Commissions and Committees and volunteer to be on the city’s Planning Commission or Parks Commission. Each commission has two seats to be appointed with terms beginning January 2022. There is one incumbent on each commission requesting to continue and one open seat on each commission as well. Applicants interview with the city council and are appointed by the council.

Planning Commission
The Minnetrista Planning Commission consists of seven (7) members and two (2) alternate members who serve as a volunteer advisory commission appointed by the City Council. The Planning Commission is a recommending body to the City Council which reviews public and private development proposals for consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and the City Code. The commission meets the fourth Monday of each month. Each commissioner serves a four (4) year term.


Parks and Recreation Commission
The Minnetrista Park and Recreation Commission consists of five (5) members and two (2) alternate members who serve as a volunteer advisory commission appointed by the City Council. The purpose of the commission is to advise the City Council in the providing of recreational areas and facilities in relation to land use and citizen requests within the community. In addition to the five (5) members, a council member designated by the council is an ex-officio nonvoting member of the commission. The commission meets the second Tuesday of each month. Each commissioner serves a three (3) year term.