The inside story on Minnetrista local issues: This blog is to inform citizens and give them a perspective on matters of importance in Minnetrista, MN. Opinions posted here are my own and do not reflect official positions of any public body or official.
Minnetrista’s mayor surprised residents when she announced in July she would be running again. Most of us haven’t forgotten the judgment against her last summer for the illegal financial scheme she was involved in that birthed the term “Minnetrista-gate” and, in the judge’s words “corrupted the political process” in Minnetrista.
Calling the illegal financial scheme a “technical error” underscores the fact our current mayor doesn’t think she did anything wrong. She doesn’t agree with the three judges that do. Watch the video below to understand what really happened and why.
The illegal scheme concealed who her campaign donors wrote checks to as well as who paid for her campaign expenses. Her financial involvement with the illegal political committee “Our Minnetrista,” whose leaders were sanctioned as well, was kept secret, as was a donation to her campaign for over 10 times the legal limit from the committee (the reason for the illicit scheme). And on top of all that her campaign mailings were invoiced to the Westonka School District.
If she’ll blatantly lie and break the law campaigning, do you trust her to govern your city?
Over the last few weeks I’ve met with several broadband professionals in both Minnetrista and other parts of the twin cities to discuss how we can make reliable high speed internet available to everyone in Minnetrista.
It starts with engaging the right people that understand this rapidly changing technology and the political landscape where it is deployed. I am meeting with and interviewing individuals to establish, once elected Mayor, a Minnetrista broadband working group that will help us navigate the technological, legal and logistical challenges ahead. I am more confident than ever this is not an insurmountable challenge if the right stakeholders are at the table.
I have been an advocate since I’ve been on the city council to establish an advisory body on high speed internet. I was the council member to first suggest putting high speed internet access for Minnetrista as a strategic goal several years ago. At our strategy meeting last spring I pushed to change our stated objective from a passive statement of merely acknowledging the goal to proactively getting creative about solving the issue. But one council member has no authority on their own.
I’ve worked in technology companies my entire career and also understand the political landscape in which we work. Putting solutions together requires bringing the right players to the table and I am meeting, not only with industry professionals but also with other elected officials in nearby cities and counties to do just that.
Minnetrista needs a champion on this issue with a determination to make it happen.
When hiring a schill to spread lies about your Mayoral opponent it’s probably best to find one with some intelligence and a good memory for keeping track of all those pesky details in the web of deceptions being spun.
Take, for instance, this paragraph posted on Facebook by Mayor Whalen’s hired gun yesterday:
The backstory: The Lisa Whalen mayoral campaign in 2014 had campaign materials invoiced to the Westonka School District in an effort, presumably, to avoid paying sales tax and take advantage of the school’s discount with the printer, or perhaps their postal rates. It was all handled under the table, quietly paid by her campaign and no one thought anyone would ever know. Until four years later when Whalen was brought up before a judge for an illegal campaign financing scheme.
The three judge panel in that case, which she lost, said she and her campaign committee had “corrupted the political process.” Now she’s at it again.
Who really paid for all those Lisa Whalen for Mayor signs? I don’t think I need to explain much here as a picture is worth a thousand words. Minnetrista deserves a local government and mayor that don’t conceal things or hide anything from the public.
This city is an amazing place with wonderful people and with your vote we can all begin to rebuild trust in our city government. Thank you for your vote of confidence!
I met with Three Rivers Park District representative Marge Beard today at Gale Woods Farms to talk about past and future land acquisitions in Minnetrista. I found Ms. Beard easy to engage with and sensed a sincere desire to serve our community to provide access to open space, parks and trails that enhance our quality of life.
I look forward to working together in the future to make sure we preserve our natural amenities that Minnetrista residents value and continuing future plans to connect trails that serve our developments, rural areas and connect regionally across the county.
Minnetrista may be growing but we must make sure we maintain our parks and open spaces. After all, that’s why so many want to live here. I’m grateful to have an advocate like Ms. Beard working on our behalf.
There is a League of Women Voters (US) rule that when there are two candidates vying for a seat and only one is willing to participate that the candidate forum will not be held with just one candidate. Is it surprising they don’t follow the rules in Minnetrista? I declined their invitation for reasons specified here and they held the forum anyway with only the incumbent mayor.
There are some very clear differences between the Minnetrista mayoral candidates. Transparency is a big one.
One of the Minnetrista candidate forum questions was “What does the word ‘transparency’ mean to you?” I didn’t participate in the forum for a variety of reasons which can be found here, but I’d like to answer that question.
Transparency, to me, means honesty, openness and a commitment to the public that nothing in our city policy making process will ever be hidden from them. It means decisions will never be made behind closed doors before matters are discussed with the council and open for public scrutiny. It means controversial issues will not be relegated to the very end of council agendas when the public has gone home or the council is too tired to engage. It means the title of agenda items will never obscure sensitive issues. And it means information will never be selectively distributed to avoid dealing with different perspectives.
I received an email from the Superintendent of Westonka Schools, Kevin Borg, regarding the invoice that showed Lisa Whalen’s campaign materials were invoiced to the school district. That invoice was found during the discovery process in the lawsuit against Mayor Whalen and her campaign committee and exposed over a year and a half ago. I have not, until today, received any correspondence or concern from Westonka Schools about the invoice.
The timing on this correspondence might be construed as politically motivated, if I didn’t know better, as it is, after all, two days before voting begins in the Minnetrista Mayoral election.
Mr. Borg’s email says “I am asking that your campaign immediately remove and post corrections toall false claims involving the Westonka School District.” and demands a response by Friday. Considering the fact no false claims have been made (by me), he didn’t have to wait that long for my response [emphasis added in bold]:
Mr. Borg also expressed his wish was to resolve this matter in private. However, when I asked if he had shared the email he admitted he had shared it with the school board. Well then, I guess this isn’t private after all. That might explain why one of our school board members is attempting to censor my social media accounts tonight.
This election is important. Minnetrista deserves better than this.
Ever know a family that hummed along just fine until someone dies and there’s a contested will? Normally rational, calm, level headed people can transform into unrecognizable personalities clamoring for a piece of the windfall. It’s a situation no one prepares you for and if the will isn’t clear it makes the situation all the more volatile.
Well, that’s exactly what our friends in Congress and our state government have done with the CARES Act and distributing hundreds of thousands of dollars of Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to cities with vague, undefined rules that are shifting and changing as we speak. So far the only ones benefiting, at least from Minnetrista’s CRF $579K, are the attorneys wading thru it all.
Minnetrista hasn’t made a decision on how to allocate these funds but council and staff have already spent many thousands of dollars in our collective time on the matter. I started writing about it back in early August and have attended multiple workshops on CRF reporting requirements, spending rules, and countless hours in council discussions. I have no doubt it will be on our agenda again next week.
I’ll make a prediction that a decision won’t be made until after the election. Wagers anyone?
There are three seats in Minnetrista up for election in November: two council seats and the mayor. The Minnetrista council is comprised of 5 people (mayor and four council members). In order for the council to act on a matter it requires a “quorum” of at least three members to agree. Each member has one vote, including the mayor. That’s important to understand because a mayor is helpless to implement policy or accomplish anything without the support of at least two other council members. Please check out council candidates Ann MacGregor and Cathleen Reffkin below:
Since our city council meetings have been held online since March, citizens had been told they could no longer speak during the Persons-to-be-heard part of our meetings but that they could address the council by sending an email to the city administrator for him to read. I had questioned this change months ago and suggested we allow citizens to actually speak but it seemed I was the only one.
At our last meeting 9/8/20 I asked to add an agenda item to discuss reinstating the participation of residents in our council meetings by allowing them to actually speak to the council. Hearing no objections to having the discussion it was put on the agenda.
We heard several logistical challenges from staff about how to manage the calls but none of them were insurmountable and they were directed to figure it out so future council meetings will include the ability to actually speak, rather than have an email read, during the Persons-to-be-heard section. This is important because an email doesn’t allow the council to ask questions or for citizens to elaborate on important topics.