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.
Author: Minnetrista Governance Blog
Blogger, Shannon Bruce, writing about matters of civic importance in Minnetrista, MN. BA, Political Science, University of Colorado-Denver, Graduate work at University of Colorado Masters in Public Administration program. Former AT&T Government Affairs Specialist; Internship National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver. Elected to Minnetrista city council 2017. Candidate for Minnetrista Mayor 2020.
I will not be commenting on social media to the continued bombardment of lies Lisa Whalen’s campaign is fabricating against my mayoral campaign except to point people to this post:
I exposed the fact last year that Whalen’s campaign in 2014 had her campaign expenses invoiced to the Westonka school district. I have the invoice from 2014 that was sent to me in 2019 as I was investigating illegal campaign contributions to her campaign. A lawsuit was filed which I won.
Now, four years after the transaction and voting has begun for the mayoral election, Whalen’s campaign is claiming I’ve made false statements, along with the Superintendent of Westonka Schools who has chosen to refuse my request to meet with him to show the evidence.
This could all be cleared up if the printing company involved would produce a corrected invoice showing the transaction was corrected as Whalen’s campaign claims. I have asked for an electronic version of a corrected invoice to verify authenticity but it has not been provided. It doesn’t exist.
Subpoenaed emails during Whalen’s trial for participating in an illegal campaign financing scheme turned up an email showing the printer attached the invoice in question and sent it to the treasurer of YesWestonka (a political committee advocating for the $22M school bond referendum) and it was subsequently paid by Lisa Whalen’s campaign committee (Our Minnetrista/Minnetrista 411) on November 3, 2014. *Note: Many of the same individuals involved in YesWestonka were also active members of the Our Minnetrista political committee.
Minnetrista 411 was the same organization as Our Minnetrista with a different role in Whalen’s campaign. It was created to do the negative campaigning as the artwork shows below. The same leader of Our Minnetrista (David Kolb, the city’s ex-police chief) was the leader of Minnetrista 411 and his wife, court records show, was Minnetrista 411’s treasurer.
6. The artwork above is the piece associated with the Westonka School District invoice shown below.
I sent the following email to the Superintendent of Westonka Schools after he refused to meet with me:
I have been targeted by this group of people called “Our Minnetrista/Minnetrista 411” because I have exposed their illegal activities and they were all sanctioned in the lawsuit subsequently referred to as “Minnetristagate” by the Center of the American Experiment in their coverage of it. The three judge panel said in the final judgement that Lisa Whalen and her campaign committee had “corrupted the political process” in Minnetrista. She is at it again attempting to discredit the person that exposed her and her illegal activities for which she was fined.
Minnetrista voters will ultimately be the judge of allowing a corrupt political machine to control the millions of dollars that flow through our city each year or if they want accountability and integrity in our city government.
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: