Glad to live in Minnetrista?

Looking at the CDC maps of where the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases are located it’s apparent that high density housing is a contributing factor to the virus’ spread. Factor in the reliance on mass transit systems in these areas and it’s no surprise we see the numbers we do.COVID map

 

 

Minnetrista residents are fortunate to live in an area where social distancing is not only possible but even a normal part of life in the more rural areas. We don’t have hundreds of people touching glad to live in Minnetristaour door knobs, pushing elevator buttons, or coughing in our stairways/elevators or vehicles as we travel where we need to go.

Give thanks for the wonderful neighbors and community organizations that have stepped up to help and for this very special place we call home. Minnetrista is a great place to live.

Minnetrista should have nothing to do with this partisan, deceptive program

MINNETRISTA SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PARTISAN AGENDA of the GreenStep program designed to lure public officials with awards & recognition at the expense of their communities. I don’t like dealing with dishonest organizations, or people for that matter. How’s this for transparency? After the video posted yesterday exposed their funding deception the GreenStep Cities folks removed the Met Council’s logo from their site. They continue to deny the Met Council is a program funder despite the fact it appears on their own website.

GreenStep Switcheroo

GreenStep Cities Program Exposed

GREENSTEP CITIES EXPOSED – As I was about to publish this today I discovered that the GreenStep Cities program has removed the Metropolitan Council logo from their “About” page where this, below, was captured last month. Yep, it’s gone. Now they have it in small type in parentheses, to obscure it even more. Read on…

GreenStep Met Council

 

I was asked to speak last month at a Victoria city council meeting on concerns regarding the Met Council’s GreenStep Cities program. The program had recently been rejected by the city of Plymouth and had received less than glowing coverage in the press of late due to transparency issues and the Met Council’s agenda to extend control throughout the state by getting local governments to adopt their “model ordinances.” A GreenStep Cities representative presented as well.

The video below speaks for itself and highlights the deception and clearly partisan agenda of this program. For those that want to see the unedited version it is available on the city of Victoria’s website.

GreenStep Screenshot

The city of Minnetrista has not joined this program but the council has not voted not to either. The program is marketed as being voluntary but once adopted cities are pressured…or “encouraged” to progress through the steps as they compete with each other for awards at the League of Minnesota Cities annual meeting. Mayors are lured by recognition and awards and staff ends up spending their precious time measuring and reporting data to the Met Council instead of tending to city matters.

If you’d like to express your concerns about the program you may contact Minnetrista council members: lwhalen@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; mmolitor@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; pmortenson@ci.minnetrista.mn.us; jtschumperlin@ci.minnetrista.mn.us ; sbruce@ci.minnetrista.mn.us

 

GreenSteps voted down in Plymouth

Packing the council chambers with people wearing green t-shirts, green Hawaiian leis and green bead necklaces wasn’t enough to convince the Plymouth city council to adopt

a resolution implementing the Met Council’s GreenStep Cities program last night. In a 4-3 vote the council voted not to pass the resolution.

I was struck by the openness of the council’s proceedings giving everyone, on both sides of the issue, ample time to address the council. Many went over their allotted time and others yielded their time to others so they could speak longer. There was a genuine interest on the part of the council to make sure everyone, absolutely everyone, was heard.

I was struck as well by the discussion that followed by the Plymouth council members. Each councilor was recognized and given the opportunity to express their position, uninterrupted, for as long as they needed. No one’s motivations were questioned or discredited.

Issues like GreenStep Cities are polarizing for communities in the metro area. It was a testament to Mayor Jeff Wosje’s leadership that he allowed everyone the opportunity to be heard and expressed a sincere appreciation for each and every voice.

Ultimately the council decided to prioritize it’s own environmental agenda for Plymouth residents rather than adopt the Met Council’s GreenStep Cities agenda. To their credit the majority believes council decisions and policies should be made based on what’s good for Plymouth rather than getting awards and recognition from a Met Council program.

Councilor Prom, speaking about the controversy around the program being truly voluntary, commented “This is the most impressive push for a voluntary program that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The city of Minnetrista has not adopted a resolution to join the GreenStep Cities program and my hope is they will choose, as Plymouth has, to put city residents first above an agenda driven by an outside, unelected organization that is pushing it’s reach into local governments to enforce what they subjectively believe are “best practices.” I think Minnetrista can judge that for itself.

Thank you to all the people that cared enough to show up, speak or just attended. It was nice to see a community involved and concerned for it’s future. Even nicer to see our representative government work the way it’s supposed to.

Cities still wary and apparently weary of GreenStep Cities program

I’ve been a vocal advocate protecting private property rights in Minnetrista from the overreach of the Met Council’s GreenStep Cities program. Some good work today from our friends at the Center of the American Experiment:

american experiment

Communities Still Wary of GreenStep Cities Program at 10 Year Mark

This week the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) heralds the ten-year anniversary of the GreenStep Cities climate change program that presses local governments to factor environmental sustainability into everything from budgets to ordinances, land use and long-range planning.

The program offers more than two dozen so-called Best Management Practices with 175 actions and lots of paperwork for participating communities. The recommendations include options that could significantly alter daily life like limiting parking places, reducing salt use in winter, mandates and bans on consumer products and packaging,  monitoring wood burning in fireplaces, encouraging keeping chickens and bees, even phasing in “bike, foot or horseback modes for police, inspectors and other city staff.” And that’s just the beginning.

On the GreenStep website and Facebook page, state officials tout the 131 cities and three Native American tribes involved in the program aimed at reducing communities’ “carbon footprint.”

Yet an American Experiment analysis reveals that a decade into GreenStep only a handful—a total of 15 Minnesota cities–has completed all five levels of the program. All but two did so within the last year.

At the same time, several cities have postponed or rejected participation in the increasingly controversial GreenStep program. Pushback from a group of concerned citizens led to a contentious public meeting in Little Falls that convinced local elected officials turn down GreenStep last year.

“We went in with about a dozen people and made a big stink,” said Greg Smith, a Little Falls resident. “We did our homework, we knew what we were talking about. We brought up all these issues and they promptly shut it down.”

The East Grand Forks City Council also recently discussed GreenStep but ultimately had as many concerns as the last time they passed over the program in 2014.

“At this point, it’s not on our front burner,” said David Murphy, East Grand Forks City Administrator. “We’re way up here in the northwestern part of the state and we try to stay off their (MPCA) radar as much as possible. We don’t go out of our way to invite them up here.”

RELATED: Plymouth Steps Back From Controversial GreenStep City Program

MPCA dangles the prospect of recognition by the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), grants and voluntary membership and compliance to entice city officials to join the program. Major funders and supporters include the Met Council and McKnight Foundation, along with leftist environmental organizations like the Great Plains Institute and Izaak Walton League.

But the program’s demands on city staff time, risk to taxpayers and threat to local control led the suburb of Minnetrista to avoid making the commitment.

“What many don’t understand is that the League of Minnesota Cities, the Met Council and the city engineering and law firms on LMC’s advisory boards all work together to promote these initiatives by unelected officials which are designed to grow government, increase taxes and give these organizations more control over private property,” said Minnetrista City Councilor Shannon Bruce.

The vast majority of cities and tribes that do join GreenStep—nearly 85 percent—remain at the program’s lower three levels with benchmarks often already met like tree planting and LED lighting for street lights and buildings.

The GreenStep Cities website indicates Nisswa has remained at the entry level since 2012. St. Cloud, one of six cities where the MCPA will celebrate GreenStep this week, has been on hold at step two since 2011. Hopkins and Newport have remained at step three since 2013.

Very few communities advance to the last two levels of GreenStep, where the program that bills itself as voluntary, imposes requirements to measure, report and show improvement on numerous “city performance metrics.”

“I think cities just find that it puts a lot of pressure on staff and they just abandon it once they realize that,” Bruce said. “That was one of my objections when they came to speak to us.”

A decade into GreenStep Cities, many Minnesota communities clearly remain wary of the program’s objectives and likely impact on their quality of life.

Minnetrista on top 10 list of safest MN cities, but will we stay there?

We learned at our council meeting Monday night that Minnetrista is #6 on the list of top 10 safest cities in Minnesota according to the FBI’s uniform crime report analyzed here. Aside from an error in our population count (shows we’re over 10,000) the analysis confirms why people want to live in Minnetrista and being safe is up there on everyone’s list.

One of the reasons for our low crime rate is the fact our population is spread out over a large geographical area and we don’t have the density that’s found in cities with higher crime rates. Our population is more educated and our median home values are higher than many of the cities lower on the list. Our public safety department does a great job too.

bad guyLet’s hope Minnetrista can resist the pressures of unelected influences (Met Council, League of Minnesota Cities, MN Dept of Housing) pushing for higher density housing in Minnesota cities that will most assuredly affect not only our crime rate but our traffic volume as well. Minnetrista doesn’t have many options for accommodating more traffic as our land is constrained by lakes and waterways with new or widened routes being all but impossible. High density housing, crime and traffic are things to avoid, not invite.

Minnetrista is a special place, a safe place to raise a family where most people feel comfortable taking an evening walk down a trail without a can of mace in their hand. That could all change.

 

 

 

 

Conflict of interest? Maybe?

WAKE UP MINNETRISTA
Wake up Minnetrista!

CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Ya think? Do you think this guy should be advising the city of Minnetrista on our Comprehensive Plan and the Met Council’s GreenStep cities program? Do you think, maybe, that WSB, the city’s contract engineering firm, might be the company to manage the “best practices” projects recommended by this “green new deal” effort led by unelected officials? Wake up Minnetrista.

consultant linkedin

Only in Minnetrista

Only in Minnetrista can a discussion take place during a council work session and have the minutes actually state the discussion didn’t occur. Trigger warning to “Our Minnetrista” members. Watch your city council in action attempting to leave a back door open for the Met Council to bring the GreenStep cities program back into Minnetrista. During the meeting I honestly couldn’t understand what was going on it was so bizarre. Don’t underestimate the control unelected people in this community have on this council and Minnetrista’s future. The doublespeak and obfuscation is palpable. For your entertainment (approx. 4 min):

Council GreenStep discussion

Minnetrista’s 2040 Comprehensive plan was being discussed, or addressed, or not discussed or not addressed below:

work session minutes.png

Words matter…update from 10/7/19 Worksession

Words really do matter. That one little word, “may,” that appears in Minnetrista’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan matters a lot. I wrote about it last month here and also outlined several other Comp Plan concerns having to do with a private well ordinance, GreenStep Cities, inflated projected water use, and managing a rebate program for water efficient appliances.

No-matter-what-they-say
“Especially where our city’s autonomy is concerned”

When I saw WSB’s (Minnetrista’s contracted city engineering firm) response to all of these concerns they appeared to take most of them seriously and advised we could remove the private well ordinance, GreenStep Cities option as well as the rebate program from the Comp Plan. They also recalculated the city’s projected water use more accurately. I didn’t understand their response, however, to the “one little word” concern:

Bruce remarks: 2. Page 347: There is an overly broad statement made here that gives the Met Council cart blanche to regulate almost anything they want to in Minnetrista. The word used is “may” in this context: “The City of Minnetrista ….will not permit activity that may conflict with the Metropolitan System Policy Plans.” That word, “may”, tacitly gives the Met Council the right to shut down anything, ANY activity, they think “may conflict with their plans.” They could make golf carts illegal, they could make cars illegal for that matter. The bar is set very low, in fact there is no bar set when you use the word may. I would suggest merely removing that word and changing “conflict” to “conflicts”. They would at least have to prove something conflicts with their plan instead of say something might.

WSB Response: WSB can make the change from “will” to “may” and “conflict” to “conflicts” on page 9-1.

After some back and forth, however, the consensus from most councilmembers was that simply removing the word “may,” as I had earlier suggested, and making “conflict” plural was acceptable. Words matter, especially where our city’s autonomy is concerned.

The Minnetrista 2040 Comprehensive Plan will have these changes made after which it will be sent to the Met Council for approval and then submitted to the city council for final adoption. Minnetrista has until April 2020 to adopt its final 2040 Comprehensive Plan (9 months following Met Council’s initial approval which was July 2019) but it could be adopted much sooner depending on the Met Council’s timeline for approval.

“Private wells must comply with water restrictions”: Minnetrista 2040 Comp Plan

A private well ordinance to force compliance with city watering restrictions is intended to be adopted by the City of Minnetrista according to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The water-restrictionsplan is on the council’s agenda Tuesday, September 3 at 7pm for final adoption.

I’m assuming Minnetrista residents on private wells do not support this because they are already financially incentivized to restrict water usage. Many rural homeowners on private wells have their own personal water treatment systems with iron filters and water softeners that require the use of bleach and salt. They typically are frugal with their water use because it’s expensive not to be. There is absolutely no reason to impose this regulation on private wells that don’t impact the city’s water system.

private well ordinance
Page 227 Minnetrista 2040 Comprehensive Plan