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.
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.
How are you different than our current mayor? That’s a question I’ve been asked frequently and I’d like to answer it here so when Minnetrista residents vote they can do so fully informed. First I’ll speak to who I am not, then to who I am and what my priorities will be.
Second, I am not the mayoral candidate that accepted illegal campaign contributions, one in excess of 10 times the legal limit. That was the current mayor. (Actually that was the reason for lying on the reports…so those illegal contributions wouldn’t be detected).
Fourth, I am not the candidate that was actively involved in an illegal political committee that “corrupted the political process” (judges’ words) in Minnetrista and was sanctioned for it. That was the current mayor.
Who I am is someone that believes the Mayor’s job is to represent Minnetrista residents and their interests above those of vendors, consultants, outside organizations or staff. As Mayor my priorities will be:
Restoring ethical, transparent leadership. We need a leader that respects our laws and isn’t afraid to call out conflicts of interest.
Eliminating wasteful spending & prioritizing basic services. We can’t do that if special interests are controlling Minnetrista.
Protecting residents’ private property rights. Liberty and property rights are a cornerstone of our Constitution.
Instilling a service oriented culture at city hall.
Minnetrista has been controlled for too long by a small group of very connected, powerful influences that put their interests above the taxpayers. It’s time to make a change. Volunteer or donate at www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com
Minnetrista Governance Blog just welcomed it’s 11,000th visitor this week along with reaching a milestone of 20,000 total blog post views. That came as somewhat of a surprise only having started the blog less than three years ago with no real goal in mind except to reach Minnetrista residents with relevant news and opinion on current events in Minnetrista.
Visitors have been referred by Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Nextdoor, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and many other news aggregation sites with stories picked up by the Star Tribune, Center of the American Experiment, The Pioneer-Laker, Lakeshore Weekly News and other local publications.
Thank you Minnetrista for showing your interest in local government, community and for spreading the news and insights you won’t find anywhere else.
The politicization of the Minnetrista city council meetings are in full swing. Mayor Whalen, in an unprecedented breech of civil decorum, decided to turn the February 18
council meeting into a political attack on her opponent for the Minnetrista mayoral seat by reading a personal blog post outlining why the Minnetrista 2020 election is important.Yes, this was at a public council meeting, paid for by taxpayers, to attack a political opponent. I’m not making this up.
First, I should thank the mayor for sharing the blog post and giving it more visibility. The fact our city is being run by outside interests is real. What is more disturbing, however, is how anyone expressing an opinion that differs from those outside interests is targeted.
These past months I’ve had personal social media accounts disabled twice because of pressure from these interests that donated to the mayor’s previous election campaign. I’ve had to fight battles to have official minutes reflect what actually occurred instead of what these interests wanted in the public record. Outright blatant lies have been circulated in the community alleging illegal campaign contributions on my part that never happened. I’m sure there is more to come.
It appeared the most troubling aspect of the post, to the mayor, was about “instilling a service-oriented culture” at city hall. Apparently she doesn’t feel a need to address that and didn’t like hearing that people in the community do.
I’ve always tried to “leave my stuff at the door” when I attend council meetings. Council meetings are for getting the work of the city done, not to intimidate or shame those you disagree with. Using a public forum, paid for by taxpayers, is an inappropriate venue to wage political warfare. But apparently not in Minnetrista.
The thought police are working overtime in Minnetrista. There is a group opposed to my candidacy that knows the only means to maintain their taxing authority is to silence those that reveal conflicts of interest, corruption, and illegal campaign practices in Minnetrista.
I awoke this morning to see that my account on Nextdoor.com was disabled after sharing the latest Minnetrista Governance Blog (MGB) post about Minnetrista being run by outside interests at the expense of residents. The post didn’t mention my candidacy for Mayor, any other candidates for public office, or even any public officials. It was simply a post to create awareness of how important it is for residents to pay attention to what’s going on in their community.
The Nextdoor.com neighborhood “lead” made a public post yesterday threatening to ban anyone making political posts and then promptly disabled my account. They removed the MGB post mentioned above as well as an earlier one correcting Mayor Whalen’s fuzzy math about tax levy increases.
Nextdoor.com’s guidelines actually say that local political posts are allowed on the main newsfeed as long as they’re civil, which they were. I’ve found most of the uncivil comments in the past have come from individuals affiliated with this group. Maybe Nextdoor.com should give us all a list of topics that don’t upset them.
We should all be grateful the Minnetrista thought police don’t control WordPress or Facebook.
I’ve been meeting with residents in Minnetrista neighborhoods over the last several weeks and invariably someone always asks “What’s so important about this year’s city election?” The answer: Outside interests are running the city and none of them live or pay taxes here in Minnetrista. Outside consultants, contractors, vendors and organizations put pressure on the council to serve their interests ahead of yours. Consequently, taxes go up every year and will continue at an even faster pace going forward. We are growing and have important decisions coming up next year that impact your property rights, taxes, fees and freedoms.
I am also hearing from residents frustrated in their dealings with the city as they seek permits, variances, or access to information. Rather than having an excellent experience they often leave irritated and angry. Instilling a service oriented culture at city hall is important for residents to be treated with respect and for staff to understand their purpose is to serve the community. Unlike private sector businesses that know their survival depends on treating customers well, public sector organizations can become complacent knowing their “customer” has nowhere else to go.
The November election in Minnetrista is of paramount importance to every Minnetrista resident. Unlike the national elections where partisan politics divide the country, every Minnetrista resident can agree that outside interests should not continue running our city and public servants should treat residents with the respect they deserve.
Mayor Whalen states on her new blog “When determining our levy one of the things we look at is growth. The County Assessor estimated that we saw a 2.0% – 2.5% overall new home growth. If you subtract that from the final levy increase (over 2019) of 5.66% it leaves an increase of approximately 3.2%-3.7%”
That’s assuming, incorrectly, that for every percent in growth the city needs a 1:1 ratio increasing the tax levy. That’s simply not true. First, the 2-2.5% referenced here is the increase in the city’s total market valuation from new homes, not the number of new homes built. That could be a very small number of expensive homes or a lot of inexpensive homes. There is no correlation between market valuation increases and a need for higher taxes.
The tax levy should only be increased because of increased costs (plus inflation) due to growth, not simply because of market valuation increases. Theoretically you could have one home built that accounts for the entire 2% growth…which wouldn’t justify any tax levy increase at all. I’m not implying that is the case, just using an example that makes the point.
Out of sight, out of mind. Most people don’t want to think about local government. They just want their roads plowed and their streets safe. As long as that gets done most people are happy. But when we ignore something it doesn’t usually get better.
Think about your refrigerator. What happens to the food in there if you ignore it, push it to the back, and don’t take it out for examination? Bad stuff. Leave it long enough and “out of sight-out of mind” will eventually get your attention in a very unpleasant way. The city of Minnetrista has been operating in the “back of the fridge” for far too long.
In January 2017, the beginning of my council term, all seemed well. After several months, however, I realized it wasn’t. There were forces at play that were at odds with transparency, market competition, and election integrity. Secret meetings, illegal donations, rogue political committees, pay-to-play arrangements and even a school district involved in it all made me start to question everything.
I was only one vote and not able to make policy changes on my own but started the Minnetrista Governance Blog to at least shed some light on the “back of the fridge.” My candidacy for mayor needs your involvement. There will undoubtedly be rumors and secret post-card mailings full of unfounded allegations and falsehoods mailed to residents as we saw in the last contested mayoral election. But it won’t work because, this time, the lights are on.
Largest historical Minnetrista campaign donation ends with donor in top job – Just days after Mayor Whalen took office and was appointed as the Minnetrista council liaison to a government agency, her campaign donor, who had just made the largest campaign donation in Minnetrista history, was appointed to that agency’s top position which would soon have oversight of a proposed 80 acre development in Minnetrista.
The donation was discovered during the recent “Our Minnetrista” campaign finance violations case but what raised red flags, other than the fact the donation was three times the legal limit, was the donor failed to list his real employer and also completed the transaction using a PayPal account. Writing a check is the norm for large donations and checks are traceable. PayPal accounts can be used by anyone with a login and password to an account.
The land for this proposed development would need to be rezoned and a PUD approved by the council for it to begin. With “Our Minnetrista’s” candidates (Whalen, Mortenson & Thoele) elected to the council that path would be clear. The developer chosen for building the high-end homes had a previous relationship with the donor’s real employer evidenced on the developer’s website.
An interesting side note is Mayor Whalen had been the Minnetrista council liaison to the government agency for many years prior to her leaving the council in 2010 and was immediately reappointed upon taking office in January 2015.
So who is the mystery donor, government agency, developer and donor’s employer at the time of the donation? The donor and donation were listed in a trial exhibit and are public information as part of the recent OAH ruling (OAH#71-0325-35774):
The Westonka School District was invoiced for the Mayor’s campaign brochures as well as a hit piece on her opponent. But the cost of the brochures and hit piece wasn’t
disclosed by the Mayor or “Our Minnetrista,” the political committee backing her. A political committee named Minnetrista411 falsely reported the expenditure on its own disclosure report to the Campaign Finance Board. Yes, complex crimes are complicated but the invoice shown here is irrefutable proof that corruption in Minnetrista is not limited to city hall. It extends to the Westonka School District and who knows how much further.
In discussing this with the Hennepin County Attorney’s office I was asked if the Westonka school board was aware of this. My reply was, yes, but many of the school board members are also “Our Minnetrista” members and appear more eager to bury it than expose it. The contact person on the invoice was the Treasurer for the YesWestonka political committee responsible for pushing through the $22M Westonka Schools bond referendum. He is identified in subpoenaed “Our Minnetrista” emails as an active member involved in Our Minnetrista’s fundraising and campaign activities, specifically coordinating their printing.
The invoice and artwork associated with it was obtained during discovery in the Office of Administrative Hearings’ case involving campaign finance violations against Mayor Whalen, one former and two current Minnetrista city council members (OAH#71-0325-35774).