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.
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!
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.
Last night’s council meeting was notable in that two “firsts” occurred. One, it was the first time since elected in 2016 that I voted to approve the city’s preliminary tax levy and the reason I did was it would actually result in a net decrease in most resident’s property taxes. Two, it was the first time Mayor Whalen voted for a preliminary tax levy that would result in a tax decrease since she was elected Mayor. I’d like to think it was because she knew it was in the best interests of Minnetrista property owners but something tells me this dichotomy with her past voting record won’t happen again for another four years if she’s re-elected.
I predicted here that this election year would prompt a political change of heart for a mayor facing a challenger in a community less than happy with the steady tax increases she’s supported every year.
One of the budgeting games played by administrative bureaucracies, since they’re always seeking to increase resources, is to under-estimate projected revenue and over-estimate projected expenditures in the budget. Doing so always ends up with a tax increase being the only way to “make ends meet.” We saw that in the council’s budget work sessions where, seeing that permit fee revenue was underestimated, I was successful in getting the city’s 2021 projections for permit fees increased to more accurately reflect a higher number based on past and anticipated growth. As a result we were able to add those dollars to the road budget without increasing anyone’s property taxes.
That’s a win-win. We don’t always need to increase taxes to pay for what we need.
I received an invitation to participate in an online League of Women Voters (LWV) candidate forum in September. LWV claims to be a nonpartisan group so I wanted to find out if it was true. I had reason to be skeptical from watching their local 2018 forums (see blog post “Were incumbents given forum questions?”) but was curious about their claim of nonpartisanship.
I looked up their organization on http://www.Guidestar.org, a site that publishes the IRS 990 forms of nonprofits. From their most recently filed 990 I found the names of their Communications Chair (Jeorgette Knoll) and Executive Director (Amy Arcand) and looked them up on Facebook to see if they appeared to be objective nonpartisans as advertised. Below is what I found:
No bias there on the part of those in charge of communications and running the Minnesota League of Women Voters organization. No doubt these two will be reprimanded and their Facebook accounts locked up tight going forward but I think I’ve seen enough to know this group is not transparent about their ideology.
The email I received from LWV indicated the forum would not be live-streamed (what if someone says something they don’t like?) but would be recorded “in case there are technical difficulties” and broadcast later. Candidates appearing must agree to the airing of a possibly edited version of the recording at a later date. Sorry, I will pass.
It’s time for people to stop accepting the fraudulent claims of “nonpartisan” nonprofits when there is evidence to the contrary. The League of Women Voters is obviously a partisan organization. There’d be nothing wrong with that if they were just honest and didn’t pretend they weren’t. No doubt our incumbent mayor will be more than happy to play that familiar game with them.
To the thieves who took my campaign signs that don’t believe in fair elections, the 1st Amendment or law and order: You have clearly demonstrated the need to elect someone that does. Stealing campaign signs shows a complete disrespect for our election laws as well as the 1st Amendment rights of property owners to display support for the candidate(s) of their choice.
This malicious act only serves to motivate me more than ever to work hard and win in November!
I hope blog followers and supporters will consider helping to cover the sign replacement costs. I need your help. $900 is needed this week so I can order more signs and posts and get them placed again before the end of the month. Please help if you’re able by donating below:
Thank you for your support!
County and city officials confirmed today they did not remove any of the signs. If anyone has information about these thefts or witnesses future ones please contact the Minnetrista police department where the case is under investigation: email@example.com
UPDATE 7/17/2020 – Thanks to a witness that came forward and identified a truck and two adult males taking the signs we have recovered most of the signs and are investigating the incident. My campaign is seeking damages to replace the signs so anyone that donated because of this post and would like their donation returned please email: sbruce@ShannonBruceForMayor.com.
MINNETRISTA HIDES 65% FEE INCREASE FROM PUBLIC – Anyone reading the Minnetrista city council agenda for June 15, 2020 would never have known the item titled “Res. No. 068-2020 Approving Recycling Services Contract with Waste Management of MN for September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2025″ called for the approval of an initial 41% increase over last year’s recycle fee and by the end of the five year contract would approve a whopping 65% increase over the 2020 fee.
This kind of deception is egregious and unacceptable but apparently not to the Mayor or other council members who voted to approve the increase that evening on a 4 to 1 vote. Below is the memo from staff to the council explaining to the council, and more importantly to the public, what the resolution proposed. The actual resolution itself, below as well, makes no mention of the increase. (Exhibit B referenced in the memo just listed the new rates but did not compare them to 2020’s).
City staff appears to think that “doing some research” on competitive rates excuses them from doing an actual Request for Proposal (RFP) from several companies to ensure rates Minnetrista residents pay are competitive. My recommendation for doing an RFP was not supported by staff or council at a previous work session.
Mayor Lisa Whalen, obviously not in agreement with my concerns about this deceptive tactic to avoid complaints from residents, asked me “Ms. Bruce, what are the dollar amounts?” knowing the monthly recycle fees are small compared to others. What she doesn’t get is that Minnetrista residents object to deception.
I discovered 39 fake “Shannon Bruce” Facebook accounts today (that weren’t there last week) and reported them all to Facebook this morning. All were identical but set up with a different id#. If anyone sees any Facebook posts appearing to come from me that they suspect may be “fake” please let me know as we investigate who is behind this. Thank you!
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.
PLEASE SHARE WITH MINNETRISTA NEIGHBORS! Candidates for the Minnetrista city council and mayoral race will be at the Woodland Cove Clubhouse, 3800 Woodland Cove Pkwy, Minnetrista, next Wednesday, January 22 at 7pm. Come join your neighbors for a cup of coffee and conversation about Minnetrista. Hope to see you there! Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Woodland Cove host) so there’s enough coffee!
Event is paid for by the Shannon Bruce for Mayor Committee.