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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

October 20, 2017

Invest in transit, change K-12 education governance,
find legislative candidates whoíll put the state first


Minnesota gubernatorial candidate and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman makes the following points in discussing key areas affecting Minnesota's competitiveness as a state:

  • In transportation, Coleman says we need to increase the gas tax and index it for inflation in order to keep pace with our transportation needs. He believes strongly that we must keep investing in transit and consider paying locally for new-start transit projects, like light-rail transit (LRT), rather than seeking federal funding. 

  • In K-12 education, he says the public education governance system is broken. Coleman says we should consider, in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, authorizing the mayor to appoint some or all members of the school board. And he believes we must recruit, incentivize and support more teachers of color to better reflect today's student population.

  • In higher education, he says we must confront how the Minnesota State system and the University of Minnesota become more relevant to meeting the state's needs.

  • On the state's public policymaking process, Coleman says we have a robust civic infrastructure in Minnesota, which has kept good ideas floating in the public sector. But it's hard to get good public policy enacted because the Legislature has become so partisan. He believes we must find enough people to run for the Legislature who put the state first.

  • In health and human services, he says we must build out a mental health system in the state that addresses long-term issues, such as stress on hospital emergency rooms due to mental health problems, the lack of residential facilities for people with mental illnesses and the lack of a system to help people stay medicine compliant.

For the complete interview summary see: Chris Coleman intrview

Individual Responses:

Nikolay Nikolayevich Bey

Yeap, great idea Mr. Chris Coleman, lets tax GAS some more, let's forget other options... Let's target 2.35 or 2.45, whatever it may be, so it's like at 2.55. You know, this is my question to this guy. If your Governor of Minnesota, you have this "power", why in the hell can't you come up with other ways to get this done?

Don't get me wrong, I am not against transportation, I am for it, in fact we need more of it in Woodbury, but to tax gas, is just silly... Think about clothing, food, food is the number one buyer for citizens in Minnesota... Clothing actually never has been taxed to pay for stuff, but if we're constantly taxing, and taxing, people like my self, start to vomit. Any other ideas, cause I got some...

Scott Halstead

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman makes the following points in discussing key areas affecting Minnesota's competitiveness as a state: 

1. Opening Remarks.

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Coleman believes the City of Saint Paul has made a lot of progress during his 12 years as mayor.  St. Paul has many challenges and indeed has a long way to go in terms of solving all the challenges. I failed to see many proposed solutions to problems throughout the interview. The issues and solutions of the 60ís and 70ís wonít work today. The world has changed dramatically.

2. Transportation.

We need to increase the gas tax. We are beginning a transition to more efficient vehicles and thus gas taxes will become much less effective for raising funds for transportation. Transit needs to become much faster and efficient so that riders are willing to pay a larger portion of the costs and the transit costs decline.


We must consider the option of paying for transit projects locally, rather than seeking federal funding.  Opting out from Federal funding is absolutely essential for transit in the metro area primarily because of the lengthy project approval planning and design time, federal regulations and inflation. While Mayor Coleman mentions $ from Worthington, the real issue is MPLS/St.Paul controlling the financing of LRT projects and building and operating LRT system that are very inefficient, incur very large construction and operating costs, are unreliable, failed to meet their goals for additional jobs and donít get people to the 70% of the metro area jobs in the suburbs. We will never be able to afford process of LRT projects. We need to concentrate on BRT/bus systems and working with businesses and communities for cooperative transit approaches.

The counties transit taxes need to be eliminated and a citizen representative metro organization established that works in cooperation with the State Transportation Dept. to construct highways and transit in the same corridor at the same time and with major employers (economic development) in the same corridor. Consider a metro area income tax surcharge for employment in the metro area.

3. Education.

The education governance model is broken.  We do have a very disfunctional K-12 education system. I didnít see any real workable solutions offered. Perhaps public school, charter schools and private schools need to be constructed by the district with facilities and performance over-site by a Community education czar with a board from public, charter and private schools and the community? No open enrolment.

We must confront how the University of Minnesota (U of M) and Minnesota State become relevant to the state of Minnesota.  If Mayor Coleman is elected Governor, he will be the person responsible for leading the U of M and Minnesota State. I fail to see that he had performed any research and analysis of the issues and possible solutions.

4. The Public Policymaking Process in Minnesota.

We have a robust civic infrastructure in Minnesota. Amen We need to find enough people to run for the Legislature who put the state first."

Does the governor have a role in pushing the Legislature to abide by the single-subject bill requirement in the Minnesota Constitution?  Amen

Is the State of Minnesota equipping its governor with adequate resources for planning?  Chris Coleman did not address Planning and innovation. A Governor and a few appointed department heads with limited experience in government operations are not capable are performing those functions

Minnesota is a collection of communities that all need support : Chris Coleman and his cohorts have been all about certain facets of St. Paul. He supported a light rail system that was all about economic development (subsidized housing for St. Paul)(St. Paul has lost jobs since 2000 and continues to lose jobs) while designing a light rail train that is only slightly faster than limited stop buses and is 4+ minutes late 18% of the time. St. Paul officials are pushing for street cars on west 7th Street that will be slower than the current buses, cost an estimated $1.2 billion on a bus route that is not in the top 10 in Twin Cities ridership. St.. Paul has been advocating for business regulations that are unfriendly. They have done a very poor job with street maintenance and snow removal. Ramsey County taxpayers have bailed them out on failed emergency communications and health programs.

How do we create community when people are so focused on their own needs?  While traditional faith based communities are struggling, much of that can be attributed to changing demographics and many younger people that arenít worshipping metropolitan and outstate. Charter schools and open enrolment are attracting parents and students as they wish better education without the distractions in the central city school districts, which donít seem to change. Yes, it is a huge challenge to operate an excellent public school system in the central cities. School and community officials need to effectively work together and from what I read, that is a very large problem in MPLS and St. Paul.


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The Civic Caucus   is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics, public policy,
business, nonprofits and government.   Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay (executive director), Pat Davies, Paul Gilje, Rob Jacobs, Dwight Johnson, Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
 Dan Loritz, Marina Lyon, Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow (chair), Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman



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