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 Response Page - James Solem - Nacho Diaz Interview - Metropolitan Council   

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
James Solem - Nacho Diaz Interview of 11/07/08,

The questions:

A. Which of the following options most closely resembles your viewpoint?
(please check one):

1._31.0 percent____ Metropolitan Council jurisdiction should remain confined to the current
seven-county area (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington

2._48.2 percent____ Metropolitan Council jurisdiction should be enlarged to include
adjacent counties whose urban growth has made them part of the metro area.

3._20.7 percent____ Metropolitan Council jurisdiction should remain unchanged, but the
Metropolitan Council should be allowed to include whatever larger urban area it
deems necessary in preparing its development plans and recommendations.

4._0.0 percent____Metropolitan Council jurisdiction should be enlarged to include the entire state, with the Council becoming the state planning agency.

B. Which of the following options most closely resembles your viewpoint?
(please check one):

1._40.0 percent___The Metropolitan Council should continue to be appointed by the Governor.

2._43.3 percent___The Metropolitan Council should be elected by the people.

3._16.7 percent__The Metropolitan Council should be composed of officials of city and county governments.

C. Which of the following options most closely resembles your viewpoint? please check one):

1._60.0 percent__The Metropolitan Council should continue to have both policy and operational responsibility for metro transit and metro wastewater treatment, as was provided in 1994 Legislation.

2._60.0 percent__The Metropolitan Council should return to its pre-1994 role of planning and policy-making, with operational responsibility for metro transit and metro wastewater treatment assigned to separate, subordinate agencies.

Bill Frenzel (2) (1) (2)
Question B: this is 1963 all over again - where I came in. I still harbor secret,
repressed urges for election, but the brave new world turned out to be less brave than expected. I could be talked into anything but city and county officials.

Cam Gordon (2) (2) (1)

Dennis L. Johnson (3) (1) (1)

Shari Prest (3) (3) (1)

Charles Lutz (2) (2) (1)

Allen Lovejoy (2) (2) (1)

Question A: The foundational structure of the world economy is no longer at the national
level but at the city-state level, as it was centuries ago. We will do well to reorganize our planning and development efforts at the city-state level to effectively compete globally. And since the region's boundaries as an economic unit has grown, so should the boundaries of the Metropolitan Council's jurisdiction.

Question B: I have been very slow in coming to the conclusion that the Metropolitan Council should be elected. Certain governors have been very responsible in avoiding political litmus tests in appointing members (most notably Al Quie and Jessie Ventura). However, the quality and political leanings of many gubernatorial appointments have not served the people nor the region's planning function. I believe the Metro Council works best when the council members are appointed for their qualifications with respect to urban development and broad public policy expertise. However, that rarely happens.

Question C: I think the Council has operated well as a combined policy and implementation organization. I feared that policy issues might be brushed aside, and the focus of operations would dominate. However, I don't think that has been the case. This is NOT to say, however, that the Council's policy focus has been particularly good. We have major structural issues that the Council is uniquely positioned to study and advise. Of particular note are the issues of public education (and the independent school district system), energy policy (which seems, by default, to fall to the Legislature), and sensible/efficient land use planning (which the Council has largely avoided). These issues continue to be raised by community leaders, and the Metropolitan Council leadership has been asked to respond. However, given the political nature of the appointments, these vexing and long-standing issues are rarely addressed by the Council.

Donald H. Anderson (3) (3) (1)
Being one of the original employees of the Metropolitan Planning Commission and being around when it became the Metropolitan Council, I see the same problem today as then, namely who has more power the Legislature, the Governor or the local officials in the affected Counties. Resolving the power structure may be one way of getting back to the basics.

Robert J. Brown (3) (1) (2)
Question A: If there are changes to be made in either the jurisdiction of the council or in its planning role it should follow the federal definition of a Standard Metropolitan Area (formerly SMSA) - an economically integrated metro area. The problem is that the first county that should be included based on proximity and economic ties is St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Unless we are ready for an interstate compact with the power (and bureaucracy)of the New York Port Authority I think it is best to leave legal dimensions of the metro area as it is and concentrate on cooperative planning. Thus a Council of Governments (COG) approach might be useful.
Question B: We did have a proposal many years ago to make the state senators in the metro area the members of the Metro Council. This was passed by the state senate then laid on the table, because (to no one's surprise) the House ignored the bill.
Question C: I think if the Metro Council had a strong planning role (enforced by the ability to review local plans including those of the metro transit, etc. and some economic carrots or sticks) we would be better off, especially of they were coordinated with a new state planning agency with similar powers for the rest of the state.

Robert A. Freeman (1) (1) (1)
Question A: This should be introduced as a bill and debated in a public forum at the Legislature so the counties can weigh in.

Question B: No-one knows who their soil/water commissioners are and this would be no different - if elected, they will be swayed by partisan politics and lose long-term focus.

Question C: Clearly rescinding this authority would be a step backwards.

Gene Franchett (2) (2) (1)

Wayne Jennings (2) (1) (1)

Terry Stone (1) (3) (2)

Question A: This response is a statement of governance preferences only. The Council is one of Minnesota’s two examples of large-scale government within a government; the other being the IRRRB. Aside from the organizational flowcharts of authority, this form of governance is a formula for more complicated transparency and accountability. These governments within a government seem to be easier targets for special interests. Within this framework, smaller is better.

Question B: Since I view the Council as a government within a government, it makes no sense for the people to be directly electing two governments. A Council composed of city and county officials retains some local accountability to the voters.

Question C: This seems more consistent with my governance philosophy.
Al Quie (1) (2) (2)

Paul Hauge (2) (2) (1)
Connie Morrison (1) (1) (2)
Keith Swenson (1) (3) (2)

The Met Council should be disbanded and its responsibilities returned to legitimate

Tom Swain (2) (2) (1)

Carolyn Ring (2) (1) (1)

I do not think the members should be elected as it will get "lost" on the already too long ballot. Metro Council members should have a wide understanding of the problems and work without prejudice for their particular area.

John Nowicki (_) (2) (2)

Tim Olson (1) (2) (2)

David Broden (1) (1) (2)

Option A1: The current Metro Council should remain as is--but the emphasis should be on the reconsideration and restart of the overall state regional councils that were once established under the leadership of State Senator Gordon Rosenmeier of Little Falls. If the state regions were to be recreated and then the boundaries of the various regions addressed to consider coordination across the regions including across the boundaries with the metro council the need to address the moving boundaries of the metro segments as considered in items 2,3,4 etc. below would be properly addressed. Further by having a state regional concept for the council concept the flow of state planning information would be more effective and yield well thought out results. The current situation with 87 counties and the mix of limited capability in the counties would in fact be strengthened with an effective statewide regional group--as a top level then the coordination of the regional councils could be the structure of the overall state planning agency--seem to me to be a very logical approach that should be introduced and discussed in detail. The key selling point would be that this approach maintains local control while providing for coordination of planning and recognition of needs of each of the regions to gain support and related action.

Option A2: If this is started where does it end? The best alternative is to create regional councils across the entire state and coordinate across regional council borders.

Option A3: It will not work to allow one group to just keep moving to impact another without some common purpose and organization.

Option A4: the metro council must remain but other regional councils must be created--the councils must coordinate--and a top level state planning council or some other title should be created.

Option B1: The council should be appointed by the governor--consideration of staggered terms should be addressed. Another thought should be that the governor appoints all of the members but the candidates to be appointed should be selected as follows;

The number of members of the council may be increased to 2 per each segment or region represented by the council. The governor should identify candidates and from this group he should select 1 representative from each region.

In addition the cities and other appropriate jurisdictions should identify up to 3 additional names for each area and the governor should select 1 additional member from this list. This is a somewhat indirect representation without asking for a full citizen vote.

Option C2: The metro and related statewide regional councils must become the visionary leaders to project and establish a vision for the state and the specific area. The council cannot be both a short term operation focus group which is basically a manager and a long term visionary shaping the future. The greater need is to look to the future with other groups addressing management of the current and near term issues.

Jan Hively (3) (1) (1)

Sheila Kiscaden (2) (1) (1)

Donna Anderson (2) (1) (1)

Jim Keller (2) (2) (2)

Andy Driscoll (2) (2) (2)

John Milton

After reading a summary of the meeting with Jim Solem and Nacho Diaz, I'm struck by the lack of advocacy for rail transit as one of the important tools to guide the future (major) growth of the Metro population. The same arguments that were used by the Metro Council and Citizens League to kill light rail transit in 1973-78 are still being trotted out. Imagine the impact on randomized sprawl, air pollution, global warming, and wasting of energy that could have been ameliorated with a more enlightened approach.
Meanwhile, nearly every other major metro area continues to plan and build rail transit, claiming all of the Federal funds available, so that if we ever do decide that we're not so unique here in Gopherland that we can do without rail transit, the money will be gone and we'll be far behind the rest of the country (and Europe). I wish there were an honest brokerage for this dissenting opinion!

Scott Halstead (1) (2) (1)
The Metropolitan Council reports to the Governor and is unresponsive to the citizens of the metropolitan area. Governors come and go, have different perspectives and experiences with the metro area. They don't run on a platform of how they will oversee the Metropolitan Council. The legislators and local officials have circumvented transit selection/ and now we have counties not participating which will be detrimental to them and the entire metro area.

Metropolitan Government needs to be revisited including roles, responsibilities, authorities, governance, communications, area, adjacent counties, growth, financing and oversite by a respected Twin Cities civic organization.

Chris Brazelton (3) (3) (1)

Bill Hamm (1) (2) (2)

The reality is that I as a rural citizen of this state have no connection to the metro council other than their ability to reach into my pocket via legislative recommendations. I have solidly opposed the commuter light rail as far too labor intensive and having far too great a footprint upon the land. I supported monorail as it was lighter, went over auto traffic, and would be less costly to maintain.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (2) (1) (1)
When I was Chair of the Long range planning and research division of the 

council in 1991-93, I proposed that the Council ask the legislature to expand its boundaries to include the Metropolitan Statistical area.  We will need to work out a joint powers arrangement with Wisconsin to accomplish this.  I also proposed that if the operating agencies of sewer and the bus system become part of the Council, that they be set up as subsidiaries of the Council similar to corporations that operate a number of different companies.  This could help the Council continue to be more of a planning agency.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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