• 12Mar
    At the Nation League of Cities the Community & Economic Development Board just heard a presentation on Sister Cities. Hey I have a question I would like to crowd source or ask the media to help me answer a question. The state of Minnesota says we have 5 Sister Cities. From Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

    When the mayor speak on Sister Cities he mentions we have 3.

    • Moosburg (Germany)
    • Xianyang (Shaanxi, China)
    • Shiheung City (South Korea)

    So what is the story with the other 2. I would love to take a (personal) trip to Kathmandu.

     

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  • 21Feb

    I am disappointed in this take from the city administrator.  While the city administrator may view the comments of the public to be offensive, I respect what the public has said. Further I find it more than just a little interesting that the city administrator and Mayor would seek to rewrite Rochester Home Rule Charter (our constitution) without ever holding a discussion with the council or public. I wish to express my appreciation to Dave Beal, Kellie Mueller, Dennis Davies, and Jessica Schmidt for stepping up when the process failed.

    I will not allow this kind of decision to be made without the involvement of the public and meaningful public dialog.

    I question why we even need to speak to non-elected officials in the Charter. This can be done by ordinance.

    I remain happy that the Charter Commission saw fit to prevent any changes weakening the position of Mayor.

    City Administrator’s Statement.

  • 27Sep

    Edit: See the apology from the Rochester Area Builders Association below. As far as I am concerned end of story…

    My pledge to the people of Rochester is to act with integrity and courage. I participated in 2 candidate discussions one was very good (Jane Belau) and the other left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I did accept the invitation from the Rochester Area Builders to come sit on a candidate panel. This is not usually the most friendly group I go in front of, but I always accept their invitations and have developed some friends there. However starting the event off with the stench of racism is not something that I have any patience for. While I was tempted to walk out of the room and event, I decided to instead stay and make a point.

    I sat in disbelief as a member of the RAB got up and told an anti-Mexican joke to the laughter of some in the crowd and the jaw dropping amazement of others. What an embarrassment to our community that this can happen at a candidate forum. Compounding my disbelief was the passing glance that the executive director made after the comment. I was further stunned that as the event began, the moderator (Jerry Williams, who I have great respect for) again pretended as if this hadn’t happened.

    I changed my open remarks, I talked about how I have always been an outsider, I talked about my commitment to smart growth, I gave a little bit of my biography. Then I mentioned that I was also the person that will say things that are unpopular. I then proceed to explain that anti-Mexican jokes are not OK in our community. And I assure you the joke was as dumb as the sentiment it reflected. I explained that the RAB has a reputation as a “good old boys” club and these comments do nothing to eliminate that stigma. I stated that I am a city council member that stands to represent the very people that they can have a laugh at. I also explained that it is not OK for organization staff or the moderator to just glance over these comments. At the conclusion of my remarks, you could have heard a pin drop. As I looked around the room I was also happy to see some people nodding in agreement, but many more in stunned silence. And still not a comment from the RAB staff or moderator or other candidates. Very disappointing…

    And then the forum continued, some people gave pandering answers to loaded questions, others spoke more honestly. My opponent, and Mark Bilderback did well. My positions on issues were different from my opponents on neighborhoods, CUDE, Historic Preservation, Parkland Dedication, and Developer Subsidies. I would venture to say that his answers were more popular than mine in every instance. PJ Day lost me after he said that neighborhoods had too much power and had to be reigned in, and added he wanted to see money flowing back to help maintain his tri-plex apartment.

    If civility means ignoring racism, count me out. At this point I am calling on the Rochester Area Builders Association to publicly apologize for providing a platform for the racist comments to be made and to apologize for failing to address or speak out against those same racist comments in any meaningful way.

    I am ashamed for having been there. After my panel I decided to leave despite the event continuing.

    City Council Candidates:

    Thank you for your participation in the Rochester Area Builder’s candidate forum and listening to concerns of our members. We look forward to further discussion leading up to the election on November 8th.

    Below is the Rochester Area Builder’s official response from Executive Director John Eischen in regards to concerns that were raised during last night’s candidate forum.

    At last night’s Membership meeting, an individual from the audience told a joke that was offensive to members and others in attendance. I would like to apologize for any offense that the joke may have caused. We are and will continue to be an inclusive and welcoming association and we do not condone racism or discrimination in any form.

    Sincerely,

    John Eischen, Executive Director, Rochester Area Builders, Inc.

    and from Jerry Williams:

    I’m sorry this happened, Michael, and apologize for not saying something. Actually, at the time, I sensed it was more of an anti-Trump story than a racist one, thus my lack of a comment. Either way, the remark was inappropriate.

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  • 20Sep

    I don’t just speak about working with other levels of government, but I try to actually do it. My friend & school board member Julie Workman and I host a community coffee twice a month with County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden. As such, we get to keep in touch and bounce ideas off of each other. I also sit down with Superintendent Michael Munoz a few times a year.

    Two themes keep coming up. Middle & High School kids are starting school at a time that a mountain of data indicates is too early to achieve best results. They have to do this because of limitations in the school transportation system. Conversely the city of Rochester has massive unused capacity at certain times, particularly after the morning rush.

    After several meetings with school and city staff we agreed to jointly study using city transportation resources for middle & high school students. The study if approved by both bodies will cost $42k to be shared equally. A feasibility report would be back to us by the end of 1Q 2017 allowing an option to start the program for the 2017-2018 school year.

    I’m sure you have a ton of questions, and so do I. My ideal scenario would be:

    • serving most, but not all school 6-12 needs with city buses.
    • reducing the total transportation costs for the city and/or school system.
    • adjusting routes to improve effectiveness and coverage.
    • allowing school IDs to function as bus passes, available any time.
    • meeting the needs of students with after school activities.
    • ensuring the safety of all.

    I think it would be foolish to not research the option. Mr. Munoz has seen this work in a previous position, there is no reason why it can’t here.

    Interestingly this question actually came up in a recent candidate forum. We both agreed this was something good to look at, however we were differentiated because I do not want elementary school kids included in the program, at least for now. I am comfortable with middle school and up.

    Scope of work for addition transit study

    Study Proposal

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  • 16Aug

    If you are passionate about the broadband issue / Charter Monopoly, I invite you to the Rochester City Council Committee Meeting on Monday August 17, 2015 at 3:30 in Room 104 at the government center.  It is a fairly small room so come early to get a seat as I hope supporters of municipal broadband take the time to attend. The facts and the public are clearly in favor of taking steps to crack the Charter monopoly. Remember, because of changing technology broadband will be able to supplant subscription TV in very short order. Here are 6 things to know: Read more…

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  • 30Jul

    This is how you become THE Destination Medical Center. Just a brief reminder of how special Rochester is:

    My name is Jennifer [removed].  I just returned to Evansville Indiana from a trip to the Mayo Clinic where my daughter was seen and treated.  Before we left to come up there, all I heard from anyone was,  “You’re  going to have the best doctors in the world working on your daughter.”  I’ll be honest with you, I can’t recall ever hearing anything else about Rochester.  The Mayo Clinic was all I had ever heard about and that the doctors are the best in the world.  Nothing, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.  From the minute we got out of our Jeep, we were greeted with nothing but kindness.  We stayed at the Kahler Inn and Suites for a week so on her good days, we were able to get out of the hotel and into the community a little.  We walked around the Mayo area and visited a music store, the University Shops, a small grocery, Carol’s Corn and other stores as well.  We also took the shuttle to the Apache Mall.  The 2nd good day she had was on Sunday and we drove out into the city.  We stopped to eat lunch at a Denny’s, shopped at a Koh’s and found a bowling alley that we were able to spend time relaxing and bowling a few games.  My point here is, we did NOT just spend our time at the hotel or the clinic.  We wanted to experience a little of the community even if the goal in the beginning was just to get my daughter’s mind off the fact that she was not feeling well and was there to be treated.

    God knows there is plenty of “bad” in the world that is constantly in our faces every day when we wake up and I believe that when someone does a good job, they should be thanked for it.  So, here it goes…THANK YOU, ROCHESTER!!!  Not just the doctors or the hotel employees or the pizza delivery but EVERY SINGLE PERSON.  I told a gentleman (employee) at one of the shops we visited, “This trip felt as if God had taken ALL of the nice people in the world and placed them in Rochester Minnesota.”  He told me, “Rochester makes a conscious effort to make everyone’s day. One minute you could be talking to a local, then someone who had broke a pinky, and then the next person might be someone who is dying from cancer.”  I had local people stop and ask if I needed help.  Maybe it was because I had a lost look on my face but the point is, they stopped.  Every single person we came in contact with was in my eyes “top notch.”  Rochester has set the bar extremely high when it comes to how their community treats people.  Be proud Rochester, you are the example this world needs when it comes to how people should treat each other.  I have nothing but good, no GREAT things to say about our visit to Rochester and the people of the community.  All of you made me feel as if my daughter and myself were important and that will be carried in my heart for the rest of my life.  I thank my God that I had the chance to experience this.  You reminded me of the type of individual that I want to be…the type of individual that everyone should strive to be.  The Mayo Clinic is a very important part of the world but in my eyes and my heart, I believe the community of Rochester is just as important.  Your efforts do not go unnoticed.  Be proud Rochester!  Hold your heads high!  You are the prime example of how every community should be.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You all made what could have been a very stressful visit, enjoyable.

    May God bless each and every one of you.

    Jennifer [removed]
    Evansville Indiana

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  • 15Jul

    Hey Rochester Amateur / Pro Photographers! NLC is launching an Instagram account and I need you help with some pictures of Rochester. Please follow the link below to submit your work, or send me some to submit.

    Good news! We are launching our first NLC Instagram account, and we hope to fill it with photos highlighting the unique, beautiful, and diverse range of communities that create the National League of Cities. We’re launching this project with our special hashtag #MyCityMyHome, and we’ll be featuring all kinds of hometowns from across America. We want to know what makes you proud of the place where you live.

    We invite you to be a part of our new account by filling out this simple form by September 15th, showing and telling us what you love about your home. Your photos will be featured on both our Instagram account and our Facebook page. We can’t wait to show the America your city!

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  • 21Apr

    The council was recently asked to add another $1 million in budget funds to the Recreation Center Project. In the process the real costs of the project were presented in a very misleading fashion. The state set a $20 Million dollar budget for us. The project is now stands at nearly $28 million. Here is an honest account of the funds.

    Sales Tax $20.000 sales tax
    Sales Tax + $2.300 sales tax
    Pool $1.070 sales tax
    Pool -$1.070 sales tax
    General Fund $0.995 property tax
    GESP $1.800 internal funding
    Swimmers $0.400 private
    Hockey $0.060 private
    Seniors $2.300 private

    I was not willing to give the additional nearly $1 million in general tax resources. That would endanger our AAA rating and take funds that are used for police, fire, parks, road maintenance, library, and other needed services.

    Instead I am proposing that the city come up with the $1 million by a different means. We expect the Senior Center to donate two downtown parking lots to the project. This is worth about $600k. The remaining difference can be made up by user fees, loans to user groups, or city contingency.

    I am also going to ask for quarterly capital campaign reports from the Senior Center. If the Senior Center is financially unable to meet their obligations the council will reconsider tenant space. I requested Senior Center financial information and did not receive it prior to being asked to give $1 million.

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  • 15Apr

    Here are 2 opportunities to shape the future of Rochester!

    1)      On April 22nd, the Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments (ROCOG) will be hosting an Open Housing on the Reaffirmation of the ROCOG Long Range Transportation Plan from 5:30 to 7:30 in Conference Room A/B of the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department at 2112 Campus Drive SE.

    2)      On May 6 and 7, the City will be hosting a series of several comprehensive plan update and public input meetings. The meeting agenda will be identical for each of these meetings, allowing multiple opportunities for the public to attend and provide input.  Below is a schedule of meetings for May 6 and 7.  Please plan on attending one of these that fits into your schedule.

    ·         May 6            6:30 pm                Olmsted County Public Health Conference Room (2100 Campus Drive SE)

    ·         May 7            3:00 pm                County/City Council Chambers (Government Center)

    ·         May 7            6:30 pm                County/City Council Chambers (Government Center)

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  • 19Mar

    Jay said Facts-on-chateau-purchase-needed-quickly, I will try to oblige.

    1. $6 million? When has the city invested that type of money in an open-ended project of this kind?

    This is unique in my time on the council. This is being done because it is an irreplaceable building, beloved by the community, and in a key location. Community advocacy lead directly to this decision. I personally would not have announced this until we actually had a signed agreement. Seemed a bit premature. Don’t forget we are also going to lose tax capacity as a result of the purchase.

    2. $500,000? Is that really the best Mayo can do? Read more…

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