Here is a podcast where I discuss clean energy, local economy, and the power of a publicly owned utility. The podcast is about 15 minutes if you would like a listen.
This was sent out as the “final” revised Stantec report. The Stantec report articulates the significant issues in the Olmsted County Planning Department (note these are funding, staffing issues; not problems with existing staff). It has been half a year with no action.
The initial report was bleak, spot on, and a call to action. Here is where you can find that initial report.
Initial Report (edit: hopefully fixed the link)
I have not reviewed what was changed, but would be very interested in a member of the public summarizing the changes for me.
Well, well, well, it would appear significant changes were made and no one seems to know who made these changes. It certainly was not done by any public body in any public meeting. Thank you to the person OR people that provided this analysis:
There has been an effort to sweep this report under the rug. I have no intention of letting that happen.
If you have never heard of the Planning Administrative Services Committee (PASC), here is a crash course on who they are, what they do, and why they are the biggest contributor to the current disfunction in the Planning Department. Read more…
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.
Today I raised some concerns with the proposed stadium at Mayo Park. The costs would be $65-75 million to do it right. While a stadium might be nice we currently are not properly funding:
- street maintenance
- effective transit
- affordable housing
- library expansion
These items are for more important in my opinion that another entertainment facility. Further I believe a performing arts center would be a greater benefit for the community than a stadium. I am highly skeptical of the claims that this is an investment that will have a return for the community.
If we were to proceed using public dollars I would like to see the following:
- An independent analysis of the financial projections verifying their accuracy.
- A community benefits agreement ensuring that jobs created would pay a living wage and other community benefits.
- A referendum if ANY bonding obligating public payback would be done.
- Replacement of any lost riverfront green space in the downtown.
While I am willing to listen, I don’t need another financial obligation while we fail to fund basic needs.
To stream line the process, the City of Rochester and DMC created a joint application for funding dollars. Here it is:
Just remember every time you pay the city sewer charge on your RPU bill (city charge), you are subsidizing the luxury homes of others. I find this policy to be unfair and unwise. Every year we are giving away about $5 million which translates to the equivalent of 10% of city taxes… The give away to unsustainable single family detached in on the order of $3.5 – $4 million per year. Approximately 0% of these single family homes are considered affordable ($160k). Rochester has prioritized this subsidy over affordable housing, transit, and infrastructure maintenance. I disagree and will continue to fight the policy.
As a community we have invested more than $1 million in police intelligence. The program has made our police better informed, safer, and has helped us address some of the most serious crime in the community. In particular we have been able to focus on the most prolific offenders that cause so many issues. This is part of the reason why we are experiencing the lowest crime rate in our lifetimes in Rochester.
Mayor/Council: Pursuant to a request concerning the amount of funds expended to date on the Intelligence Led Policing program, I have attached the cost data. The funds expended to date total $1,131,737 with a current funding available balance of $161,263.
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)
Thanks to local historian extraordinaire, Tim Schmitt for finding this ahead of its time gem.