• 05Dec

    Here is a letter that the council received from Sandy Melville. She came to speak at the Uber hearing but could not stay until 4 AM.

    Aaron,

    It was mentioned that I reach out to you regarding the NEED for a Rochester ordinance change to allow UBER access to Rochester. I would absolutely like to have a chance to address the council regarding an ordinance change for UBER. I sat through the marathon session 2 weeks ago waiting ENDLESSLY while people talked multiple times and for 20-30 minutes each about the Miracle Mile project. By 2a.m. my head was POUNDING and I needed to leave during the lengthy address by Roger of Roger’s Tree service.

    My push and interest in UBER is NOT for my use but in having talked to hundreds and hundreds of DUI offenders within  se. MN. counties.  I have addressed most likely over 20 groups of DUI offenders at MADD facilitated victim impact panels. Some of these groups I’ve address have been in excess of 100 people upwards to 200 at a time. These groups are comprised mainly of 20-30 yr old millennials.

    When given a questionnaire to complete after these panels SOOOOOO many have answered the question of “why they drove drunk” with, there was NO TAXI service available for over an hour.  They shared they didn’t want to wait that long!

    I also host NUMEROUS MAYO dept meetings at DAMON House, which is William MAYO’S retirement home adjacent to the MAYO Foundation House.  These meetings are comprised of MAYO employees from Rochester, Jacksonville and Tucson along with many other MAYO satellite locations.

    The ages of these groups vary, but when I host a group of resident DR.’s for interviews they are of course millennial’s looking to relocate to Rochester.  They are very surprised and MOST dismayed that Rochester does NOT have the UBER service !!!!!

    Uber allows users to make reservations via a phone app and ALL payment information is contained in that app so ZERO CASH CHANGES HANDS.  I’ve also hosted visiting Physicians that use the UBER app to track their families/ childrens use while they are away from home visiting Rochester as a guest Physicians/speaker.

    I can specifically share these example by married Physicians from Quebec tracking their 18 yr old son’s travel and UBER use while at home in Canada when they were in Rochester.

    My daughter lived in the Milwaukee suburban area for 3.5 years and used UBER religiously and continues to do so now living in the western suburb’s of MSP.

    Rochester wants to compete on a level with large metropolitan areas with our DMC initiative than UBER needs to be a part of this picture. When the owners and /or Managers of the TAXI companies in Rochester cry FOUL stating this will hurt their business and make them lay off employees just shows nothing short of a monopoly.

    Rochester is host to more than 1-2 grocery stores, restaurants and god KNOWS too many drinking establishments that OVER-SERVE many people in the “vibrant” alcohol fueled downtown and they ALL seem to exist and do business.

    Why does a TAXI business owner get to scream foul and control what Rochester needs to compete in this DMC growth to serve a LARGE group of the population ?

    NOT everyone coming to Rochester or living in this fair city has the income of many MAYO Physicians and scientists.  There is a push for affordable housing in this upcoming DMC city, this need can ALSO be applied to affordable transportation.

    My push for UBER and affordable 24 hour transportation is personal;

    I lost my 23 yr old son 6 yrs ago on 11-27-10.  A drunk driver hit and killed him on impact as he crossed the crosswalk with 7 other individuals on Broadway and 4th. Austin was hit one step from the curb adn thrown 51 feet to his death by an alcohol impaired driver that was OVER-SERVED in Rochester establishments!

    Thank you for your time and consideration

    Sincerely, Sandy Melville

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  • 28Oct

    I know these things will be scrutinized heavily so in addition to posting this publicly I will also share some stats.

    Here is a link to my filing.

    84% of my contributors were small dollar donors and almost exclusively from here in Rochester. Most of the other ones are friends or family.

    I have received $0 combined from everyone mentioned in the Med City Beat “Dark Money” expose.

    I have received $0 ever in dark money support.

    I have never had a “Super PAC acting on my behalf.”

    I have received $0 combined from everyone associated with the Alatus Project (realtors, property owners, developers, contractors, etc.). Given the contentious nature, I just didn’t think it would be appropriate to solicit or accept any funds.

    In terms of the development community I received 4 itemized donations from people currently working in Rochester. None have had contentious decisions recently. I believe that every project these folks are associated with passed 7-0, but I have not confirmed this.

    1. Peter & Paul Gerrard – I worked with Peter & Paul on the Metropolitan Marketplace (People’s Food Co-op) Project and the Park at Kutzky. Both of these projects passed unanimously and are widely appreciated by the neighborhoods they reside in. Contrary to a comment that was made, I recused myself for much of the Metropolitan Marketplace Discussion & votes as I was a board member with the Good Food Store Co-op (Now People’s Food). Additionally I receive contributions from Bill. a.k.a. “Big G” and Mary Ann Gerrard. I met Bill before I was even elected to the council and he is now retired, but I do see him every now and then. I met Mary Ann one time when I while visiting Bill at St. Marys. Neither develop in Rochester.
    2. Mark Hanson – I have worked with Mark Hanson on a number of projects, I believe every one has passed unanimously. He is responsible for Orchard Hill Villas, Fox Valley Villas, Meadow Lake Townhomes & Patio Homes, and the last phase of Fox Hill. We have worked well with each other. I have asked for changes here and there to accommodate neighbors, and he has worked with us. Further I have relayed concerns to Mark and he is pretty quick to address them.
    3. Nate Stencil – Nate is working on a number of projects in Rochester most notably the project formerly known as Buckeye, and the workforce housing on the site of the Wicked Moose. The donation showed up unsolicited, through this website after he appeared at a council meeting on the Wicked Moose site. I tend to work quite a bit with affordable housing developers. Because the project was passed and not particularly controversial I was comfortable with this donation.

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  • 27Oct

    #Integrity is on the ballot…

    Lets be clear Dark Money is not attacking me and propping up my opponent because I am a bad candidate, a bad person, or ineffective. They are not painting me as a bad person because people believe that. And they certainly are not shying away from actual issues because I am wrong on them. Lets review the issues and see what they are trying to buy.

    Let review a few policies that I believe dark money people (as outed by the Med City Beat) oppose.

    Municipal Broadband – Longmont CO is similar in size to Rochester and built out a municipal fiber to the home system. People in Longmont get up to 250 times the speeds we get in Rochester for $50 per month. Additionally low-income households can get broadband for less. This would be a huge benefit for local consumers, businesses, and children. John Wade, Journey 2 Growth, Charter Communications and by extension the Dark Money people strongly oppose this. They are trying to silence us on Broadband.

    DMC Money – I have long held that public funds should be held for public benefit. There was a Holiday Inn proposed across from St. Marys. Javon Bea bought the land for somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million, he was going to sell the land to a developer a couple years later for around $12 million. The developer then came to the city asking for $6 million in DMC funds to make the project work. I do not believe we should use DMC funds to line the pockets of speculator. While campaign contributions are relatively limited; PACs allow people like Javon or Andy Chafoulias to hypothetically give unlimited funds in secrecy. When you see the kind of money at stake you can see why $50k to manipulate an election is a good purchase.

    Affordable Housing – Inclusionary Zoning is best and most effective policy for creating affordable housing. I support this policy (along with a number of others) and have led the charge to develop a plan for Rochester. My opponent, Patrick Sexton, SEMAR, and by extension the dark money people strongly oppose this. They are trying to silence us on affordable housing.

    Historic Preservation – I support a strong preservation ordinance that will protect our most special historic places like historic 3rd street, the Paine Furniture Building, and similar. We know preservation works in Rochester, just look at the current home of Blue Duck. I respect property rights as the Supreme Court has settled this issue. However, John Wade, Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Area Builders, and SEMAR created their own group dedicated to making sure Rochester’s preservation ordinance was the weakest in the state of Minnesota. It is no surprise that there are connections here to Dark Money. They are trying to silence us on Historic Preservation.

    Developer Subsidies – One of the greatest injustices in comes to you every month in your RPU bill. There you will find something called a Sewer Customer Charge (city charge). In the last decade this has gone up by many hundred percent. Most of this increase is actually a subsidy for new homes. A sewer plant expansion was done years ago solely for the purpose of serving new development. The problem was the Rochester Area Builders Association didn’t want to pay the actual cost of services so they got the city council to instead put most of the cost on existing ratepayers. This is a horribly regressive tax. It is entirely truthful to say that in the city of Rochester the very poorest renters in the community actually pay extra every single month to subsidize the construction of million dollar homes. This is madness, but a policy advocated for by the Chamber of Commerce, SEMAR, and Rochester Area Builders and by extension Dark Money. They wish to silence the voice that fights against this subsidy.

    Stay tuned… Many, many more examples coming / edits coming… Volunteers currently working to write more examples.

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  • 20Oct

    Topics discussed:

    1. Development
    2. Affordable Housing
    3. Transportation
    4. Broadband

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  • 13Oct

    Answers coming soon.

    Affordable Housing:
    Considering the massive crisis that we face in the availability of affordable housing for households with income below $55,000 per year, what do you think is the responsibility of City government to help create affordable housing and what specific measures do you think the City could take now to facilitate the development of affordable housing?

    Education:
    We recognize that you are running for City Council, not the School Board. However, given the importance of our children’s education, we are asking this question:
    What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Rochester related to the education of our youth, and what, in your role as a City Council member, are the factors you will consider to address this?

    Living Wage:
    Do you support tying a Living Wage to any business seeking public funding from the city?

    Historic Preservation:
    What do you think would be the appropriate response by the city council regarding the current situation with the Kutzky House?

    Social Services:
    How are you going to get input from the working poor of Rochester on an ongoing basis? Will you include housing, transportation and living wages in your conversations?

    Sustainability:
    “The workforce we want is attracted by sustainability. Our Mayor has made a proclamation that Rochester will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2031. And the one formal city initiative on energy sustainability is our Climate Smart Municipalities partnership with German cities. What are three ways you would lead the city council to capitalize on our German partnership to create a more attractive and sustainable city?”

    Transportation:
    Plans for the DMC and the City Comprehensive plan call for a significant shift away from people driving alone into Rochester for work and other trips. Much of the public investment in the DMC revolves around improvements to public transit, especially buses. Biking and pedestrian route upgrades are also included, and demand for them is growing. However, we’ve also seen a recent uptick in crashes involving people walking or biking. Recent figures show that 2016 is on par to be the deadliest year for pedestrians in Minnesota as a whole, and this is especially true in Rochester. Two of the seven bicycle related deaths were in Rochester. What are your priorities on making it easier for people to drive less so we can meet these goals and to do so safely?

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  • 10Oct

    Please accept our thanks for agreeing to participate on the 13th. We are so happy you will be coming to share about community issues important to us.

    Location: Christ United Methodist Church, 400 5th Av SW, Rochester

    Please come to the Welcome Table.

    Candidates from Wards 2,4,6 will be from 7 to 8 p.m.
    Candidates Staver and Allen will be from 8 to 9 p.m.

    As mentioned, we are sharing the questions as listed below. There will be an opportunity to answer questions submitted by the audience after the 7 questions below are presented.

    Affordable Housing:

    Considering the massive crisis that we face in the availability of affordable housing for households with income below $55,000 per year, what do you think is the responsibility of City government to help create affordable housing and what specific measures do you think the City could take now to facilitate the development of affordable housing?

    Education:

    We recognize that you are running for City Council, not the School Board. However, given the importance of our children’s education, we are asking this question:
    What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Rochester related to the education of our youth, and what, in your role as a City Council member, are the factors you will consider to address this?

    Living Wage:

    Do you support tying a Living Wage to any business seeking public funding from the city?

    Historic Preservation:

    What do you think would be the appropriate response by the city council regarding the current situation with the Kutzky House?

    Social Services:

    How are you going to get input from the working poor of Rochester on an ongoing basis? Will you include housing, transportation and living wages in your conversations?

    Sustainability:

    “The workforce we want is attracted by sustainability. Our Mayor has made a proclamation that Rochester will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2031. And the one formal city initiative on energy sustainability is our Climate Smart Municipalities partnership with German cities. What are three ways you would lead the city council to capitalize on our German partnership to create a more attractive and sustainable city?”

    Transportation:

    Plans for the DMC and the City Comprehensive plan call for a significant shift away from people driving alone into Rochester for work and other trips. Much of the public investment in the DMC revolves around improvements to public transit, especially buses. Biking and pedestrian route upgrades are also included, and demand for them is growing. However, we’ve also seen a recent uptick in crashes involving people walking or biking. Recent figures show that 2016 is on par to be the deadliest year for pedestrians in Minnesota as a whole, and this is especially true in Rochester. Two of the seven bicycle related deaths were in Rochester. What are your priorities on making it easier for people to drive less so we can meet these goals and to do so safely?

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  • 09Oct

    I am 100% committed to protecting Mayo Park from further encroachment.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.56.08 AM_zpsqfmkrpzr.png

    You might want to ask people running for office this question: Will you protect Mayo Park from development? There is a real threat that Rochester could be losing a substantial portion of our downtown riverfront park. There are some well connected people that wish to turn much of the green space into a hockey stadium.

    A portion of the remaining park space would be lost to the hockey stadium. The proposal would replace the Taylor Arena as well as spill out into the park.

     photo FullSizeRender_zpswrjof3ew.jpg

    So here is my thought. We just put $30 million into fixing up the Recreation Center. Lets invest in transit to that facility to meet any needs for hockey / multi-use space. Additionally if Taylor Arena is truly as obsolete as people claim, we can tear it down and return it to green space.

    To me its seems crazy to go down the road of another stadium. While we struggle to fund the core services of the city the RCVB continues to spend untold amounts of money developing plans for this stadium.

    Economic analysis is pretty clear that these types of stadiums never pay for themselves or elevate the local economy. To put it in the perspective the cost of building this stadium could fix every dangerous bicycle / pedestrian intersection in the city or spur on the development of 7000 affordable housing units. Here are the results of a couple of surveys on the issue. This one was in the Post Bulletin. Overwhelmingly people didn’t want the stadium or didn’t want it in Mayo Park

     photo Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.31.37 AM_zpslxdyd0dy.png photo Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.28.53 AM_zpslkraf5lk.png

    Even people well connected to parks seem to see building yet another stadium as a boondoggle. 

    So I was asked what it would take me to support a stadium, here is my answer.

    No local money used, no increase in Mayo Civic Center subsidy, no loss of park space. In addition it is becoming clear that we do need public oversight of the RCVB funds. I believe RCVB folks are patiently waiting to see if they will have 4 or 5 votes needed to do this after the November elections. Right now they do not have the votes.

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  • 02Sep

    Chamber Q&A

    1: What do you see as the biggest challenge currently facing our community? What specific actions would you take or what policies would you put in place to address that challenge?

    Infrastructure – Growth in city infrastructure has exceeded our ability to pay for it. We are nearing the size of Minneapolis with less that 1/3 of the population. This is resulting in upward pressures in funding, largely hitting small businesses. We now see an unfunded liability of $1.4 billion and growing. Without action this will inhibit the ability fund all other services including public safety, parks, and the library.

    Solutions: Read more…

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  • 27Aug

    Thank you to everyone that attended the Mom’s blog forum. As promised hear are answers to all questions asked. As I have always been I am a strong supporter of transparency, and wish to give straight answers to all questions and no political speak. Thus if anything needs more clarification (or editing) just let me know.

    1. When asked what family friendly amenity would you add to Rochester, the overwhelming response was a splash-pad* (more than 1 to curtail over-crowding and parking issues) and a family friendly aquatic center similar to Stewartville and St. Charles to add to our old and over-crowded city pools. What are your thoughts on that and how would you work to add these amenities to our cities? Read more…

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  • 17Aug

    Edit: Here is some related coverage by the Post Bulletin.

    In short, I am disappointed in the decision by the Mayo Clinic to outsource hundreds of positions here in Rochester. I hope that they will hear the voices of the community and reconsider that decision. Even many of the Mayo Clinic employees not affected by this decision have expressed disappoint to me in how this will affect their colleagues. I have been contacted by a number of affected employees asking if I would be there for them. Of course I will…

    The employees affected by this decision are not highly paid, in fact they are probably just paid enough to survive in Rochester, but they have good benefits and opportunities to grow at Mayo Clinic. Under the new arrangement they will see there benefits become less affordable and be driven closer to or into poverty. Even if wages were to remain flat, benefit costs would eat away at the finances of many of these already low wage employees. They will find a housing market facing an affordable housing crisis with little immediate help in sight. These conditions certainly would not put the needs of the patient first.

    In support of those that I represent I hope to attend the information picket next week and speak at the DMCC meeting next Thursday. I also believe that the city of Rochester should be given authorization to set a minimum wage in the city or DMC district to make sure that the rights of workers are protected and social support structures are not overwhelmed. I still believe that DMC should be about building a great Rochester for ourselves, not just visitors and land speculators.

    In solidarity…

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