• 11May

    I support Tom Ostrom’s unquestioned right to say just about anything he wants that falls under the broad protections of free speech. I don’t know Tom Ostrom, but I do know many of the people that feel targeted by his baseless claims. I do not agree with what he is saying and wish to express this to KROC, paid advertisers on KROC, and the community. That is my free speech. I have great respect for many of the people at KROC and know that quietly they don’t like what is being said either. Read more…

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  • 27May

    So about the Post Bulletin Coverage of Elk Run…

    …it was wrong, or in the words of the Answerman “That’s so absolutely not true, it’s hilarious.”

    Here is the Q&A in the Post Bulletin from April 12, 2016:

    Dear Answer Man, I read something recently — I think it was in the Post-Bulletin, but now I can’t find it — that said because MnDOT stuck so much money into the Elk Run interchange on U.S. 52, the city of Rochester had to pay for construction of the 65th Street interchange. Is that true?

    That’s so absolutely not true, it’s hilarious.

    Except actually it is true. I know this because I took the time to do the research that no one else was willing to do.

    I checked with Mark Bilderback and he also remembered that Rochester lost out on funding because of the insanity of Elk Run. Using the Minnesota Data Practices Act; I requested the scoring for Chapter 152 funds that were used.

    Chapter 152 Greater Minnesota Interchange Program

     photo Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 9.41.40 PM_zps8kwklaun.png

    The results were slightly different that I recalled but show how exaggerated and unreasonable development assumptions at Elk Run changed the results and prevented an award to the 65th street interchange.

    An interchange in Sterns County was the top scorer regardless of scoring. That project requested and received $10 million.

    There were 3 projects that tied for 2nd place:

    1. CSAH 19 & I-94 requested and received $5.44 million
    2. CSAH 12 & TH 52 (Elk Run) requested $20 million and received 100% of the remaining funds, $14.56 million
    3. 65th Street NW & TH 52 requested $10 million and received $0

    If Elk Run had been evaluated fairly it would have scored far lower, 65th street would have received $10 million, and the remaining $4.46 million would have gone CSAH 24 & TH 52 at Goodhue.

    As I have stated for years: the Elk Run scam cost Rochester taxpayers $10 million dollars. Those millions were later funded by our local option sales tax at the same time the Library was cut out by Greg Davids.

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  • 24Apr

    My personal sense is that this article written in the PB reads like a hit piece:

    Council Travel Expenses

    The information in the article is seemingly correct, but the Post-Bulletin had access to significant pieces of information that they chose to omit. Here are a few:

    1. The 2015 Total City General Fund finished $2.8 million under budget.
    2. The 2015 Total Mayor Council Budget finished $19,300 under budget.
    3. I estimate that the current council returns more than $100k in entitled but unused benefits to the city annually. In 2015, I personally was entitled to $19,435.44 in benefits that I gave back to the city. In short I alway give back more in benefits than my total expenses.
    4. I publish my travel expense for the world to see: 2015 Travel Expenses
    5. Because of my training I once caught a financial transaction which saved the city more than $40k in sales taxes by delaying a purchase 1 month. That one simple find has paid for every travel expense I have had in 8 years…

    All of these were known to the PB or public information but omitted from the article. If you want someone that doesn’t strive for competence, I’m the wrong candidate for you.

     

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  • 28Oct

    I wrote a letter to the editor of the Post Bulletin in support of the levy referendum. You can read that article here.

    Here is some back of the envelop math, keep in mind that this is complex, but the figures below are reasonable:

    As expected I did get some questions as to why an 8% increase (the max possible) would not lead to an 8% increase in household property taxes. Here is why. This is based on my own 2014 percentages, so it will vary from house to house. County was 40.5% City was 35.7% and Schools were 23.7%. The max county levy is a 6.8% increase (including HRA) the school districts NON-REFERENDUM levy increase is slightly negative so lets call it 0%.

    Put it in the blender and that comes out to about a 5.6% overall, but wait there is more. The city is seeing growth so some of that increase in the levy is taken up by new property tax payers. It is hard to know exactly how much of the increase will be eaten up by new taxpayers, but I will guess 2% which is at least reasonable. Now your levy increase is at about 3.6%.

    But wait there is more. Because of how taxes are put against different building classes it also impacts homeowners. In Minnesota the laws are favorable to homes under $400k. Further business property values are soaring relative to single family detached homes. As such they will eat more of that growth. As such I suspect that the typical levy increase before a referendum will be less that 3% or about the rate of long term inflation. The the referendum would be added to that.

    So why are city taxes projected to increase? 2 things more than 100% of the projected increase is due to public safety costs. This is because the council hired some officers last year that they did not pay for and are hiring more next year. 2) is infrastructure. The city has decided to develop in a suburban sprawl pattern. in 1966 we were nearly 50k people relying on 11 square miles of infrastructure, now our population has little more than doubled, but we are at 55 square miles. We are deliberately building a less efficient city. All that infrastructure is terrible expensive to maintain. If we wanted to get on a solid maintenance schedule that would require at least a 30% tax increase next year. Unless we decide to embrace smart growth, infrastructure costs will lead to massive tax increased for a generation to come.

    Real per person spending on libraries, parks, and the arts continues to decline. The number of employees per capita continue to decline. The city budget per person is basically flat since 2000. The increases people are seeing come from a decrease in state aid and failure to ensure that new infrastructure can actually pay for itself in taxes.

    I get to make people doubly mad because I vote against the dumb growth when it is in front of us, and then after others build it I vote for the taxes to maintain it. Responsibility sucks.

    If you really want to fight something, vote for the referendum and then fight the fact that the Rochester City Council adds millions of dollars every year to sewer bills so that they can subsidize expensive homes that most can’t afford. Is that fair?

     

     

     

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  • 27Oct

    Yes the largest paper in the state just quoted me saying that on the front page… sigh… That one will haunt me on Google forever…

    Actually that comment is reflective of my current take on DMC, I wish there was more private investment at this point. I just haven’t seen much, but I do remain optimistic and think some more significant private investments are coming. In reality basically all the projects that we have seen come forward were planned before DMC. The Bloom Capital project on the riverfront might be the first truly private DMC project (though the Connolly Camera rehab is also a related project). Downtown housing and hotel projects were already planned.

    Most DMC monies have been public dollars for public projects at this point. I am particularly concerned about the suggested use of public DMC funds to build a hockey rink. I think the project smells of backroom deals and conflicts of interest. I hate that as I am a hockey fan. I struggle to see how this venue is a better use of public dollars than Affordable Housing, Transit, Library, Broadband, or even a performing arts center.

    I am glad the Star Tribune hit on the awful Associated Bank plan that ALMOST actually passed. Very amateurish by the City Council to even consider that.

    Startribune.com article

    DRAFT summary of DMC Expenses

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  • 29Jun

    I figured I had better write this now since I am not currently running for anything and would not this to be misconstrued for “run of the mill” ass kissing…

    So I was just reading about the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit. Members of local media have a tough and often thankless job and face some unique dangers. Certainly there is a local celebrity awareness that might sometimes lead to dangerous obsessions from people in various mental states. We might never know what happened to Jodi, but the story remains a very sad one for the region. I moved here just 16 years ago, but remember hearing about this in Northern Minnesota.

    I will let the cat out of the bag and say that these positions don’t pay nearly enough for the education, thoughtfulness, dedication, and awful hours the jobs require. Whether it is print, radio, TV or “other” these are really difficult positions. I can tell you that when I talk about the need for affordable housing there are many in the media that have a special interest in that need. Often people covering the Rochester marketplace can not even afford to live here. That is too bad. I much prefer a BBC model where by the news is valued enough by people that they actually fund it. (Same goes for publicly owned elections…) We do have some of that with Public Radio & Television, but most journalists are tasked with covering the news and making sure that a station or publication is profitable.

    I have a great deal of respect for the journalists in this community and try to be as accommodating as possible when they would like to discuss an issue. I try to make myself available when I feel like it, but also when I don’t.  I always answer every question as honestly and completely as I can. Interestingly, I rarely listen to the radio and don’t even have a TV hooked up to anything. Sometimes I try to suggest meaningful questions or topics that I feel might be interesting. Twitter has certainly helped me share thoughts on a real time basis.

    So to folks who do the thankless job of working behind the scenes AND covering local issues, a sincere, “Thank You.” I appreciate what you are doing and I know that much of the engaged public does as well.

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  • 21Oct

    This is good, I guess…  But the lesson here is that you should always take these rankings with a grain of salt.  Here is why:

    This is what they say about healthcare (they actually mention us):

    To some extent, all you need to know about how quality health care can impact a city is this: Rochester, Minn., (pop. 107,000) has an airport that can land a 747. People from the world over travel to the famed Mayo Clinic for treatments. It’s a huge boon for the town – employing more than 30,000 and drawing millions of visitors each year. It’s hard to imagine the city thriving to such a degree without it.

    And yet when you get into the rankings Rochester ranks in the bottom half on healthcare with a pitiful score 56 of 100.  We score worse than Fargo, Helena, Ames, Lincoln, and Des Moises.  Had we scored 84 like St. Paul we would have been #1 by a long shot.

    Botton line we are a great city, but these ratings tend to be flawed.  I will never forget the year that we did not make the Money list because they did not consider cities over 50k and under 300k.  The we had someone criticize us for our falling quality of life.  Sigh…

    Congratulations! Rochester has been named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live by Livability.com, a national website that ranks quality of life amenities of America’s small and mid-sized cities.

    To produce its inaugural list of Top 100 Best Places to Live, Livability.com partnered with Richard Florida’s Martin Prosperity Institute, the world’s leading think tank on the role of location, place, and city-regions in global economic prosperity. Together we conducted a months-long study of more than 1,700 U.S. cities and the factors that make them the best places to live, work and play.

    The data collected for the ranking were weighted based on an exclusive survey conducted for Livability by Ipsos Public Affairs, a leading global market research firm. Respondents were asked about factors that make their communities better places to live, as well as the factors they would consider in selecting another city. Those factors were narrowed down to eight categories – economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education and healthcare – that were used to determine each city’s LivScore.

    Rochester ranked high for education and amenities.

    Here are 4 ways to spread the good news:

    1. Forward this e-mail to your members.

    2. Tweet your ranking to your followers or share the news on your Facebook page.

    3. Add a news item or mention on your website and in your e-newsletter.

    4. You are welcome to post the attached badge to your website, blog or social media profiles, we ask only that you link back tolivability.com. To download press releases or logos, visit the Livability Dropboxhttp://bit.ly/165P07N .

    Again, congratulations on making the Livability.com List of Top 100 Best Places to LiveSee the entire list atLivability.com/top-100-best-places-to-live.

    For more information about the index:

    Matt Carmichael

    Editor, Livability.com

    mattc@livability.com

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  • 15Jun

    Rochester is beginning to be recognized as one the the top envirnmental cities in the upper midwest.  With the notable exception of the suburban sprawl issue where we are close to failing.

    This award recognizes the near perfection at our water treatment plant.

    Dear David,

    It gives me great pleasure to inform you that City of Rochester’s Water Reclamation Plant has earned a NACWA Platinum Peak Performance Award for 13 years of consecutive 100% NPDES permit compliance.  Congratulations on receiving this significant accomplishment.

    As a multi-yearPlatinum honoree, your facilities will be recognized in a video presentation during the Tuesday, July 16th Awards Ceremony atNACWA’s Summer Conference & 43rd Annual Meeting, being held in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    We are encouraging all Platinum-winning facilities to submit a high resolution, digital photo of their award-winning facility or its hard-working staff to potentially be included in this special presentation.  Photos of individual staff performing their job, group shots of plant staff, and facility photos are welcome. Please send photos to Christian Howard at choward@nacwa.org by June 21, 2013.

    Please contact me directly atkbrocato@nacwa.org or 202-833-1449 if you have any questions.

    Again, congratulations to you and all of the City of Rochester’s employees on a job well done.

    Best,

    Kelly

    Kelly A. Brocato, CAE| National Association of Clean Water Agencies | Director, Membership Development | 202/833-1449 |kbrocato@nacwa.org

    NACWA has a clear commitment to America’s waters- Visit us atwww.nacwa.org and see!

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  • 12Mar

    Here is our March 19 radio ad!

    What do you think? It costs money to do this, so please consider a contribution at votewojcik.org

    Thank you for your support and your vote on March 19!

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  • 15Oct

    I have run a campaign that speaks of my goals for the city and accomplishments over the last 4 years.  Yet I get several calls each week that basically consist of, “You will never guess who was just here and what he (or his wife) said about you.”  Not only have they personally attacked me, they have attacked my family as well.  All while handing out materials that speak of civility.  Until now I have said nothing, but the Rochester Post Bulletin cut through the BS very nicely.  Note the difference:

    Here is my opponent:

    “I bring civility, integrity and common sense, as my brochure says,” he said. “My opponent is very intelligent, but sometimes you can get to the point that you become stupid. You’re so smart that you’re stupid.”

    So much for civility. With that statement, Pruett aligned himself with those — many of them prominent figures in Rochester — who didn’t like Michael Wojcik when he upset Marcia Marcoux four years ago, and their opinion of him hasn’t changed.

    Here is me:

    Wojcik didn’t have a single bad thing to say about Pruett during our interview with him — didn’t mention Pruett at all, actually.

    So what do you think, is he bringing civility or hypocrisy?

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