What's Left of Maplewood (MN)

We can't draw, so we are left with verbal cartoons about Maplewood city politics.

Friday, September 29, 2006

MN PCA Newsletter

With all the feedlot runoff to worry about do we really need the republicans coming to town?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Speaking of Increased Costs

Another Maplewood/Ramsey County Review article discusses the decision to stiff the lawyers, something I wrote about before. I'm sure that will end well. How much will we be willing to pay our new lawyers to try to avoid paying our old lawyers, I wonder?

And then we have the Sherrie Le family of lawsuits (perhaps we should update it to an order or phylum? there seems to be a lot there). The Lillie article on this topic is still not online, but a helpful summary is available over at SaveMaplewood.

Somehow I have this creeping feeling that all the promised "cost saving" budget cuts and reorganizations will, in the hands of these jokers, wind up costing us a lot more.

Plus, Monday's meeting brought us the news that our finance director is retiring. I can only imagine that going through the budgeting process with Copeland/Longrie/Cave/Hjelle is a bit like mowing a yard blindfolded on a riding mower, with three blind guides shouting directions from the street, and would lead pretty much anyone to grab a chance at an earlier retirement than might otherwise have been planned. Just speculating, mind you, but the pattern of departures continues, bearing out the rumors since spring that a lot of city staff are eager to flee a sinking ship.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tax and Tax-But-Call-It-A-Fee

The Lillie News website has gotten a whole bunch of Maplewood dirt online at last, giving us the opportunity to link to the goods! (And conveniently refreshing our memories about meetings and topics we watched but didn't blog at the time...)

Aren't the Triumvirate supposed to be the "low taxes" crowd? Yet we see that they voted authorization to increase our 2007 taxes by 11.4%. Rossbach and Juenemann abstained (citing the lack of information in the pathetically brief budget document thrown their way by Interim Manager Copeland). Cave, Hjelle and Longrie voted for the levy -- perhaps due to their blind faith in Copeland as their reliable stooge (so why sweat the details?), or maybe they've actually reviewed all the plans in greater detail and came to their conclusion in meetings outside of the public eye (which would be no surprise, given their history of flouting the open meeting law).

Taking a page out of the Pawlenty handbook, they're also interested in raising more money by calling it "fees" rather than "taxes." By hiking the electric franchise tax they can squeeze more money out of everyone on the power grid in Maplewood -- and to the average person it will look like Xcel is the one dipping into their pocket, not Mayor Longrie.

Of course, given the likely increases in cost due to things like severance pay, wrongful termination and related lawsuits, plus the cost of whatever new friends of the mayor need to be added to payroll, it should come as a surprise to no one if the city needs the added funds to balance its budget.

More on that topic later...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Rossbach/Juenemann Statement

The concerned citizens at the savemaplewood.com website have been busy lately. Sometimes their site organization is a little confusing to navigate, but they've gotten some really juicy stuff online recently. This weekend's most interesting offering is a copy of the Rossbach/Jueneman statement about the Copeland background report. I blogged about this back in July after the council's special meeting, but my notes could hardly cover all of the details -- and after Longrie ran out the clock as long as she could to keep material from getting on the record, Rossbach had to cut and summarize a lot.

Right now the blurb is on the top of "Lead Stories," but in case it's harder to find in the future, here are the direct links to the scanned pages of the redacted statement (Sherrie Le and then interim attorney Kantrud went through to eliminate information they think needed to remain confidential):

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7

Juicy stuff, and remember that the triumvirate voted their confidence (3-2) in Mr. Copeland after being given all these details about his circumstances and qualifications. Apart from a couple of minor quibbles (Copeland spent a lot of time at the meeting talking about clearing up some minor point about incomplete coursework at Hamline), keep in mind that the content of the background check is not in dispute. (Though it may have cost a city hall job or two -- you are supposed to shoot the messengers, right?)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Media Complaints

A link over at SaveMaplewood.com tipped me to this Pioneer Press blurb. Apparently the City Council triumvirate were upset about that KSTP story which, besides featuring one of my headlines here on WLOM (don't you think that was the best part? maybe it only seemed that way to me), pointed out how widely they're regarded as buffoons.

Some have observed that articles and news pieces often seem to come up short on quotes from the triumvirate or their supporters. The reason is pretty simple -- they think the media is out to get them, so they avoid talking to reporters. Then, when stories don't seem to give them equal time, or only present the opposing point of view (such as characterizing Gladstone as "stalled") without rebuttal, they can claim that it's because of media bias. Or when they do find their voice, like Erik Hjelle's famous "criticizing me is treason" editorial in the Lillie papers, or his hit list in the Pioneer Press (he claims he was misquoted), and come across as the clowns they are, they blame the media rather than themselves. Remember the investigations of Hjelles election wrongdoings, or the Schultz report? Loaded with misquotings, remarks taken out of context, lies -- or so Hjelle & Co. would like us to believe. Never mind that Copeland himself picked Professor Schultz, with the blessing of the triumvirate. (Apparently they can't even pay people to write good things about them. Or maybe Schultz was confused about what he was hired to do exactly?)

It's like a paranoid schizophrenic declaring, "I never let them record me -- they always find some way to make me sound crazy!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The first thing we do, let's stiff all the lawyers

I've got a great idea.

Let's not pay the last bill our ex-lawyers present to us (they quit! they deserve it!), and let's replace them with a tiny firm with way less experience (but a lead attorney who teaches at the interim city manager's school) at less than half the price!

If we're going to routinely ignore the advice of city attorneys anyway, why not save money while we're at it?