What's Left of Maplewood (MN)

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ironic Double Standards

Earlier this week I went to the court hearing in the Banick lawsuit against the city. You've probably read the report at Maplewood Voices already, and I wrote up some serious thoughts at my campaign blog (and I am working on another entry there), but there's a side observation that seems to belong here on WLOM: The same city that argues in the CoPar case that it should not be held against them that they didn't give CoPar the formal notice in writing that seems mandated by statute, in this case was making a big whiny to-do about how the Police Civil Service Commission didn't properly give them a copy of its order in writing.

Consider the parallels: in the CoPar case, the city argues that the meeting was televised and recorded and a copy was given to the CoPar reps, who were also present at the meeting, plus the minutes were posted to the city website, so obviously CoPar knew the city's decision.

In the PCSC's case, the meeting was televised (for the first time), recorded (the original recordings I presume are in the city's possession), two city attorneys (Kantrud and Bethel) were present when the discussion took place and motion to issue the order was unanimously approved, and the staff liason was there as well taking the minutes. I attended the meeting, and personally saw the commissioners signing their order to give it to city staff. I'm not sure what more they could have been expected to do, unless to go and mail it to Copeland or the Mayor, registered mail with return receipt requested.

In any case, it's funny. In two similar circumstances, the city is asking the courts to reach two completely opposite conclusions, in order to give the city what it wants in both cases.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Caught Sneaking Out

I've been caught! Someone told me yesterday that it was observed that I slipped out of Monday's city council meeting a little after 11:00. So I may as well come clean and admit it.

I confess, I was exhausted after a day of heavy box-lifting at work, I hadn't had any dinner (unless you count the tiny bag of Fritos and a handful of candy from the vending machines in the hall -- which for some reason everyone at the meeting seemed determined to ask me to share!), and I was still getting over that nasty cold that put me out of commission a couple days after the last council meeting. I realized my vision was just swimming as I tried to pay attention to a powerpoint presentation, so I may as well head home, since the curfew had been waived and, judging from the remaining agenda items, it looked like it might be hours before everyone went home.

My one regret was that I knew our Hjellebear had added an item to council presentations, something about taxes, and I figured that might be fun. DrawnLeftward, who was watching from home, tells me it was actually about the former mayor's property taxes.

Did I miss any other thrilling developments?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

City Pages Story

In case you haven't seen it already, be sure to check out this week's City Pages cover story about Maplewood. Note too that City Pages offers a comment thread for the article, if you have thoughts to share.

Remind you of anyone?

Eli at FiredogLake writes in "It's our due"
No other quote sums up the Republican attitude towards government more perfectly, not even Cheney's other one (you know which). For them, governing is not a responsibility, it's not a duty, it's not a service. It's a reward for winning. Republicans look at the American government, at the prodigious capabilities and resources it has built up over the past 200+ years, and all they can think about is how to use it to their own advantage. How they can reward their friends, settle scores with their enemies, and consolidate power so they can go on partying forever. It never even occurs to them that the government was designed for other purposes, like looking out for the disadvantaged, or protecting the environment, or catching criminals.

Sound familiar?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Live blog the council meeting

Chad Lemmons bingo is over for tonight.

Use the rest of this open thread to live blog the council meeting

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cautious Optimism

The packet for this coming Monday's city council meeting is now available on the Maplewood city website.

Three items immediately stand out to me for particular attention:
  1. Introduction of Robert Mittet, newly appointed Finance and Administration Manager (Item G2) — Given the recent departure of Ms. Bauman, and the extension of the application period due apparently to a lack of qualified applicants under the original deadline, it's good to see that someone is being hired to oversee city finances.
  2. Comprehensive Plan Amendment (Item K1) — As I discussed over at my campaign blog, the city council retreat seemed to result in a compromise for the Gladstone-related comprehensive plan amendment. As a result, the issue is going to be up for consideration again.
  3. Request for council approval to hire a consultant for the South Maplewood Moratorium Study (Item L5) — I'm on the record saying this is a good idea, since I joined a group of citizens asking the council to do this. I'm very pleased to see this show up on the agenda, and hope the firm (assuming the council approves its hiring) will be ready to show up and join in the community meeting at Carver School the following night.
We'll have to see how it all plays out, but these all represent steps in the right direction, in my view.

Agree? Disagree? That's why we have comments. :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Ahhh! It tastes so good...Most of the time!

Dessert arrived right on schedule again on Monday night. As usual, some of the best was left for last. For me, the rush of sweetness came while watching our brilliant city manager stammer away after being called on the carpet for asking that our auditors perform some of the very work that they are auditing. He had NO response when Rossbach asked him if this was wrong. He could have at least justified the decision. Almost any reasonable response might have worked. Instead, we are left with, (as the blog founders put it) our cartoons.

Hmmmm! Haven't I seen this auditing stuff somewhere before?

Now, I am sure that the firm in question is highly trustworthy and we really have little to worry about. But, as another reader noted in an earlier post...What happened to the nearly 30 days notice given by Ms. Bauman? What was Mr. Brilliant doing in that time that he couldn't either (A) hire a replacement or (B) find another firm/individual to perform the temporary duties? As I understand it, a hire is imminent. If so, then why not wait? Otherwise, let's at least provide the appearance of propriety and hire a separate firm to do the work.

This little morsel of goodness raises some serious questions about the abilities of the three musketeer's hired gun. Mr. Brilliant obviously does not understand the idea of "conflict of interest". Neither is our fine city manager a student of recent history. If either of those were the case, he would understand how important it is to at least provide that appearance I mentioned above. Serious things can happen when the auditors audit the work that they performed.

Another thing that comes to mind is how the current city manager is no better than the one he replaced in at least one facet. That being his perceived willingness to take the easy road. I actually thought that Fursman either needed to be more willing to make tough choices or move on. I saw his push for full-time fire fighters as a case of him not wanting to do the hard work of recruiting additional PPC fire fighters. After all, why do the hard work when you can just go to the taxpayers for more money? Did Mr. Brilliant just not want to put the effort in to finding someone else to do the temporary accounting work that needed to be done? After all, the auditors are there. They are only one phone call away. And it is a small amount of work. For me, this is just the beginning. What other shortcuts are we not seeing?

The streets are still getting plowed. And the shoplifters are still being arrested. However, the foundation may be starting to crumble...Like the crust on my strawberry cheesecake.