Podcast 590-Ending Met Council Tyranny
Bob Davis Podcast Radio Show #61-Jeff Johnson
Across the country regional councils controlled by unelected appointees are amassing great power over elected town councils, county councils and in some cases state legislatures. The biggest and most expensive of all is the Metropolitan Council, which exerts funding and legal control across the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Metro, up to and including its own taxing authority. In some cases saying no to the Met Council results in a loss of funding, public relations attacks on the offending elected official and his or her town, or lawsuits because, “You can’t say no to the Met Council”.
In Podcast 590-Ending Met Council Tyranny, Bob Davis Podcast Radio Show #61-JeffJohnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner gives a history of the Met Council, a description of just how large the council’s budget is, how many employees it has, the extent of its vast influence in planning and development in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area. If your town wants state and federal funding for various projects, the Met Council is the conduit for that funding.
At issue is the Met Council’s peculiar view of just what development is supposed to look like, which is decidedly not funding for highways and bridges. The Metropolitan Council’s view of the future is fewer roads, more bike trails and more sidewalks. We’re supposed to ride our bikes to work when it is 5 below zero, or sit in traffic jams of biblical proportions or ride light rail transit being forced through at a cost of billions.
This podcast is a companion to Podcast 501-Mark Korin, which details the trails and tribulation of a small town Minnesota Mayor against the Mighty Metropolitan Council. As Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson explains, the Metropolitan Council’s tyrannical control over towns, cities, counties and even the legislature is becoming a bi-partisan issue. With the advent of the Minneapolis South West Light Rail project and its threat to the peace and quiet of Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes Parks, local residents are furious at the unelected council’s heavy handed approach.
An agency that began in 1967 as a way to mange water and sewer connections between local towns and cities, and to manage bus lines, has grown into an agency employing thousands and costing taxpayers billions, with its own police force, and the power to tell local administrators and elected officials to pound sand.
Johnson and Bob Davis discuss at least two ways to eliminate the Metropolitan Council’s authority or all together. Johnson proposes eliminating the council and replacing it with a board of elected officials from the area, with a more circumscribed and specific authority.
Bob Davis suggests at the very least, the Met Council’s budget could be deeply cut starting with council members who make over six figures a year, its police force absorbed by county and city law enforcement, and the creation of a separate transit authority. Finally, statutes which coerce local towns and cities to comply with the Met Council’s plans for dense growth, low income housing, bike paths and light rail transit, must be repealed.
Finally, are there enough votes in the legislature to accomplish Ending Met Council Tyranny? Johnson seems to think there is a chance, since many legislators hail from rural, suburban and exurban districts, with residents who have to pay for the Met Council’s grandiose plans, but receive none of the benefits. Moreover, legislators from urban districts in Minneapolis are getting an earful from wealthy Minneapolis liberals incensed at the way they’ve been treated by the Met Council over the Southwest Light Rail Project.