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.

Sponsored by Brush Studio and Hydrus Performance.

 

 

Podcast 464

Welcome to Tennessee. Live from Bristol, Tennessee – The Birthplace Of Country Music. New Hampshire’s primary is history. Flush with new data and fresh story lines, every satellite news truck and reporter is rolling out of the Granite State headed for South Carolina, the third primary in election 2016. The Bob Davis Podcasts are already in the south, taking a break from the political craziness. Welcome to Tennessee, and to one of the coolest towns in Eastern Tennessee and Western Virginia: Bristol. Part of Bristol is in the Volunteer State of Tennessee and the other part is in the Old Dominion. This is a great introduction to South Carolina, because this part of Tennessee and Virginia are in the Appalachian Mountains, first settled by the Scots-Irish, English and Germans over two hundred years ago. They brought their culture with them including stories and music dating back centuries. Industrial growth from the late 1800’s and beginning of the twentieth century brought change to the people who call this part of the country home. In 1927 a Bristol area musician and performer recommended the town to a recording engineer and talent scout. The scout brought the latest recording technology to town, set up shop in a hat factory, placed an ad in a local newspaper and prepared to record. Ralph Peer’s Bristol Sessions turned out to be seminal in the development of American Roots music and the careers of artists who later became major country music stars. The Bristol Sessions are often referred to as ‘The Big Bang of Country Music’. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol celebrates the Bristol Sessions and so much more. Take a break from the endless political nonsense going on, to get a sense of the influence this part of the country has had on the rest of the United States, and the gift the people of Appalachia have given us all. Today the south is a major economic, social and political influence, equal or greater to any other part of the country. Get set for surprises after South Carolina votes, and after the mid south primaries on Super Tuesday. (Big Thanks to Renee Rogers and Charlene Baker for meeting me at the Museum office back door on a snowy Monday, and for doing an interview for this podcast.) Sponsored by X Government Cars, Pride of Homes and Luke Team Real Estate.

Podcast 352

Pacific Coast. From LA, to El Capitan State Park. Back on the road and headed to Napa, California to do a podcast with an old friend. From there, who knows? Have to be back in Minneapolis and Saint Paul on April 25th for the big shindig at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. While the current news events beckon, once the wheels get rolling, the immediacy of today’s momentary outrage starts to fade. People getting shot by cops? Iran doesn’t like the ‘deal’? Bah. Perhaps part of the reason for that is the perfection of the Pacific Coast heading out of Los Angeles. As California faces tough choices on development, water and budget issues, the biggest concern seems to be too many people will move to the Golden State. LA projects its population to continue growing through 2050 and some claim ‘there’s nowhere to put them’. Forget for a moment California has been losing businesses due to regulation and taxation. Then there is the fact that people who live in no tax, or low tax states decry the regulation and taxes in California, and its easy to see why. Businesses are moving and incorporating in those low or no tax states, especially Texas. California doesn’t seem to care and its easy to see why. From dreamy Los Angeles and the movie set that is Santa Barbara, all the way up the coast, why wouldn’t you want to move here? Oh yeah, taxes and rules, rules, rules! While there are rough places in California, and of course poverty, and a lot of people drive Hondas or beat up Impalas, there are those beach houses in Malibu, State Street in Santa Barbara, coastal villages and the sunsets. Nowhere is the space between those on the lower end of the economic scale and those on the highest more obvious. Live from the state park at El Caspitan beach, some thoughts on the trip so far, a little ‘Californio’ history and oh yeah, a sunset. Sponsored by Autonomous Cad

 

Podcast 342

Fighting City Hall. They say you can’t fight city hall and win, but residents of Invergrove Heights, Minnesota recently proved getting involved in your community has a big pay off. Unelected planning councils, county planning commissions, and other layers of local, regional and state government can sometimes be daunting. There are a lot of complaints about the heavy hand of government, and you often hear the words, “I would get involved but it never does any good anyway”. A group of residents in “InverGrove” as it is called, found out they were going to lose their homes through Eminent Domain Condemnation when they learned the county planned to build a 6 lane highway right on top of their homes. Homeowners gathered, organized, learned the details, suggesting solutions. Moreover, they learned to work together. Sometimes partisanship can be a great thing, but sometimes the ‘my way or the highway’ approach literally means, the highway. Learn how these people worked the system to a ‘win-win’, and how compromise isn’t always a dirty word. The question is whether this kind of approach can be applied to bigger problems in bigger cities; Invergrove Heights is a suburban city of about thirty two thousand people. The moral of the story? Faceless councils and bureaucrats make decisions for communities that are often simply guidelines, and they’re adopted because no one says anything. You can alter these plans if you get involved. Hear how they did it, in their own words. By the way, yes we can cover local stories from the road, this time in Amarillo, Texas! Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul

Podcast 262

White Line Fever. Road Trip Return! The trip back to Minneapolis, staying in the warmth of the southern late fall for as long as possible. Richmond, southwest to Roanoke, Virginia and then onto Nashville, Tennessee. Passing through Bristol, Virginia and Knoxville, Tennessee and all points in between. You know all that talk about ‘infrastructure’ in the US? How we need new roads and bridges? With many miles covered on these Road Trip Podcasts, there have been few – if any – pot-holes, rotted bridges, or signs of any crumbling infrastructure. Even cities like Bristol, Virginia and Roanoke feature new construction, smooth roads, brand spanking new housing developments, and new and thriving downtown ‘urban’ experiences like Farmer’s Markets, yoga studios and the like. There are so many smooth roads you can get ‘white line fever’ rolling through hills and gentle turns, as traffic comfortably hits eighty plus mile an hour speeds. Sounds like a science fiction novel, but it is true. From the Twin Cities east, all the way to Virginia, and now coming back across the mid south, it’s hard to find evidence of ‘decaying infrastructure’, not to mention all the shiny new cars! Hear tips on how to travel fast and easy, avoiding speed traps, and getting a boat load of coffee before departure. As we ease back into the work week after a long Thanksgiving Holiday, some thoughts about what we should be hearing from politicians in Washington; how to make our economy thrive, not just ‘do better’. Traveling across the country this quickly, you can’t help but notice the developing economies of small, medium and large sized cities you pass through, especially outside the center cities. The overall effect is optimism. Americans are still innovative, and ready to work. Its about time our lawmakers understood what to do, how to do it, and how to talk about it so they can get what they need to get done, so we can get done what we need to get done. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.

Podcast 214

North Dakota. The final On-The-Road podcast takes us through Montana to North Dakota. When you travel, especially in a car, you get philosophical. Subscribers to the Bob Davis Podcasts suggested a trip to Williston, for a first hand look at what ‘Fracking’ has wrought. One does not have to go to Williston to see the effects of development and economic growth in North Dakota. Everything is new. Kicking off some musing about the different ways the American West Developed, how the West uses its resources for economic growth. The sheer geographic size and scope of Western States is truly impressive, not to mention innovation and opportunity from the coffee stands and whitewater outfitters in Moab, Utah to brand new service stations, franchises, apartment buildings, hotels and office buildings in North Dakota. While North Dakota leads the nation in economic growth and energy development, it is just one state. The whole trip through the so called ‘Mountain West’ definitely leaves a visual impression, but it also serves as a reminder of just how majestic the United States is, and how much potential there really is. From trains, to smaller cities all over the west, in states so large you wouldn’t even know there is growth and development, and innovation everywhere. One can’t help but wonder how much more potential for growth would exist if people enjoyed an easier path to following their dreams. The Minneapolis Tribune and New York Times don’t like North Dakota’s oil boom, but then again, the establishment ‘back east’ has never been comfortable with the diverse economic interests ‘Out West’ that have struggled with development, exploitation of natural resources, agriculture and ranching issues, for over one hundred years. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul. 

Podcast 207

If nothing changes. If nothing changes…nothing changes. Does it feel, sometimes, as if things seem like they are about the change, but they don’t? Sometimes there are long periods of ‘stasis’. Some interpret this as a positive, but it can be negative. While the media thrives on making viewers and listeners think huge changes are right around the corner; Prosperity is just ahead, War is about to break out, Disease threatens us all, then…nothing. With the jobs numbers last week, the the ongoing situation with slow or no economic growth, the slow down in the foreign affairs situation, the political pundits talking about a wave election for republicans one week, and no wave the next, Mitt Romney making noises again, and Hillary Clinton talking about running, it sure feels like 2008, or 1999? The world is on the verge of great era. Advances in manufacturing, communications, robotics, autonomous agents, software, medical science, even physics may be forming the building blocks of a world those of us born in the 20th century will not recognize. But getting there means huge changes, and getting through those changes will not be easy. We are living through a low ‘stasis’ point. Our leaders, republican and democrat, do not know what to do. We don’t know what to do. Everyone seems to be looking to someone else to solve problems, and yet problems never seem to get solved. The language remains the same; systemic problems in the labor force, a collapse – or boom – on wall street, republicans are against democrats and so on. A change agent is coming. Call it a black swan event, singularity, or whatever you want. We can’t know what and when it will be, but a catalyst that begins a period of upheaval and change is inevitable. Take what you hear on the day to day news with a grain of salt, and look for that catalyst. Sponsored by Baklund R&D

Podcast 152

What about ‘The City’? Central planners  use tax dollars to finance light rail, street cars, bike trails, stadiums, apartment buildings and hotels. The goal? A serendipitous experience. Is this a pipe dream? Do people really want to pay 1500 dollars a month for a condo in ‘the city’, so they can have coffee with hipsters? Or do they want a yard, good schools and lower taxes? You might be surprised what some new studies are showing. Things like bike trails, and light rail, paid for with transportation tax dollars move ahead, while repairing roads and bridges languish. What if robotics, driverless cars and delivery trucks, smart phones,  automated offices and other technology obviate the need to be in a big central city? Will all this ‘investment’ recreating the city of 1900 America have been worth it? Sponsored by X Government Cars