West St. Paul Nonprofits You Can Support: Let’s Do Some Good

This election has been a little crazy-making. But no matter who wins, life goes on. Great things will continue to happen in our community, and we should support them. So let’s talk about West St. Paul nonprofits.

I’ve been especially vocal about some local races here in West St. Paul, so in the interest of supporting local community, I want to encourage people to support some West St. Paul nonprofits.

Nov. 17 is Give to the Max Day, where donations can be multiplied with all kinds of incentives and matching gifts. It’s a great opportunity to rally together to support nonprofits, and you don’t even have to wait until Nov. 17—every donation between now and then will count toward Give to the Max Day.

So let’s support local organizations that work to make our community a better place. Continue reading West St. Paul Nonprofits You Can Support: Let’s Do Some Good

Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Every presidential election year since I started blogging I’ve talked about who I’m voting for and why. I do this not so much to convince other people, but for myself. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to have a snapshot of what we were thinking at a certain moment in time. My views have changed over the years, so I think it’s interesting to see that over time.

And oh the 2016 presidential election is one worthy of a snapshot. Or two.

Before I dive too deep, let me give the disclaimer that I don’t like blogging about politics. I did a lot of that in 2008 and ended up alienating some folks, myself included. It’s a difficult subject to talk about, and I wish we could do a better job. This year I tried to stick to local politics.

“If two smart and logical people disagree, it’s most likely because they are acting on different information.” -Bill “Billo” O’Donnell (A Truck Full of Money by Tracey Kidder)

Sometimes I think that’s the crux of division right now.

All that to say, this is what I think right now. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But before you think I’m a jerk or an idiot or something, maybe we should examine our underlying positions.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president. Continue reading Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

This year I’ve blogged about a lot of local elections here in West St. Paul:

Why?

Part of my frustration goes back to the misleading statements and misinformation in the 2014 election. But alas, I’ve been complaining about how hard it is to find information about local races since 2003.

Seriously, the most we get are candidate sites and a few candidate forums and questionnaires. Those are helpful, but there’s no push back. A candidate can say whatever they want and it goes unchallenged. It’s no wonder turnout for local elections is horrendous.

So I guess it’s time to start fixing the problem. I did push back when candidates were leaving out important details or being completely misleading. I also spoke up when they were being misrepresented. I’ve been passionate and certainly biased, but hopefully I wasn’t too much of a jerk. Continue reading 2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

So I’ve written about the West St. Paul mayor, ward 2 and ward 3 city council races, so I might as well explore the ward 1 race and cover all the bases. Incumbent Pat Armon is running for reelection in ward 1 and is facing challenger Bob Pace.

Pat Armon works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Bob Pace is the owner of Pace’s Tire and Service Center on Robert Street in West St. Paul.

Like other races in the city, I think this one comes down to investment versus low taxes. Pat Armon sees the long-term benefits of investment, that investing in infrastructure will raise property values and bring more business and residents to the city. Bob Pace argues that those investments are costing too much and rising property taxes will drive people away.

But there’s also an added element of experience that Pat Armon brings to the table. Neither of these candidates are career politicians. For a town of 20,000 people, our council members are regular citizens who pitch in. I don’t think we should expect city council candidates to know everything, but being knowledgeable and engaged is a big plus. There are areas where Bob Pace admits he doesn’t have answers yet (which is certainly better than faking it or giving us political jargon), and that’s where I think Pat Armon’s experience and expertise shines through. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

A statement from West St. Paul city council ward 1 candidate Bob Pace appeared in the November 2016 issue of the St. Paul Voice:

“[Bob Pace’s] top priority is to put the current Robert Street project on a spending freeze until it is determined how it will be funded. He wants to make the City business-friendly and would work with developers ‘instead of against them,’ in the continued revitalization of all business districts.”

The idea of a spending freeze on a nearly finished project raised some eyebrows. Turns out that’s not what Pace actually said.

Here’s the actual statement Bob Pace gave to the Voice outlining his top priorities:

“To work with developers to continue the revitalization of Robert Street and the rest of the cities businesses, to try and put a hold on spending money on projects that are not absolutely needed until we actually have the money. The citizens can not keep taking tax increases at the current rate.”

So he never called for a spending freeze on the Robert Street project. Continue reading Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

John Justen: West St. Paul Ward 2 City Council Candidate

West St. Paul ward 2 city council candidate John Justen is doing a meet and greet at Carbone’s Pizza on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 3-5 p.m. What a great opportunity to meet a local candidate face to face and get your questions answered.

John Justen for Ward 2 City Council
Can we take a moment and recognize the brilliant pun in John Justen’s yard sign? “For Ward 2 City Council” or “Forward 2 City Council”—Nice.

John has been one of the truly interesting candidates in our local West St. Paul race. He’s a business owner impacted by Robert Street who doesn’t think it’s the worst thing ever. He also appeared on the Streets.mn podcast, totally nerding out with host Bill Lindeke for an hour about local development, business opportunity, city design, sidewalks and more. If you want to see an example of a knowledgeable and engaged candidate, take a listen.

I especially like his take on Robert Street from the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce candidate questionnaires:

“One lesson we can learn from the Robert Street reconstruction is that the delay of necessary spending increases results in higher costs in the long run. As a retail business owner, I make decisions about how and when to spend my money every day. As is true in business, our city’s success is based on frugal but forward looking investment. Fiscal responsibility does not mean doing nothing; it means recognizing needs and opportunities and responding to them in a timely and efficient manner.”

That, in a nutshell, is the Robert Street project. It had to be done. Delaying the inevitable just makes it cost more. So let’s seize the opportunity. I think mayoral candidate Jenny Halverson has the same investment-focused view.

I’m also appreciative of John Justen because he gave a comment for my Robert Street easement story that included an actual opinion. I understand the current council members and mayor were advised not to weigh in (rightfully so), but the other candidates were free to share their thoughts. Even if you disagree with John Justen, at least he weighed in.

John Justen is facing Anthony Fernandez for the Ward 2 city council seat, which is being vacated by Jenny Halverson’s run for mayor.

More on John Justen:

Mark Misukanis Education Mailer Completely Misleading

I guess I’ve taken it upon myself to call B.S. on local election lies this year.

Today’s misleading statement comes in an education-themed mailer from Republican Mark Misukanis, candidate for Minnesota State Senate District 52. He’s challenging Democrat Matt Klein for the seat formerly held by the late Jim Metzen.

Mark Misukanis education mailer attacking Matt Klein
An education-themed mailer from Mark Misukanis for Senate received on Oct. 25, 2016.

Continue reading Mark Misukanis Education Mailer Completely Misleading

West St. Paul Robert Street Easement Deal Gone Awry

On Sept. 15, West St. Paul Mayor David Meisinger boasted about saving the taxpayers $30,000 by vetoing a Robert Street easement settlement. He positioned it as spending $30,000 for two trees.

That sounds pretty bad. But it’s not that simple.

Let’s dive into the weeds and sort this out. Continue reading West St. Paul Robert Street Easement Deal Gone Awry

Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

This year’s election has felt more divisive and caustic than previous elections. That’s no secret. So in such an environment, it’s helpful to focus on the positive: Women achieving public office.

On my ballot there are at least three women running for positions that a woman has never held before. I think that’s exciting.

I think it’s worth talking about these potential milestones, regardless of your political leanings.

Let’s take a moment to address why celebrating this kind of diversity is important. Continue reading Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

Turning on the Heat 2016

Every year I note when I turn the heat on (yes, I’m a nerd).

This year was pretty average. We’ve got some highs in the low 70s coming up, so maybe we could have lasted longer, but today barely breaks 60 and I’m tired of being cold.

Plus, my daughter was complaining. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a frugal furnace monster.

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.