A Bikeable Community Workshop trains local, county and regional staff, and advocates on how to plan and support more Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people on bikes more often in Minnesota. Participants enjoy a short bike ride to assess their community’s bicycle facilities to base an action plan on. Target audiences include engineers, law enforcement, planners, public health practitioners, school administrators, elected officials, and advocates. The course includes a short bicycle ride auditing your community.
Advise the Mayor, City Council, and Park Board on bicycling related issues; help advance the state of bicycle infrastructure; encourage more people to bike; educate the public; work towards more compliance with traffic laws; help the City and Park Board make bicycle plans; work to increase equity between bicyclist and other modes of transportation; review and suggest legislative and policy changes; recommend priorities for the use of public funds on bicycle projects; help ensure Minneapolis keeps and improves its status as a bicycle friendly community; serve as a liaison between Mpls communities and the City and Park Board, coordinate between difference agencies that interact with bicyclists.
It seems generally accepted under the current OML that there’s no problem with an elected official having a blog, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account when used for one-way communications. When used as publishing platforms, these tools are no different than having an opinion column or letter to the editor published in a newspaper.
Rather, the concerns are when the interactive features of these online platforms are used: a discussion thread attached to a blog post; comments on a Facebook wall post; conversational tweets; a live web conference with audio and/or text exchanges; a live online chat. In these instances, the possibility exists that a quorum of a public body could end up participating, that this could be interpreted as a serial meeting under the OML, and if not handled properly, could be a violation.
I think this is overly cautious. In her remarks to me by phone, Susan indicated that two areas of concern under the OML for the interactive use of these online platforms are A) whether they can be included in the definition of what constitutes a ‘meeting’; and B) whether they can be consider ‘open to the public.’
The good news is that since the OML places considerable emphasis on the ‘intention’ of the parties involved when a meeting is held, a local unit of government can get an opinion ahead of time from its own attorney and from the State of Minnesota’s Information Policy Analysis Department (IPAD) on the type of meeting it wishes to hold. Doing so would show that its intention was to not circumvent the law.
After getting these supporting opinions, I think the best way to conduct an online discussion with elected/appointed officials would be to A) announce it as a ‘special meeting’ as defined by the law; B) use time constraints on the meeting, for example, 8-9 pm for a live event or two weeks for a blog discussion thread; C) conduct the meeting like a Council Work Session, avoiding decisions, votes, or expressions of intention on how one plans to vote; and D) avoid any discussion of quasi-official business such around land use, property, licenses, etc.
I’ve found Northfield City Council work sessions to generally be more engaging and enlightening because of the open discussion among the councilors. You’re more likely to hear what they’re thinking, wondering, questioning. Opening up that type of exchange to a wider audience via online tools would be a genuinely helpful contribution to public involvement and engagement.
More good news: during the webinar, Susan announced that a bill to amend the OML was to be introduced in the legislature this week with the involvement of the MN Association of Townships. As soon as I find out more, I’ll post it here.
With the power shift in the state legislature, I’m looking forward to the legislative session with a teeny tiny bit of hope and a whole lot of apprehension. My apprehension level rose precipitously yesterday when I read my new state senator’s tweet (@KevinDahle) that he’d been meeting with a district mayor as part of working to increase local government aid. Oh dear, Senator Dahle, but that’s starting at the wrong end of the policy process and so early in the session, too. (continued)
I don’t know if we’ll get the benefit of a substantive online response from Kevin to her since his blog appears to be dormant and his Facebook page is brand new, where so far, he’s having his tweets auto-posted. Maybe he’ll attach a comment to her blog post?
It has the potential for a good discussion. I’m not informed enough to lead it/ask the questions but I’m hoping some of you LoGro readers might chime in, either here or there.
On December 18, a critical decision was made during a Goodhue County Commissioner’s meeting that sealed the deal for an iconic addition to our state trail system. The decision was followed by a celebration among supporters of the Mill Towns State Trail, who until then were fearful that a good year’s worth of collaboration might come undone.
The project entails a key parcel of land where three miles of the Mill Towns State Trail will run. This section of the trail is located along the scenic Cannon River and will offer a connection between two regional parks via a pedestrian bridge over the river and then connect to the popular Cannon Valley Trail. The Parks & Trails Council has been working with partners to ensure this critical land could be acquired for the trail…
Part of what made this parcel so critical to the trail development was its role in enabling the construction of an iconic pedestrian bridge over the Lake Byllesby Dam (on the Cannon River). With this land, the bridge design can be optimized and construction deadline stays on schedule to receive the $1.7 million matching grant from the federal government.
Peggy Prowe, advocates for the Mill Towns Trail and hundreds of bicyclists have a dream of one day being able to ride from Mankato to Red Wing utilizing the area’s various bike trails.
Cycling enthusiasts are one step closer to that dream as Goodhue County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Wednesday to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Byllesby Park in Cannon Falls. That land will enable the Mill Towns Trail to be connected to the Cannon Valley Trail at Lake Byllesby.
Got some website and social media skills to volunteer? The Mill Towns Trail website is nearly always out of date (last update was last July) and the organization needs help in making use of social media to spread its message and connect to its supporters.
The essential problem is with one-party rule itself. Lengthy periods of one-party rule allow a governing party to indulge its less desirable tendencies without fear of reprisal. In the case of the GOP, that can mean starving government of needed resources and programs. For Democrats, it can mean growing government beyond a sustainable size, as has happened in New York, California and Illinois…
Regardless of policy output, closely competitive political parties produce accountable government and prevent either major party from indulging its worst tendencies. If strong two-party competition produces divided government, that is a risk well worth taking.
All Minnesotans will benefit from a future in which both major parties can seriously contest all major races. It’s up to the state’s GOP to reform itself so that it can again be an effective competitive force.
Steven Schier, professor of political science at Carleton College, said he expects the GOP to de-emphasize social issues, which it can no longer prevail on, and focus on the “hardy perennial” of fighting tax hikes. “That unifies Republicans, and it has the potential to appeal to a broad number of voters,” Schier said.
He thinks the 2012 election’s lesson isn’t as much about “overreach” as about the need for compromise. “Minnesotans accept that decisions need to be made, so we can move on. Some in the Capitol in the last few years saw intransigence as a political good. Minnesotans disagree. That’s not a quality of leadership they admire. People want it done. They expect value for their dollar, yes, but they want government to function to solve problems,” he said.
Members of the new majorities should arrive in St. Paul thinking less about which side of various gaps they stand on and more about how to build consensus. That’s key to convincing Minnesotans that, this time, the DFL can be trusted to govern.
I’m guessing that neither the DFL nor the MN GOP will heed the advice that we citizens want consensus.
Robbie and I are camping at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park for a few days. The camping sites are primarily cart-in, which means that you haul your gear to your campsite with wheelbarrow-type carts. Advantage: the sites are more secluded. I took the photo in the center from the rocky bluff above our tent.
General Mills is taking a stand against a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, becoming the most prominent corporate voice making such a public declaration. Chief executive Ken Powell voiced the company’s opposition Wednesday at a General Mills function attended by 400 gay and lesbian professionals, followed Thursday by a Web letter from the company’s vice president for global diversity and inclusion, Ken Charles. “We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy,” Charles wrote. “We value diversity. We value inclusion.”
Opponents of the voter ID proposal accused supporters of disenfranchising seniors, college students, minorities and the poor. Proponents suggested that their opponents were simply trying to protect an election system fraught with fraud and open to manipulation. The hyperpartisan rhetoric did little to help inform public opinion…
The debate ended the way it began. Republicans called it a common-sense measure to tighten up Minnesota’s voting system and make sure voters are who they say they are. DFLers said the requirement would not prevent the tiny amount of fraud that exists but may erect barriers to certain voters and throw a bombshell into Minnesota’s popular election-day registration system.
Maluchnik’s concerns about costs:
If approved, this constitutional amendment would require the state to spend millions to provide free IDs to thousands of Minnesotans and to educate citizens on the state’s new voting requirements.
In addition, local governments would need to implement provisional balloting, a process that allows voters who arrive at the polls without an ID to cast a ballot that would be counted only if they subsequently provided the necessary identification. This process would require local governments to print special ballots, purchase new equipment, hire and train additional election judges, and pay for storage and security of provisional ballots. Studies have shown that implementing a provisional balloting process will cost local governments — and, in turn, property-tax payers — millions of dollars every election season.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, would allow the sale and use of the full range of consumer fireworks, including aerial rockets and firecrackers. Currently, the state only allows the sale and use of ground-based items such as small fountains, sparklers and snakes.
One of my cranky dad’s passions was his love of fireworks, one of the few things that that he loved to do with me and my brother. He’d buy $100 or more of fireworks every year, and this was back in the late 50s when that would buy an arsenal.
He showed us how to blow up sandcastles and cardboard houses; how to launch tennis balls high in the air by putting them on top of lead pipes and lighting a cherry bomb underneath; how orange juice cans were great to use with regular black cats; how to launch cherry bombs into the air with a slingshot. He loved that we loved it and I cherish those memories.
When Minneapolis Tribune columnist Cedric Adams successfully led a campaign to ban fireworks in the state, he was not deterred. He and many fellow Munsingwear employees would place an annual fireworks order with the interstate truck drivers. They’d purchase them down south and bring them back for distribution at the loading docks. ‘Civil disobedience’ he called it.
I know the dangers of fireworks firsthand. When I was 13, some buddies and I climbed to the top of an empty barn silo to drop Black Cats mid-air for the big echo effect. I had about 20 of them stuffed in my front shirt pocket and when the fuse died out on one that I was ready to throw, I put it back in my shirt pocket so that I could harvest its powder later. It exploded in my pocket which set off a couple more went off. I was sure my left nipple was blown off but fortunately, the burns were just below it. I borrowed a shirt from a friend and hid the injury from my parents for about a week. A real memory-maker.
That’s a familiar family face in photo #4 of the gallery, holding a sign that says “Straight, not narrow.”
Caption: Gilly Wigley, 25, St. Cloud, waits for the start of the Above the Clouds Pride March Friday.”
– St. Cloud Times photo by Kimm Anderson
In November 2012, Minnesota voters decide whether to approve an amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage. Those of us who are straight are especially needed to help defeat the amendment.
On Saturday, the effects of Friday night’s severe thunderstorm were everywhere: trees and branches on and blocking the trails. The MN DNR maintains the trails and normally would have been out in force to quickly clear them for the big holiday weekend. But with the shutdown, DNR employees are laid off.
The good news: a chainsaw-toting network of local landowners, volunteers, and even laid-off DNR employees had all the trails open by mid-day on Saturday. We only had to carry our bikes across one downed tree on Saturday afternoon but it was removed on our return trip. It’s a good example of how motivated citizens can take on a task that government typically provides.
The bad news: the trails are littered with millions of small sticks and branches, often making for a very bumpy ride (photo on far right). It’s likely that those will remain on the trail until the shutdown ends and DNR staff can get out and sweep the trail (example here.) It’s a good example of how motivated citizens can’t do everything that government typically provides.
I took the above panoramic photo of the construction (parking lot and addition) underway at Rejoice! Lutheran Church in Dundas yesterday. (To see the large version of the photo, right-click on it and open it in a new browser tab. Other photos below.) Groundbreaking was last Sunday, according to this story in the Nfld News.
The Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross Church, consisting of local citizens Julie Schrader Bicket, Stephanie Henriksen and Jane Moline, is pursuing an appeal to require an EAW. I got this press release from Stephanie yesterday:
Citizen Group offers to drop appeal if Rejoice agrees to restore sanctuary
The Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross Church, a group of local citizens, has filed an appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals against the City of Dundas asking the Court to order the City to complete an environmental assessment worksheet on the project of Rejoice! Church on the historic Holy Cross Church site in Dundas.
Holy Cross Church is a historic treasure in Minnesota and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon taking possession of the property, Rejoice! stripped the historic interior sanctuary of Holy Cross, including pews, altar rails, lecturns, chairs, plaques, and other items of historic significance. Destruction of outer walls of the Parish Hall and grading activities on the site for construction of a new building began this past week.
Minnesota law required the EAW because of the partial destruction of Holy Cross Church, a listed National Register property. There is hope the case will lead to restoration of the sanctuary, currently being used as a meeting room. If the Court requires an EAW, a process will take place that will address this, among other things. The Citizens group has offered to drop the case in the Court of Appeals if Rejoice! agrees to restore the historic sanctuary.
Anyone who purchased interior furnishings from Rejoice who is willing to return them (and be reimbursed for prices paid) may call this number:
Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross 507-645-7086
Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.
Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."
Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago: Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures. Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune. Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:
In the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.
Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers. Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.
Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.
So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous. Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there. Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?
I’d never heard of John Kriesel until I read this story in yesterday’s Star Tribune: In the final analysis, he is one happy warrior. But his spirit and character as portrayed in the article and the Strib endorsement make him seem like the kind of legislator we desperately need right now… and therefore, one I wanted to draw attention to for Veteran’s Day 2010.
He was part of the wave of Republicans — in the state and the nation — who reclaimed majorities from Democrats. But for Kriesel, who used to work in a Minneapolis ink factory and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard at age 17, the win wasn’t about party ties.
"In the military it didn’t matter what party you’re from or where you lived, what your background was or any of that. Whenever they gave us a mission we worked together to get it done," he said. "And that’s what we need at the Capitol. Ultimately, that’s why I decided to run for office."
… "I was a knucklehead growing up," Kriesel said. "I have a little bit of knucklehead still left in me, but it was this incident that opened my eyes. And when I woke up at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] that was truly the first day of my new life, and for some strange reason I’m happier now than I have ever been in my entire life."
The Editorial Board’s conversation with political newcomer John Kriesel, Republican contender for the open House seat in the Cottage Grove area, may have been the most uplifting hour spent with any candidate this year.
… Kriesel is something special. A gifted communicator who works as a marketing contractor for the Minnesota National Guard, he exudes commitment to public service and compassion for the vulnerable. He’s resistant to tax increases, but just as resistant to cutting the government services that help people succeed. He sees no reason why the sense of common purpose he helped create in his military unit can’t be generated among legislators to solve state problems. More of his spirit is needed at the Capitol.
Ross Currier: One of the comments on the downtown parking poll was that a useful step toward making Northfield more bike-friendly would be to implement the recommendations of the Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force. Griff, perhaps you could...
David Beimers: My take-away? We need to begin working immediately with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to form a Northfield area bicycle advisory committee so we can begin tackling a myriad of bike-related issues. I completely agree. I’m...
Griff Wigley: Paul, my apologies for the delay in replying. I’m going to use your comment for a new blog post. Soon!
Bright Spencer: I lived and worked in Chicago, Hyde Park, to be more precise, and I biked several times a week to my job. There I could use the street or sidewalk unimpeded, but there was very little vehicle or pedestrian traffic. It was great....
Paul Zorn: Long time no post on LoGroNo. But here is something to stir the bicycling pot, now that the weather might stay bike-conducive for a while. The author asserts, essentially, that rules written for “4000 pound” cars don’t...
Griff Wigley: See my Storify story blog post on bike sharrows.
Griff Wigley: A helpful sharrows cartoon from Bikeyface.com:
Bright Spencer: Thanks for those super photos, Angela. I really miss my former digs and this brought me back home for a moment.
Angela Lauterbach: How about some photos? I’ve got some for you! [img]http://locallygrownnorthf ield.org/wp-content/uploads/20 13/05/IMG_20130502_085009.jpg[ /img] [img]http://locallygrownnorthf ield.org/wp-content/uploads...
Griff Wigley: The video of last night’s school calendar panel discussion is now up; blog comment thread now open thru Apr 30.
Griff Wigley: I’m putting on my consulting hat again this week and inviting y’all to this panel discussion video conference/live chat/blog discussion thread on the school calendar scheduled for this Wed, April 24, 8 pm.
Griff Wigley: Also in yesterday’s Northfield News, reporter Ashley Klemer (@AshleyKlemer) has an article titled Northfield Public Schools holds second school calendar meeting. You can comment on my Calendar Conversation blog post about the article...
Griff Wigley: The Draft Report on the Downtown Parking Conversation is now up. blog comment thread now open thru May 3.
Griff Wigley: In yesterday’s Northfield News, reporter Kaitlyn Walsh (@NFNKaitlyn) has an article titled Downtown Northfield parking conversation nears its end. You can comment on my Downtown Parking blog post about the article here.
Griff Wigley: Do you live downtown? Do you live near downtown? Then you’re invited to a meeting to discuss parking issues, Mar. 28, 8 pm at the library. Details here.
kiffi summa: One only has to see how LG has been dormant in recent days/weeks to see how much energy it has to absorb to keep ‘alive’ , and how much of that energy has to be primed by its moderator. But it is sad to see how this forum...
Griff Wigley: Thank you, Bill. It’s not over yet and I have no idea what’ll happen next.
Griff Wigley: Thanks for digging that up, Curt. Very strange.
Curt Benson: The Minnesota Secretary of State website says the name was registered by Gehring in December, 2012: http://mblsportal.sos.state.mn .us/Business/SearchDetails?fil ingGuid=475f479d-c443-e211-bc4 3-001ec94ffe7f
Griff Wigley: Just an FYI to those inquiring: Dick Heibel doesn’t check this blog, he does not have email that I know of, and his web page is no longer working. You’ll have to phone him. I’m not sure if this number is current but...
Mary-Lynn Wigodsky: Hello Mr. Heibel, I would love to have my small snow globe repaired. It has a small figurine that is broken in just two places. The base looks solid. We had it in our home growing up in the 50′s -but it may be older than...
Griff Wigley: Arlen, I actually didn’t mention or link to a realtor in my blog post or comments. I just linked to the MLS listing for the two houses I spotted on Nevada.
Arlen Malecha: Griff – As a Realtor I am glad to see you helping promote homes for sale within the Northfield community. However, I think it is prudent to advance the local realty websites such as www.coldwellbankernorthfield.c om vs the one...
Jesse Steed: Hello Teresa, I’m a Realtor with Edina Realty based in Northfield. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. My office number is 507-645-1179.
Jesse Steed: Thanks for posting my listing! Here’s a link to 410 Nevada that includes the virtual tour (an audio tour of the home’s history) performed by the seller himself! http://www.edinarealty.com/jes se-steed-realtor/homes-for-...
Teresa Jensen: Thanks, Bill; it looks like a lovely home, but my home search is limited to Northfield city limits. Thanks, too, Griff, for the Nevada house links– I will check out in person when I arrive in May!
Griff Wigley: In today’s Strib: Wooddale Avenue’s pioneering bike lanes in Edina look doomed The street that has baffled Edinans since it was re-striped last fall may get an easier-to-understand painting fix this spring. Wooddale...
Griff Wigley: Kiffi, I don’t know that it would be practical to try to launch a Northfield Bike Task Force, a Dundas Bike Task Force, a Rice County Bike Task Force, a Bridgewater Township Bike Task Force, etc. Maybe at some point those...
Griff Wigley: David, I don’t think the primary purpose of a regional bike council would be to secure taxpayer money for bike projects/infrastructure. It would be to study, recommend, plan, guide, educate, collaborate, etc.
Griff Wigley: Mary, the trend among hyperlocal online news entities seems to be heading towards the non-profit membership model where you get extra benefits (see, MinnPost members, Texas Tribune members). I’m not sure Northfield is big...
Mary Schier: Patch (AOL) is under intense pressure from shareholders to make a profit this year. It’s had a hiring freeze for some time and with fewer people, it has been going to more regional coverage. This works OK (not great, but OK) in...
kiffi summa: Agreed …I’m about to unsubscribe. There’s also a tinge of sensationalism, instead of serious news updates; for example: what’s with the story of the death of a 26 year old Lonsdale woman ‘above the...
Griff Wigley: I agree, Jane. And they seem to be over-reaching to make the connection to Northfield on some stories, eg: Northfield State Sen. Dave Thompson Mulling Run for Governor. Next up: Dundas State Sen. Kevin Dahle?
Jane McWilliams: My observation is that there is no local reporting . . . just as I feared!
Donna Volkmann: I see this forum is pretty old from 2008. Does anyone know if there are any homeschool co-ops in Northfield for social interaction? I see there are many in the cities but can’t seem to find any in Northfield. Also, do you...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News: Northfield orders new street signs to fix misspellings “Nineth” Street in Northfield will soon be back to Ninth Street. City staff recently ordered new sign blades from the city’s vendor to fix the...
Griff Wigley: Today’s Nfld News: Proposed bill would take Northfield public meetings discussion online Minnesota Newspaper Association attorney Mark Anfinson said it’s “entirely sensible” to update existing law to reflect the advantages that...
kiffi summa: another tragedy: in a middle school outside Detroit, amidst 800 students,a popular, non-bullied 14year old shoots himself in the head, fatally, with a 40 caliber Glock pistol…. School had no metal detectors; staff said he was...
kiffi summa: Maybe I’m just too saddened by this story now, david… but I don’t think so… I have long thought that a total overhaul of our correctional system , with its many abuses, needs to be done… but that does not...
David Henson: Kiffi, funny how we always see these stories differently. The USA has over 1 million people enslaved in our prison system. The criminal justice system is a sham. Corrections is big big business (some great stocks if you have the...