Metro public agencies are under fire for not being public enough

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2012 - 6:35 PM

Pressure builds for more accountability for Met Council and Airports Commission.

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  • Comments

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bluedevil101Dec. 15, 12 7:08 PM

This has been an ongoing issue for more than 30 years. These folks are accountable to no one and are central planners of the first order. It's time to "de commission" the Met Council and let the elected Legislature exert more control.

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mchristiDec. 16, 1212:32 AM

It's time to have the Met Council elected by the residents of the counties covered by its activity, who would be joined by a few members from local governments. For that matter, it might be time to consider folding the metro counties into a singular elected regional authority. Such an arrangement would better match the governance needs of the region, and reduce needless duplication of basic government infrastructure between the many counties (for example, several county sharif's offices, and the transit police, instead of a metro law enforcement agency).

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raleighmamaDec. 16, 1212:53 AM

Dump the Met Council

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rickbmnDec. 16, 12 8:21 AM

The Met Council is an unelected body that is making decisions our elected officials should be making. I do NOT want a centralized govt for the metro area that is accountable to no one. It should be disbanded immediately. It is made up of nothing but radical social engineers who think they know better how we should live.

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thankbhoDec. 16, 12 9:33 AM

It's not your money, so full disclosure shouldn't be an issue. If these fiscal conservatives are unwilling to show how our money is being spent, then they should be shut down and replaced with something that can be held accountable.

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roymercerDec. 16, 1211:28 AM

These para-Constitutional branches of government are terrible things. Citizens' only leverage is to force legislators to defund them.

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alansonDec. 16, 1212:06 PM

Our city and county officials are constantly caught flat-footed by decisions made by the Met Council and MAC. If they don't know what's going on, how are citizens and voters supposed to know?

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mn2niceDec. 16, 1212:15 PM

I do not think it would be wise to substantially change the structure of either of these agencies to be political in nature by publicly electing them, or that they be appointed by local governments, except that a composition that included more than the current two members appointed by the Mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul be part of their leadership might be helpful. There are several reasons why I say this. 1. In other states where the leaders of agencies of this type – regional, quasi-independent state agencies – have been politically elected to hold positions on boards or commissions, those agencies have often become mired in political bickering and infighting of much the same type of bickering and infighting we saw during the last Legislative Session, where the Republicans in the Legislature acted to obstruct every proposal by the DFL, and killed all funding for infrastructure projects in the seven-county metro area, but approved funding for projects in the outstate areas they represented. One political party ran roughshod over the other political party, and the results were the residents of the region were hurt because of politics. All the projects which were killed last session will now need to be addressed once again. This results in stagnation and deprives the residents of the region from the benefits of improved housing opportunities, improved transportation infrastructure, and an improved environment which attracts new businesses and people who want to live here. It also makes for inconsistent public policy. I believe it important for agencies such as these to be able to fulfill their legislatively-directed mission without the undesired effects of politics preventing them from doing what they are there to do. As we have seen many times in the past, we, the electorate, don’t always elect people to public office who are the best to lead an agency, city, county, state, or nation. While it is extremely important for us to be involved, in this instance, I don’t see that as being desirable to such an extent as this for agencies of this type. I am sure others will disagree.

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mn2niceDec. 16, 1212:20 PM

2. The initial authorizing legislation creating these two quasi-independent state agencies identified a specific mission which each is specifically and uniquely qualified to implement, and the civil, transportation engineers and housing officials who work at the Met Council, and those who work for the Metropolitan Airports Commission have many years of experience to perform the work they do. However, their funding comes from the political process, and is subject to the whims and foibles of the political process, which hampers their ability to function in the public interest, rather than to serve some political purpose. As is already the case with numerous other regional agencies of a similar type and function around the country, I would recommend they be authorized by the Legislature to issue municipal bonds to fund the projects they propose. To make them go to the Legislature every one to two years to request funding makes for a regional policy that is held hostage to political bickering and thwarts the region’s ability to respond to a rapidly changing environment conducive to growth and prosperity for all its residents. It would also help to relieve some of the burden now on taxpayers for the funding of the various projects they propose for the region. Eliminating either of these agencies is not a workable solution. Some unit of government would need to do what they now do. So what is the point of eliminating them. The whole purpose of creating a regional authority was to provide a coherent planning policy and implementation of that policy for the entire region, so there would not be a mish-mash of different policies or, for example, transportation systems for different cities, none of which connected to best serve the entire region. Many cities in the region could not afford to pay for public transportation without the help of a regional authority. But, I do agree that in some instances projects that they proposed, studied, and then built were not done in such a manner that best served all the residents of the region. They were done “on-the-cheap” so as to get something, anything, approved, rather than do it right the first time, even if that meant it might cost more initially. That could have happened because of political pressure, something that does not belong in the decision-making process. The result, too often, is an inferior product which does not serve the intended purpose.

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rambler89Dec. 16, 1212:26 PM

The Met Council was created specifically to prevent accountability, for the sake of the cities and the large special interests that govern them. Partial reforms aren't going to change that. If we get a mixed council of elected and appointed officials, look for a predominance of appointees. If we get an elective council, look for gerrymandered elective districts.

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