Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Truth About the Lawsuit That Cancelled the 2016 New Brighton City Election

I want to set the record straight regarding the lawsuit that canceled the city election in 2016 as some people in city government are mischaracterizing it in public statements.

In 2015 former Mayor Dave Jacobsen and Council Members Brian Strub, Mary Burg, and Paul Jacobsen all voted to change the election cycle for New Brighton mayor and council members to even years. As a way of implementing this change the ordinance that was passed lengthened the term of the incoming mayor by one year and decreased the term of two council members by a year. At that time all of this was illegal under Minnesota law (changing the election cycle too close to an upcoming election as well as changing the terms of elected officials). This illegal action occurred just one week after the 2015 city election (the newly elected mayor had not yet even been sworn in!) and in spite of Council Member Gina Bauman pointing out the legal problems to the rest of the council.

I worked with Council Member Bauman to stop this illegal action which would have effectively allowed four people to cancel the votes of the rest of the people of New Brighton. Gina and I followed all state statutes to obtain enough signatures on a petition which should have legally required the question to go on the ballot in 2016 to let the voters establish the election cycle rather than four council members. The petition we filed prior to the 180 day deadline was rejected by the City Clerk for no legitimate or legal reason, so the only recourse was to bring a lawsuit.

At the court proceedings Judge Leslie Ott Marek ruled entirely in our favor on this matter. You can see for yourself in the Findings of Fact document issued by the Court (reproduced here courtesy of Mr. Dillettante's Neighborhood blog), that the Court determined the City had violated 17 points of law in regard to this election change. Even after such a thorough legal rebuke, the city attempted to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court (at additional taxpayer cost) which immediately declined to consider the request.

Council Member Gina Bauman and I stood up for your rights against City Hall and won. We will continue to always stand up for what is right.

Susan Erickson
New Brighton Resident

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Watch New Brighton City Council Plot to Add a Year to their Terms

If "buyer's remorse" has not yet set in with New Brighton voters after the last election where city government took a hard turn to the left, I predict that it soon will.

At the December 12 New Brighton City Council meeting not only did the council (with the exception of Council Member Gina Bauman who continued to stand up for the people of New Brighton in her final meeting) ram through a large tax levy increase and a hefty utilities increase, they also voted themselves an extra year on their terms of office. This occurred at the very end of a long and tedious meeting where many who started watching at home or in person likely gave up on it.

They did this in a sneaky manner by emphasizing that the purpose of the ordinance they passed was to improve voter participation numbers by moving city elections to even years. The wording of the ordinance conveniently omitted the fact that a recently changed state law provides that if the change moves the election year such that an existing term would expire before the new election day the term would, by default, be extended if the ordinance language did not explicitly address existing terms. This is exactly how the ordinance was carefully worded.

The council's action wasn't a spur of the moment decision or an unintended consequence of a poorly worded ordinance - it was carefully and deliberately calculated and plotted at a council work session that took place on November 28.

Fortunately council work sessions are recorded and available on the city web site (http://newbrightonmn.gov/about/city-council/materials-and-media/). Unfortunately a lot of people probably did not view the term extension discussion as it occurred at over an hour into the meeting.

Below is the pertinent portion of the work session. Watch and judge for yourself.


Personally I find the logically tortured reasoning on how this isn't more of a self-serving move than merely looking out for the people of New Brighton disingenuous at best. Council Member Strub's assertion that the term lengthening is a "side effect" of the election date move is laughable given the obvious deliberate attempt to avoid any semblance of transparency.

There will definitely be a petition started soon to attempt to reign in this attempted power grab by the new council. I will post details as soon as I am aware of them.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mayoral Meltdown Goes Viral

It's going to be a long couple of years for New Brighton, but at least we will have hundreds of thousands laughing through the pain along with us.

Here's the video of our mayor going off the rails that has gone viral, along with some pointed commentary strictly for amusement purposes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbCLqwITKyU&t=5s

Unfortunately Gina Bauman, the only competent member of the clowncil, was voted out after a nasty and unethical campaign. Before leaving she did get to make an appearance on national TV to comment on the sad situation in New Brighton to give some perspective to those laughing at our mayor's meltdown:


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Setting the Record Straight

I want to begin by saying this post is long overdue.
By now many of you have seen the “shock and awe” video from an October 3rd council work session where Mayor Val Johnson accused me of being a racist. This unwarranted attack was defamatory and appalling. Unfortunately she has displayed this pattern of behavior for the entire time she has been in office. Her recent posts in a Facebook group demonstrates her continued viciousness and dishonesty.
So how does one contest people who are bent on deceit to make themselves look good, or to spitefully try to make someone else look bad? I happen to believe that truth prevails and I will give you the honesty you deserve regarding my character and my votes as a council member.
This brings me to what was being posted by Mayor Johnson and Council Member Brian Strub who always seem to go out of their way to spew their deception regarding anything I say or do. They alleged in Facebook posts that I did not vote for the Lion’s Park and questioned why I showed up at the ribbon cutting, claiming that it was merely for political gain. This was, as usual for these people, intentionally misleading and dishonest.
Here is the timeline of what is on record of the votes regarding Lions Park:
  • Council Meeting – July 11, 2017: Council Business 1. Consider Approval to Purchase New Brighton Lions Park Playground Structure and Poured in Place Safety Surfacing. Vote to approve 5-0CM Bauman thanked the PREC and task force members for all of their assistance on this project.”
  • Council Meeting – October 25, 2016: Consent Agenda Item 5. Consideration of Cooperative Agreement with Ramsey County for City Project 16-5 New Brighton Lions Park and Item 10. Consideration of Stormwater Management Facilities Maintenance Agreement for City Project 16-5, New Brighton Lions Park. Vote to approve 5-0.
  • Council Meeting October 11, 2016: Council Business 1. Resolution to Consider Bids and Award of Contract for City Project 16-5 Lions Park; Amendment: Motion to engage the contractor to ensure no expenses are encumbered until a signed agreement was in place with Ramsey County and to direct staff to enter into an agreement with RC to address the maintenance and finances for Lions Park. Votes to approve 4-0.
  • “CM Bauman knew the contractor wanted to begin this fall, but she feared if and when the County would receive their funding through a bonding bill. While she didn’t oppose the park she questioned if the project should begin without being full funded by the City and County.”
This public record is the latest example of how Johnson and Strub regularly do not tell the truth and are not worthy of representing our city. I believe that this type of behavior by elected officials is a big reason why so many citizens are hesitant about getting involved in city politics.
I believe people who know me recognize me as a person of honesty and integrity, and trust that I will do what is right. I am also very passionate regarding my principals and convictions, but not malicious.
For twelve years I have represented and served the city of New Brighton by promoting and protecting the interest of the people by listening, responding, and resolving their concerns. I want to continue to do so with your vote on Tuesday, November 7th.
Hearing from so many of you with support and encouragement has meant more to me than I can express.
With heartfelt thanks,

Gina

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Brighton Taxes and Fees are going up more than 9% in 2016!

After several years of no levy increases the decidedly leftward turn of the New Brighton City Council over the past couple of elections will result in a significant increase, both in the actual levy and a sneaky increase to the largely stealth Xcel "Franchise Fee".

If the proposed increases get final approval by the city council, an additional $667,000 will be collected from residents. This is equivalent to an overall tax levy increase of 9.64%! The vast majority of the proposed spending will be for expanding the scope and reach of city government, with little or no increase in city services. 

Please help stop this unnecessary and unwarranted tax increase by attending the Truth in Taxation meeting at New Brighton City Hall on Tuesday December 1st at 6:30 PM.


Whether or not you choose to address the council it is important to assemble a large crowd to let the council know that the people will hold them accountable for wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, especially during bad economic times.

Unfortunately this may be only the start of a multi-year spend-a-thon by city government as the election earlier this month resulted in an even further left-leaning city council for next year with only one member, Gina Bauman, willing to hold the line in city spending.

For those who did not get out and vote these big spenders out of office, this is what invariably happens when liberals gain a voting majority at any level of government.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Please vote for Gina Bauman for Mayor on Tuesday November 3

With Tuesday’s election upon us, I want to express the importance of your vote.
New Brighton is unique in that many residents are “in the know”, and do come out to vote in the local off-year elections.  However, the turnout could be substantially higher.  So I am asking those of you who normally do not come out to vote, do so this Tuesday, and here is why:
  • The dynamic of the council has changed in the last two years, and it is no longer a priority to keep spending increases under control.
  • In 2016 the tax levy will be over 9%; with 3.86% in a property tax levy, and an additional $400,000 as a City Franchise Fee.
  • A total of $1,000,000/year in the City Franchise Fee is collected in your Xcel Energy bill, is not tax deductible, and will continue well into the future.
  • It is misleading to say there will be a reduction in core service levels without these large tax increases.
  • It is critical that the current Mayoral leadership and Council change now, or future budgets will continue to be approved with a 7-10% tax increase per year, and will not be sustainable.  Come voice your opinion at the December 1st Truth-In-Taxation meeting at City Hall.
  • There has been an irresponsible comment made that our drinking water is unsafe and causes death.  This is NOT true.  Our water IS SAFE and we continue to work together towards a permanent solution.

I am proud to have had a role in making New Brighton a safe, welcoming, and desirable community. I respectfully ask for your vote for Mayor on November 3rd. 


You can contact me at ginaformayor@comcast.net; (651)636-9526.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

2015 BUDGET – TRUTH AND TAXATION HEARING TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2014

Note: The content of this post represents solely my (New Brighton Council Member Gina Bauman) viewpoints.  No other council member nor the mayor have contributed to the content and I do not express any opinions on their behalf.

By now all of you have received your property tax statement from Ramsey County reflecting your new 2015 taxes. Whether your taxes are going up or down this is a chance for all of the citizens in the city to participate and be heard by the Council on ANY city property tax issues. 

The following is a summary of the proposed budget, along with some of my concerns:
  • Even though you might have heard of a 4-1 vote taken in September that the preliminary 2015 city taxing levy is being raised by only 1.92% (approximately $131,000), this is not reflective of true budgeted spending by the city. Point of information: While this number can only go down, I have not heard from any other council member or the mayor that they are interested in doing so.
  • The city will receive $554,000 in Local Government Aid (LGA) from state taxpayers which will be put into the general fund for additional spending.
  • Ramsey County determined that it had wrongly collected $101,000 in city property taxes last year. This amount was returned to the city, but will also be put into the general fund for additional spending. If you add all of the above figures, there will be approximately $789,000 – a levy amount of over 12% of additional spending. There will also be $211,600 use of revenue reserves.
The city manager believes that all of these funds are needed, and has stated the levy would have been presented as a higher percentage to cover the budget he proposed if they were not. Therefore he justifies using the LGA and wrongly collected taxes by saying they are property tax relief.  

I personally find this position to be misguided. His refusal to reevaluate and present other scenarios that would not have spent all of the funding received is unacceptable. However, because New Brighton is set up as a "Plan B" city, if the City Manager believes he has three council votes in his favor the input of any other elected official is irrelevant. I take exception to that belief.

As the 2015 budget now stands, most of the tax increases paid by New Brighton residents will be used for the following:
  • Increase of $200,000+ for staff, salaries and steps. Note – The average salary before benefits and insurance is $75,000. Point of information: City manager salary will be approx. $126,000 plus a step increase. He believes that he is underpaid.
  • Increase of $850,000+ for renovation of the rest rooms and locker rooms and the purchase of new exercise equipment for the New Brighton Community Center. Please note that only about 850 of the 1500 members live in New Brighton.
  • Increase of almost $300,000 for the Police Department (budget $4,489,500/year).
Also, employee health insurance is going up by 22.5% in 2015 and the city manager would like another $116,500 – not included in the preliminary budget – to be paid by the taxpayers. A reorganization proposed by the city manager this past Tuesday could result in a budget savings of $167,213. He has, however,  proposed using those funds to offset the employee health care increase.

The city manager, other council members, and the mayor have frequently stated that if we do not raise taxes, city services will be cut. This is flat out a false statement as core services in the city are always funded.

Last year I led the discussion and vote to give the LGA back to the taxpayers for true property tax relief, however this year it is not the desire of any other council member or the mayor. The 6.77% levy decrease last year, still resulted a surplus this year.

My concern is that when the vote at the December 9th council meeting takes place it will be to approved the 2015 budget spending of the $554,000 funding we receive in LGA and the one-time wrongly collected taxes of $101,000.

When I raised the question of what will happen if we do not receive LGA in 2016 it did not seem to be a concern to anyone else on the Council. In my view, LGA should never be included as a revenue source in budget discussions. New Brighton is now "banking on the come", and that should be a concern for every taxpayer.

am asking you to please attend this hearing if possible, and let your voice be heard.