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; (651)636-9526.

Sunday, November 30, 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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 5, 2013 – Please Vote in the New Brighton City Election

Tuesday November 5, 2013 will be an important day for the residents of New Brighton. Based on recent election turnouts, roughly 3,000 voters in a city of 21,456 will elect a Mayor and two Council Members. I, Gina Bauman, am asking to be re-elected as it has been a privilege to serve New Brighton and its residents for the last eight years.

I have heard many “what I will do if I’m elected” expressions from the other council candidates. Here are some of their “new fresh ideas:

We need a strong vision for the New Brighton Exchange Development” – Sounds good to me, except it is already happening with the building of The View apartments, Pulte Homes – The Enclave development, and the expansion of two new buildings by API in the next couple of years.

We need continue investment in our Public Safety Department”– Check this one off of the list.  In the last month there were two new police officers and a PSO officer hired by the department with the City Manager’s approval. We also went through the process of hiring paid on-call firefighters in the same time frame.  Investment in tax dollars is over $5 million a year.

We need more connectivity” – Although this may be a head shaking moment, I am assuming it means we need different modes of transportation to “get around”. If this is the case New Brighton already has it covered well with approximately 21 miles of sidewalks, over 19 mapped bike and walking trails, 70 miles of local streets, 21 miles of county roads and 4 miles of state funded highways.

We need to restore programs and services that were cut” – This is a very misleading statement. No services have been cut in New Brighton!  And, with regard to programs, there are approximately 250 offered through the Parks and Recreation Department. 

We need a better “balance of revenue and spending”” – Plain and simple, no we don’t.  New Brighton has had a budget surplus for the last four years without cuts in services, a 15 year capital equipment and vehicle maintenance plan, and a 7+ year look forward on our bonding and tax increment financing, along with paying down the debt.  Statements like this should be a red flag to all voters - even though there is no need to raise taxes, all of the new candidates running for city council will raise your taxes!

With regard to the mayoral race, I believe Dave Jacobsen deserves your vote.  Dave’s beliefs and convictions are consistent with how he leads the city and council.  He has been instrumental in budget decisions and making sure there is a long term financial plan, especially in the area of capital.  He has clearly demonstrated that there is no reason to replace his steady and effective leadership.

New Brighton is unique as most who live here love their city, and there are many reasons why they do.  It is safe, has well maintained streets, many parks and activities, a great school district, new economic development, and is in the forefront of having no tax increases in four years –a comparison with any northern suburb shows an unmatched 6.77% property tax decrease for the year 2014

We cannot afford to turn back all the positive accomplishments that have been made in the last four years!

The polls will open in a few hours. I am asking voters to come out and re-elect Dave Jacobsen for Mayor and myself, Gina Bauman, for City Council. 

Thank you for all your support. I look forward to continue serving you on the New Brighton City Council.

Gina Bauman

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brian Strub - A Silly Candidate for New Brighton City Council

The  British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus once presented a parody of the media coverage of a local election. The bit included an analysis of the candidates and their political party affiliations. One of the segments featured the candidate from the Silly Party. The New Brighton City Council election is officially "non-partisan" (which is, of course, absolute nonsense), but if party affiliations were in use, the Silly Party would definitely have Brian Strub as their standard bearer.

While all of the three non-incumbents in the city council race are firmly positioned to the political far left and pretty much interchangeable when it comes to the harm they would do to New Brighton City Government, Strub appears to be the most touchy-feely and substantively lacking in the group (which is saying something given this bunch). In short, his candidacy is an exercise in silliness.

My first impression of Strub, other than what’s up with the nerdy Bill Nye the Science Guy bow tie, was that he appeared to have accidentally filled out a candidacy filing form for City Council rather than School Board. His campaign meme has been more of what we’re used to from the typical liberal "education" enthusiast with very little qualifications other than "I really care about the children" running for School Board. One of his stock campaign talking points is that he is the only candidate in the race with a child in the local public school system (to my knowledge he hasn't commented on the fact that there are other candidates in the race with children that have completed the entire curriculum, thus giving these candidates a more experienced perspective if this was a legitimate qualification). While this is certainly not a negative, it is also not a positive and should carry about as much weight qualifying him for the position he is running for as being the only candidate in the race named Brian.

In his campaign appearances he tries really (too) hard to present an image of being an intellectual with relevant, politically correct ideas. I personally find his haughty demeanor and consistently odd pronunciation of our city’s name as "New Brightaahn"  to be tragically comical and interpret it as a futile attempt to gloss over that he has not done his homework when it comes to being prepared to effectively serve in the position that he is running for.

Watching Strub’s performance in the candidate forums, it was pretty apparent that he is not well informed about the workings of city government, obviously tap-dancing around questions related to New Brighton’s charter as a “Plan B” city, TIF, LGA, and other areas where a member of the city council would be expected to make informed decisions. He can and regularly does, however, prattle on confidently about the need for good schools, good park and rec facilities, a first-rate trail system, and the social engineering needed to make all that is good and just come about. When it comes to the latter he sound a lot like the advocates of UN Agenda 21 whether he intends to or not.

One of Strub’s hard-hitting issues at the LWV forum was that he implied that the current city council was directly responsible for locating the route of one of his favorite park trails in such a way that it floods after a heavy rain, accusing them of ignoring the advice of unidentified “experts”. He clearly was upset that his expensive running shoes get wet because he chooses to run through a puddle, implying that it was the responsibility of government to provide a place for him to run after a rain storm but still not get his feet wet.

After the forum I asked him why he didn't either slow down and walk around the flooded area, run somewhere else, or maybe even taking the day off from running when the trail was likely to be flooded. When I questioned the general intelligence of someone who could not figure this out he indignantly defied me to check it out sometime after a storm and try to walk around the flooding. At this point I didn't bother to ask if he had considered that the trail route was established after taking into consideration of many factors, including the geographic characteristics of the area, distance from other park amenities and private property, cost to build and upkeep, etc. as it would be clearly beyond the scope of the man’s ability to intelligently discuss. The whole premise and presentation was just plain silly and just consumed time that could have been spent commenting on serious issues had he possessed the ability to do so.

For further insight into Brian Strub's candidacy and qualifications take a look at his Facebook page where he, in the words of a fictional intellectual in a popular cartoon, takes shallowness to new depths. Clearly his whole campaign comes down to good intentions, but the attempt to cover up his lack of qualifications for the office comes off as just plain silly.

Strub clearly does not understand what the City Council can and should do (e.g. education is definitely important, but that is not within the charter or mission of city government) and is obviously unqualified for the position for which he is running. He gets very upset and defensive when this is pointed out to him by a citizen or other candidate. A couple of years ago he ended up resigning from a city commission following an impassioned but factually incorrect letter to the editor of the local paper. This combination of unpreparedness and tendency to become intractably defensive is not what we want or need in a member of the City Council.

We live in serious times and need serious people at all levels of government to have the wherewithal to effectively deal with serious issues in the best interests of the people. In this election the serious, well qualified candidate for City Council is Gina Bauman who has proven through both word and deed that she is worthy of re-election.  The last thing we need is to elect a silly, ill-qualified candidate to a position where he would clearly be in well over his head.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Graeme Allen - A Young Candidate with Old Failed Ideas

Graeme Allen is running for a seat on the New Brighton City Council. He is a good looking, well educated, and articulate young man. His speaks in slick politically correct platitudes and has several years of experience as a political activist for left-wing candidates and causes, a lobbyist, and as a "community organizer". What could possibly go wrong here?

On the home page of Allen’s campaign site he states "I am running for a seat on the New Brighton City Council to add a fresh voice and perspective to the issues that face our city today and beyond...I have the track record, passion and a deep commitment for the work that lies ahead." A constant theme of his campaign is "fresh, new ideas". Sounds good, if it were true (it isn't).

Just how fresh and new are Allen’s ideas? Actually, not very. His public statements, campaign literature, and on-line presence shows that he is hard-core DFL party hack who runs with the party activists, office holders, organized labor, and the public education bureaucracy. He espouses the same tired liberal/socialist/statist ideas that have failed miserably every time they are implemented. And he wants to bring them to New Brighton city government. This would not be a good thing.

Taking a look at Allen’s self-reported work history on his LinkedIn page we see the following:
  • Community and Political Organizer  - Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation 
  • Field Organizer - Minnesotans United for all Families 
  • Field Organizer - Minnesota State Arts Board 
  • Dir. of Gov't Relations - Minnesoa State University Student Association 
  • Volunteer Manager - Mike Erlandson for US Representative 
  • Intern - Minnesota DFL
This record clearly indicates a hard-left political philosophy. Mike Erlandson was the chief of staff to the ultra-liberal former US Representative Martin Olav Sabo, as well as serving  as chair of the Minnesota DFL. I think we can safely toss any notion of  "non-partisan" (which is nonsense anyway) when it comes to Mr. Allen.

His work record also has a conspicuous absence of any private sector work experience. Looks to me like we have yet another liberal coming out of academia and political activism (where nothing of value is produced) that has all of the answers for those of us who work in the private sector producing goods and services that the public wants and needs.

Also note the prominence of the title of "Organizer" in his various positions...need I say more? Look how well putting a "community organizer" with no private sector experience into elected office has worked out at the national level. Clearly the New Brighton City Council is a smaller train than the federal government, but in both scenarios a train wreck is inevitable. This is a train that should never leave the station with anyone of Allen's ilk even near the controls.

Allen does not seem to understand the role and responsibilities of city government. In his candidate forums appearances he was often clearly either completely uninformed about city employee compensation and benefits (among many other things) or was blatantly lying about them for political gain. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and conclude that he was just uninformed, but some of the whoppers he told the audience were Clintonesque in magnitude. In his passionate, but totally uninformed, arguments he sounded very much like a union organizer. The largest expense for the city is employee compensation, and the current council has done a good job about keeping costs under control while at the same time attracting and retaining good employees. Would it be wise to expand the influence of unions (some city employees are already unionized) and the resulting impractical work rules and very generous benefits in city government? Given Allen's background, would it be reasonable to suspect that he would carry union water as a member of the city council? This may be a good question to ask if you are one of the lucky ones to receive a call from the IBEW promoting Allen's candidacy (though answering this question is apparently not in the call script tree). It certainly is very civic minded of a major union to get involved in a local government election.

Allen also seems to confuse the function of city government with that of the school board and suggests that the city needs to "invest" (translation: spend copious amounts of your tax dollars) in "education" (translation: liberal indoctrination and employment for education bureaucrats). Like most liberals/socialists/statists/academics/progressives (take your pick as they are pretty much the same thing these days), he doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that government at any level cannot and does not invest in anything - it does not create any wealth and can only spend the money and consume the wealth extracted from taxpayers. There are open positions on the School Board in this election, but Allen is running for New Brighton City Council.

Does he really not get the difference, or is he just pandering for votes from the "education community" that is an enabler for the liberal indoctrination and wasteful spending that goes on at the School Board. I'm all for providing the opportunity for our children to get a good education (which is not the same as blindly supporting the liberal education industry, which is a major conduit for left wing political power and influence), but someone needs to explain to Mr. Allen that "education" is outside the scope and responsibility of city government. His bringing up the topic of education as a "issue" in a city council race indicates that he does not understand the role of city government or is looking to expand its reach, which is never good for the wealth and property of the citizens.

In the current lackluster Obama economy (that, by the way, Allen claims is improving and justifies more "investment" by the city) and many complex problems city government must deal with, do we need yet another hard lefty on the City Council? Virtually all of the problematic issues the city has to deal with were largely caused or worsened by liberal policies coming down from all levels of government. Adding a liberal like Allen (or any other of the lefties running in this election) to the City Council would not be a good move. Haven't the residents of New Brighton already been burned enough by liberal thinking and the associated failed policies?

Graeme Allen is clearly an ambitious young man who intends to go places. The question is do we want our city government to go along with him down the road of ever expanding government in our everyday lives, or do we want to stay on the prosperous path of limited and effective government as implemented by the current council? Personally, I’ll go with prosperity and encourage you do the same.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mary Kunesh-Podein: Goofy Liberal Ideas - Very Little Substance

Mary Kunesh-Podein is one of the challengers for a seat on the New Brigthon City Council. It would be unfortunate if she is elected as she is obviously just another hope-and-change liberal that speaks in touchy-feel platitudes with very little in the way of substantive ideas. Electing her (or any of the other hard-left challengers for that matter) could well undermine much of the progress that has been made over the last few years in restoring private property rights and cleaning up the financial mess left by the previous mayor and councils.

A lot can be learned about MKP by looking at her Facebook page. She associates with (and gets endorsements and fund raising assistance from) budget busting big government liberals like Barb Goodwin, Connie Bernardy, Carolyn Laine and many well known local hard-core DFL activists. She has a post in praise of Betty McCollum, one of the most liberal and ultra-partisan members of the US House of Representatives who votes in rigid lock-step with Obama and Pelosi. She is also very obviously very pro-public sector union, particularly with the teacher’s union.

In addition to the indications of her general political philosopy, MKP's Facebook page also has a post that links to a paper that advocates left-wing psycho-babble about "building neighborhoods" titled "Where We Live Matters   Place - Based Neighbourhood Work - A Review, Promising Practice and an Approach". We’re talking UN Agenda 21 sort of stuff here. This should scare the hell out of people who believe in private property rights and limited government. New Brighton is still hurting from years of eminent domain abuse and city government getting into the property development business by past mayors and councils. This paper advocates even worse practices and suppression of private property rights, and the fact that MKP saw fit to link to with a positive perspective should be enough to disqualify her with those who value liberty and property rights.

The same general theme carries over at her campaign web site ( It oozes politically correct, left-wing buzzword bingo style catch phrases and uses a lot of words to convey very little substance. Taking a look at her "issues" list we see a combination of vacuous platitudes and big-government liberal speak - a dangerous combination for taxpayers and advocates of limited government:

Build and maintain relationships: Expand outreach and resources for New Brighton
Just what does this mean? As we have seen with Obama and his ilk, anything that the left-wing politician wants it to mean to the current audience. In general, any time a liberal or socialist talks about "relationships", "outreach", and/or "resources" our wealth and liberty is under assault. 

Transportation: Assess and increase transportation options in New Brighton
New Brighton and areas just outside its borders has major transportation arteries that are already well served by Metro Transit buses with regular routes to both downtowns. The Public Safety department has documented that it can generally answer any call for assistance in 3-4 minutes anywhere in the city if the situation warrants it. We have a straight-forward grid pattern of main routes and secondary streets that can easily be navigated by vehicle, bicycle, or on-foot. This is a non-issue that just indicates how juiced-in she is with the liberal big-government sector.

City services: Deliver quality city services
Seems to me that the current council already does a pretty good job of this without busting the budget (see next section).

Taxes: Balanced approach to revenue raising and spending
Warning, warning, danger Will Robinson (and New Brighton taxpayers)! "Balanced approach/Revenue raising" is merely liberal/socialist/statist-speak for "your taxes will be going up". MKP's pal Barb Goodwin repeatedly prattled on with this sort of language and look at the assault on our wealth that came out of St. Paul during the last session. Why would we expect a left-winger like MKP to be any different at the local level?

Development: Sustainable business development and quality neighborhoods
"Sustainable" and "quality" are very nebulous terms and open to any interpretation at the whim of a politician. The general political philosophy of left-wing politicians is inherently anti-business. I don't even want to think about what my neighborhood becoming one of higher "quality" would mean in the real world.

Infrastructure: Dependable and cost efficient energy infrastructure 
Alternative Energy/Green initiatives: Making New Brighton a greener city
Looks to me that the very premise of these is way beyond the legitimate scope of city government. When a liberal proposes making anyting "greener" it usually becomes so due to all of the taxpayer money that gets thrown at it. "Energy infrastructure"? Is she proposing that New Brighton build a nuclear reactor or oil refinery? This is just a bunch of left-wing psychobabble nonsense.

Human Rights and Respect: Diversity brings the community together
In the words of Ronald Reagan from the days where we had a real President: there they go again. "Diversity"? Really? Just what about our city is currently "non-diverse"? We would all be better off if liberals got off of the meaningless buzz phrase of "human rights" (which, if one is force to define it the way a liberal means it, just means "big government" and/or "socialism") and concentrated on promoting and preserving constitutional rights and property rights.

Public Safety: Awareness and engagement
How about just enforcing the law and keeping us safe? New Brighton Public Safety has a stellar record and is pretty aware and engaged. Just another non-issue that sounds good to low-information voters. 

Parks and Recreation: A City of beautiful parks and terrific recreation
Yep. We have lots of parks and recreation stuff and already put much more emphasis on Parks and Rec than most cities. Blah, blah, blah.

Mary Kunesh-Podein obviously has no realistic concept of what a member of the City Council can and should be involved with in the context of a "Plan B" city like New Brighton. We the citizens of New Brighton are electing people to represent us in city government, not a social director, philosopher, or nanny to the people.

Although the City Council race is officially "non-partisan" the fact is that MKP is an unapologetic liberal who will undoubtedly bring her wacky left-wing perspective and ideas to city government. Haven’t we had enough of that nonsense at the state and national level? Look how well "fundamental transformation" is working at the national level - how’s that hope and change thing working out for you? A city election is admittedly a long way from city or state government, but the roots of liberalism/socialism/statism can take dig in and choke off liberty and private property rights at any level of government or society.

Let's not repeat the same unfortunate mistakes made by voters for other levels of government and in this city's past. Vote for qualified, responsible, and experienced representation in New Brighton city government. In this election it is clear that Gina Bauman is the only candidate that fully satisfies this criteria (more on this in a future post).