Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The TRUTH about the Met Council

"The question is simply this - does this unelected body have implied or expressed authority?"

First a bit of disclosure. I know and have worked with the former Met Council Chair (Susan Haigh). We were both involved with the Habitat for Humanity organization. She is a nice person, and has a long and impressive resume, most of which is government and non-profit work. That being said, she was still the head of one of the most controversial organizations ever created in the State of Minnesota. It is the organization that most on our side love to hate.

In 1967 which was the year I graduated from high school, the state legislature created the Metropolitan Council. It had a very simple task - take care of the growing number of waste water issues in the seven county area. However, like any other beast, it needed to be fed. In 1974, 1976 and 1994 the legislature expanded the powers and scope of this unelected group of 16 commissioners and a chair. In 2011, the "ship really started to hit the sand" when the legislative auditor questioned the authority of the council. Since they are all appointed by the Governor, they are not accountable to the public.

Flash forward to today. We now have a body, created in 1967 to coordinate our waste water, telling us how and where to live, how to transport ourselves, and pretty soon what to eat and whom to marry. The council has enormous power of decision making and taxation. Most if not all of their power is implied, with our left leaning Governor and Senate ready to make that power expressed if need be.

The transportation plan contained within the now famous Thrive 2040 is a big part of this latest power grab by the Met Council. Based on the latest federal government census, the council is ready to grow again. Transportation will now cover two additional counties, Sherburne and Wright. Unless the council grows the districts to cover more territory, there would need to be additional commissioners.

The slogan for Thrive 2040 says it all. "One vision, one metropolitan region". As a long time resident of Anoka County, with one daughter living in Sherburne County and the other in Hennepin (Minneapolis) County, I know this much - these counties are as culturally different from each other as Alaska and Alabama are. Attempting to prescribe a homogeneous transportation and dwelling plan for nine counties in this area would be like pounding square and triangle pegs in round or trapezoid holes.

Before the last election, most gubernatorial candidates (on our side) I talked to said the same thing - we need to get rid of the Met Council. This is a true example of not only government run amok, but also taxation without representation. If the future of this governing body was not front and center in the 2014 elections, and I was disappointed. As the musical group Steppenwolf said in their song Monster:

 Yeah, there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin'

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin' the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
And that monster is you Met Council. You have earned the title. Now wear it.


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