John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Election/Candidate Information

The elections page is live today on the City of Maplewood website. It includes sub-pages for campaign finance reports (none so far), candidate information (the one candidate who has filed is former councilmember/Business and Economic Development Commissioner/local businessman Marv Koppen), and information on filing for city office.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Filing Period

The filing period for the city council special election began yesterday and runs through June 1st. The special election will be held at the same time as the state primary, August 10th.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Reading: Are Local Government Workers Overpaid?

Conventional wisdom (or at least people who rail against cost-of-living adjustments) says that state and local government are paid too much compared to the private sector. A recent study commissioned by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Institute on Retirement Security examined this belief.

The authors, both economists at the University of Wisconsin, found:
Wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants such as education and work experience. State workers typically earn 11% less and local workers 12% less.

During the last 15 years, the pay gap has grown - earnings for state and local workers have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees.
You can read the entire report online, or the shorter fact sheet.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Law Enforcement Memorial

This week we honor the men and women of law enforcement. And now, at the end of the week, we especially remember those who gave their lives in the line of duty. Starting at 8 PM yesterday, officers from many different departments have joined the Law Enforcement Memorial Association to stand guard at the Law Enforcement Memorial by the state Capitol at 6 E. 12th St. Wreath-laying ceremonies honor the fallen — ceremonies that this year included both Maplewood Sgt. Bergeron and North St. Paul Officer Crittenden, who were taken from us in the past year.

Here are photos I took of last night's ceremonies:

The memorial just after sundown. Above the columns, the inscription reads, "Their sacrifice can never be forgotten as they did not die in vain."

Maplewood officers take their turn standing guard. The inscription is Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

Chief Thomalla places the wreath in honor of Sgt. Bergeron.

Deputy Chief Kvam rings the bell in honor of the fallen.

The wreath to honor Sgt. Bergeron will be laid again at 11:00 AM this morning. The memorial guard continues until 8 PM this evening.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Coal Tar Sealant Ban

This past Monday we approved the first reading of Maplewood's revised stormwater ordinance.

One thing new in the ordinance is a ban on the use of coal tar-based driveway and road sealants in the city of Maplewood. You may have read about the problems with coal tar sealcoating in the news recently. It's been a hot topic around the nation; the city of White Bear Lake was the first in Minnesota to ban them, and the legislature has been considering a state-wide ban. The MPCA has a handy fact sheet about the products. PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) found in coal tar sealcoats easily wear off the pavement, and from there work their way into homes and are washed down into the stormwater system (where they can result in major expenses for cities that have to eventually dredge and dispose of contaminated sediment from stormwater ponds).

Coal tar has been known as a carcinogen since the 18th century, so the presence of these toxins in house dust is especially worrisome for small children — having two crawling around my house right now, I can tell you that anything on the floor is going to make it into a mouth sooner or later. In our outside environment, the chemicals that run off of coal tar "kill tadpoles, cause tumors on fish and eliminate whole species of tiny aquatic creatures near the base of the food chain," to quote a lengthy and well-worth-reading article on

Banning coal tar sealants is good for the health of our families, our environment, and our city's pocketbook — as eliminating these chemicals from stormwater runoff will avoid big future bills in cleaning and maintaining our storm sewer infrastructure.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Funeral Rebroadcasts

The funeral for Sgt. Bergeron will be replayed on On Location TV, on local cable channel 19, at the following times:

May 15 at 3:00 PM
May 16 at 3:00 PM
May 20 at 3:00 PM
May 22 at 11:30 PM

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Police on Facebook

Something else I learned today from watching the press conference in City Hall: the Maplewood Police Department has a Facebook page. Chief Thomalla said that the condolences received here and elsewhere are being read and much appreciated by Sgt. Bergeron's fellow officers.


Funeral Arrangements

At a press conference held in council chambers just before noon today, the following information was distributed to the news media. I was stopping by city hall at the time and got a copy of the press release.

The services for Sergeant Joseph Bergeron are as follows:

Visitation: May 5,2010 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN 55109

Funeral: May 6, 2010, 10:00 am at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, 239 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102

Christian Burial: Following the funeral service, St. John's Cemetery, 380 Little Canada Road East, Little Canada, MN 55117

A memorial fund for Sergeant Bergeron's family has been established at the City & County Credit Union. Donations can be sent to:

Sgt. Joe Bergeron Memorial Fund
City & County Credit Union
1661 Cope Avenue East
Maplewood, MN 55109-2614

Media questions regarding logistics and other matters specific to the funeral should be directed to St. Paul Police Sergeant Paul Schnell at 651-755-1520.

General questions may be directed to Maplewood Police Department Deputy Chief Dave Kvam at 651-249-2603 or

I am told that the Community Center's regular operations will be closing starting at 3 PM on Wednesday for the visitation [Update, 5/4: Looking at the city website, it looks like the decision was made to close the Community Center earlier, at noon]. It sounds like City Hall will be closed during the time of the funeral on Thursday as well.

Also, the City Council/Manager Workshop scheduled for this evening has been cancelled. Those agenda items will come back for a workshop at a future date (probably next Monday before our regular council meeting).

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

News Links: Officer Down

As our community faces the tragic loss of Sgt. Bergeron this morning, here are links to some of the local news media coverage of the story:
The police will have another press conference at 8:00 tonight with the latest updates. Some of the TV stations interrupted their regular programming to broadcast the two earlier press conferences live, so that may happen again.

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Maplewood Officer Shot

You know it's not going to be good news when you get a phone call from the city manager before 8 AM on a Saturday.

This will no doubt be all over the news today. At the moment, here are the preliminary "breaking news" stories I see online: WCCO, KARE, Fox9.

I'll leave it to the official channels to provide accurate and current information. Otherwise all I can say is that I'm stunned and saddened, and my heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of the officer.

Update: On live TV I see that it is reported that the officer was killed.


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