John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Monday, August 30, 2010

September Maplewood Monthly Now Online

The September issue of the city newsletter, Maplewood Monthly, is now online. It was my turn to write the city council column (which is labeled page 3, but you'll find it on the 4th page of the PDF). I didn't think of any clever over-arching theme, so I just summarized some recent city council events and decisions.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spotlight on Maplewood - August

New this year is Spotlight on Maplewood, a cable TV program being produced by the City of Maplewood. And I'm happy to see that, in case you don't have cable, or don't have the chance to watch or record it at the times when it's played, episodes are being put online so that you can watch them on your computer.

Here is the August episode. In it, City Manager Jim Antonen interviews Ann Hutchinson from the Maplewood Nature Center about the Extreme Green Makeover; and then talks with environmental planner Shann Finwall about the idea of organized trash collection.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Johnny Appleseed 2010

Tomorrow, August 28th, is this year's annual Johnny Appleseed Day at the Bruentrup Farm, hosted by the Maplewood Area Historical Society. It's great fun for families, so be sure and stop by!

Last year we enjoyed attending, and I posted a couple of photos.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

New LMC Video

The League of Minnesota Cities has a new video in their "Outside the Ox" online series, calling attention to the fiscal crisis facing cities in our state. Here it is:

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Local Election News Wrap

Last week's Maplewood Review included stories on the local results of the primary and Maplewood's special election, with one article covering Mark Koppen's victory, and another on the Republican primary between Nathan Hansen and Bob Zick to determine who will face incumbent Democrat Leon Lillie in the November election for Minnesota House District 55A (which covers northern Maplewood and the entire city of North Saint Paul).

While Hansen's 57%-to-43% margin of victory seems quite strong, some folks have asked me how perennial fringe candidate and local cable access TV goofball Zick could come even that close to upsetting Hansen, who had after all been endorsed by the local Republican party unit. (Last election cycle, Zick ran as an Independence Party candidate for the same office. Since no one else filed under that party for that office, this allowed him to automatically get public campaign financing from the taxpayers, which he apparently spent promoting Diana Longrie's DFL primary campaign against Lillie.)

Consider the raw vote totals: 558 to 416. In comparison, Lillie — who appeared on the Democratic column of the ballot without any opponent — received 3,138 votes. This district leans DFL, but not by that much. Even the last-place finisher in the Maplewood special election received more than twice as many votes as Zick — but that includes all of Maplewood, not just the portion in 55A. Republican voters (especially those in North Saint Paul, without a special city council election) didn't have a lot of motivation to show up at the polls, and I don't know how much their party bothered investing in GOTV efforts. Republican-leaning and independent voters had little reason to vote in the Republican column when there were real contests on the top of the ticket in the IP and DFL columns.

End result: a low turnout, where a fringe candidate can look better on a percentage basis with a tiny number of raw votes.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Margin of Victory

Besides the Maplewood Special Election, you may have noticed there was a primary in Minnesota for many other offices this past Tuesday.

According to an e-mail sent to supporters from the campaign of Rep. Betty McCollum's campaign, she received the largest winning percentage of any Congressional candidate, in her landslide victory over Diana Longrie. Politics in Minnesota has the breakdown for all the Minnesota Congressional primaries. It's interesting that, even losing by such an enormous margin, Longrie actually received more votes than the winner of the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District. (The endorsed Republican candidate a bit more than twice as many votes in that race as the suspected-felon-dentist-expatriate candidate.) Given that there was no doubt about the Republican gubernatorial primary, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those Longrie votes came from non-Democrats who oppose McCollum and simply took the opportunity to participate in "Operation Chaos."


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Unaudited 2010 Special Election Results

Maplewood's City Clerk compiled an unaudited election results report for the special election, on a precinct-by-precinct basis, and e-mailed it to various folks including the candidates and the City Council. I've uploaded it for anyone curious.

Not suprisingly, given the different levels of attention people often pay to city versus higher level elections, more than 600 voters cast ballots but did not mark a choice in the city race.

For those who like to slice and dice the numbers, here's one spreadsheet I did for analysis -- looking at each candidate's percentage of the city council vote in each precinct. It's interesting to see where the candidates demonstrated strength or weakness, indicating where they have strong ties in the community or perhaps where they focused their campaigning.

Koppen's best precinct was 10 (58%), which I believe is his home precinct; it was also the worst for Sletten (10%). Even in his worst precinct (P13), Koppen still earned a respectable 46% of the vote.

One of Sletten's best precincts was P2, home to former mayor Diana Longrie (who was also on the ballot as a primary candidate, there to be mauled by Rep. McCollum), where she earned 24% of the ballots. In the seventh precinct, where she lives, Sletten only received her city-wide average of 19%. Perhaps familiarity has bred something there?

Two of Cave's three strongest precincts, all at around 34%, were Gladstone's P4, which was arguably the engine for her 2006 special election win (following up on all the neighborhood fears drummed in in the regular election the fall before), and her home Precinct 9. On the other hand, the 25% she got in Precinct 3 (where I live, as does Councilmember Juenemann) was her worst performance in the city.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Koppen Dominates Special Election

The Ramsey County Elections results page now has all Maplewood precincts reporting, and the landslide victor in the Maplewood City Council special election is Marv Koppen. The totals from all sixteen precincts:
ELIZABETH A. SLETTEN: 878 votes, 19.08%
REBECCA CAVE: 1,378 votes, 29.94%
MARVIN C KOPPEN: 2,346 votes, 50.98%
I know Marv worked very hard for this race, and the results speak for themselves. Congratulations to Councilmember-elect Koppen. If I am remembering correctly, he will be sworn into office at the start of our next regular council meeting, on August 23rd.


Primary and Special Election TODAY!

Don't forget to get out and vote!

If you're not sure where to vote, visit the Ramsey County Precinct Finder.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Purely Coincidental

Two things apparently happened while I was at work today:

(1) A bunch of Rebecca Cave flyers showed up on the outside of neighbors' mailboxes,

(2) All of our lawnsigns (including one for Cave's opponent, Marv Koppen) were stolen.

Pure coincidence, I'm sure.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Beam Avenue Detour Starting Wednesday

You may have noticed some construction going in in northern Maplewood lately, including the huge White Bear Ave./County Road D project. Starting in the middle of this week, a section of Beam Avenue near the Mall will be closed for utility work. As the City engineer explains in an update to the city council:

It is necessary to close the section of Beam Avenue west of White Bear Avenue to Swanson Street (Maplewood Mall South Drive) for the relocation of Qwest's duct line in the intersection and reconstruction of other utilities. The closure of Beam Avenue will be one block in length west of White Bear Avenue. In order to relocate Qwest duct it is necessary to expose the line that runs under Beam Avenue on the west side of White Bear Avenue. While the duct is exposed, it will need to be lowered under an existing large storm sewer main line. This work will take approximately 2 ½ weeks to complete this work.

We are scheduling the closure of Beam Avenue starting on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 and this is tentatively scheduled to be opened on Saturday, August 28, 2010 (weather permitting). Ramsey County will have a signed detour utilizing County Road C and Mn/DOT Highway 61. Please see detour plan for the signed detour. If work is completed early the contractor will open Beam Avenue to traffic.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Taste of Maplewood 2010

The Taste of Maplewood will take place in Goodrich Park tomorrow from 4-10 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 10 PM. Admission is free, and it promises to be fun for all ages, especially if you like to eat! More information is available on the city website.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

National Night Out 2010

Tonight is National Night Out! This is a great chance to get out and meet your neighbors. Police and fire will be trying to make it to every party in the city, and other city folks will be making the rounds as well. (In the past, members of the Environmental and Natural Resources Commission have spent the evening distributing recycling bins, for example.)

You can now find a map of all this year's National Night Out neighborhood parties in Maplewood on the city's web page. Find the one nearest you, and stop by this evening!

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Extreme Green Winners

Last night's workshop took an unusual direction. After a discussion of the impact of a recent state Supreme Court decision on the standards to apply to variance decisions, the entire City Council drove over to the home of Michele and Michael Tibideau, to inform them that they had won the Extreme Green Makeover contest. Their front yard will be receiving a $15,000 landscaping makeover, installing environmentally friendly features such as stormwater management, native plantings, etc.

Local TV station Kare11 was on hand to record the event; there was a short piece about it in their 10 PM news program, and a blurb is on their website.

Congratulations to the Tibideaus, and thanks to the sponsors who funded the prize and the judges evaluated all the applicants!

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