John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maplewood, City of Excellence

Earlier this month, Maplewood and North Saint Paul were jointly honored with the "City of Excellence" award at the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference. The award was in recognition of our joint recreation programming agreement, which is saving our cities money and enhancing services for our residents.

You can read more about it on the League of Minnesota Cities website, as well as an article in the Maplewood Review.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

State Shutdown and Secretary of State

As we get closer to the likely shutdown of state government due to the budget impasse, more of the effects are coming into view.  In my work e-mail address, I received a message today from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, sent no doubt to all Minnesota businesses that they have e-mail addresses for, about the impact on services the Secretary of State provides to the business community.

It reads:

Re: Potential Government Shutdown
From: Bert Black, Legal Advisor, Office of the Secretary of State
Date: June 21, 2011

The Office of the Secretary of State operates on a biennial budget. Funds are appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature every two years, with each fiscal year beginning on July 1 and ending on June 30 of the following calendar year. Our current biennial budget is due to end after June 30, 2011.

As you may know, the Minnesota State Legislature adjourned May 23, 2011 without appropriating money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.

In the absence of legislation specifically appropriating funds for the continuing operations of the Office for the next biennium, we will have no or very limited authority to expend or release funds after June 30, 2011.

The Attorney General has petitioned the Ramsey County District Court for an order continuing the core functions of government, including the services provided by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Of course, there is no assurance that any specific function will continue after the close of business on June 30.

Because we do not know whether the biennial budget process will conclude in time to avoid a disruption to our operations, nor whether the court will order the Office to continue to offer its services, we must advise you that the Office of the Secretary of State may be closed. If the
Office is closed:

  • The computer systems of the office will be turned off for security reasons.
  • No Uniform Commercial Code documents can be filed, and no searches will be available. UCC services at county recorder offices will also be unavailable.
  • No filings under the Central Notification System will be made and no master lists will be distributed to buyers.
  • No business entity filings can be made, and no copies, certified copies or certificates regarding those filings will be available.
  • Substituted service of process on businesses will not be accepted.
  • No documents can be authenticated for overseas use and no apostilles will be issued.
  • There will be no bulk sales of data, and data inquiries using the computer system of the Office will be unavailable.
  • No person will be able to obtain a notary commission, and, if the shutdown lasts past August 1, renewals of notary commissions will not be processed.
  • Domestic Annual Renewals will not be accepted online or otherwise. (Renewals are not due until December 31)

In order to avoid the negative consequences of the above, the Office suggests that wherever possible, that filings (other than Domestic Annual Renewals), searches, copy orders and all other transactions be submitted as soon as possible, so that staff may complete as many as possible before any shutdown begins.

We will work to keep you informed of progress regarding legislative authorization of appropriations, and we will make every reasonable effort to issue public notices promptly when budgets are approved and the Office’s operations may be resumed. We do suggest that you monitor state websites, bulletins, and media publications for further information.

Please feel free to share this communication with your colleagues, associates and others as you deem appropriate.

The loss of these services could create some big headaches for private businesses.  For example, how willing is a bank or other lender to advance money to a small business if they do not have the ability to perfect a security interest in the collateral with a Uniform Commercial Code filing?  How many new business ventures will be delayed because it will not be possible to file articles of incorporation, reserve a business name, etc.?

For the average citizen, many of these government functions, which facilitate transactions between and among private parties, are nearly invisible.  A temporary shut-down may make a lot of folks aware of many things (certainly not limited to the Secretary of State's functions) that we take for granted, but make the smooth functioning of our economy possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sletten Complaints Dismissed

One of the candidates in this year's election has apparently decided to make baseless legal action a part of her campaign strategy.  Last week, Elizabeth Sletten filed complaints with the Office of Administrative Hearings against Marv Koppen and me.

In Marv's case, she claimed that his 2010 election website was designed to mislead voters about endorsements THIS year that had not yet been made (despite the fact that the website obviously was aimed at the 2010 special election).  In my case, she searched through the nearly six hundred entries I've written in this blog to find one from 2007 where I made reference to having the DFL endorsement.  She then claimed that a four-year-old blog entry talking about getting out the vote for the September 2007 primary was intended to mislead voters into believing I was endorsed for my 2011 re-election campaign.  (She filed the claim the day before last week's DFL endorsing convention.)

Not surprisingly, the administrative law judges who reviewed her claims dismissed them all.  The judges' findings and orders aren't on the Office of Administrative Hearings web page yet, but I've scanned and uploaded the Dismissal Order from my case for anyone curious to read.  The ALJ found that she failed to set forth a prima facie case.

After filing her complaint, I'm told that Sletten sent out a press release describing these legal actions as "The first of several False Claims of Support complaints," suggesting that she is on the prowl for additional bogus claims to pursue.  We'll have to see how much taxpayer money she's determined to waste in making the Office of Administrative Hearings respond to these frivolous complaints, and whether she limits herself to incumbents or targets all her opponents.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

State Shutdown & Road Construction

Last week our city staff informed the Council of the likely impact of the potential state shutdown on road projects in Maplewood.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation has advised local governments to halt work on any jobs with federal funding on July 1st if a budget deal isn't reached.  Also, MnDOT has directed that work will not be allowed in any MnDOT right-of-way if there's a state government shutdown.

What this means for Maplewood: The purely local projects (which would be the residential neighborhood of Western Hills that is having a lot of streets done, and the public works in Gladstone that goes along with the redevelopment at Frost and Lake Shore Drive) will stay on track through a state shutdown.  But there are a couple of very big ongoing projects in Maplewood that include federal funding and at least some work in MnDOT right of way: the Rice Street/Highway 36 bridge, interchange, and related work (which is partly in Maplewood, but mostly in Little Canada and Roseville); and the White Bear Avenue improvements.

Unless some procedural work-around is found to allow at least some of that work to continue, we may see those projects sit idle for an unknown length of time while the governor and legislature try to work out their differences.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Personal Endorsements

My re-election campaign has only just begun, but I'm pleased that a number of individuals have already asked me to list their names as supporters of my candidacy. I am proud to have the personal endorsements of these Maplewood residents and elected officials:

Robert N. Andersen
Richard Baldwin
Claudia Baldwin
John Boland
Char Brooker
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi
Don Christianson
Alice Christianson
Lyn Crosby
Sandy Dicke
Sherrie Dougherty
Tom Dougherty
Paul Ellefson
Peggy Ellefson
Bernadine (Bunny) Engeldorf, RN
Peter Fischer
Ann Fitch
Mary Flister
Stephan Flister
Terry Gunderson
Jo Harkins-Craven
Kay Hatlestad
Carol Ann Hohenstein
Mark Jenkins
Councilmember Kathleen Juenemann
Matt Ledvina
State Rep. Leon Lillie
Councilmember Jim Llanas
Claudia Lonetti
Gary Lonetti
Bill Mahre
Jeri Mahre
Gene Mammenga
Robert Martin
Kevin Matheny
Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Linda Quarderer
Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt
Adam Ridgeway
Marie Ridgeway
Jerry Robertson
Marthetta J. Rossbach
Mayor Will Rossbach
Wayne Sachi
Roxanne Schallinger
Laurie Rose Simon
State Rep. Nora Slawik
Christeen Stone
Jeff Syme
Dale Trippler
Julie Wasiluk
Scott Wasiluk
Connie Wiegel
Mark Wiegel
State Sen. Chuck Wiger

If you'd like to be added to the list, please send me an e-mail! Even if I know I have your support, Minnesota election law requires that I have written permission to mention that support in any written campaign material, so an e-mail rather than a phone call or face-to-face conversation is necessary.  (As an alternative, you can also mark the "Please list my name as a supporter" box on the mail-in campaign contribution form.)

Update: I'll update this entry as folks ask me to add their names.  The latest update to this list was October 24, 2011.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 DFL Endorsement

Yesterday evening, the Maplewood DFL held an endorsing convention at the Ramsey County Library.  I have been down at the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference in Rochester, but I drove back in order to attend in person, then returned to the conference after the convention.

I am very proud and grateful that I was unanimously endorsed.  My fellow incumbent seeking reelection, Councilmember Marv Koppen, was endorsed as well.  Thank you to all the folks who turned out, from the 30 delegates to the others in attendance to observe or help run the proceedings.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Snapping Turtle Break

This snapping turtle was wandering around by County Road D (east of Highway 61 and northwest of Costco) on Wednesday, June 8th.


Friday, June 10, 2011

McCollum on the Stillwater Bridge

MinnPost has an interview with Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents Maplewood in the U.S. Congress, about her opposition to the proposed mega-bridge across the St. Croix at Stillwater.  I have to say, I find her arguments very persuasive, especially knowing what rush hour traffic through Maplewood on Highway 36 is like already.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Surveying the Primary Ballot

I had hoped we might not have a primary this year, to save the city some tens of thousands of dollars, but in the end there are five candidates for two council seats (there had been six, but John Wykoff withdrew). A primary is necessary to reduce that list to four.

Besides the incumbents (Marv Koppen and me), there are three other names that will be on the ballot, all of them past candidates and two of them past officeholders:

  • Bob Cardinal was mayor of Maplewood from 1999-2005, but lost the mayoral primary in 2005 (Longrie and Rossbach advanced to the general election, which Longrie won). When he ran again for Mayor in 2009 he placed fifth out of seven candidates in the primary.
  • Rebecca Cave served on the council after winning a 2006 special election (after having lost the previous fall's general election). I defeated her in 2007. She ran for council again in 2009, advanced from the primary (placing fourth out of eleven candidates), but finished fourth in the general election. Last year she was a candidate in the special election that Marv Koppen won; she finished second of three candidates, with close to 30% of the vote.
  • Elizabeth Sletten was also a city council candidate in both 2009 and 2010. She placed seventh out of eleven candidates in the 2009 primary.  In the 2010 special election her 19% of the votes gave her third place out of three.
The primary will take place on August 9th.  The top four vote recipients will advance to the general election on November 8th.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Independence Party on Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

I wanted to link to this article in the Minnesota Independent about the Independence Party taking a position opposed to the anti-gay marriage amendment that will be on the 2012 ballot. The Maplewood connection in the article is Mark Jenkins, who earlier this year was elected Chair of the statewide Independence Party. Mark is a Maplewood resident, and also serves as Chair of our Business and Economic Development Commission.

Of course, there's also the connection that the amendment, if it passes, would write discrimination against some of our city's residents (as well as many citizens throughout the state) into the state constitution.

As the article notes, the DFL and Libertarian parties have also announced their opposition to the amendment, and it is assumed that the Green party will too, based on its historical support for marriage equality.


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