Thursday, January 16, 2014

Being dumped by the City of Mound

Without warning or any discussion, the Mound City Council choose to ignore the Planning Commissions recommendations for appointments to it's panel. The City Council apparently decided to take a pass on my reappointment without comment.

They have taken a pass on a Planning Commission member that...
... attended every meeting in three years but one
... gathered and prepared information on most items that have been on agenda
... offered unique and thoughtful comments an most items on the agenda
... accepted and attended training sessions the city offered
... as well as went on other training sessions on his own prerogative

I am, of course, personally saddened about this development. But frankly, I am more sad that our City Council, most of whom have sat with me on the Planning Commission at one time or another, haven't appreciated me. Apparently my contributions to the discussion of Mound have been so offensive or wasteful, that the City Council wants to move in a different direction.

This is a sad move by this City Council.


  1. As a fellow planning commissioner and free-thinking urbanist, I feel your pain George. I hope Saint Paul doesn't do the same thing to me in a year or so, just for speaking my mind. For some reason, a lot of these bodies see themselves primarily as neutral arbitrators, rather than a collection of strong independent voices that can provide advice to cities and shape future conversations. You really should WANT to have lots of different opinions at the table.

    Anyway, its far better to have spoken your mind and been removed, than to have gone along with the (often frustrating) status quo and remained on the Commission. Even though I don't live in Mound, thank you for your service and honest participation in our imperfect democracy.

  2. Wow. That is really sad, although I'll say that not being in an official capacity gives you more freedom to speak your mind and often more credibility in doing so.

    Please don't stop advocating for a better Mound.

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  4. Hi George - you are doing great work. Like what Chuck said - not being an official allows you to speak your mind and criticize your city without worrying about your career!

  5. One of the most valuable aspects of our original model planning and zoning laws (yes those same laws that planners and commentators criticize as outdated and ill suited for cities), was the absolute essential and fundamental belief that planning commissions as a body were apolitical. The footnotes and commentary in the original model act on the importance of this go on for pages and pages. Basically the Planning Commissioners were supposed to (a) be appointed by a mayor (i.e. not having to be watered down by pleasing an entire council); (b) be appointed for 6 years (i.e. beyond the term of any elected official who appointed them); and (c) only be able to be removed for cause and only then with a hearing.

    This was so important to the drafters of our planning laws, who foresaw all the ugly politics of development and planning. The crucial perspective of a Planning Commission - long-range (beyond any term of office of the elected), comprehensive (considering the city as a whole), and independent (insulated from the politics of the electorate and elected) was carefully put into our model planning laws and thus most state statutes that imitated them.

    In a way, the Planning Commission is supposed to function similar to a mini Supreme Court with respect to planning and development issues. The Administration in power may only get 2 or 3 appointments over their term, but once appointed they should not be tampered with due to politics. The model acts viewed this as an essential check on elected officials powers, who almost always and understandably act on the immediate politics of the day, rather than long-range interests and broader community good.

    Since it appears you were just not "reappointed" (as opposed to removed), perhaps Mound's appointments are just too short to provide this protection to a body that is supposed to keep the Mayor and Council in check for the purpose of the greater, broader and long-range good of the city? Incidentally, after a quick look I did not see similar appointment procedures and protections in the MN statutes as you find in most states that would give the Planning Commissioners these assurances and insulation from short-term politics.