Diana’s Message to Maplewood Voters –
Published in the October Maplewood Living:
Diana’s Open Letter to Maplewood Voters Discussing the Election Issues:
Diana’s Campaign Card to Maplewood Voters – Vote Tuesday, Nov. 3:
Transparency: A council and mayor’s commitment to transparency and accessibility of the local municipal government to its residents should not be taken as a given. When I was previously mayor, we placed all council, commission meetings, workshops and task forces on channel 16 for greater transparency. Consequently, residents could watch their government at work, be better informed and have an opportunity to participate. Unfortunately, since my leaving office, the commitment to transparency at City Hall has eroded. It is my commitment to improve transparency and accessibility.
No Residential/Commercial Development of our Parks & Open Spaces. When I was mayor, I brought forward the initiative to permanently protect our parks and open spaces from residential or commercial sale by the use of a restrictive covenant called a “conservation easement”. While we were not able to protect as many as was our goal, we started the ball rolling by permanently protecting the Priory Preserve. When elected, I plan on renewing this initiative. Every neighborhood is entitled to keep their park and open space without fear that a future council will trade, sell or barter away city green space for some developer’s quickie deal or swap. Watch an interview of Diana speaking with a citizen about this issue, featuring a video clip of Maplewood City promoting their vision of selling park land.
Further, for those living in the Gladstone neighborhood, there was NO ONE on the council to question or ask for accountability when the City recently clear cut & decimated our Gladstone Savanna Neighborhood Preserve. Oak trees were among those trees clear-cut, turned into wood chips & hauled away in large trucks.
Litigation. I am proud that I voted to stop the CoPar bulldozers from clear cutting the Mississippi Critical Area south of Carver Avenue. While it was unfortunate the developer was unhappy with that vote, and sued the City, the city prevailed in most of the law suit and gained time to rescue this jewel of a property. This is the same Fish Creek property that today the City is working cooperatively with public and private partmers and the community to save for futute generations. When elected, I look forward to completing the work I began.
Asking Taxpayers to Pay Their Fair Share. During my previous term as mayor, our community was experiencing the economic downturn that affected so many of our residents and businesses. I was a champion of holding the tax levy flat when the economic indicators in the private sector were showing distress, foreclosure and job loss. After I was no longer mayor, a number of Maplewood residents asked me to defend them against Maplewood’s unconstitutional special assessment for road improvements. My efforts were featured in an April 2012 Pioneer Press article: Ex-Maplewood mayor Diana Longrie leads fight against city assessments – TwinCities.com.
As a result of the outcome of our court cases, the City of Maplewood has modified their assessment method to meet the constitutional requirement. One such Reassessment Order 5.16.11 and the Order to Dismiss granting summary judgment make interesting reading. However, Maplewood still may not be in compliance with state law as to the amount of the special assessment being charged. When elected, I look forward to proposing that the City reassess how they fund their road projects and to set money aside, in a dedicated fund, for the improvement of our roads.
Further, when I am elected, I am committed to turning around our city’s ever increasing thirst to spend money without proper cost-benefit analysis or benchmarking. We should not be borrowing money from our road improvement bonds to fund portions of city staff salaries and then pay interest on those salary dollars over the term of the bond (the term is often 15 years).
Public Safety. In five years, over 35% of Maplewood’s residents will be over 55 years of age. According to AARP (2010), more than 1 in 3 adults (65 & older) will fall in a given year. I am committed to improving lifesaving response times and reverse Maplewood’s closure of 40% of our ambulance and fire stations. While I know there has been a change in the workforce scheduling in our fire department, I also have been made aware of the concerted effort to minimize and demoralize our (former known as) paid per call fire fighters/EMTs. That’s not right! Imagine my surprise, when door knocking the South Leg of Maplewood in 2013, I come across residents that thought 3M gave property to Maplewood in 2011 to build a new fire station. That’s simply wasn’t true. Maplewood actually closed the fire station on Londin Lane prematurely – before they had the land from 3M or before the financial resources were secured. Meanwhile, residents on the west end of Maplewood wonder why they lost their fire/ambulance station – how responsive is a new fire station by 3M at McKnight and Hwy 94 for Maplewood residents living near Larpenteur & Hwy 35E?
Citizen Engagement. Since I left Maplewood, Citizen Engagement has been greatly minimized or eliminated. That’s not right. When I am elected, I and the council will move Maplewood’ s public policy in a positive, pro-resident direction. I have the leadership, communication skills and temperament to listen respectfully to the residents and small business owners. The monthly Citizens’ Forum (previously known as the Mayor’s forum) will be brought back. This long standing 20 year tradition was eliminated by Mayor Rossbach without adequate reason.
Jobs & Business Community. I have a history of supporting small businesses in our community, including local, family owned, trash haulers who tried, in vain, to retain their business in Maplewood. I believe that in times of a slow economy, the city council must work harder and more creatively to diversify our property tax base for the benefit of our residents and local businesses. We must attract community friendly businesses to provide high paying jobs that support families. When I am elected, I propose that we complete the business inventory and assessment of our community that was once started but left to languish. One of the best ways to promote your community to the commercial sector is by telling them who else (or what industries) are there so they can envision cost saving business synergies in locating to Maplewood. Working together with the business community we can make Maplewood more business friendly.
Many people have seen that one key issue, highlighted on my campaign card, is my support of private investment by our small business community. I spoke on this issue in 2009 at the St. John’s Hospital Candidate Forum. St. Johns Hospital forum – Diana on small business – excerpt 1 – YouTube.
Diversity. Maplewood must do a better job of including residents from all ethnic and social-economic backgrounds. There are some portions of Maplewood where 30% of the population is non-white. We need to do more out-reach to our Asian communities and other communities of color when we are planning for Maplewood’s future. I have some ideas on how we can make local civic engagement more welcoming and less challenging for residents of Maplewood who may be unsure if those in charge value resident participation.
Metro Community Issues. The Maplewood City staff and council recently made a pledge to become more aware of what they can do to address homelessness in our community. Diana has produced several programs on public access TV featuring the MN Coalition of the Homeless and has made her own pledge. Take a look! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NRva3atv20
Elect Diana Longrie! Be confident that Diana’s focus is to be positive, move ahead and get the peoples’ business done!