Citizens League forms task force to look at Met Council

The Citizens League has formed a task force to look at possible reforms to the Metropolitan County, the appointed organization that runs the Twin Cities’ transit system and makes decisions on regional issues in the metropolitan area.

The League’s 19-member task force includes many local regional policy luminaries, including former Met Council Chair Peter Bell and former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton.

In announcing the task force, the Citizen League said:

As the original author of the idea of a regional planning authority, the Citizens League says it wants to ensure smart planning can continue to make the Twin Cities metro a national success story. However, after nearly 50 years of operation, concerns around the Met Council seem on the rise. Five counties have gone so far as to initiate litigation over the Council’s longstanding practices for allocating federal transportation funds and have hired a consultant to help organize a push for legislative change.

Sean Kershaw, executive director of the Citizens League, said: “The importance of the region is larger than just the sum of the interests of individuals, cities and counties — and it’s larger than just the seven counties in the Met Council’s jurisdiction. A lot has changed in 50 years, and it makes sense that we should make sure the Met Council is up for the next 50 years of challenges.”

The Citizens League said the task force will look at “the council’s performance against its goals; learn more about the concerns raised; examine the tensions between counties, cities and individual Minnesotans, and discuss some of the changes that have been suggested from the starting place of preserving the council’s regional effectiveness.”

Members of the task force are:

  • Susan Arntz, City Administrator of Waconia (Co-chair)
  • John S. Adams, Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of Minnesota
  • Peter Bell, Former Met Council Chair; Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment
  • Steven Dornfeld, Public Affairs Writer and former Public Affairs Director for Met Council
  • Acooa Ellis, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Charities
  • James Erkel, Attorney and Director of the Land Use and Transportation Program, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
  • Carol Flynn, Former DFL State Senator (District 61 & 62)
  • Michele Foster, President at Foster Real Estate Advisory Services, Licensed Broker
  • Chris Gerlach, Commissioner for Dakota County, District 7
  • Bill Hargis, Vice President and Broker, Growth Resource Partners LLC; former Mayor of Woodbury
  • Elizabeth Kautz, Mayor of BurnsvilleJohn Knapp, Attorney, Winthrop & Weinstine (Co-chair)
  • Adeel Lari, Director of Innovative Finance, State and Local Policy Program, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Dan McElroy, President & CEO of Hospitality Minnesota and Executive Vice President of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, the Minnesota Lodging Association and the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association; former Commissioner of DEED and Minnesota Department of Finance
  • Scott Neal, City Manager for Edina
  • Ravi Norman, CEO of Thor Construction
  • Sharon Sayles-Belton, Vice President of Community Relations and Government Affairs at Thomson Reuters; former mayor of Minneapolis
  • Jim Solem, Former Commissioner, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Regional Administrator, Metropolitan Council
  • Shannon Watson, Assistant to the Chief Audit Executive at U.S. Bank; member of the Citizens League Emerging Leaders Committee; Founder of Definitely Someday

The group will start work this month and issue a report to the 2016 Legislature.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Bill Dooley on 09/10/2015 - 01:33 pm.

    Citizens League Task Force on Met Council

    1. Not enough racial diversity.

    2. Appears to skew to an older age demographic.

    3. I hope the task force meetings are open to the public, well publicized and at reasonably convenient locations serviced by transit.

    Bill Dooley

  2. Submitted by Arthur Himmelman on 09/11/2015 - 12:20 am.

    Citizens League’s “look at the Met Council.”

    In addition to this public gadfly examination, I am wondering what evaluations of the Met Council’s work have been conducted? Are there Minnesota Legislature “audits,” academic research reports, or self-assessments by the Met Council available? If so, I think at least some of their major findings should be included as background and context for this new endeavor.

  3. Submitted by David Markle on 09/11/2015 - 11:49 am.

    A fundamental issue

    The negative responses to Citizen League director Kershaw’s recent Star Tribune op-ed about the need for regional planning strongly suggest that the fundamental controversy is not regional planning but the unelected Met Council’s lack of public accountability. A Met Council as a regional level of government mainly elected by the public, would be more accountable, more transparent, more responsible and rightly more powerful in exercising its primary roles of planning, regulation, and operation of regional systems. While it may be appropriate to have the governor appoint the chair, the remainder of the board ought to be elected from districts within the region, not appointed by municipalities or counties.

    Just consider two big examples: the misuse of scarce transit funds in the Central Corridor–in which the Met Council shirked its duty and let St. Paul have its way by reducing a billion-dollar train to run as a half-hearted local streetcar line rather than a regional trunk line–and the Met Council’s inept handling of the Southwest Corridor project. These both demonstrate the need for overhaul of the Met Council including reform for an elected board.

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