Met Council: Unelected dictators?

Yes, the title of this post uses a bit of hyperbole. Still, the case that Katherine Kersten makes in this article tells a disturbing tale:

The Met Council intends to change that in its 30-year plan for the seven-county metro area: “Thrive MSP 2040,” due out in 2014.

Some of us, of course, prefer to live in a condo above a coffee shop on a transit line. But the rest of us likely won’t enjoy lugging rock salt home on the bus, getting the kids to soccer practice on the light rail or pedaling to the dentist on our bikes. Nevertheless, the council has announced that “transit-oriented development” (TOD) will be the guiding principle for development in the metro area for the next 30 years. In its 84-page “TOD Strategic Action Plan,” released in June, it held up Portland and San Francisco as enlightened places we should emulate.

TOD will be an “enormous undertaking,” the council acknowledged. No kidding. To remake our metro area around transit, the council will do all it can to steer new jobs, homes and economic development in our region to areas within “easy walking distance” (one-half mile) of major transit stops — primarily in the urban core and inner-ring suburbs. In these favored places, tax dollars (mostly from people who live elsewhere) will be lavished on high-density housing, bike and pedestrian amenities, and subsidized retail shops.

If you think that’s hyperbole, you haven’t read this part of the TOD’s Executive Summary:

Transit-oriented development (TOD) provides the opportunity to enhance the transit investment by shaping regional development around transit. The working definition of TOD, as defined by the Metropolitan Council and partners at regional think tanks in September 2012 and February 2013, is: A moderate to higher density district/corridor located within easy walking distance of a major transit stop that typically contains a mix of uses such as housing, jobs, restaurants, shops, services and entertainment. These districts/corridors enable people of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes abundant transportation choices and the opportunity to live convenient, affordable and active lives.

In other words, the Met Council and a litany of progressive special interest organizations will do their best to establish these hubs, then, through time, force people to tolerate being told where they’ll live and how they’ll get from where the Met Council tells them to live to where the Met Council tells them to work.

There’s no denying that, theoretically, that’s efficient. Dictatorships and kingdoms are the most efficient forms of government in the history of the world. The Founding Fathers hated that type of efficiency. They established the Constitution in the way that they did to prevent autocratic boards like the Met Council from exercising this type of autocratic control over people.

The Met Council needs that type of control because their ideas run contrary to the American spirit. We love going wherever we want to go whenever we want to go there. The only way TOD becomes reality is through force. Here’s why abolishing the Met Council is imperative:

The TOD Strategic Action Plan has many parts, all emanating from the Metropolitan Council mission, goals and policies. Each component builds off the other and all lead back to the Council’s mission to “foster efficient and economic growth for a prosperous metropolitan region.”

This unaccountable council has put together a plan that forces lifestyle changes on people who are content with where they live, where they work and how they get from one to the other. That’s irrelevant to the Met Council and their progressive special interest groups allies. They know what’s best and they’ll do whatever it takes to force their vision down other people’s throats. Ms. Kersten’s article shows the foolishness of the Met Council’s vision:

The council forecasts that, by 2040, the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul will grow 24 percent and jobs there will grow a whopping 47 percent, while suburban growth on both measures will parallel each other. Such core city growth is strongly counter to historic trends both locally and nationally and seems unlikely to occur, despite TOD policies that attempt to engineer it.

The last census showed how foolish this prediction is. People voted with their mortgages to abandon the Twin Cities for the bedroom communities. They moved away from liberal mayors like R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman. They moved away from progressive representation in DC and St. Paul. The most conservative congressional districts grew like wildfire while the most liberal districs shrunk rapidly. Thus far this census cycle, that pattern isn’t reversing.

What is TOD’s track record in Portland, the nirvana of TOD enthusiasts? Portland has poured huge sums into light rail, streetcars, and developments around transit stations. Now its streets are crumbling, and it can’t afford to repave them until at least 2017.

In other words, the Met Council’s vision is a verified failure. That figures. This part of the Executive Summary shows why TOD will be a failure:

Each strategy is ranked as high, medium or low priorities based on the impact and ease of implementation. The highest priority recommendations are collaboration strategies or relate to the creation of a TOD policy:

  • Establish TOD staff capability within the Council to work with partners to deliver high-quality TOD outcomes.
  • Create an internal Council TOD working group and dedicated TOD program staff to improve internal coordination and collaboration across the organizational divisions.
  • Continue talking with regional partners and begin the process of creating a regional TOD Advisory Group to work with the Council on implementing the Action Plan recommendations.

Nowhere in that strategy is it mentioned that the Met Council or the TOD working group hold actual town halls to hear from businesses and other citizens. Nowhere is it mentioned that local units of government should take the lead. In fact, the only thing that’s mentioned is an unelected group of bureaucrats creating another layer of bureaucrats without the consent of the governed.

No taxation without representation and government without the consent of the governed started a revolution 200+ years ago. Under the DFL’s ‘leadership’, taxation without representation and government without the consent of the governed is apparently the norm.