Mayor Kleis and the City Council are putting together the 2019 City budget so they want to hear from its citizens. Of course, that doesn’t mean they want to hear from everyone. They definitely don’t want to hear from the citizens who are collecting signatures to put a petition on the ballot.
A “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot.” According to Matt Staehling, the city administrator, the “initiative petition does not meet the legal criteria of an initiative pursuant to our city charter, state statute and long established case law in the state of Minnesota.” That’s too bad for Mr. Staehling because the Minnesota State Supreme Court disagrees with him.
A citizen watchdog group just handed the city of Bloomington an embarrassing loss at the Minnesota Supreme Court. The case started over the rights of residents of the Twin Cities suburb to choose their own garbage hauler. But more broadly the unanimous 6-0 ruling upholds the standing of citizens in home rule charter cities to bring petitions and place legislation on the ballot apart from and in opposition to the city council.
Staehling’s argument is that resolutions aren’t legislation, therefore, they can’t be put on the ballot.
Greg Joseph, the citizens’ attorney, said “What the ruling today says is that cities can adopt a home rule charter and that governs what happens in that city, period. And voters can go around the city, they’re not subservient to it.”
The taxpayers are getting hurt financially by the federal government not picking up the full tab for the Refugee Resettlement Program as required by the Refugee Act of 1980. The City Council acted irrationally last November by passing Jeff Goerger’s ‘Welcoming Community’ resolution. A significant number of St. Cloud residents were prevented from speaking against Goerger’s resolution that night. Why shouldn’t they have the right to put their petition on the ballot? (Notice that the ruling didn’t limit the petition to just legislation.)
Further, it’s rather hypocritical for Mayor Kleis to sit silent on this. In my past conversations, Kleis identified himself as welcoming hearing from the citizens, whether it’s in the form of ballot referenda or whether it’s in the form of town hall meetings. Kleis loves townhall meetings so much, in fact, that he’s got his own bus so he can get around and talk to people in their neighborhoods:
Mayor Kleis, since you love hearing from the people, it’s time to exhibit some leadership and get the petition on the ballot if they collect the required number of signatures. The citizens are tired of being ignored by this City Council. They’re tired, too, that jackasses like Dave Masters object to hearing from his constituents and that Carol Lewis makes rulings that violate prior Minnesota State Supreme Court rulings.
If people like Masters and Lewis think that they don’t have to listen to their constituents and that they’re above the Constitution, it’s time to fire them so they don’t have constituents.
Finally, it’s important to show up Monday night and tell Mayor Kleis and the 5 ostriches how you want your money spent.