In the News

Hearings on St. Paul Land-Use Issues Are So Much Wasted Breath

By Andrew Rorvig | April 10, 2019 | Comments Off on Hearings on St. Paul Land-Use Issues Are So Much Wasted Breath

There appear to be numerous opportunities for citizen engagement on land-use issues in St. Paul.  The process is usually initiated by the Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED). A vetting by the local district council follows. Next is an intermediary review with public hearings before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) or Planning …

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DFL Endorsement Process Picks Favorites, Discourages Newcomers, Limits Debate

By David Durenberger, Shirley Erstad and John Mannillo | February 6, 2019 | Comments Off on DFL Endorsement Process Picks Favorites, Discourages Newcomers, Limits Debate

Saint Paul STRONG is a non-partisan organization. Our mission is to improve open and representative government by encouraging and supporting open and transparent public processes, engaging and empowering resident participation and building a stronger, more inclusive Saint Paul. Anyone who has been around Saint Paul politics for long recognizes that, for all intents and purposes, …

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St. Paul elections: DFL is trying to put a thumb on the scales

By David Durenberger, Shirley Erstad and John Mannillo | February 2, 2019 | Comments Off on St. Paul elections: DFL is trying to put a thumb on the scales

Opinion editor’s note: This article was submitted by David Durenberger, Shirley Erstad, John Mannillo and the other members of the steering committee of Saint Paul STRONG, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government.”­ Durenberger is a former U.S. senator from Minnesota. Erstad is a former candidate for the …

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Judge the Ford site process by openness and accountability, not just by number of meetings

By Don Gemberling and Shirley Erstad | September 14, 2017 | Comments Off on Judge the Ford site process by openness and accountability, not just by number of meetings

Saint Paul STRONG has observed the Ford Site decision-making process playing out contentiously in our city. A recitation of this process was recently the subject of an opinion piece by Council Member Chris Tolbert in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. What has not been addressed are the reasons why this is increasingly the subject of …

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Accountability is key to trust in ROW program

By John Mannillo and Shirley Erstad | March 31, 2017 | Comments Off on Accountability is key to trust in ROW program

“The City Attorney said so,” is often the response that we, the public, get from City Hall when we are confounded by some process, procedure, or final action that otherwise makes no credible sense.  When we seek to understand a council vote or mayoral decision shrouded in mystery, “It’s-the-opinion-of-the-City-Attorney” is a great strategy to stop …

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Public Email communication must be preserved to ensure government accountability

By John Mannillo | February 28, 2017 | Comments Off on Public Email communication must be preserved to ensure government accountability

I testified on behalf of Saint Paul STRONG  today regarding limiting email deletions in favor of a Bill introduced (HF 1185) at the Capitol.  Thank you to Don Gemberling from our Steering Committee for helping organize the effort and to Tom Erickson, a supporter of Saint Paul STRONG for their help and testimony. The Bill passed …

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How to address St. Paul’s $32 million ROW hole

By John Mannillo | January 26, 2017 | Comments Off on How to address St. Paul’s $32 million ROW hole

Thanks to a unanimous Supreme Court decision, St. Paul seems finally to have “found religion” concerning its problematic $32 million Street Assessment Program, known as the Right of Way maintenance assessment (ROW). The City has conceded that it has no defense to the 2011 court challenge by two Lowertown churches and it has now made …

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Planning Commission jumps the gun on Corridor Critical Area issue

By Saint Paul Strong | May 14, 2016 | Comments Off on Planning Commission jumps the gun on Corridor Critical Area issue

Strong Blog Picture this:  a row of buildings along the northerly Mississippi River bluff in Saint Paul from the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers near Fort Snelling to downtown.  Not just any buildings, but 65’+ buildings that stand well above the 40’ or so tree line.  How do you feel about that? Has …

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The High Cost of TIF in St. Paul

By John Mannillo | April 6, 2016 | Comments Off on The High Cost of TIF in St. Paul

St. Paul is yet again setting itself up for more public subsidy lost to private development. As we struggle every year at budget time just to retain and fund our limited public services, more taxpayers are questioning the wisdom of these tax-free development deals. A spokeswoman for the mayor recently made the comment that tax …

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St. Paul thwarts citizen participation in public policy

By John Mannillo | March 30, 2016 | Comments Off on St. Paul thwarts citizen participation in public policy

The good news is that St. Paul invites citizens to serve on a variety of boards and commissions. The bad news is that information about these opportunities is inconsistent and confusing, and the appointment process lacks openness, transparency and accountability. The city’s website states: “The city of St. Paul has over 30 boards and commissions …

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