LWV ABC Program held on February 14 via Zoom:
CMAL has completed its study of county government research regarding the accountability, visibility and accessibility of county government in the metro area, as well as the relation between county government and other levels of government. The purpose of the study is to update CMAL's position on county government in the metropolitan area.
LWV ABC Vice-president Julie Trude presented the report and the consensus questions developed by the study committee. LWV ABC members then voted on the questions. Our votes will be tallied, along with the consensus statements responses of all local Leagues who are members of CMAL, and will determine CMAL's position on county government in the metropolitan area. This decision will be made at the May 14 Annual Meeting of CMAL.
The County Government Study by the Council of Metropolitan Area Leagues (CMAL) Report is available here for viewing prior to the meeting.
CMAL Timeline for 2022:
We will provide an update to this story if/when the position changes are adopted.
Members of LWV ABC are participating in a study by Council of Metropolitan Leagues (CMAL) on metro area county governments. Participating members are Julie Trude, Dee Ann Christensen, and Wes Volkenant. The full report from this study will be coming out this winter, so stay tuned!
This group's recent task was to interview commissioners and administrative staff to learn more about topics that they delved into last month. Following is a summary of their interviews.
Anoka County Transparent?
Citizens cannot address the full county board at regular meetings. Citizens may only address commissioners at the beginning of committee meetings. Committees often have a quorum of commissioners, but not the entire board. All meetings occur during the daytime. The only evening public hearing is the Truth-in-Taxation hearing held just before the levy is adopted. Once the ongoing CMAL LWV study of metro area county government is complete, the practices of other counties will be known.
Regular Board meetings are televised and can be viewed through a link on the county webpage https://www.anokacounty.us/693/Board-of-Commissioners, or on their You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/AnokaCountyMN/featured. Committee meetings are where discussions occur that lead to decisions recommended to the full board. These meetings are not televised, recorded. No minutes are taken. The only way to follow what occurs is to attend these meetings. The agenda, location and time for committee meetings is posted on the online county calendar. https://www.anokacounty.us/calendar.aspx?CID=25
Interviews with county administration and county commissioners by our local County Study Group revealed the philosophy that commissioners learn from citizens during their campaigns, when they are at their businesses, when they attend events and through calls and emails. These contacts form the basis for their decisions on setting the budget, their priorities in lobbying state and federal legislators, policies they set or change, buildings they construct and all things that affect the public.
The interviews revealed the commissioners understand this contrasts with their experiences at the city level where public participation is available at all regular meetings and invited and welcomed for many projects and policies. The Study Group heard that commissioners believe the public doesn’t really care about the matters they decide and they are able to fairly represent the public without input at meetings.
By contrast, commissioners seemed proud to share that up to 1,000 residents attended Zoom meetings on county road projects when remote attendance was offered during Covid.
Anoka County Commissioner Fun Facts
LWVMN is proud to kick-off a new ongoing training series for League leaders and members, and it starts with August Academy! These sessions are a great opportunity to brush up on your skills, help orient new leaders, and ask questions related to your work. Each 90-minute session will include a presentation from LWVMN staff and/or board members, and will also provide ample time for questions, networking and information-sharing with peers. Any League leader or member may register for any session.
LWV ABC members are urged to sign up for one of more of these webinars to expand your knowledge of LWV and our work. Each session is 90 minutes and will be a good way to engage further with LWV! Great list of sessions to choose from – Leadership Essentials, Advocacy, People Powered Fair Maps, Voter Service, Membership, Nonpartisanship & DEI, Youth Civic Engagement, and Climate Change Task Force. Let’s join up! Here's the link to sign up: https://www.lwvmn.org/august-academy !
Whew. The people elected to office in November 2020 have now taken their places in government. This has been a very difficult and divisive election cycle. But we've made it through and are about to start on a new federal administration, divided state government in Minnesota and some new faces in our city and county offices.
The value of the work done by LWV
Following is from a message that LWV Minneapolis sent out to their members on Inauguration Day; we at ABC will borrow their stirring words... great reflections on the value of League and the work that we do!
"One of the super powers of the League of Women Voters is that we are non-partisan AND we stand for truth, justice and fairness. We are proud to be a members of League. During the 2020 election we used our voices and volunteered time to help keep the election fair and safe and to make sure every vote was counted and that every voter trusted that their vote mattered. We joined our fellow League members in Minneapolis, in Minnesota and across the Nation to ensure that our Democracy, which is more fragile than we ever imagined, survived and will thrive as we move forward. Grassroots activism is a powerful force that makes significant change happen. Imbedded in LWV's mission is the commitment to educate, advocate and empower. Working together we will achieve great things."
Challenges and truth-telling
This IS a good time to pat ourselves on the back as Leaguer's for our work on this election, but there are still many troubling things that our democracy is facing. In the weeks after the election, we saw our President become increasingly strident in his claims that the election was 'rigged'. This message was echoed by many elected officials, lending credence to the claims and eventually fomenting the violence we saw at our nation's Capitol on January 6. Some of these echoes came from Minnesota, despite the fact that our election here was closely scrutinized at every step and the results were certified by local and state election boards.
On January 14, LWV Minnesota, through action of the state Board, sent a letter to Minnesota legislative leaders that specifically called on the legislative leaders to:
LWV ABC Letter to the Editor:
"For more than 100 years, the League of Women Voters has diligently promoted good governance and fair voting. The need for our diligence and our voice has never been greater.
We of the LWV of Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids Area call on our Legislative leaders to require that all MN State Representatives and Senators accept the outcome of the 2020 elections and fulfill their oath to the US and MN constitutions. We stand with one voice on the need to call for truth and accountability around our elections.
LWV is a nonpartisan, good government organization. Being nonpartisan means we don’t support any specific party or candidate. Equally, it means we don’t abandon our positions or our principles of good government for any party.
We will continue to work with all legislators to advance free and fair elections. And we will continue to hold accountable all legislators, regardless of party, who undermine the democracy for which we stand.
Signed, Gretchen Sabel, President, LWV ABC"
*Minutes from the special Board meeting can be reviewed on the LWV ABC members-only pages, under Board Agendas in the Jan 25 agenda on page 15."
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