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
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LWV ABC serves most of Anoka County and the city of Champlin in northern Hennepin Couny, Minnesota.
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