Unlike in Hassan, can’t ask questions in Rogers

To the Editor:

 

After attending several Rogers council meetings I finally realized why the Rogers council and staff easily outnumber the audience members for a typical meeting.

The citizen audience members are not permitted to ask questions. In Hassan, when an issue or proposal was brought forth the board would ask their questions and then provide an opportunity for the public to ask a question. In Rogers no questions may be asked by the public at any time during or after a presentation. The “interim” mayor claims that this is the way it’s done in most cities. Well, maybe Rogers and their citizens are not like “most” cities and would like clarification of issues before their money is spent.

The mayor then stated “We are not turning our meetings into a circus like Hassan meetings.” I asked “Have you ever been to a Hassan meeting?” Reply “certainly.” Now, having been a Hassan supervisor and attending many meetings for 40 years or so I couldn’t ever recall his presence.

It was always the goal in Hassan to get all the questions on the table since the board members may not think of every question to ask at the time. The mayor further stated: “There will be no audience questions as long as I am mayor.”

I therefore concluded that audience citizens should continue to act like robots but with their power turned off.

Jim Kelley

Rogers

  • http://jaybuntingformayor.com Mayor Jay Bunting

    Mr. Kelly seems to have forgotten my attendance at no less than four Hassan meetings (two as a Planning Commissioner, one during my first year on the City Council and our joint Hassan Board Meeting/Rogers Council Meeting where I sat directly across the table from him) just as quickly as he forgot the details of our conversation.

    As I stated to Mr. Kelly, very clearly and a number of times, there are a number of opportunities to speak at Rogers meetings and/or have your opinions/questions heard. We have an open forum at the beginning of every meeting where people have historically spoken on any topic. I also made it very clear that if the agenda topic has a direct effect on a person (i.e., we’re discussing their neighborhood, their road, an organization they belong to, etc.) they would absolutely be allowed to speak during our meetings. Furthermore, I encouraged Mr. Kelly to write, email or phone any member of our City Council or staff with any questions or concerns he might have. While I cannot speak for others, I generally answer calls and emails the same day and often within an hour of receiving it. All of this is done in an effort to more closely follow Roberts Rules of Order, the standard for meeting conduct. This allows for well-run, effective and efficient meetings that tend to be less politically-motivated.

    Virtually every city around us has an open forum for comments about agenda items. Virtually every city of any size discourages comments during agenda items with the exception of it being an item that directly affects that person. There are many reasons for this, among which is to limit politically-motivated comments and purposeful disruptions to meetings.

    As for the comment on a circus, I said I would not allow our meetings to become a circus. That word may have been poorly chosen, but I could only think of the Hassan Town meeting where Mr. Kelly voted for the “zero levy”. For those that aren’t familiar with the zero levy, that’s where Hassan’s Town Board voted to have the citizens of Rogers pay for almost all of the services they receive from the city while they pay for almost nothing. In that meeting, many Hassan residents conveyed to me that they were told their vote against the zero levy would count, even if they had to leave the meeting. Later, after they left, their votes were not allowed to be counted. Had their votes counted, the zero levy would have failed. Circus was probably the wrong word. Disenfranchisement is more accurate.

    People who followed the events of the merger (that was voted on and approved by Hassan’s Board and Rogers Council) will remember that current and past Rogers councils have been incredibly accommodating throughout the process, going so far as to offer a four-year phase-in of taxes and have Board Members sit with our Council during meetings – things not included in the merger agreement. Almost every offer we made in good faith was rebuked. So while I understand that you’re not happy about Rogers meetings being different from Hassan’s, it doesn’t mean that things aren’t better and more in line with practices followed by almost every city. And this is something on which I am unwilling to compromise.

    Mr. Kelly, in speaking with the people of Rogers, I can safely say that most of us are fed up with politically-motivated, defamatory comments. I hope your letter signals an end to the misstatements, misinformation and unnecessary attacks on the people throughout this election process.

  • http://www.myrajensen.com Myra Jensen

    I have not yet been to a Rogers meeting, but I was certainly at the Hassan Town board “zero levy” meeting. I want to say that this was one of the best meetings I have ever been to, everybody had their say, everybody was allowed to ask questions, and I was able to vote in an informed manner. I remember leaving that meeting incredibly proud to be a resident of Hassan Township, and incredibly sad that it was coming to an end. I think that most residents of “old” Hassan will always miss the sense of community that we all shared, even though we might not agree on every issue. In regards to “Disenfranchisement”; I very much hope that my current mayor would not throw out accusations without proof, and is not harboring ill will toward his Hassan constituents.

  • Bob Ivey

    Appointed Mayor Bunting is not only abusive to Mr. Kelley but totally clueless about how a Township works. The Electors assembled at the township annual meeting set the amount of the levy. The Town Board is charged to spend the money allocated by the citizens and does not set the amount be it Zero or be it 1,181,368 which was the amount for five years.
    I ( Bob Ivey) made the case to the citizens of Hassan that Rogers was not negotiating with us based on what it would cost to service Hassan but was dictating to us based on how much money Rogers thought they could take off of us. What really cinched the deal was the fact that the four year phase in was only offered to residential property. The businesses were to be screwed. I am very proud that the citizens of Hassan set the zero levy.
    The one million dollars that the citizens of Hassan denied to Rogers has not changed their spending habits. We have been vindicated!
    Bob Ivey

  • Jim Kelley

    It turns out that Mr. Bunting misses the point of my letter. I understand that I can e-mail or otherwise communicate with council members at any time prior to or after a council meeting. I can even get on the agenda for a meeting. Unfortunately, many questions only come about at the time of a presentation and to ask unknown questions beforehand in an email defies common sense logic.

    In regards to Mr. Bunting’s claim that these questions are politically motivated and disruptive: I have no idea what politics has got to do with clarifying an issue that is about to cost more property tax revenue and futher do not know or care what Mr. Bunting’s political persuasion is.

    ‘Purposeful disruptions’ is a phase that Mr. Bunting apparently devised for any questions he deems not appropriate. Since he won’t allow any ‘at the time’ questions, all questions are inappropriate for him.

    Now in regards the ‘zero’ levy: Mr. Bunting plays fast and loose with the facts. He claims I voted for the zero levy when in fact I did not vote for the zero levy but voted against it. I was part of the negotiating team which tried to get a 5 year phase-in of taxes which would have been fiscally neutral for Hassan taxpayers and voted against a 4 year phase-in during negotiations. After realizing that we (Hassan) could not get the 5-year phase–in I voted for the 4-year phase-in plan that was subsequently defeated by a vote of all Hassan residents.

    The bottom line is that the misstatements, misinformation and unnecessary attacks quoted in Mr. Bunting’s letter are in fact descriptions that are very apropos to that letter’s contents.

  • Concerned Rogers Resident

    The fact that there is such a division between the leadership of the former Hassan Township and the city of Rogers is doing nothing but hurting everyone. It’s like you’re a bunch of children. It seems to me that Mr. Bunting feels that it is his right to be Mayor and that Mr. Ivey is running for Mayor only so he can further “vindicate” the oh so wronged citizens of the FORMER Hassan Township by destroying the City of Rogers. I understand that people who hold these small town public offices volunteer their time and can’t please everyone, but please don’t forget you work for the people who elected you. I urge all of you to put your differences aside and do what is best for the City.

  • Casey Johnson

    It seems that Bob Ivey and the rest of the Hassan Revolutionary Guard will keep on fighting for their brand or gutter politics regardless of who it affects. The fact is they are now Rogers Residents and unless they move they have to deal with the City Council and Mayor of Rogers. Their attempt to overthrow Rogers in their Coup reminiscent of Che or Fidel is likely to fail just as they did in leadership in Hassan.

    The “Zero Levy” was a childish and fleeting last stand for Hassan, Bob Ivey and his Ilk. Now we in Rogers have to put up with Bob and his band of merry bunch muckrakers for years to come as they are clueless that their brand of politics really is divisive and will cause all of Rogers and its residents to be at odds with Hassan area residents for years to come. Why, because Bob wants to act out and in his childish manner even though he was a failure at his leadership and personal cause to keep Hassan independent of Rogers who have footed the bill for many city services that Hassan enjoyed for many years now.

    Welcome to Rogers Bob and I hope you enjoy being part of a self-imposed minority of malcontents.

    • Concerned Rogers Resident

      Well said, Casey.

  • Being elected is a priviledge

    First of all I am largely embarrassed that both Bob and Jay would feel the need to hash this out by flinging unintelligent phrases at each other, but it’s no surprise.

    I agree with Bob in his ramblings that Rogers city leaders have become a “good ol’ boy” club. I also agree with Jay in that Hassan does need to stop fighting the merge because it’s a done deal. I don’t agree the merger is for the best and allows Hassan residents better amenities, as frankly I’m still looking for the amenities Rogers gives citizens (besides lawsuits and dirty deeds brushed under the rug by current and former city employees).

    Maybe you should work together and pull in amenities for us, the citizens that will likely have to elect one of you as a Mayor for the first time (appointment is not being elected). How about working for expansion of I-94, a community center or bringing public transit to Rogers so we don’t have to drive to Elk River or Maple Grove.

    Do something that improves Rogers and not makes us look like a hicks on stick in Minnesota!

    • Concerned Resident

      WELL SAID “Being Elected is a Priviledge”!

      If all parties could grow up and state their cases, what they are intending to try and do for the residents. How they intend to save money or cut spending that the Rogers Residents cannot afford with the current economy – INSTEAD of bashing one another and throwing accusations around it would be terrific!!

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