By Grace Pastoor
ECM Sun Intern
Community members, politicians and other interested parties gathered in New Hope June 25 for End the Met, an event focusing on eliminating the Metropolitan Council.
Four panelists – Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin, Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look, State Auditor candidate Keegan Iverson and member of the Crystal Planning Commission Andrew Richter – spoke about the Metropolitan Council and answered audience questions. Radio personality Brad Carlson moderated the discussion.
Hosting the event was Community Solutions Minnesota, which describes itself on its website as “an ad hoc group of private citizens with one simple goal: to provide our public officials with sustainable solutions to local problems.”
Panelists and guests voiced many objections to the Metropolitan Council, calling it a “politburo” and accusing it of taking decision-making power away from local governments. The Metropolitan Council, a regional planning and policy-making agency, is composed of officials appointed by the governor. The council is involved in multiple issues including public transportation, affordable housing, sewers and water.
“The entire premise of an unelected body being audited by an unelected auditor should strike every patriot and every person in this room as being taxation without representation,” said Iverson, who is running as a Libertarian. “Met Council is taxation without representation right now.”
The panelists each put forward ideas for eliminating the council. Iverson said he would eliminate it through the judicial process.
Richter said that if he were governor, he would appoint people to the council who object to large government.
“If the stars and the moon and the sun lined up, and hell froze over, and maybe the Vikings won the Superbowl, and maybe I was the governor of Minnesota … I would certainly not appoint a Met Council. And if I was forced to, I’d appoint the most small-government anti-Light Rail people I could find,” Richter said. “It’s going to be a two-pronged way to go after them. You’re going to have to go after them from the state level – that’s reduce their authority, pull their funding.”
In addition to the money spent paying the members of the council, the panelists also objected to the funds used to build the latest light rail line, the Green Line. Iverson suggested that some things the Metropolitan Council is in charge of should be returned to the private sector.
“I think that everything that can be returned to the private sector should be returned to the private sector,” Iverson said.
Despite different ideas of how to eliminate the council, every panelist agreed it needs to be done.
“I don’t need to know the inside of the beast to kill the beast,” Look said. “I don’t think any one of (the council’s) 3,700 employees care how much people pay.”
Iverson said the council poses a risk to the future of the Twin Cities and suburbs.
“They will squeeze you like blood from a turnip until you have no more money left,” Iverson said. “They will sell your kids into poverty.”