.

UPDATE: OPH Tables Vote on $3K Contribution to Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing

“While we remain optimistic construction can begin, opposition still hopes for delays, as in the past when we have repeatedly seen efforts to replace the old lift bridge get stopped at the last minute,” a letter from Coalition Co-Chair Ken Harycki reads

The Oak Park City Council tabled a request from the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing to contribute $3,000 out of city funds to “help keep the (bridge) project on schedule.”

There are a few different options to fund the request, if the council so chooses, City Administrator Eric Johnson said.

"I just don't want to go down the path Stillwater did that got them into trouble a while back," Council Member Mark Swenson said. "I would like staff and legal to look at it and give us an official recommendation. I support this, but I would like them to tell me we have the authority to support it."

The council will take up the request later this month.

UPDATED FROM:

The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing on Tuesday will ask the Oak Park City Council to contribute $3,000 from city coffers to “help keep the (bridge) project on schedule.”

“While we remain optimistic construction can begin, opposition still hopes for delays, as in the past when we have repeatedly seen efforts to replace the old lift bridge get stopped at the last minute,” a letter from Coalition Co-Chair and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki to the Oak Park Heights City Council reads. “Stopping things now would increase both costs and the chances the project never occurs.”

Stillwater , while Washington County .

Oak Park Heights Mayor Mary McComber and City Council Member Chuck Dougherty are both members of the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing.

In order for the coalition to be successful, the letter says, it is important to raise “half its budget from the public sector, equally between Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Since forming two years ago, the Coalition has reportedly raised and spent about $300,000, Minnesota Public Radio reported last month.

The Coalition’s Director Larry Dowell, told MPR that 85 percent of that funding came from individuals or businesses, and the rest from the public sector.

“Despite the high profile work of the coalition,” MPR’s report reads, “it is difficult to find out who its members and contributors are. Dowell would not release a list of the coalition's 82 donors and members.”

The Coalition describes itself as a group of business, labor, government and community leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin who support building a new bridge that balances community needs and benefits the entire region.

RELATED: Stillwater City Council Gives $10K to Coalition for St. Croix River Crossing

Washington County Board Gives $15K to Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing

Stillwater City Council Approves $15K for Lobbyists Last-Minute Push to Pass St. Croix River Crossing

Washington County to Partner With Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing

Stillwater River Crossing Supporters to Launch Advocacy Coalition

Making the Case for the St. Croix River Crossing

Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing Receives Public Policy Achievement Award

Ripple in Stillwater: Coalition 'Muddies the St. Croix Waters with More Misinformation'

St. Croix River Crossing: 'We'll Just Have to Agree to Disagree'

Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing to Give $80K Donation Back to Stillwater

St. Croix County has also contributed $20,000 to the Coalition.

According to the Jan. 10 Stillwater Township Board minutes, the Coalition asked the township for a $1,000 contribution, but the Board’s consensus was to “respectfully decline as we do not see a clear community benefit.”

A discussion about the contribution is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday during the City Council meeting at Oak Park Heights City Hall.

Click here to see the full agenda.

Susan January 21, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I am repeating this information and adding to it accordingly. Please feel free to note any payments that I have missed: I have gone through a few articles here to try and get a handle on how much has been paid to The Coalition and lobbyists in the last year and a half, and who has made these payments. This is the information I have found so far, but if there are errors, they are mine alone, and please feel free to correct me: Washington County: ($10,000 in 2011 and $15,000 in 2012) TOTAL: $25,000 St Croix County: ($10,000 in 2011 and $10,000 in 2012) TOTAL: $20,000 Hudson: $2,500 New Richmond: $2,500 Stillwater: $40,000 lost in a botched attempt to improperly give The Coalition TIF money $10,000 September 2012 to The Coalition $15,000 Approved to pay lobbyist in February 2012 $18,000 total for $1500/month for a year paid to the Conach Group for lobbying ------------- $83,000 paid (or lost) by the city of Stillwater From the article above: "In order for the coalition to be successful, the letter says, it is important to raise “half its budget from the public sector, equally between Minnesota and Wisconsin.”" First, I don't know that it is the public's responsibility to make the COALITION successful and yes, we certainly need this to be more "equal" being as this is supposed to be a "regional benefit". I am grateful that at least one of our new council members has said that he will not vote to give this group any more money.
Randy Marsh January 22, 2013 at 03:49 AM
I had a similar reaction, Susan, and the numbers don't seem to add up. Then again, it's not like this coalition has been honest about much of anything to date. If 85% of this group's money has come from individuals or businesses the it seems clear this group has spent substantially more than $300,000 or else the coalition is sitting on a big pile of money, which seems incongruous with the fact that they are begging anybody and everybody for more cash. Perhaps Mr. Dowell does not include the tif money Stillwater pissed away, although it seems like they should consider that since the mayor of Stillwater who made the biggest push to contribute those funds is also a coalition co-chair. Amazing that Stillwater and Washington County are paying the biggest portion(s) to this coalition despite Wisconsin being the clear winners from having the bridge built.
Susan January 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM
From my numbers above, the coalition has received $60,000 from the cities and counties. At 15%, this would mean that they should have received $400,000, not $300,000. What the heck are they doing with this money? Supposedly their agenda is to educate the public at this point but of-course I believe that they continue to pay their preferred (cough, cough) lobbyists. Before anyone or any entity donates, they really should be asking for a tally of where the money is going. As a tax payer in Stillwater and Washington County, I certainly want to know how it's being spent. How on earth can this bridge be stopped if the last obstruction (OPH's mayor) has been removed?
Mike Hammer January 22, 2013 at 02:35 PM
From what I have heard, and I have heard nothing, there is really no one attempting to stop the bridge at this point. They won but when you consider the composition of the coalition perhaps some paranoias may run deep. Remember how the Mayor took after Cook because she had done "everything in her power" to stop the bridge. It's still on Youtube. At that point he had won the bridge but he continued to be an ungracious winner. What was the latest deal? Fifty thousand to move some mussels upstream. That's not stopping anything from happening and I doubt much at this point would. I think some of the coalition money will be going for ear plugs to hand out to those unfortunate enough to have to listen to the construction for the next three or four years.
Susan January 22, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I certainly remember, Mike, in fact I considered linking Harycki's unprofessional, bullying moment it in the last article about Micky and city hall's thanks to her. The man has no understanding of professionalism and how to conduct himself in relation to representing our city. I'm curious and may do some checking into how many Sunnyside condos and townhouses have been put up for sale since last March when the president signed it. I certainly feel for them.
Mike Hammer January 22, 2013 at 02:59 PM
I cringe at the new city council, in some ways. I think a lot of votes will still be four to one. It's interesting that Larry Hanson said the city will be receiving less money but for some reason our leadership keeps coming up with more ways to spend money that we don't seem to have. Granted, some has been TIF money which was a godsend but that pot won't stay full forever. I fear we may have our own fiscal cliff in coming years. As an aside, the council still gets full medical, if they wish. Those who take such largesse should be ashamed. They all have careers offering such a thing. Even the Mayor, who pretends fiscal frugality has his face in that trough. But I digress...
Susan January 22, 2013 at 03:21 PM
I've met Tom Weidner on two occasions, but never for more than a few minutes so it's difficult to guess how he will vote. I can say though that it's easy to look up his (and anyone's) political donations to see their political leanings. Then again, looking at our mayor's political donations, it is amazing to see that his votes clearly go against the fiscal conservative agenda that he seems to support. I can say that I have corresponded with Ted Kozlowski since the election. I look forward to seeing how he will vote going forward, and I have hopes that he will not be so free with the checkbook. I agree that a part-time, temporary job should not allow for benefits for the individual (and family?) for life. This is one area where I strongly agreed with Mr. Corbett. I guess we will see, it's going to be interesting.
Randy Marsh January 22, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Susan, I have a hard time believing the mayor and/or council members receive benefits for life. Is this really the case? Hard to believe the mayor's hand picked budget committee wouldn't have mentioned this when its findings were discussed, wait, never mind.
Susan January 22, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Thanks, Randy, you may be right if I am confusing the city employee benefit's with the city council benefits, but I am unable to look it up right now. I will do more checking when I'm back at my desktop.
Susan January 22, 2013 at 11:57 PM
I have been going through the city codes,ordinances, and budget from 2011 and can't find anything about the duration of health insurance benefits for the council. I did find the following info: Sec. 22-3. - Salaries established. Each council person of the City of Stillwater shall, during the term of office, be paid the sum of $600.00 per month, said sum to be paid monthly. The mayor of the City of Stillwater shall, during the term of office, receive the sum of $750.00 per month, payable monthly. Total salaries for the five members of the council for 2011: $37,800. Total for health benefits paid in 2011 for council members: $19,766: This breaks down to $1,647 per month so I doubt that the council members continue to get health insurance after their term....I stand corrected. I would be curious to know which council members and if we are paying for family members as well. Mike is right, I find it ludicrous that we are paying health benefits for part time, temporary positions.
Frank McGruber January 24, 2013 at 12:13 AM
All of this is beside the larger point. If the half-wits in the Sierra Club didn't sue to keep the bridge from being built, we wouldn't have to hire lobbyists and coalitions to make the case that it is desperately needed. Just build the dang thing already. Before the old one collapses and people get killed.

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