Legislators mulling measures to reform the Metropolitan Council so far aren’t hearing an outcry from the colonies — er, Met Council districts — calling for the right to actually elect their representatives. “The council has taxing authority,” Lakeville’s city administrator told the Strib’s Jenna Ross, “so the idea that it be accountable to the taxpayers just makes sense.”
The governor appoints the 17 members of the Met Council. The change lawmakers are talking about would stagger Met Council terms so as to knock half the council’s appointments out of lockstep with the term of the governor presently in office. Tackling the problem of taxation without elected representation isn’t the point of bills pending in the Senate and House — where Metro Cities observed that both parties “quickly zeroed in on the potential political advantage (or disadvantage) that might result from a change in the status quo.”
But allowing people to vote isn’t trendy at the Capitol, where last year legislators stripped Minneapolis citizens of their right to vote on dissolving their library and elected library board. The year before, people in Hennepin County lost their right to vote on a sales tax to fund the Twins stadium.
Longtime Met Council watchers recall that making the Met Council an elected body passed twice (and got vetoed twice) under Gov. Arne Carlson, and was part of Jesse Ventura’s platform until he won and realized he now held the power to appoint. Still, Ventura’s open call for applicants to fill Met Council seats looks revolutionary today, when having punched a clock at a right-wing think tank seems a prime qualification for deciding $650 million matters of metropolitan water, waste, parks, planning and transit.
In an elected Met Council, Chair Peter Bell warned the Strib, “parochial interests would rule supreme.” Maybe, but whose interests rule supreme now?