John Boland, former chairman and executive director of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council, speaking on challenges and accomplishments during his tenure. Boland also discusses issues still before the body.
Boland’s speech was given at Citizens League breakfast meeting.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
The first question I'm going to try and deal with is the med van Council has a structure. The question is phrase. How do I see it essentially as an extension of federal government state government local government. In my father he has five-and-a-half years is a chairman ever been able to answer the question. The answer is none of those like, you know, the average college ABCD or none of the above. My feeling is that it's none of the above your 30 General has ruled when we go to court on certain battles that the Metro on console is a hybrid of the state and local government is not a functioning operational government or whatever. So would you can't say the mud Pond council is a government that fits between the state and local governments, cuz that's not true either. I guess in all honesty. I am the chair the castle is involved in dealing with getting any of these agencies. Whatever fits best for your purposes of time. Is he in because there isn't it? There's actually no question the controlling force on the Metropolitan Council by way of absolute power and laws. If they legislation you can't do anything without them were controlled by it. We are not autonomous. We don't have her own Charter. So we can operate like local government and I think that's from my perspective politically. That's a good good deal because the well as an aside at the castle was directly elected body. Some of these problems would be solved open by themselves and I have said that eight years, but I think that's an absolutely necessary ingredient My Success or disagree with me, but that's that's his credibility needs to if in fact that's desirable to move on and do some things. I've been by myself right now. I cannot The federal government controls two things programs, obviously and money. In my experience as chairman of the council the federal government and its agencies has been very very good to the console. Are we been able to get the Innovative money? Whatever you want to call it money that other urban areas of the United States were unable to continue to be unable to get because of their inability to solve their planning process and its governmental structure. We've been able I think at least the perception of most of the rest of the country to solve that by the structure in the simple existence for at least the time being and I'll get into what I proceeded to be the future problems a lot of organizational structure problems. I don't know how many times around the country when I was sure giving speeches about the console or in dealing with the federal agencies. People would say to me. Well, alright, that's the Twin Cities now back to the real world where we don't have that and we've got to work with the following kinds of problems, which are you just irritate me because I spend my time and energy trying to leverage Pete. I've longed abandon the idea of selling model of the existence of the my phone, but this is never going to work that way anywhere else in the country Portland has come close. In fact, they have a directly elected Regional Council now, But they don't know if I'm going there in a couple of weeks to help him with it and a seminar with their new newly elected folks, but they still don't have the exact situation weight. If they don't have control of all individual property agencies, they picked up a few interesting ones like the zoo, but they don't have control of for example of the transitive or some of those other so Girl, role-playing prices still is different than ours, even though they're directly elected. I and this council is not. I think the the council function is very well in its political status as it it can bring the legislature ideas that is flawed up. Are we did that we do that every year the back to the staff is now involved in a rather extensive today and what they're going to bring I'm not involved in and obviously is this is my last couple days, but I hear it even yell at each other which is normal procedure by what are the priorities of this organization bring the legislature 1979 session. A lot of that has become lot. Obviously a lot of it has sprung out of the Citizens League study and it's become a lot. And I think that's a very healthy situation. The council has the availability. I've been able to do that because they don't have to make the ultimate decision. They can bring it to another body which gives you some some political Flex. You don't have to worry about the old garnering or changing your studies because of what you deem political necessity. That'll be done by the legislature. The local governments and their role and I just want to touch on this I think are extremely important for two reasons one. You can't really work without their support. They're never going to love them at the bottom gums. I just have to accept at the Coffeyville municipal authorities. Are constantly bothered by the cops. Every time a report goes out. There's a flood and the way you handle the flood depends on whether you're over run or you're successful in getting the shut down and be reasonable and he said we're doing on this situation that is very intense. Their feelings are very strong. The vast majority of them will agree. You need the Metropolitan Council you've got to pay attention to that when I came to the council 1973 from the legislature. It was my humble opinion that the council was in big trouble political is going down. Because what the government had gained up now that may or may not make sense. But that in fact was true at least from my perception the gang up to get the council because it was a threat to their political existence. I think if I ever had any value there was too, everybody down and say I just we're staying or going to be reasonable. We're going to listen to you. So I spent and you know, probably in some people of judgment. I know it sounds really judgement an inordinate amount of my time, but I can go local elected officials and I felt that that was extremely important that that. In the console is evolution to get those folks back in the folder back to the understanding that they had 1967 when many of them supported the establishment of the council and you never said you never going to have 100% approval. I can go to a number of spots in today and bring you the folks who think the council is an integral part of the Communist conspiracy and would like it to go away. Okay, my friend that one of the quick kind of a general question, then I'll move to the specifics the wall sitting at the council doesn't need to Chairman has both chairman of the board chief executive officer, which everybody realizes an unusual situation and I everybody that very honestly is I was there full time. This is a very personal thing I will guarantee you probably that my successor will not leave the motive as I ran it because he doesn't feel as comfortable as I did it with that kind of a situation. He would rather have an executive director. I had an executive director for a little over a year. And we kept running into each other and that's got to the point that one of us probably should find other employment and minutes. It's a personal thing some people like it there where I like to have to know what's happening to everything going across my desk if I can get an orderly process to do that. I was much more comfortable being both the chairman and executive director. I realize that academically that violates all the textbooks long been a problem with mine while he takes but I thought it worked really well. I know that the local officials liked it because there's only one person to check with There's some political disadvantage to that cuz you're on the firing line and what you say makes you make it yourself trapped and what you say. I was just going to go because you are the chief executive officer as well as a champion can't fall back and I'll have to check with the executive director or I have to check with the chairman Now you kind of can't say that because if you're going to be scared too, but I liked it the bulk of the staff got to be comfortable with it. Not all of them. You got over 240 employees not a reason be covered with anything. But which is what the council staff size is now. No, I don't have any problem with that. Also don't have any problem with my successor changing it that's his call. So we can do what he feels is absolutely necessary for the successful running of the castle as I did when I limited to that position. I would like now to spend just a few minutes and then what I think are the major priorities the council has to face in the next few years. I am basically I can break I think those down in the floor. The council I think I mean deposit it for a minute has really adequately and successfully address the question of Transportation the truck the question of overall comprehensive planning, which is nearing its end of the Mantua planning it again, everybody understands it and I think it's working fairly. Well, there are obviously some Transportation questions to be addressed. But I think the mechanism is there we will the castle be acting I got to stop saying we the council will be in shortly on the downtown people mover in Singapore. For example report just came in as far as I can see that thing is working that does not mean as I said, everything is all salt but the existence of the council the transportation Advisory Board the Transit Commission in the Department transportation. To me to meld into a fairly successful working machine. Same thing as truth comprehensive planning. I really believe that we finally have got that thing in place. Okay, what do I see is not in place yet. I still think housing is perhaps the biggest problem at this area faces as an area. And I'm not sure that anybody including the council has been able to adequately address that or come up with Solutions. The council for example had identified the fact that law and Monica's housing. Is going to be in short supply in this urban area. You can come up with all the statistics that show there pretty soon. All of us will be able to afford to buy houses if the thing continues to go the way it is. So what do we do? What does government do as opposed to private-sector or is there some kind of a male that can be worked out how we're going to handle it? Unfortunately the council once in awhile stumbles into the political battles again of who's supposed to be doing what? And that's always been my fear. When we get into these debate. You identify a problem housing is a problem. There isn't enough Oil Motocross housing there also, frankly. It looks from the looks of our studies. There won't be enough for multiple housing either. Apartments or whatever just the market is such that the financially it isn't very good business anymore. They're doing to that kind of thinking people are building them as much as they should be here is a problem. We're supposed to be doing it. Well. The Housing and Urban Development people in the Twin Cities are going to get to the next Bond cancel that because the council has an HRA shut up voluntarily for now 57 minutes pallet. He's 56 minutes because we have to be doing something about larger Holmes 3 + bedrooms because that's where the greatest need it so I can still got himself involved in a scattered-site housing program in the Battle of got lost immediately about weather going to buy who is going to do it. The castle is going to run by I could run. Meanwhile, the debate rages on and nothing's happened. Same thing is true with the existing allocation plan that the council hit for Saint paul-minneapolis five or six years ago the council established the priority that there ought to be available in the suburbs low. I'm out of straws housing. So we set up our allocation formula accordingly at that point in time. The suburbs are complaining that we don't need that kind of thing. We have problems with that. We would rather handle it ourselves locally in here is a nut Council imposing that while we work through the policy 13039 process where we actually in fact stop other kinds of federal money from coming into those suburbs. We were uncooperative and getting their housing needs met at least what we thought we're having it finally got that all settled down. We thought and finally housing begin to be built in the suburbs almost all of them as matter fact. Consider bona fide attempt to solve the problem when Minneapolis and st. Paul raise up in fire saying they're not getting enough now and the idea was to keep the balance and so we are now at a stage where we have got to address the issue with the two core cities and their needs in allocating. Those will not disguise. Limited units the federal agencies and state only got a certain amount of money. I received that they can be spent for this whole question of housing. The council's plan for housing application still stands in the process of being restudy. I don't believe in from what I can tell me what the new members of the castle but the only ones I think the blood and died for that. I suspect it won't be much change. There may be some adjustments babe. I think the concept of availability of low amount of it. Is that about 50% of the so-called poor how to redefine that those are need subsidies in their housing Dora live in Minneapolis and st. Paul suburbs or later. We talk about the American Center concept we dispense off of study. We did call the fully developed areas pass for study. I guess perhaps the concept A lot of people have is that the fully developed here is Minneapolis. And st. Paul that's not true. There are 14 suburbs outfit that description economic description of fully develop and though and basically those are where you find your lawn mower. This guy needs in the Suburban area. I'm already over time and I need prickly run to a couple of these priorities Health Care is another priority the console I think is going to have to address. Coral who was the chairman of the Health Board is here someplace in any type of questions. I'll ask will answer them with a joint committee with the Health Board in an attempt to get very specific and five areas. I think it is where the need of what's driving up the cost of hospitalization for Health Care is going to be addressed and I think that that's moving or it's not again because I'm message you're bringing to the service is there's too much and immediately the answer to who's going to lose it and you've got your inevitable Turf battles. And then the question of The credibility of the my phone help or is it going to be at the council itself is also involved in all this gets involved who's going to make that determination stand right now the council for the certificate of need and through this other planning process is in a position to do something about that and that joint study is going on. Letters that used to come across my desk would indicate that the perinatal area and the question of open heart surgery who's going to do that all those things are starting up a position that letters are beginning to arrive at the council saying that the study is invalid and I can send them nothing that what y'all think thin healthy that will obviously force the issue. Secondly, thirdly is the waste management system. The legislature has to have finally I think address that the council has finally adopted a new plan but this whole question but it keeps blowing a lot of political activity involved in this area of the unfortunate choice of words hazardous. Waste of time if you can find some other word get everybody excited and you can't find a location for this be how chemical situation just a small little. Bump in this whole issue the council. I think he has to take the lead in the sand and will with the legislature has to ultimately made the decision about what kind of a plan is going to be put into effect in the Twin Cities much pain. Are you may have to put a good compromise and say the whole state Which is far as I'm concerned fine, but somebody and I think I stay up in our committees and put a lot of time and effort into this whole question of solid waste chemical hazardous waste particularly as how we're going to dress it in at this point. We've not got the answer if you compare this whole system to Transportation, you can see the transportation while I took some time to get there is a much better shape organizationally than this issue is Congressman is in watermelon. I'm not environmental economics development side of the whole thing the economy. I remember Travis went over there about two years ago. Say my major objection to the Metropolitan planning act as you have not taken into consideration the economic development. You've done it with a sewers with highways Transit afternoon Economic Development Authority to the last couple of weeks of my chairmanship. I spent talking with the people from the Eda who have recipients for any of the money because we never met the guidelines because we're not below the unemployment levels, although I think we are both of my Me. Maybe now. I'm not sure but I really think that somewhere in the immediate future. There's got to be a problem. What are economic growth week we can control it peripherally, but we're never getting the thing in the head and saying here is the way this process out of go. Very quickly now and then I'll shut up the center concept. People Minneapolis St. Paul interested in it. What is it? In as a spin-off of the food at all. The council I think real actually made the decision that a lot of our resources should be spent in continuing to protect and develop what's already in place essentially the two Metropolitan centers in those suburbs. Therefore a lot of encouraging kinds of things were done by way of their own policy priority for downtown areas. The stadium got involved in that. I remember we made the comment that it was more consistent with our policies not to Bloomington was inconsistent cuz that was in there too. But if you're going to back up it is a downtown urban area that is being redeveloped. And that's a resource we should protect and continue to work on. And I think that all our priorities and freeways Parks whatever they may be Parks just as an aside very quickly. We used to spend a lot of time after going out grabbing the park systems that we were at the park that we were going to go down because of development if we can get there to protect them. Britt Kennerly, I personally think we've done an excellent job of that those things are in place we got to spend whatever money we can accumulate to the legislature other sources now in developing the ones that are here and the Fulton urban areas elected officials at least and maybe their stay after finally figuring that out and the pressure to give me that comes out of the cancel that enough is enough by way of purchasing a new practice areas, we've got to make some sense that would fit in there with the Minneapolis Riverfront. The riverfront is the holder is a critical area by the governor runs out this year the castle I'm pretty sure I don't think I don't see any problem. We will go to make it permanent make sense. I think it's working really. Well. Obviously, there's some problems but the part of that is consistent with two policies. When is the concept of the area of a dramatic? Where are policies may be too inflexible, but I think that is worth or will work itself out in due course.