October 12, 2019
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce> From: Yao Yang <email@example.com>
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Date: August 19, 2019 at 1:44 PM
Subject: East Metro Voter Guide Questionnaire
I have attached the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce PAC (SPACC PAC) East Metro Voter Guide (EVMG) Saint Paul City Council questionnaire. If you are interested in being featured in the EVMG, please fill out the questionnaire and send it back as a word document. Your answers will be published verbatim.
The EVMG website will be updated with 2019 races soon. Because of the number of races and number of candidates we are featuring in the EMVG this year, there is not a deadline for submission, but we are also NOT holding pages until all the declared candidates have responded. We will be adding the information and updating the Guide as questionnaires are returned to us.
The SPACC PAC Board has not yet decided in which or how many races we will endorse. Those decisions will be made at a later date, based on the information in the questionnaires. If additional screening is needed for your race, we will contact you about an in-person interview with the Board. If you are interested in an endorsement from the SPACC PAC, I would encourage you to submit your questionnaire asap, as our screenings will likely start in March.
Please don't forget to include a picture for publication as well.
Let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for running, and for submitting your information to the East Metro Voter Guide!
Candidate questionnaires are published verbatim on the East Metro Voter Guide for public education, and are the basis for SPACC PAC endorsement decisions.
Name: Bill Hosko
Campaign Phone: 763-280-1178
Campaign Website: hosko4ward2.org
Twitter handle: None at this time
Facebook Page: Bill Hosko – my public, personal page
Please include the headshot you would like included with your candidate profile.
1. Please provide a brief bio highlighting experience and accomplishments that qualify you to be the next City Council member in Saint Paul. (200 word maximum)
I am a Native of Saint Paul and a downtown small business owner for over twenty-five years. During this time, I have created: an extensive collection of Saint Paul themed architectural artwork and more recently, an in-progress café-music venue unique to this city. My lease will soon be extended five years and a small wine and beer license application will be approved this fall.
I have been elected to several district council boards – with near perfect attendance while serving. I worked diligently to increase citizen participation within them. We had very good results!
Over these years, I have volunteered as a helpful citizen activist and watchdog extensively and in numerous capacities with city hall and with city planning issues. These have ranged in part, from: Upper Landing, Union Depot, LRT, West Side Flats to skyway system security. I was successful in some efforts, less so in others. I will speak to these in detail on the campaign website later this month. Please stay tuned!
Since 1980, I have saved detailed information on downtown and riverfront redevelopment. There has been no larger champion and rooter for Saint Paul. Our best years are ahead of us!
2. How would you characterize the business climate in Saint Paul?
Lukewarm. Frankly, even though we’ve had a number of city hall lead ‘renaissances and resurgences’ these past twenty-five years our core business district has contracted arguably further than any in America. Further, the environment continues to be - don’t anyone mention it.
3. What role do you think the City should have in attracting and retaining jobs, and what steps would you take to solicit new businesses to, and retain existing businesses in, Saint Paul?
- First and foremost, the ongoing environment where constructive criticism and honest assessments not being welcomed needs to end.
- Second, all, business areas need to be Super Clean and Super Safe. Period.
- Re-prioritizing city spending and planning activities so as to truly focus on basic maintenance and security measures is urgently needed. Respectfully, more ‘studies and master plans’ are not.
- Without public subsidy, business entrepreneurs will be attracted to attractive, well-maintained, secure business location opportunities. We can, create that environment throughout Saint Paul.
- Additionally, and with all due respect to your organization, for some time, the chamber and its PAC committee have embraced the status quo. The best, common-sense interests of small business have been often ignored, and even shunned, in favor of currying favor with city hall.
4. Would you support hiring a business advocate as a member of the city senior staff, to concentrate on business retention and expansion; new business recruitment; and business impact of proposed regulations on the business climate in Saint Paul?
Respectfully again, city hall, and SPACC, need to focus on ensuring our business environment is Super Clean and Super Safe first and foremost, and ensure that it stays that way.
SPACC has helped create our current business environment. Respectfully, further micro-managing is not needed.
5. Do you support any other specific employment-related proposals in Saint Paul (such as mandatory scheduling notice)? If so, what specific steps would you take to understand the impact of an ordinance on the many types of businesses in Saint Paul and how would you define any exceptions to those policies?
Question 1. None at this time.
Question 2. With all due respect again, SPACC has helped create the environment you are now concerned about.
6. Would you support modifying or repealing the new earned sick and safe time or minimum wage ordinances that apply to the city? If so, how?
7. What is your strategy to address public safety concerns?
- The city’s website needs to include a city-wide map, whereas each reported crime, is represented by a color-coded dot. Updated daily, it would be a valuable tool to keep citizens and our business community abreast of crime activity.
- Additionally, any practice, whereas the writing of crime reports is being discouraged needs to end.
- When crime spikes, ‘sustained’ police patrols need to be in place, not just during an election or media cycle.
- The grave situation of the LRT Central Station stop in the heart of downtown's still declining business district has been ignored by elected officials for years (Recently, as I was video-documenting maintenance neglect in that area of downtown, a fight broke out. Perhaps 20-30 people gathered around, they went out into the street, blocking the light Sunday evening traffic. No police were around). It cannot be stressed enough, that this ongoing situation needs to end if our business district is to ever recover. It can be done.
On the small parcel of open public land here facing Cedar Street, a combined indoor security center, waiting area and public restroom (the outdoor port-a-potty here is a disgrace – a result of lack of foresight from Leadership, and respectfully, by SPACC) is absolutely needed. It’s first level for Metro-Transit officers. It’s second level for Saint Paul officers - to give them immediate access to the skyway system. Those using transit downtown, and our City’s image, deserve no less.
- Fare theft and misconduct aboard Metro Transit - particularly on LRT is growing. Millions of dollars are lost annually, security costs have skyrocketed. Riders, young to older deserve better, as do taxpayers. The Honor System of riding is not working – officials designed a system which could only lead to temptation. All LRT station platforms need to be retro-fitted to be ‘Pay as You Enter’ as most city’s are. A much better environment around the entire LRT system would result.
- The entire skyway network needs a comprehensive interactive security system, manned from the new security center. Citizens, workers and visitors, should always feel safe when using our famed skyway system - whose image has been tarnished for too long. We can restore its luster!
Again, sustained, basic maintenance in our business areas and our neighborhoods is needed – since the last election the environment has deteriorated further. Neglect, attracts crime of course.
Additionally, there has been an explosion of invasive plant species on public land throughout Saint Paul. Further, once beautiful vistas from park benches have been erased in Cherokee, Prospect, Linwood and Mounds Parks. There is so much litter and debris – years’ worth in some cases. Neglect attracts crime.
8. What are your priorities for the City’s budget?
Mine will be what my constituents want:
2. Let’s dramatically update the City’s website by early summer 2020 so that all email communications from citizens can be sent ‘direct’ or ‘public’ in order to allow others to see it, and the response back, from city hall.
- As with online news and video channels, citizens could ‘thumbs-up or thumbs-down’ the message.
- Citizens may also be given the ability to comment on the communications, and to add their insight and or expertise to the conversations.
- Citizens would be able to visit the City’s website at any time, and click on the link to which department they may be most interested in. Perhaps it would be Parks and Recreation, or the Mayor’s office, and see what is ‘Trending’ in communications.
- Online Voting could be allowed on topics before city commissions and boards, and for city council public hearings, and the mayor’s budget proposals, to help the city council come to the best possible decisions with regards to the City’s 2021 budget.
This new level of helpful and constructive (no mis-use or abuse allowed) communication between city hall and Citizens would create a level of Trust and Openness not seen before. It could perhaps be seen as a role-model for other Cities.
9. How do you view the relationship between commercial and residential property taxes?
We must stem the decline of our commercial office sector, by making this City far more attractive to entrepreneurs and businesses with workforces located outside Saint Paul. We can reverse the trend with new leadership.
Secondly, it is time citizens are given the right to Vote on proposed City, and County property tax increases, just as they have the right to Vote on School Board tax increases.
10. What will you do to expand Saint Paul’s tax base?
- Encourage city hall and special interest organizations to stop micro-managing entrepreneurism and instead focus on making our business districts Super Clean and Super Safe.
- Secondly, too frequently elected officials and expert ‘planners’ have encouraged the creation of mediocre design in some of the most prominent places. This suppresses attraction and interest in these areas.
- The ‘West’ site holds great promise, but so did Union Depot. Past ways of planning need to be greatly improved upon.
- There are many ways to attract business investment, increase office tenancies and attract local spending to substantially increase sales tax revenue. I will write in more detail about this, shared online and via video, further into the campaign. If elected, the City’s enhanced interactive website will play a key part in Saint Paul’s residential and business communities collectively determining our course. Please stay tuned.
11. How will you work with K-12 and post-secondary educational institutions and businesses to ensure our region develops and retains an educated workforce?
I will assist the school board in any way they deem most helpful. An attractive and safe city, in all neighborhoods, is a basic way to ensure our children grow up in a healthy, inspiring environment. There is so much neglect in basic city services currently that need to be tended to.
12. What do you see as the city council’s role with regard to public schools in Saint Paul?
Too many Cooks in the Kitchen create confusion. As a city councilmember I will stay out of the School Board’s and the Teacher’s way, unless I am invited. There is so much neglect in basic city services currently that need to be tended to, and soon.
13. What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?
- In summary, many citizens believe, that it would be the of lack of clear, concise and honest communication between city hall and citizens.
- Undue influence by outside organizations, wanting to buy influence, funneling campaign cash into city council and mayor’s races.
14. What would be your top three priorities if elected?
- Again, greatly improving communication and interaction between city hall and citizens it is supposed to serve, and suppressing outside PAC interference in city elections and city council Votes.
- Making this Ward and downtown Super Clean and Super Safe.
- Ensuring basic services are fully funded and serviced.
15. What do you think should be the city’s top transportation related priority?
Please see my answers to Question 7.
16. Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated?
Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?
17. Is there anything else you would like to share with voters not covered above?
My criticisms of city hall and SPACC are constructive. To be clear, by far, most city personnel I have worked with over twenty-five years have been professional and terrific to work with!
My past experiences with some SPACC representatives have been very good. However, others, most of whom had never owned a business, were keen on shunning outside perspectives which they did not agree with. SPACC had become too close to city hall and other bureaucracies. Saint Paul’s business community has suffered greatly for it. Perhaps, SPACC today has changed course?
In conclusion, if you feel it is ‘Time for a Change at City Hall’ then this fall Vote to ‘Restore Power back to the People’ and help me to become your next Ward Two representative in city hall. There is so much good we can accomplish – in short order – for the long term – which restores Saint Paul’s luster and improves your quality of life!