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October 19, 2019

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Black Votes Matter Minnesota> On September 3, 2019 at 8:52 PM Mikhaila Lampert <lampert.mik@gmail.com> wrote:

Hello-

 I am a writer for a Minneapolis-based non-profit, working with Black Votes Matter MN. We are covering the St. Paul elections this fall, and I would like to clarify your positions for our readers on the following issues:


Affordable Healthcare;

There is no easy answer to making healthcare ‘affordable’ as politicians seeking Votes often do.

Part of the local problem is that out of control spending by our City, and County elected officials has resulted in out of control Property Tax, Fee and Assessment increases.  Over-taxation not only affects Homeowners, it is also the single largest driver of ever higher apartment rents.  Over taxation is harming many, many Citizens.  It is trapping many in poverty (The way we’re going with current leadership’s spending, the new $15 minimum wage increase will be largely gone by the time it is achieved in 2024!). 


Subsequently, for many Citizens each month, there is little left to pay for insurance premiums.  Even with MNsure.


Part of the Solution is the power of increased Property, Fee and Assessment taxation needs to be given to Citizens in the form of referendums - in the same manner they now have the power to Vote on proposed school levy increases.  Politicians spending priorities will have to pass muster with Citizens – who will finally own the checkbook.  They will have to be more business friendly and be more mindful of ways to increase local sales tax revenue. 


Imposed fiscal responsibility at the local, and county level can slow considerably, the rate of increased costs of living in Saint Paul and allow Citizens to keep more of their hard-earned money for important expenditures - such as Healthcare.


Economic Opportunities;  

The City’s ever greater desire to over-tax and micro-manage business, but not pay attention to the physical business environment, has led to substantial private-sector disinvestment in Saint Paul.  Thousands of jobs have left – in sharp contrast to the metro area as a whole which economically is doing very well with job retention and growth.  


Though we’ve had a number of city hall lead ‘renaissances and resurgences’ these past twenty-five years our core downtown business district has contracted arguably further than any in America.  Neglect and disrepair remain visible in numerous areas.  Further, the environment continues to be - don’t anyone mention it.  


Substantial maintenance neglect along many blocks of Green Line LRT on University Avenue and an explosion of invasive plant species on public land, and next to prime business areas, throughout Saint Paul, is occurring.  Basic sidewalk and road repair have been neglected for years.  One doesn’t find any of this in a well-managed city that wants to retain jobs and attract new ones.  


Part of the solution:

1.       First and foremost, the ongoing environment where constructive criticism and honest assessments not being welcomed needs to end. 

 

2.       Micro-managing of business by elected officials needs to end.

 

3.       All, business areas need to be Super Clean and Super Safe and in short order. 

 

4.       Re-prioritizing city spending and planning activities so as to focus on basic maintenance and security measures is urgently needed.  More ‘studies and master plans’ are not. 

 

5.       Without public subsidy, business entrepreneurs can and will be attracted to attractive, well-maintained, secure business location opportunities.  We can, create that environment throughout Saint Paul.  

 

6.       There are more ways to attract business investment and increase office tenancies and to attract local spending to substantially increase sales tax revenue.  I will write, and show, in more detail about this further into the campaign. 

 

7.       If elected, I will work to see the that City’s website is greatly enhanced, so it can play a key, very interactive part, in helping Citizens and our business community to collectively determine our paths forward.    


Racial Inequality;

I do not believe Saint Paul, Ramsey County nor the state of Minnesota are racist.  Individuals are.  

Many modern-day politicians attempt to break Citizens into ‘groups’ in order to divide and conquer – and retain power.  Locally, there continues to be subtle racism within our ‘power’ structure.  Local elected officials too often subtly, treat minorities as though they are incapable of self-determination.  They patronize and pander particularly during election years.  This will be brought into the open if I am elected to the City Council.


On a personal note, I am a Gay man.  Being 57, I have lived through the prime-time of anti-gay speech - the 1970s through the 1990s.  I have never allowed words of others to harm me, nor my ability to pursue happiness and fulfillment in my work and interactions with my community.  I have never allowed the unhappiness of others to bring me down.


Things are much better today in Saint Paul and America certainly as far as treatment of minorities.  Sure, there’s a pace to go yet.  However, I know this city.  It is a good place, we are a caring place, we have a caring business community, we are all equal.   If I am elected as Ward Two’s next leader, I will always be a champion for equality. 


Lastly, a bit further into this campaign I will announce several initiatives that will lift the face of our multi-cultural heritage even higher!

 

Affordable Housing;

There is no easy answer to making housing ‘affordable’ as politicians seeking Votes often do.  They pander and patronize when saying everyone deserves affordable housing – yet their very policy decisions are the single largest driver of higher housing costs here.  

 

Again, out of control spending by our City, and County elected officials has resulted in out of control Property Tax, Fee and Assessment increases.  Over-taxation not only affects Homeowners, it is also the single largest driver of ever higher apartment rents!  Over taxation is harming many, many Citizens.  It is trapping many in poverty (The way we’re going with current leadership’s spending, the new $15 minimum wage increase will be largely gone by the time it is achieved in 2024!). 


Again, the power of increased Property, Fee and Assessment taxation needs to be given to Citizens and taken away from our failing City Council.  City Hall spending priorities will have to pass muster with Citizens.  With responsible City spending under control, increases in housing costs can be slowed.

Hundreds of housing units are being constructed in the city, hundreds more are being planned.  It is a bright spot here currently.  We have thousands of housing units here where rents are based upon personal income with more to come and many people rent out portions of their homes for extra income, many are affordable and very comfortable. 


On a personal note, my parents divorced when I was one.  With my Stepfather, mother and three siblings (three other siblings stayed with my father) I was raised in a lower wage household.  Initially, on the upper West Side; the upstairs of a low-rent duplex, then lower Inver Grove Heights near the Mississippi river banks.  That house too was poorer, its basement filled with mud from the ’65 flood, rats lived there to be honest.  Then we moved to rural Illinois where we lived on a couple of older farmsteads.  I never felt we were poor.  There was always enough to eat.  There was shelter and clothing and I had lots of adventures with my dog Scooter.


When I returned to the Twin Cities after high school, I lived in some nice places, and some not so nice places.  I always found work and fixed up the humble places I lived in.  I never felt I was lacking, nor envied what others had.  I have had many struggles over the years while being self-employed as an artist and small business owner since I was 28.  Housing did figure in those struggles.  Still, I have always been thankful for what I have had and happy for others who have had more. 


In closing - Thank You for the opportunity to share my perspectives with Black Votes Matter MN.  I hope all who read this will support the Hosko4Ward2 campaign.  Together, we can place Saint Paul on a much stronger foundation.

 

Sincerely,

Bill Hosko