consultants are sandburs

Friday, November 21, 2014

Met Council head Susan Haigh elects to keep $170 thousand a year Habitat for Humanity post, in resigning from $61 thousand a year "part-time" cummulative income position (chair of Met Council).

$170,000 per year is not pro-athlete pay, but how many of us would sneeze at it as inadequate and beneath our station?

Double-dipping of course ups the ante.

While mentioned in comments to an earlier post, Haigh's decision is reported by Strib staff who wrote in part:

“I’m ready now just to have one job,” she said.

Haigh, 63, leaves at a time of tumult for her agency. A yearlong dispute over the $1.7 billion Southwest light-rail line was quickly followed by a growing insurrection among suburban leaders over the council’s plans for transportation, affordable housing and parks.

And questions still remain as to whether the council members should be elected rather than appointed by the governor.

Haigh will stay on until Gov. Mark Dayton names a successor for what is now a part-time position paying $61,414 a year.

[...] Haigh said Wednesday her replacement will likely work full time. “It’s really a big job,” she said. “These are really important issues that take a lot of time and attention.”

Haigh oversees a mammoth agency with an $890 million annual budget, 3,700 employees and a 17-member board. Its oversight ranges from transportation planning to affordable housing to wastewater management for the seven-county metro area.

Suburban unrest

This fall, in an unprecedented move, the five purely suburban metro counties came together to push against the Met Council’s long-term regional transportation plan, which suburban leaders say virtually ignores their needs.

But Carver County Commissioner Gayle Degler said he doesn’t think Haigh’s resignation will change things there. “I don’t see her as the roadblock,” he said. “It was the policies and the implementation of the council that we were trying to address.”

Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look agreed. “Make no mistake, the Met Council is a staff-run organization. So really it doesn’t matter who is there,” he said. “And I think that staff likes to overstep their bounds on numerous occasions. It’s really up to the Legislature to say, ‘OK, you’ve overstepped your bounds and it’s time to rein you in.’ ”

The Met Council’s transportation plan focuses on transit in urban areas, Look said, and that will clash with the priorities of the incoming Republican majority in the state House, which he said will emphasize funding for highways and roads.

Haigh said that the council gathered a lot of reaction from stakeholders to form those plans, and that balancing the needs of a multitude of communities is challenging.

[... Haigh] has held her current job at Habitat for Humanity since 2005, a position that pays $170,474 in salary and $4,807 in additional compensation, according to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. A nonprofit organization that focuses on affordable housing, the local chapter of Habitat had $21.9 million in annual revenue as of June 30, 2013.

[bolding of sub-headline in original - red highlighting added]

Big Sumo vs Lake Elmo, this link
It seems correct that Met Council is run by staff, and they can get heavy-handed as was done with the unfortunate litigation they triggered a few years back against Lake Elmo.

Planners are like that. Hubris out of line with talent levels. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, "First kill all the planners."

All the developers would weep, however, over a loss of those Met Council planners with their absurd growth quotas forced onto towns that in turn force so much development options into Comprehensive Plans - mandated Comprehensive Plans - that the plans either fail to meet Met Council staff approvals, or compromise towns so much that developers can cherry-pick opportunity to an obscene degree.

So one wisdom, follow all the planners with all the developers, and "lesser Minnesota" norms of measured and evolved growth, instead of hellbent fueling of the fire of developer greed, would prevail.

They should stick to selling flushes. Something for which a handful of engineers is required, vs a bevy of planning graduates from wherever they originate, all pleased over job security and the mandate to force town officials to compliance with planner whim and fancy, under the threat of being Lake Elmo'ed.

For the last Ramsey comp plan a "genius" named Phil from Bonestro worked with Ramsey officials, and the result was a plan authorizing more growth cherry-picking options than the Met Council's quota demanded. More sop to developers.

However, the other side of the coin, let towns do their thing, and the David Flahertys and Ryan Cronks of the nation can sometimes ingratiate their hopes into town actions. It's not a simple either-or, it's a more-or-less pattern. Multiple devils, in multiple details. One wisdom, however, if you hear the term "smart growth," head for a county outside of the metro area; as Sherburne and Wright Counties ever vigilantly wish to keep themselves. (With neither going to hell in a hand basket for lack of Met Council being able to reach to their doorsteps.)

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