The Six Principles of Saint Paul STRONG are:
SAFETY: We pledge to make public safety our top priority, maintaining efficient and effective first responder systems and enhancing citizen/community relationships with police, fire, and other city departments.
TRUST: We will work to make sure full and informed citizen participation comes before decisions are made —not after—and put the interests of all the people, including the affected communities and the intended beneficiaries, ahead of personal or partisan interests.
RESPONSIBLE: We believe city officials must be accountable to all citizens—including persons of color, seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income residents, immigrants, and refugees—and that they must be fully engaged to the public, not parties, and must respond to citizen concerns in a timely and nonpartisan fashion.
OPEN: We will break down the barriers that exclude citizen participation and bring decision-making back into the public arena where it belongs; ensuring taxpayers are fully informed and have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision making.
NEIGHBORHOODS: We pledge to strengthen community voices and to work—across ward boundaries— to foster stronger neighborhoods with equal right and access to the resources and amenities of our city.
GENERATIONS: Understanding that our city was built by generations of people who loved it as we do, we pledge to build a stronger, safer, and more beautiful city for the generations that will come after us.
Saint Paul STRONG is a nonpartisan, community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government in Saint Paul. Steering Committee members include Rick Cardenas, Andy Dawkins, David Durenberger, Shirley Erstad, Don Gemberling, Laura Goodman, Ruby Hunt, Samakab Hussein, Roy Magnuson, John Mannillo, Yusef Mgeni, Tony Parrish, Pa Chua Vang, John Vaughn, and Linda Winsor.
Saint Paul STRONG does not take positions on issues. We support inclusive, transparent, and accountable public process. The following are examples of when there was not sufficient public process for local decision making in Saint Paul. While individual members of Saint Paul STRONG have diverse opinions and take personal positions on local issues, Saint Paul STRONG only advocates for good public process.
List of Grievances prompting the formation of Saint Paul STRONG
Saint Paul STRONG, made up of diverse community representatives, saw the need for real reform based on the fact that recent actions by the Saint Paul Mayor and City have occurred with little or no public input, transparency, or accountability. The consequences include reductions in tax base and essential services.
- Failure of the City Council Members to inform the City Clerk when an invitation is sent to the entire Council about a public community forum where the potential for a majority of the Council will participate;
The City Council’s shirking of its powers under the City Charter to conduct performance audits of city departments, policy sessions on matters of broad public concern, and to commission independent investigations of serious allegations against the City;
Removal of City authority to administer restaurant, swimming pool inspections, and City operation of the Police Crime Lab;
Failure of Council members to post and keep regular office hours;
Failure to respond in a timely and meaningful manner to questions and to requests for information;
Failure to bring the City's on-line presence into the twenty first century;
Failure to make the City Code user friendly;
Lack of disclosure as to who actually pays for travel expenses for public officials;
The City Council’s unanimous vote to institute a policy automatically deleting emails after six months, in an admitted effort to reduce the burden of wiping out public accountability by doing away with the real history of reasons for and the process followed in making decisions about the public's business;
The City Council’s practice of adopting policies and conducting its business in private through use of the consent agenda;
The City Council’s support of out-of-court settlements in high profile and controversial matters, with no investigative follow up, despite evidence of City culpability;
Permitting of tear-downs of private homes in sensitive residential neighborhoods without prior public knowledge;
No clear accounting of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and how many millions of dollars are lost annually from City tax rolls as well as lost revenue to schools and Ramsey County;
Unnecessary giveaways of public easements to private developers without compensation for public loss;
Continuing to grant zoning variances for exceeding building heights and massing of new commercial development;
The City Council’s unanimous adoption of an unprecedented 10-year franchise with Comcast, despite significant customer service issues, with no meaningful process to consider options or obtain public input;
Black Bear Crossings legal decision to award $800,000 to private owner put out of business and subsequent cover-up;
Decision to offer permanent property tax forgiveness for soccer stadium, then supporting a Met Council proposal to prevent public from any access to knowledge and negotiations of internal decisions;
Decision to install metered parking on Grand Ave. without promised public input;
Reduced dedicated funding for park improvements without accurate disclosure of financial impact and misleading information;
Cover-up of cause of Lilydale Park landslide that killed two young school children;
Refusal to allow public input into the design of the Saints ballpark after promising to establish such a process;
Condemnation of private Lowertown parking without a plan for replacement of lost parking;
No plan or public process to accommodate loss of Downtown parking from LRT, Ballpark development, permanent sidewalk expansions (as opposed to seasonal sidewalk extensions), bikeways, and elimination of private parking lots;
Tax dollars committed to construction of new bikeways without comprehensive public input on implementation of the bike plan;
Decision by City to relocate a Lowertown transit bus stop from in front of a commercial building to a residential location, 6 ft. from residents' windows;
Decision without public input to locate the LRT Operation and Maintenance Facility in a congested Lowertown residential area;
Community's need to file a lawsuit to have three Saint Paul LRT stations built in minority / transit dependent areas of the Green Line.