Octogenarian Dave Durenberger(R) was featured on a recent propaganda mailer from Ranked Choice Bloomington. Perhaps this was done to get some Republicans to vote "yes" to RCV. This is troubling. Durenberger "echoed" the same unfounded claims of using Ranked Choice Voting as a resident for an endorsement. However, on closer look, questions arise. Senator Durenberger was censured in the past for lying about financial difficulties. (22) Is this someone to be believed or was he paid for his endorsement?
The rest of the "trusted" endorsements are locally known Democrats and a self-described Independent (Arne Carlson).
Perhaps that is their attempt to show bipartisan support for RCV as a hedge against the prominent Democrats, as well as Republicans who have vetoed and/or encourage a rejection of Ranked Choice Voting as a method that does not achieve what is claimed. Former Vice-President Walter Mondale(D), Former Governor Jerry Brown (D) and current Governor Gavin Newsome (D).
Bloomington voters are expected to make an informed decision on an extraordinary charter change. We are asked to change our long-standing voting method without benefit of how it would be implemented because it simply and desperately HAD to be on this year’s ballot.
Apparently neither the city manager nor the council felt details are necessary for an informed vote nor is exploring both sides - pros and cons - of such an invasive change to our method of voting.
“The only item I wanted to follow up on was information I had provided to the council earlier responding to a request from resident about Ranked Choice Voting and the mechanics of how RCV would work and if it was going to be detailed before the general election balloting process. And as I laid out in the information to council I think it’s also good to share with the community, that the process for crafting the ordinance, the timeline to do that, would not be achievable before voting is to begin for the general election.”
August 03, 2020
This is a fundamental fight for Bloomington election integrity.
But it isn’t stopping with Bloomington (SD49-50). Minnetonka residents (SD49, SD44 and SD48) just reached out to us. Their RCV change scenarios are eerily the same. This is a movement that must be stopped.
For more information please follow locally on facebook: No to Ranked-Choice Voting
And a new National Campaign against RCV: Protect My Ballot
What we're up against is a very well-funded, well-organized cluster of advocacy groups.
The city was heavily lobbied by The League of Women Voters, backed by Nathan Coulter and Jenna Carter, supported by Dean Phillips and helped by Steve Elkins, assisted and funded by FairVoteMN, FairVote National and ultimately a list of concerning foundations. According to Influencewatch.org, “Major funding to FairVote has come from a number of prominent left-of-center private grantmaking foundations and public charities, including the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Omidyar Network Fund, Open Society Foundations, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, Democracy Fund, Tides Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, Soros Fund Charitable Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.”
August 3, 2020
Like so many other Bloomington government meetings the past four months, the City Council decided that it was not appropriate to get together in person in an open public meeting on Monday evening, July 27.
Apparently, it was appropriate to use a video teleconference meeting with no public testimony to move forward on a proposal to fundamentally change the way that city elections should be held from primary/general elections (where a candidate with the most votes progresses or wins) to Ranked Choice Voting.
The City Council voted 6-1 to put the question to Bloomington voters on this November’s ballot.
• Despite the fact that this is not an emergency issue appropriately decided while live public forums are not permitted
• Despite the fact that the Charter Commission had voted not to recommend placing the RCV question on the ballot
• Despite the fact that public testimony on the subject conducted by the City Council and the Charter Commission over the past four months had been held virtually, some conducted late at night or marred by the failure of citizens to be recognized or to master the technology of speaking on-line.
• Despite the fact that opponents to RCV will need to reach out to the public when group meetings of more than 25 people are either highly discouraged or banned outright.
An indication of how completely the city has considered the matter was the response of the city representative at the council meeting, agreeing that a considerable amount of money could be saved if the primary during the off-year municipal elections was eliminated. No mention was made that yet more money could be saved if the municipal elections were moved to even-years when state and national elections are held.
Mike Hanks of the Edina, Richfield, Bloomington Sun Current wrote a long article about the council members' comments on RCV during the July 27 council meeting. It is well-worth reading to learn the opinions and positions taken by several of the council members and by the mayor.
Particularly note the comment of Councilmember Nathan Coulter: “I do think that [RCV] has the potential to make things better, and at the very least, I don’t have any reason to think it will make things worse.” He clearly has not been paying attention to what has happened in Minneapolis.
Rationale to oppose RCV on the Nov ballot (courtesy Bloomington Patriots):
1. Council Study Sessions has had no actual “study” of how RCV would work in Bloomington. Staff has never done their due diligence in researching and presenting exactly how RCV will work and its cost effects on the city.
2. Residents have repeatedly asked that this ballot initiative be given more time to vet especially during this time of COVID mandates and restrictions. (Council doesn’t believe it’s necessary. Believes residents can walk and chew gum at the same time.)
3. The Charter Commission believed that this was not the appropriate time to put a major change to our voting system on the ballot.
4. The Charter Commission believed that the side against RCV needs to be given enough time to present their case to the public since the City Council has not done their due diligence researching the effects of RCV in city elections and how it will be implemented in Bloomington.
5. The City Council has failed to present the basic reason why this change needs to be taken to the public.
6. The City Council has failed to reach the public with information on what to expect with implementation of RCV. The costs, the procedures, the implementation, the rules. Nothing has been presented. How can we effectively vote on what we don’t understand?
7. Residents were told that those opposing RCV will have 3 months to present their campaign to the public which should be enough. In reality, a little more than six weeks remain till the early voting begins Sept 18th. Well-funded outside groups have been hammering the council since last summer.
8. No one knows the final ballot question, which won’t be published until later in August. How can the opposition educate adequately within 3 weeks since Sept 18th is early voting?
9. The council said that they believe the electorate is smart enough to make a choice. Even the smartest person doesn’t make a decision with one-sided information.
July 20, 2020
Normally the Bloomington Charter Commission meets annually for business in the month of May. During this time of COVID shut down, civil unrest, and a difficult forum for public participation, the Charter Commission has met a total of three times (so far) this year: May 7, June 11 and July 9th.
The first meeting held May 7th, dealt with the court-mandated organized garbage referendum and its confusing language for presentation on the November ballot. There will be more on this another time. The latter two meetings were specifically to address the City Council ordinance regarding Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It appears that the City Council, without articulating a compelling reason, deems a drastic change in the way we have voted for years is necessary and urgent enough to be on the ballot this year.
The second Charter Commission meeting, which was public via teleconference, was held June 11th and was summarized in our June 22 article. While the motion to accept the ordinance FAILED due to a tie, much confusion about the Commission’s action ensued.
Last newsletter we notified you of a new Special Charter Commission Meeting called for July 9th and you responded with letters, emails and voicemails to Commissioners. I was told the city secretary was overwhelmed and I believe it made a difference.
Here’s what happened at the July 9th meeting, (a video recording of that meeting can be reviewed here) and what to expect next.
The chair of the commission indicated he called the July 9 meeting to discuss unfinished business from the original June 11th special meeting devoted to approving the RCV Ballot initiative. This July 9 meeting was for public listening only since the public hearing was on June 11th.
This time there were two more commissioners present and the City Attorney summarized the June 11th meeting results for their benefit, along with clarifying several irregularities that the public pointed out. She confirmed that everything that happened after the first adjournment on June 11th was null according to Robert’s Rules of Order. She also indicated that the original approval motion failed but admitted that no communication was made to that effect to the City Council. Later in the meeting, when asked why she had not communicated the failed motion, the City Attorney said it was because she was not asked to do so.
I found the next commentary by the City Attorney at the 10:58 mark very interesting and important. She laid out next steps very carefully by stating that the Charter Commission was charged with making one of any of the four following decisions.
1. To approve the ordinance to put RCV on the ballot
2. To reject the ordinance
3. To offer alternative wording
4. To ask for a 90-day extension to review
At the 11:52 mark, the City Attorney stated, “In the absence of any of these actions or asking for the additional 90 days, the City Council can continue to move forward.” This will be a key statement if the City Council tries to pass the ordinance on its own disregarding the Charter Commission’s rejection of the ballot initiative. She went on to outline the deadlines that must be met for inclusion on the ballot.
Much like the June 11th meeting, there was a motion made and seconded to accept the ordinance as presented by the City Council. That vote failed on a 6-6 tie. Again, similar to the previous meeting, a motion was made and seconded to reject the ordinance. This rejection finally passed with a 7-5 majority. Therefore, the Charter Commission fulfilled its obligation, the ordinance failed, and (in theory) RCV won't be on the November ballot.
Is that the end of the story? Probably not. The City Council is now going to discuss RCV in their Study Session on July 20, 2020 at 6 PM, under item 2.3. Will they disregard the Charter Commision’s rejection of the ballot initiative and try to take their own action? There have been considerable efforts recently by FairVote and some local parties to denounce the various city meeting proceedings and procedures, and to forcefully ask that RCV be put on the ballot anyway. At this point we will have to see what happens in the study session. If the Council decides to try to put RCV on the ballot themselves, we will once again have to object based on what the City Attorney outlined in the Charter Commission meeting. Stay tuned.
June 22, 2020
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a controversial change in the way that we would vote in local elections. Although it is very hard to argue that modifying Bloomington’s election procedures is an essential action during the on-going medical emergency, the Bloomington City Council voted to request that the Bloomington Charter Commission hold a public hearing on it.
On June 11, the Bloomington Charter Commission met by teleconference to hear public comments on RCV. The Bloomington City Attorney asked the Commission to approve placing on the ballot in November 2020 an amendment to the City Charter to require RCV for city offices.
Public testimony by teleconference is far from an ideal means of public discussion of important topics. While the Commissioners are able to see each other by video link, the public attendees and the Commissioners are only able to hear each other and could not see each other. The audio was often garbled, leading to frequent requests for repeat of information. As has happened in previous council public comment sessions, one resident was disconnected from giving testimony and another was not recognized by the operator, further highlighting the technology barriers to a free and open discussion.
After over two hours of public testimony and internal discussion, the ten Commissioners present split on a motion to approve. They then voted to adjourn the meeting, believing that the tie vote meant that the motion to accept placing a RCV Charter amendment on the November ballot had FAILED. But wait, that wasn’t the end.
It is unclear at this date when the Charter Commission will reconvene, but August 3rd is the deadline to get on the ballot as a referendum. The next time, all of the Charter Commission members may be present, and the outcome of the voting is not assured, We must be vigilant in the coming weeks. The well-funded, organized and persistent pro-RCV group has now faced some challenge. Your further support is needed to get the word out there.
After the adjournment, the City Attorney told the Commissioners that a tie vote only meant that the motion to approve had failed. She held that the tie vote did not mean that the ballot resolution was disapproved. Since no action had therefore been taken on the issue, they would likely be asked to meet on the ballot question again.
Her interjected comment after the original adjournment prompted one of the Commissioners to ask for clarification. So, about 3 minutes after the adjournment, the City Attorney said it would be appropriate to reopen the meeting for further discussion.
A recording of the video teleconference was posted on the Bloomington City website after the special meeting. This is how it was seen by the Commissioners and staff, not the public.
Public comment was heard for about 2 hours. The testimony during the public comment period was evenly split. Fifteen spoke against the proposed RCV amendment and 18 spoke in favor before the commission members voted. Three of the speakers in favor of the amendment were the City Clerk from the City of Minneapolis, a member of the St. Louis Park League of Women Voters, and the Executive Director for FairVote MN from Minneapolis. One of the speakers against RCV was a former long-time Bloomington resident fighting RCV in Minnetonka. This is the forum that should have been supported by the City Council before the recommendation was referred to the Charter Commission for November ballot timing.
Vote following the public testimony:
Motion: To accept the City Council’s proposed amendment to the City Charter and place it before voters in November - tie vote, so motion Failed.
The meeting adjourned at the 2 hour 34 minute mark, reconvened a minute later. During the hour-long meeting that followed, two additional motions and votes were taken. No public comments allowed before these votes.
1) Motion: To reject the City Council’s proposed amendment. - tie vote, so motion Failed.
2) Motion: To meet again to further discuss and consider action regarding Ranked Choice Voting - motion PASSED.
At the 3 hour 4 minute mark, the Commissioners and attorney did acknowledge the possible irregularity of the reconvened session. It was noted that some of the 22 public attendees had dropped from the meeting at the first adjournment, but 19 still were on the call / able to listen to the final hour.
In addition to a teleconference being a difficult forum for public presentation, it allows mistruths to abound. For example, the (pro) Ranked Choice Voting Bloomington Facebook page, has an incorrect and misleading assumption regarding the meeting’s results.
CLICK HERE to monitor the city meeting calendar for updates.
For more research information how Ranked Choice Voting really works, CLICK HERE to check out the “No to Ranked Choice Voting” Facebook page.
June 09, 2020
“Never let a crisis go to waste.” While Obama advisor Rahm Emanuel is quoted as saying this about the 2008 financial crisis, it could as easily be said about Ranked Choice Voting supporters and the COVID-19 pandemic. RCV is a controversial change in the way that we would vote in local elections, and it makes no sense that such a change would be pushed while we are still in an emergency lockdown, unable to debate it face-to-face. Yet the Charter Commission will discuss putting RCV on the November ballot at their Thursday evening, June 11, remote meeting.
We urge Bloomington residents to consider the ramifications and potential consequences of RCV. There is still time to write an email to the Charter Commission members or to plan to speak before the Charter Commission, asking the members NOT to recommend RCV be on the ballot in November. The more residents the better. Some email templates are being prepared, and we can be contacted for ideas if needed. The emails could be as simple as “we have no idea what RCV is and need more time for the city to provide more information before we put this on the ballot” or “I am against changing our voting system in Bloomington to RCV”.
Indicative of the push being made to get this on the ballot, the City Council has had only one face-to-face meeting on the subject last May and listened only to the proponents of RCV. There was a limited public discussion period during a remote meeting of the City Council on May 18, and only a general page on the city website, with no reference for resident education and information. Unfortunately, the City Management has done very little to illicit any response from the residents like they did for Lyndale Retrofit, Community Center Engagement, Creekside Closing and Diversity Training. Apparently the way in which we are voting is merely a side concern for them.
PERTINENT INFORMATION on the June 11 Charter Commission meeting:
The City and proponents of RCV want to get the Ranked Choice Voting ordinance and referendum wording approved by an August deadline for a November ballot initiative.
Emails should indicate the number and name of the agenda item for dissemination.
ITEM 2.1 Consider Ordinance 2020-17 Requesting Voter Approval to Amend the Charter related to Ranked Choice Voting.
May 11, 2020
On March 16th, the Bloomington City Council voted 7-0 to enact our City Emergency Plan, authorizing our City Manager to manage funds and actions on his own. Jamie Verbrugge, Bloomington City Manager, pledged that evening, “if it doesn’t need to be on the agenda, we’re just going to defer until we feel it’s safe to continue to have meetings in a way that meets our community’s expectations and that’s pretty consistent with what other cities are doing too.”
Unfortunately, Bloomington’s Manager and City Council are taking up matters that could easily be deferred while the City Emergency is in place. On May 18, the City Council will consider an ordinance that would change the way that we elect our mayor and city council members. Our City Charter requires that we elect these officials in a Primary/General election. The City Council is proposing a November ballot question to change the Charter to “Ranked Choice Voting”, or RCV. This could significantly alter the nature of our elections in Bloomington.
There are several factions that are pushing Bloomington to institute RCV. The League of Women Voters, FairVote MN, Dean Phillips, Steve Elkins, MN DFL, the City Manager, the Mayor, and several members of the City Council are just a few. Ironically, they use arguments that recent studies and actual experiences from other cities have contradicted. The League of Women Voters argues that RCV will encourage more lower income and low information voters to participate. (A claim that a survey of St. Cloud voters disproved).
Other proponents argue that our current Primary Plurality System has flaws that have led to the partisan divide in our legislature at the state and national level. However, they are proposing a fix for a problem that does not exist at our city level and could potentially add unnecessary complexity to our voting process.
Just a brief comment on how RCV works. According to Ballotpedia.org quoting FairVote:
“A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority."
Folks, we may not always be happy with our Primary results, but those of us that vote generally go away feeling that we understood who we were voting for and that our vote counted.
• Some ballots may be weighted more than others and some will be thrown out in the counting process.
• Large numbers of single-issue candidates may be encouraged to run. One Minneapolis Mayoral race had 35+ candidates to consider and rank. Imagine the proliferation of lawn signs for a city election!
• Ballot complexity may actually suppress voting. In a St. Cloud study, 70% of those with less than a high school education said it was “difficult to vote.”
• Disenfranchisement – the very thing RCV is claimed to eliminate.
And the list of issues goes on. For more information on the opposition to Ranked Choice Voting, please check out a local Bloomington Facebook page, “No to Ranked-Choice Voting”.