Functional Government

Why do we need a Functional city government?  –   “A well functioning city government helps support a well functioning community. Good governance is important for several reasons, it not only gives the local community confidence in its council……it also leads to better decisions, helps local government meet it legislative responsibilities, and provides an ethical basis for governance.”     excerpt from the Good Governance Guide.

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Plan for Success

  • Lake Elmo’s Insurance Deductible Lowered, But Less Than Expected. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) voted unanimously on October 8, 2017 to reduce the city’s insurance deductibles on some liability coverage to $100k. But they left the employment liability and land use deductibles at $200k per claim. The deductibles had been $5k until the LMCIT raised them in 2016 “due to incivility from the city council that caused high employee turnover in 2015 and 2016”.
  • Lake Elmo Approves Settlement with Former Administrator.  On May, 16, 2017, the city council agreed to a settlement with former city administrator Dean Zuleger, who had filed a civil lawsuit alleging defamation and violations of his privacy rights under the Minnesota Data Practices Act.
  • Trial date set in lawsuit filed by former city administrator. Excerpt: The suit alleges defamation and violation of his privacy rights………and cites numerous news articles describing dysfunction, conflict and hostility within city hall and from elected officials. Here is the link to the Stillwater Gazette story.
  • Dysfunction at City Hall has resulted in the city’s insurance deductible being increased from $500 to $200,000. Excerpts: The Insurance Trust Board of the League of Minnesota Cities decided that the city is at risk for increased insurance claims because of the way council members treat employees, other government units and each other. Here is the link to the Pioneer Press story: 
  • This Pioneer Press article (10/20/2016) provides background on the last two years of city council turmoil:  Excerpts:  Lake Elmo is the only city in the state that will have to pay higher insurance deductible because the bickering city council faces a higher risk of lawsuits…employees have charged council members with harassment….a former city administrator is suing the city….since March 2015, the exodus of city hall workers has resulted in high turnover…the current city administrator is the sixth in seven years. The article also includes interviews with all the candidates for mayor and city council.
  • Is Lake Elmo home to the most dysfunctional municipal government in America?  Instead of stories promoting what a great city Lake Elmo is, articles like this have been dominating the news outlets since January, 2015.  And during that time, Lake Elmo’s city government has effectively been controlled by three council members. As this MinnPost article reports: “Fliflet and Lundgren took their seats on the council in January of 2015. The new majority was in charge.”
  • Council approves Concept Plan for Tartan Park development: City Planner Ben Gonzala:  “We would typically identify this as something we need to study, let’s open up the comprehensive plan, let’s have a community discussion ……That whole process would take this community between three months to six months.” This will certainly test the council’s ability to collaborate and work together.
  • Lake Elmo’s insurance deductible could increase by 500%. Why? League of MN Cities cites High Staff Turnover and City Council Dysfunction.
  • After 18 months of promising to get Lake Elmo back into the Washington County Library System, and failing to heed the recommendations of city staff, council member Fliflet’s proposal with conditions (supported by council members Smith and Lundgren) fails to meet the required deadline set by Washington County, get the full story
  • The reports about a likely increase in Lake Elmo’s insurance deductible continues with this news report from KARE 11.  Citizens describe Lake Elmo’s government as “DYSFUNCTIONAL”.  Council members Bloyer and Smith have different perspectives: Bloyer: “It’s only been in the last two years we’ve seen the uptick and the real conflict”.  Smith: “It’s become about people standing up at the podium, throwing out accusations, calling us names”.
  • Local political science professor weighs in on Lake Elmo’s dysfunctional government:governance is not just about rules and procedures, it is also about personal ethics and leadership. One of the surest signs that there is an ethical breakdown is when those in leadership fail to remember that they are trustees for the public and that government is meant to serve the people and not their own narrow political agendas”.