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Friday, August 31, 2018

Forest Lake: It's a bunch of garbage.

(lawsuit data is listed below all of the background videos)

In 2014 a Request For Proposal (RFP) was opened for bidding on the monopoly contract for residential garbage service in Forest Lake.  Two bids were made by companies both headquartered in adjacent counties, SRC in Chisago County and Walters in Anoka County.  After receiving bids rather than accept the lower bid the city choose to enter into negotiations only with SRC to see if they would reduce pricing, among other contractual language, to be in line with Walters lower bid.  While both contracts varied in some relatively minor details the major difference after this exclusive negotiation left Walters at 15% less expensive than SRC.  A split council at the time negotiated some details with SRC and ultimately signed an exclusive 5 year contract that ends in August of 2019.  The contract included that SRC provide annual reports to city hall and they could be granted an increase based on CPI.  Margaret Strand, owner of SRC, agreed and signed the contract.

SRC has since been the only provider to residents of the area and online searches reveal quite a few complaints about the business.  Many of those complaints, as well as those we've heard, circle around what many believe to be unethical billing practices.  While it's impossible to obtain just how many people have complained to SRC over time, we have discovered that court records show at least 910 court cases, including 61 businesses, were filed by SRC / Forest Lake Sanitation / Town & Country Disposal towards residents and businesses in the Forest Lake region.  Many of these cases were for amounts less than $75.  We are unaware of any other business in the region that uses the court system to file lawsuits in the volume that SRC has weighed on the public and local business.

Here's some history on the current contract:
May 19, 2014: City Council Meeting - SRC Contract Agreement
 (1 of 2 council discussion on 5.19.2014, 65 minutes) 

 (2 of 2 council discussion on 5.19.2014, 12 minutes)

A Walters representative spoke in open forum about the benefit in residential rates, annual washing of carts and transitioning fleet to natural gas fuel which was described to reduce decibel noise by 80% along with being more environmentally friendly.  City benefits included city garbage services without charge along with rebating the city 50% of all recyclable profits.  He promised to partner with the city in an open, cooperative and transparent manner.

Marge Strand of SRC said they've been a service provider since 1985.  She noted in this meeting they have no history of complaints from residents.

Aaron Parrish, (now former) Forest Lake City Administrator presents (29 minutes) - Walters would also offer a less frequent service, every other week for low volume customers.  14% less expensive for small, 15% savings for residents for medium and 14% savings for large container services.  He equated it to be equivalent to a 4% tax increase on the average home.

He went on to present that SRC was unwilling to match a performance payment bond to address liability.  Cart washing was not included in SRC contract but was in Walters.  Walters would offer free service to city buildings, public works, parks be provided at no cost of trash and recycling service.  8-9,000 savings directly to city.  He said that SRC would not negotiate with the city.  SRC would not provide revenue sharing for recycling but Walters would.  It was unknown how much this would generate.  SRC would accept 100% of the risks and 100% of the rewards on recycling.

Council members had various comments and concerns over a rather long discussion that included tabling the item to later in the meeting so that the administrator could step out and present later.  Some key comments during the meeting included:

"Any information not provided that's required; then they would be in violation of contract." - Ben Winnick, then council member and current mayor.
It appears that SRC has not fulfilled the requirement with an annual report of what they are contractually obligated to provide to the city.  
Susan Young, then council member and current mayoral candidate questioned if SRC had provided quarterly and yearly reporting and where that information is located.  It was apparent in the discussion that these reports were not provided to the city.  Subsequently Mayor Chris Johnson along with (then) council members Ben Winnick and Mike Freer voted no on accepting the Walters proposal.
Later in the meeting (1:40:00) a motion to reconsider contracts restarted discussion and following additional conversation a motion (1:52:00) passed on a 3-2 vote.  It was to approve the SRC Refuse and Recycling Agreement provided the bond amount is increased to 500,000 the first year and then drops 375,000 the second year assuming no claims or liquidated damages and the contract is revised to include curbside collection. In addition, a signed contract needs to be delivered to city hall by 12:00 p.m. on (the following) Wednesday or the contract would be awarded to Walters.

August 13, 2018: City Council Meeting - SRC Request
(full council discussion on 8.13.2018, 44 minutes)

Marge Strand requested, some might suggest demanded, that the city council allow SRC to increase the fees charged to residents on her monopoly services provided to residents.

Her basis of the rate adjustment as a result of due to contractual arrangements with their tipping fees, self-described 'crisis' with the recycling market, and wants the CPI infiltrator that is in the current contract.  She claimed that neighboring communities had much greater costs of service.  (below is information this is false)
City of Forest Lake, 8.27.2018 City Council Meeting Agenda Packet
Marge Strand when questioned responded to the council, "It makes me angry you wouldn't support a Forest Lake business."  Her business is located in neighboring Chisago County and with her history filing lawsuits on at least 61 local businesses her business support is questionable.
City of Forest Lake, 8.27.2018 City Council Meeting Agenda Packet

Organized collection has Forest Lake in the middle of the pack when compared to other nearby cities and with the rate increase it would be pennies from the most expensive and nearly twice the cost to residents than White Bear Lake.

"You have no complaints, except from the people that don't pay their bill." - Marge  She then added that she'd like an extension (on the contract) too.
"I know you don't know my business but we are fair, we are dependable, we are courteous, we serve this community in many volunteer ways." - Marge
Marge ignores the fact she's been allowed to charge 15% more than the market rate and rather complained that "a measly $3/month savings in the (existing) contract" referencing the cost reduction following the 2014 RFP process and subsequent negotiations.

Mayor Ben Winnick, similar in fashion to his words in 2014, repeated several times during the meeting that he had "never received a complaint about SRC."

Marge then went on to use the overused phrase, "We're talking about a cup of coffee a month."  She then furiously responded to a question from council member and mayoral candidate, Ed Eigner.
SRC's business office manager said that another hauler has recently filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana over recycling.  There was no apparent reason other than leading us to believe they'd do the same.  The SRC owner then came back saying they tell new customers recycling is options and she doesn't care if they just tossed all the recyclables into the garbage.

Council discussion ended without a motion as the topic was a discussion item only on the agenda due to SRC not providing information in time for meeting notification.

August 27, 2018 City Council Meeting - SRC Request Follow-up
(full council discussion on 8.27.2018, 58 minutes)

The interim city administrator gave a presentation and gave council background and answered council questions.  It was followed with SRC Marge again requesting an increase in rates.  This portion of the meeting was rather uneventful until council interaction / questions to SRC started.

Council then began debate and each member in attendance gave insight with their opinion.  Mayor Ben Winnick was absent.

Council member and mayoral candidate, Mara Bain, questioned information in the council packet as it didn't appear to reconcile as it was being presented.  She further suggested that the council go out for a RFP and make a determination of what the market will support.

Council member and mayoral candidate, Sam Husnik, said that he could see a need to give them an increase.

Council member Blaine Backus suggests that giving a 28% increase is unacceptable without shopping around.

Council member and mayoral candidate, Ed Eigner, notes that her business plan isn't sufficient and that's not the fault of the city.

Marge says "We haven't had any complaints."  Mara Bain responded that she has been inundated with complaints.  Marge then had her staff member come up to discuss their archaic payment system.  She then went on a rant.
Mara then questioned why city staff is completing the analysis and Marge blows up at the council.  Mara then questioned when the last annual report was submitted.  Marge appeared to not be aware of what the annual report even is.  City staff responds they have not received it.

Marge blows up at Blaine Backus for asking for an annual report!
Marge accused city staff of wrongdoing, then argues with council members and staff.

SRC / Forest Lake Sanitation / Town & Country Disposal Lawsuit Information

Here is a list of lawsuits that SRC has filed under SRC, Forest Lake Sanitation or Town & Country Disposal.  Those highlighted in orange are businesses.  There is a total of 910 lawsuits on the list, 471 were filed in Washington County and 61 are businesses.  We have reason to believe that this list is not comprehensive of all cases filed and have listed only those we were able to search for online.

One might wonder where these lawsuits are coming from and we've heard from numerous people that it may be a result of excessive fees, particularly those around late charges.  It turns out that if you make a payment to SRC for your bill an email will be sent confirming payment has been received and processed, however they don't post the payment until 10 days later - a time that is after they've then added on a late fee to the bill.
It seems that SRC is taking advantage of a vast number of people and according to many online complaints it's apparently a more prevalent issue with their companies.

Google Reviews has Forest Lake Sanitation at 2.2 stars on a scale that goes between 1 and 5.  The owner said she's never received a complaint, so it's interesting to see that she responds to some of those reviews online.
Running a billing system as archaic as it appears they are is one thing, to charge customers that have no other choice in service a late fee as a result, then have poor customer service when questioned about it and apparently file lawsuits for those that choose to not agree to pay - it's wrong.

Final Thoughts
Marge said in the meeting that the $5/month ($60/year) increase amounts to a cup of coffee but our calculations find it's approximately a $300,000 increase for the next year to customers.  Over the course of a 5 year contract, this amounts to $1,500,000.  Forest Lake is currently undergoing budget discussions and looking at the current plans this is the equivalent to:
  • Nearly the entire 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023 capital budget for the fire department including 3 fire engine replacements, a tender, command vehicle and UTV.
  • The entire 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023 capital budget for the police department with approximately a half million dollars left to spare.
  • Covers the City Center Complex (city hall, police, fire, administration...) building bonds for a year with cash to spare.
  • Covers the YMCA bonds for almost 3 years.
It's a lot of money and it's a lot more than just a cup of coffee.  In the instance of a monopoly service contract, it's akin to a tax - one that in this case the public isn't getting a benefit from.

SRC isn't the best fiscal option, isn't forthcoming in the bidding/negotiations, is hostile with council members, has sketchy billing practices, when customers complain they respond poorly and they often file lawsuits against customers - both residents and businesses and now they want to back out of an agreement and add $300,000 / year more in revenue above and beyond the special 15% premium they got over market rate pricing.  Simply put, it's a bunch of garbage.

Forest Lake's next scheduled city council meeting is on September 10th at 7pm.  The agenda for that meeting has not yet been determined and we may not know if SRC will be on it until days before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Keith Franke, Breaks His Constitutional Oath with Yes Vote on 28 out of 31 Multi Subject Bills

MSBs or Multi Subject Bills are a direct violation of Minnesota State Constitution Article 4, Sections 8 and 17. The Constitution clearly states that one bill should not have more than one subject.

MSBs are the primary source for every increasing state debt. Stand alone bills that would not pass on their own, are swept into massive MSB bills, many in the final days of a legislative session when few if any of these bills are read…let alone reviewed with any scrutiny. Last Session one of these bills was $1.5 billion dollars, only 7 republicans voted against this bill (none from Washington County).

The following is a list of MSBs bills from the 2017 legislative session. Keith Franke violated his oath no fewer than 28 times on 31 bills.

1. SF1 Yes
2. SF1549 Yes
3. SF 605 Yes
4. SF 780 Yes
5. HF 888 Yes
6. HF 890 Yes
7. SF 800 Yes
8. SF1124 Yes
9. SF482 Yes
10. HF861 Yes
11. SF803 Yes
12. SF1937 Yes
13. SF2214 Yes
14. HF4  Yes
15. SF1457 No
16. HF140 No
17. HF179 Yes
18. HF1545 Yes
19. SF943 Yes
20. HF707 Yes
21. SF514 Yes
22. SF844 Yes
23. SF1456 Yes
24. HF470 Yes
25. SF550 Yes
26. HF1443 Yes
27. SSHF1 No
28. SSHF3 Yes
29. SSSF1 Yes
30. SSHF2 Yes
31. SSHF5 Yes

Keith Franke has proven his inability to honor his oath.

Keith Franke is not deserving of your vote for re-election.

If you care to check to see how your state representatives voted on the 2017 MSBs visit this link:
SS prefix on bills indicates Special Session bills.

Now is the time to get serious about electing representatives that will honor their oaths and adhere to the founding principle of a Constitutional limited government.

-Leon Moe

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty”. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Homicidal Rapist in Forest Lake Found With Child Porn Who Self Recorded Rape Now Convicted, Only 4 years

This is another article about the combined issue of weak charges, weak sentencing, and it all revolves around weak MN sex offender law. Over two dozen examples just like this and worse in just two years and in Washington 

County alone. Check out and subscribe for free sex offender updates like this post.

Rapist, Alan Douglas Running, from Forest Lake, is finally behind bars... but only for
just over four years. With good behavior, even less time it appears. He will have the maximum of 10 years on the sex offender registration after release it looks like. The sentence alone is alarming. However, what's worse is how he remained free over 90% of the over a year it took to convict (this is common throughout the state). The only reason he spent 42 days in jail, as opposed to none, was because he had two conditional release violations and a total of three warrants out for his arrest during this period of time it appears. Yet time after time the judicial system and weak MN sex offender law let him back out. It appears it all started with the weak charges of only 3 degree criminal sexual conduct of a mentally impaired or helpless victim, stalking, and burglary. The final two charges were dropped to add insult to injury for the rape victim and rape victims across the state. The lawyer representing him was Kevin McHugh Morrison.

Read Criminal Complaint 1 and 2 on how an anonymous tip lead investigators to obtain a search warrant on Al Running in April of 2017 for his house and computers. Detectives were lead to a woman who had a restraining order on him for stalking her in 2015. He was convicted of violating that order in 2016. Police discovered videos Alan Running self recorded with hidden cameras he secretly placed inside her home. In one video he stated how he wanted to kill the woman for ruining his life. Another showed him sexually assaulting her when she was unconscious. He was arrested in June, two months after the discovery, and charged with only 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct, burglary, and stalking. Later, as investigators further searched the "over 100,000 files" of porn on his computer they found 2 files of child porn and confirmed the images were of real children with the center of missing and exploited children. They arrested him again and charged him with two counts of possessing child porn (innocent until proven guilty on those two counts).

If our weak laws and justice system can't detain a man who: video recorded himself raping a woman;
video recorded himself threatening to kill the victim;
broke into her home;
stalked her;
was found with child porn videos;
and violated condition of release twice...
not to mention his criminal past of multiple DWIs and violating restraining order... What rapist can our system serve justice to?

It's a fact MN has the weakest sex offender laws in the Country:

The sex offender list is NOT public in MN; but 47 states do share the data. There are nearly 20,000 registered sex offenders in MN and only about 700 are level 3 offenders that you occasionally hear about moving into the "general area" of a city.

Last year and this year not one sex offender bill passed. Half the bills to make stronger sex offender laws were held back in the house. Senator Warren Limmer called them "non starters" and refused to discuss them in conference committee. The rest were killed in the Senate by the lead of Senator Limmer and Julie Rosen in conference committee. Both refused to comment so far.

If you hope to see any law change continue to contact law makers, especially Warren Limmer. 

It's clear that just because a homicidal rapist is convicted and sentenced to just 4 years, doesn't mean justice has been served. Therefore, if the punishment for ALL criminal sexual conduct crimes is raised than weak charges and convictions will be stronger. 

Tell legislators to also make the sex offender list public like nearly every other State in the County does. All but MN, DC, and Maine have public lists. Maine only has 2,700 sex offenders in their state though. Compared to nearly 20,000 in MN. 

For the growing list of the last know location of convicted sex offenders in Washington County: 

DEFENDANT: Alan Douglas Running 
AKA: Al Running, Alan Douglas, alface47
DOB: 9/9/1947 
MN AGENCY: Forest Lake Police Department 

DATE: 6/12/2017 
I: Criminal Sex Conduct-3rd Degree-Victim Mental Impair/Helpless; 
II: Stalking - Pattern of Stalking Conduct; 
III: Burglary-2nd Degree-Dwelling 
Article in Forest Lake Times:
DATE: 7/3/2017 
I: Possess Pornographic Work-Computer Disk/Electronic/Magnetic/Optical Image w/Porn; 
II: Possess Pornographic Work-Computer Disk/Electronic/Magnetic/Optical Image w/Porn 

DATE: 7/25/2018
DEFENDANT: Alan Douglas Running
DOB: 9/9/1947
AGENCY: Forest Lake Police Department

JUDGE: Gary R. Schurrer
CONVICTION: Criminal Sex Conduct-3rd Degree
SENTENCE: Committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for 53 months; 42 days credited;

$50 fine with surcharge and fees;

Conviction History from BCA:
1/10/2000 Convicted Traffic - DUI - Alcohol or Controlled Substance - Definition - Gross Misdemeanor
1/10/2000 Convicted Traffic - DUI - Alcohol or Controlled Substance - Definition - Gross Misdemeanor
12/8/2009 Convicted Traffic - DWI - Operate Motor Vehicle - Alcohol Concentration 0.08 Within 2 Hours - Gross Misdemeanor
1/19/2011 Convicted Traffic-DL-Driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety - Gross Misdemeanor
7/11/2016 Convicted Harassment; Restraining Order - Violate Restraining Order - Misdemeanor
*In no way do we wish harm to the convicted sex offenders outside the judgement of the law. Posting each criminal's public data anyone can get allows the public to decide from the evidence if they appreciate knowing such data. Such as what these sex offender's last known address is. No representation is made that the individuals listed here are currently on the state's offenders registry. All names presented here were gathered at a past date. Some persons listed might no longer be registered offenders and others might have been added. Some addresses or other data might no longer be current. Owners of Washington County Watchdog assume no responsibility (and expressly disclaim responsibility) for updating this site to keep information current or to ensure the accuracy or completeness of any posted information. All data was only accurate at the time of posting per Government sources provided. Accordingly, you should confirm the accuracy and completeness of all posted information before making any decision related to any data presented on this site. The information on this web site is made available solely to protect the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his or her family is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. Message us if you can verify us of an address or change in data.  Washington County Watchdog is not responsible for the accuracy of the content shared, refer to our linked government sources.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stillwater Loses Pro-BOLD Majority on the School Board who Closed 3 Schools

On the Horizon of New Beginnings for Stillwater Area Public Schools, Loss of Lehmann Jeopardizes BOLD Plan

STILLWATER, MN - A Stillwater Area Public Schools Board Special Meeting was held early July to appoint an interim school board member to fill former Stillwater School Board Member, Tom Lehmann's vacated seat. In a tabulation vote performed by the remaining six school board members, the vacant seat was won by longtime educator and former Stillwater Junior High
Principal, Donald G. Hovland. Mr. Hovland was selected from a pool of nine candidates and he brings 47 years experience in education, including secondary and post-secondary education. In addition to serving as principal at Stillwater Junior High, Hovland has worked as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, and for school districts in Montana and North Dakota. He has volunteered on the Human Rights Commission for the Stillwater City Council and is currently working with the "One Room Schoolhouse" project in Oak Park Heights. Mr. Hovland has resided in Stillwater for more than 45 years.

Beloved, Closed Schools (Withrow, Marine and Oak Park Elementary) Sit Vacant and Tug Heart Strings of Stillwater Area Public School District Residents

Mr. Hovland's school board seat appointment will last until January 2019. Hovland ran for a school board seat in the 2016 election and finished in seventh place out of ten candidates. Mr. Hovland made clear during the 2016 Stillwater Area Public School Board Election that he was against the Stillwater School District Administrations BOLD (Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover), which called for the closure of Withrow, Marine and Oak Park Elementary Schools. Hovland joins School Board Member's Mike Ptacek, Sarah Stivland and Shelley Pearson who were against the BOLD plan.  

School Board Members Paula O'Loughlin, George Hoeppner and Shelley Pearson up for Re-Election This Fall

School Closing Advocates and Pro-BOLD School Board Members Paula O'Loughlin and George Hoepnner are up for Re-Election in November, along with Shelley Pearson, and Don Hovland's newly appointed seat. The filing for dates for candidates to register will be held July 31st to August 14th. Newcomers in the race and declaring candidacy early are Stillwater Township Resident, Tina Riehle and Grant Resident Liz Weisberg. 

-Shannon Bryant

90% of Starry for Sheriff Campaign Donations Are From Special Interest

Dan Starry was customarily appointed Washington County Sheriff as he was second in command under Bill Hutton who retired as the elected sheriff in mid 2017. His campaign of "Keep Starry Sheriff" have many resident's mislead to believe he's been the elected sheriff for us. (Technically the position is an open seat.) The lawn signs are everywhere across the county, yet no one we've talked to exactly understands his campaign. Usually candidates for office can lay out specific ideas to improve or continue the success of the department's service to the voters. However, Starry's campaign website is void of ideas and full of the usual over generalized political promises to make residents more safe.  He could be a great guy and a dedicated officer of the law; however his campaign is empty and appears to offer promises and no proven ideas. 

What's not empty is Dan Starry's campaign fund. With over $10,000 he's got the grass roots campaign of Paul Hoppe beat five to one. Hoppe is the director of the city of Wyoming's Police Department and also running for Washington County sheriff. More about him here:
Experience Counts, Paul Hoppe Running for Washington County Sheriff Gives Clear Answers 
on Transparency, Crime Mapping, Sex Offenders, Felon Voting, and More.

Many questioned how such an uninspiring campaign could have all the campaign money and yard signs. We did some digging into the campaign finance data from the county:

Of the 47 donors with names, 41 of them work in Government or have special interest in the campaign (fair to say all 41 are special interest). Many of the donors work under Starry. Only 6 donors don't have a known special interest connection.

So that's 87% of his known donors are special interest! They've given $8,543. The 6 donors without a known interest in his campaign have given $905. There's $865 from 18 anonymous donors (under the $100 donation to know who they are)... so we'll not factor that in the $10,313 he's raised so far. So known donors total $9,448.

Of Starry's $9,448 in campaign donations, 90% of it was from his special interest friends. (including himself)  

When you vote for Washington County Sheriff think about where 90% of Starry's support comes from, big labor, politicians, and from people working in and around his position as the temporarily appointed Sheriff. 

Opposite to the questionable donations of Starry is the Paul Hoppe campaign who told us in an interview that he's not seeking special interest endorsements. Expanding on the conflict that arises when you take campaign donations from special interest stating "I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to insulate our employees from the politics of governing so the deputies can focus on serving the community rather than serving the interest of an individual.


All his division commanders gave:
Records / Communications - Commander Sara Halverson gave $250
Patrol Division - Commander Doug Anschutz  gave $250
Investigative Division - Commander Andrew Ellickson  gave $250
Jail Division - Commander Roger Heinen  gave $250
Courts / Special Projects - Commander Cheri Dexter  gave $250

Bunch of local elected officials and relatives of them:

County attorney Pete Orput gave $100
County Commissioner Fran Miron  $100
Lake Elmo City Councilor Justin Bloyer $200
Senator Karin Housley $100
Husband of representative Kathy Lohmer, Greg $100
Meredith Lake retired WC Attorney – and wife of deceased WC Deputy Bill Lake  gave $100
Mary L Waldkirch Tilley, retired Washington County Attorney gave $100

Lots of Government employees and relatives:
Jim Shoup, an IRS investigator $100
Russ Blanck, centennial lakes police department $100
Fred Fink, Washington County prosecutor $100
Lawrence Flaherty, retired WC Deputy Law enforcement $250
Kevin Mueller, WC prosecutor $250
Richard Mueller $250
Bruce Peterson, Forest Lake Police Department $100
John Kirkwood, was Ramsey county sheriff's department $100
Randy McAlister, cottage grove police seargent $100
Joal McAlister $100
Dick Mah, "US Government" $100
Teri Grimm "US Government" $100

Tons of Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) and their relatives:
David Heuer, sergeant, $200 
Brian Mueller, Interim Chief Deputy and special ops trainer $250
Lori Mueller $250
Rebecca Bromme, sergeant, $100
Pat Olson, Retired WC commander $100
Jay Thompson WCSO, $100

Questionable Donors:
Jeff Gort $100 (one of the Cottage Grove Cops who shot a suspect who later won a lawsuit)
Gary Swanson, retired WCSO, $100               
James Fure, retired WCSO, $100 (Both Swanson and Fure were in an investigation where both hosted a wild stag party with two other sheriff's where a fellow sheriff was held down by 6 men and forced  to have a stripper dance on him while on a stage. They were not convicted due to lack of proof they were involved with the crime.)  

special interest:
Patrick Erickson, Law enforcement tactical training association and retired WC deputy $100  
Warren Ackerson, for Glock hand guns $100
Joe Isaacs, permit to carry activist $100
Shelly Richard, Stillwater Med Group, $250

Members of his campaign and relatives:
Glen Bona filed his campaign committee with a starting balance of $840
Brian Bona $250
Roger Bona $250
Dan Starry $1,653.91

Not special interest donors?:
Ed Eccleston gave $5 
Michael Jordan of Stillwater gave $250
Deborah Jordan of Stillwater gave $250
Pat Herold of Stillwater gave $100
Eric Heil, of Rogers gave $150
Lori Heil, of Rogers gave $150

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Experience Counts, Paul Hoppe Running for Washington County Sheriff Gives Clear Answers on Transparency, Crime Mapping, Sex Offenders, Felons Voting, and More

On the ballot in Washington County this fall will be the election to replace former sheriff William Hutton who retired. Paul Hoppe, the director of public safety for the city of Wyoming for the last 9 years is running for the open seat. He's lived in Washington County his entire life, been in public safety for 27 years, worked in the Oak Park Heighs PD, Washington and Hennepin County Sherriff's office, with the FBI, and more. All this information is out there. What's been missed by the local media is how important it is to elect a sheriff who will address the issues effectively with proven experience and specific ideas. Things the other candidate can not and does not offer.
See: 90% of Starry for Sheriff Campaign Donations Are From Special Interest

Key to a successful county sheriff is communication, transparency, and approachability. With over 40,000 followers to the social media pages of the Wyoming Police Department Hoppe oversees, one could say he's writing the book on it. The benefits of this outreach and his leadership are best explained by Paul Hoppe in his responses below.

Topics discussed are:
-Specific ideas to get tough on child rapists and sex trafficking
-Web based crime mapping he uses so residents can look up real time to see what's happening
-"intelligence based policing" with a Records Management System (RMS).
-Reporting data to the public in easy to access and meaningful ways
-Field technology to drive better outcomes
-The use of social media to inform residents and how it solves and prevents crime
-How accepting union money influences ability to serve the public
-Felons (like convicted sex offenders) voting
-and more

At Washington County Watchdog we rarely cover candidates for office because they don't usually offer anything someone would consider better than the opponent. That, and the fact the local media usually does a decent job letting you know the details on their work history and the vague campaign promises to be "fiscally responsible, transparent, and help the community." But every so often there's a person who shatters the mold and enters into a race without the hollow promises; has a proven track record; has a focus for the real issues; and proven ways to better the current system.

Below are questions the moderators at Washington County Watchdog came up with to ask Paul Hoppe. We thank him for his time and openness to share. His responses are in Bold font and some highlights of his responses are edited to large font by the writer. The text of his responses are unedited. Photos added are by the writer alone.

1.) The media hasn't done you justice in their articles. It wasn't until we heard your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show (starting at about 47 minutes in) that it became apparent your not an average textbook leader in law enforcement. It seems many rate
success in numbers of arrests or tickets issued. You said that your PD in the city of Wyoming doesn't have ticket quotas and that you rate success in the number of problems solved and the number of problems that can be prevented. What are some tools or practices you use to see this through?

 One of the management philosophies I use to evaluate performance is “intelligence based policing”, which is data driving analytics that help us identify trends by examining data so we can be proactive and allocate our resources more efficiently and effectively.  The core to data analytics is a robust records management system (RMS) that tracks calls for service, names and addresses associated with calls, activity our employees are involved in, vehicles, evidence and crime reporting requirements and transparency to our community.  A state of the art RMS helps identify people or properties that are becoming problematic so we can intervene early to develop solutions that prevent future problems. By effectively extracting good data from our RMS we are armed with more reliable information to make informed decisions on how to director our employees’ time and efforts to reduce criminal behavior by predicting crime trends.  

Improving field technology, and business practices to better collect the data that goes into the RMS will improve the information we extract from the RMS to improve the data we use to make informed decision.  In 2011, I worked closely with Chisago County to successfully implement such a system which has proven to be instrumental in refining our performance expectations and how we do business; and as result we see better outcomes with more effective solutions.        

2.) It appears communication with residents and open sharing of data such as crime reports are effective in the public safety department you mange. Your department's face book page has over 9,700 followers who appreciate seeing everything from the arrests made to the funny posts about setting up a marijuana sting with chips leading into a live trap. It appears to be a great way to keep the public informed while at the same time growing a positive public perception of law enforcement. Is this something we could see from the Washington County Sheriff's social media if you were elected?

If we want to improve community trust we have to become more transparent.  When we originally launched our social media efforts it was with the intent of improving community trust and engagement by humanizing the law enforcement officer. Our department was one of the first nationwide to implement a new tone on social media which was less institutionalized and more engaging, we wanted our public to see us more as guardians than worriers. The results of our efforts have improved the sense of community between our residents and our Police Department; every day we have someone approach our officers on the street and strike up conversations. With more than 40,000 followers on our social media platforms we are one of the most followed police department in the state, and one of the most approachable.  

We use the power of our social media to promote public service announcements, partner with other departments to spread important information, build programming partnerships with our businesses, and seek the communities help in solving crimes.  We have experienced a nearly 80% solvability rate when we post requesting the assistance of the public in creating leads to help us solve crimes. The partnership between the police and the community is absolutely imperative when it comes to preventing and solving crimes, and our social media engagement is a proven example of how successful the partnership is.  If elected as the Sheriff, it will be my intent to continue thinking outside the box for new and innovative ideas that improve our service to the community, and the use of social media will be part of those efforts.

3.) Many people under-appreciate law enforcement and have a false perception of security until they are impacted by crime.  In addition to your department's popular facebook page, your PD participates in "" The site shares where local police action is taking place. (in addition to where some sex offenders are located). Can you expand on this technology? Do you think this could be used County wide by the Sheriff's department if you were elected?

In 2015 we launched our web-based crime mapping so the public could be easily informed about the police activity happening in our community and within their specific neighborhoods.  Each day we push our crime data to a web-based platform that allows residence to see our police activity by location and crime type, on a daily basis. The crime data is represented on a map, and residents can click on represented incident to get the public call data.  The mapping is completely interactive so the viewer can control which data they want to see, and zoom in on a specific neighborhood.

No longer does a resident have to wait for the weekly paper to come out to see what’s happening in their neighborhoods or be limited to only those crimes the paper chooses to report on, or make a formal records request that may take days to respond to; instead the information is at their fingertips with just a click of the mouse.  Our community members see the officer working in public, hear the sirens in their neighborhoods and want to know if it is something they should be concerned about. We also want to reassure the public the officers are working hard on their behalf and our online crime mapping can answer all those questions. I believe its import to keep the public informed and today’s technology makes it easy to accomplish. An informed public can be a valuable resource when it comes to community policing.

This is all part of my initiative to improve Washington County’s field technology, and improving transparency.   

4.) It's admirable you're not seeking or accepting union endorsement like your opponent, it leaves behind big labor campaign donations; but it shows your support can't be bought. Do you have anything to add about how not involving unions in your campaign can translate to a better Sheriff for the residents in WC and to the officers you'd oversee?

I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to insulate our employees from the politics of governing so the deputies can focus on serving the community rather than serving the interest of an individual.  The Sheriff has a direct influence on the career path of the employees who report to the position, the position has the authority to promote, and assign job duties; I believe putting pressure on the employees, whether direct or implied, put the employees in a tough position knowing their response could affect their career path. To ensure the integrity of the Sheriff position, I believe there should be a distinct line that should not be crossed, and the responsibility to define those lines is the responsibility of the leadership and the Sheriff position specifically.  

I want employees who are focused on providing exceptional service to our community, not worrying about how a political endorsement will affect their career. When we insulate our employees for the candidacy process, we can eliminate political influence from the career path decisions and base those decision on merit. As a result, we start to focus on getting people in positions for the purpose of improving the organization, translating to improved organizational effectiveness which equates to better community service.  

I will continue to seek the support of the residence of Washington County, rather than seeking the endorsement from the labor unions our groups that sole represent the employees of the Sheriff’s Office.

5.) You acknowledged in your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show that Child sex trafficking is a top concern in Washington County along with the Opioid epidemic. As many know dozens of men a year are arrested in the child sex stings in WC and there's a big concern with child sex crime here. Do you have an approach to deal with this issue? Whether it's raising awareness by sharing arrests; advocating for funding from the over $220 million in the County budget; or pressuring the legislature who hasn't passed a law to increase penalties or monitoring of child rapists in two years.

Washington County Attorney’s Office has done a great job of spearheading the sex trafficking and human trafficking initiatives, I intend to continue partnering with them on these issues.  I believe improving awareness is the key to impacting these crimes, a significant number of these victims are solicited into the trafficking industry by skilled manipulators. If we can improve the awareness, educate at risk victims or those closest to them, we can identify potential victims early and get them the necessary resource to prevent them from being preyed upon.

The internet has increased the sex trafficking industry, by expanding the access to these crimes.  I believe we need more significant penalties on those trafficking online and legislation that shutdown online sites that engage in human trafficking with more significant penalties to those online providers hosting these adds.  

We also need to develop a robust digital cyber-crime lab capable of extracting the necessary evidence to effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators involved in sex trafficking activities.  

6.) The last Sheriff in office supported voting rights for released felons like the over 20,000 convicted sex offenders not in prison in MN. He urged the County Board to write a political letter asking legislators to change MN law to let felons vote. Many felons get their voting rights restored at the completion of their sentence. Do you support changing MN law to allow felons to vote too?

I don’t believe the Law should be changed.  I believe the felon should have to complete the entire sentence before their voting rights are restored, not just the incarceration time.  The post release disposition of continued parole, probation or stayed sentence is part of the debit to society. The debit hasn’t been paid until the entire sentence has been served which includes the stayed, probation or parole period.  The right to vote has a directing correlation on the laws that are created, part of restricting their right to vote limits the felon’s impact of selecting the individuals who have an impact on creating law. When you violate the current law, you should lose your right or at least have them suspended, to select you creates future law while the felony is serving a sentence for violating current law.  

7.) What else would you like to tell our readers about why they should vote for you?

I was born and raised in Washington County, raised my kids here and I want to ensure we have the right person leading the Sheriff’s Office to ensure our future generations have the same opportunities to raise their kids in the same majestic place.  This will require a proactive, visionary leader willing to challenge the cultural norms in search of better ways to serve our community. As a proven innovator, and effective leader experience matters, with 27 years in law enforcement, over 9 years as a current Police Chief / Public Safety Director, a Master’s Degree in Police Administration and graduate from the FBI National Academy, I have assembled the necessary experience to lead the Sheriff’s Office into the future.  

Our elected Sheriff has retired and this year you have a choice as to who will represent your voice in Law Enforcement.  I would be honored to serve the residents of Washington County as the Sheriff, I ask for your vote on November 6th; because "Proven Leadership" means a secure future.

Check out Paul Hoppe's website for more information:

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