Author: Mathew Meyer
The United States is considered the first major representative democracy in the world. And our state and local governments have followed these principles since our country’s founding. This form of government means that citizens appoint their representatives to generally govern. But, in certain circumstances, the citizens reserve powers for the people rather than their representatives. These are generally the most important issues facing the populous.
In the dispute over City Question #1: The referendum to dissolve the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission, every Shakopee voter should consider their fortune that they actually have a vote in this important question. Why?
Because the referendum is not the City’s “Plan A.” There is also an effort underway right now to take away their right to vote on this issue… that effort is Plan A.
The City wants to “short-circuit” the referendum process.
The City Council, our “representatives,” overstepped their power by trying to “short-circuit” the statutory referendum process by asking Representative Brad Tabke to introduce legislation in the Minnesota House to DENY the citizens of Shakopee a vote that was, and is, guaranteed by Minnesota law. This request apparently originated in the City Council session in December 2019. Thereafter, somebody on behalf of the City approached Rep. Brad Tabke requesting that he introduce legislation taking away the referendum requirement to dissolve the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission so that a simple majority of the City Council could dissolve the Commission and move all the utilities, including its assets and reserve funds, under the City’s Control.
The first time the Commission heard about this un-democratic gambit was when the Utilities Manager submitted a memorandum describing Tabke’s plan on January 30, 2020. It described a meeting on January 13 wherein Tabke presented his proposal to take away the referendum vote from the voters so the City Council could decide (Plan A). (Read the 1/30/2020 memo here.) Eventually Tabke introduced legislation on May 11 seeking to take away the right to a referendum vote from the voters. (Read the Shakopee Valley News article here.)
I believe the City of Shakopee, and most of its politically elected leaders, were intent upon avoiding the referendum process – the process that allows each citizen to vote on the topic of whether to keep the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission as a politically-independent body of Shakopee, as expressed in its founding principles.
You can vote… at least for now.
Perhaps the City doesn’t trust voters because it hasn’t been honest in its true motives in seeking to dissolve the SPU Commission. That is what I believe. Indeed, although Tabke introduced his Anti-Referendum bill on May 11, it was too late to pass this session. That’s where Plan B comes in: The referendum. Now we, the voters, are actually able to vote on this referendum. But if the City’s Plan B gambit fails and the voters elect to keep the Commission, it is very likely it will continue with Plan A and have Tabke, if reelected, reintroduce the legislation so that the City won’t have to worry about us mere voters.
This is why I encourage you to make up your own mind on the referendum.
Stay tuned to this blog for various updates regarding the important issues affecting Shakopee residents with this important issue.