Tag Archives: Mike Huang

A Chaska Continuity Crisis? Not so much.

At the December 17 Chaska City Council meeting, the city said its formal farewells to departing Councilors Chris Schulz, Greg Boe, and Paula Geisler, for it was the last meeting for all three.  Jay Rohe, who resigned from the Council in October, was also there to mark the occasion. There was much discussion at the meeting about how the sudden turnover of all four Council seats is unprecedented in the 50-year history of Chaska’s current council structure.

Already there is some muttering and questioning in the community about the lack of continuity and experience on the Council. But is that the right question to be asking? And is the current situation really so unprecedented?

Let’s take the second question first. The notion that Chaska has always had an experienced Council is one that is largely manufactured. In fact, we only need to wind the clock back to 2010 to find another highly inexperienced Council. After Mark Windschitl won the Mayoral Special Election in January of that year, he joined four other Councilors – Gino Businaro, Boe, Schulz, and Rick Ford – who were all in their first term.  Not to mention the fact that City Administrator Matt Podhradsky had been on the job for only a little over a year at the time. Looking back on that time, I think we can all agree that the city survived that “inexperience” on the Council.

Why is that? Well, it goes back to the first question. Continuity in anything can’t – and shouldn’t – only be judged by ensuring that specific individuals are present. No one is irreplaceable and no one is immortal. True continuity is created not by returning the same people to the same seats over and over again, but rather by the hard work of building a common set of values, a shared sense of mission, processes that have been refined with learnings over time, and a commitment to building community.

(And let’s also not forget that the folks who should get to decide how much continuity and experience are valued are the citizens of Chaska – not the Council itself. Keep that in mind should the Council decide to appoint a new Ward 2 Councilor instead of having a special election for the seat.)

Yes, we’ve lost a lot of experience from the Council in recent months. But, we’re also gaining a lot. Mike Huang and Jon Grau both served for nine years on the Planning and Parks & Recreations Commissions (including multiple years as the Chair for both), respectively. Both have been excellent public servants in those roles. McKayla Hatfield is a lifelong Chaska resident and small-business owner who demonstrated her devotion to the city and her willingness to work hard in her victorious campaign this fall.

They bring new perspectives and new areas of focus – just as the group a decade ago did. After all, Chaska has never stood still. It’s never looked backwards. Each wave of leadership has built on the foundation that has been left and moved our city forward into the future. I’m confident that Mike, Jon, and McKayla will do that, too. After all, they’re the product of the hard work put in over the years by generations of Chaska leaders to build that true continuity – one that transcends any individual.

So, don’t despair, question, or mutter. Instead, talk to your City Council members and let them know what you think! Help them move our city forward in a constructive way.


January 26 City Council observations

Some thoughts on the parts of the City Council meeting that I watched last night:

  • Last night’s City Council meeting only provided more proof as to how the Council went wrong when it decided Mike Huang wasn’t worthy of sitting on the Planning Commission (after losing to Rick Ford in the Ward 4 election in November). Huang’s presentation on behalf of his neighbors on Manuela Drive was coherent, intelligent, and in a spirit of cooperation, not confrontation.  Maybe he hasn’t lived here for 30 years, but Huang is a smart guy who brings the right spirit to his interactions with city government.
  • I found it curious that the Mayor essentially sat out the discussion of the 212 Medical Center.  I suppose he was letting Chris Schulz test-drive the gavel, but given the level of interest from the public and the prominence of the project, the Mayor should have been in the big chair, not at the back of the room.  Leadership is putting yourself front and center at key times, Mr. Mayor. 

[EDIT:  I have found out that the Mayor recused himself from the discussion because the company he is forming with Dave Pokorney is working on a business agreement with the Medical Center.  I retract my criticism of the Mayor for not participating in the discussion.  It was entirely appropriate for him not to participate.]

  • City Staff, the Planning Commission, the developer, and local residents deserve a lot of credit for working together to make the plans for the 212 Medical Center a lot better than what was originally proposed.  The city needs to pressure MnDOT on the 41/Hundertmark Intersection AND the Second Street Stoplight.  They are both vital!
  • At what point will the folks at City Hall stop making excuses for the shoddy condition of the city’s web site?  The real problem is that no one sees it as a priority to do these basic sorts of things to communicate what Chaska is doing on behalf of its citizens. There’s always the excuse that there’s going to be some project to redesign the website — a project that has now been on the table for about three years. I think it would be great if the city’s website were redesigned, but it doesn’t mean you stop posting on the current site until the new site is ready.  Chanhassen has the agendas and minutes for the City Council and commissions going back to 1997 on their website. Eden Prairie has 50 years of such history available online, and their City Manager has a blog on the city website that is updated at least weekly. Both cities have managed to maintain the availability of such documents through web page redesign efforts. Why is Chaska incapable of doing so?

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