About Me

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I have served the City of Isanti as Mayor since 2007. We have accomplished great things together and I look forward to building on our success. United, we move forward to a better future. You may contact me at 763-442-8749 or e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com. My website is www.georgewimmer.com

Monday, March 26, 2007

Isanti City Partnership

I am happy to announce the Isanti City Partnership. The ICP is a joint venture of the Isanti City EDA and the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce. The ICP has been tasked with three City Council Goals, Increasing Commercial Growth, Strategic Downtown Plan and a City Marketing Plan. These three are all basically about increasing our business development. This includes strengthening existing businesses as well as attracting new commercial and industrial businesses. Jaysen Guthmueller, Chamber President, and I will be visiting existing Isanti businesses to explain the Partnership and get feedback on Isanti’s business climate. I hope to hear all the strengths and weaknesses we have so a strong foundation can be built for the ICP.

We will be developing an economic tool box consisting of all the financial and marketing possibilities Isanti may leverage to grow our commercial tax base. I believe strongly a business needs to provide one of the following three goals. Property tax base, good paying jobs and services our citizens need and want. We also need to remember about 80% of business growth comes from existing businesses. The point is that the greater our business growth the smaller our property taxes.

I am excited as we venture forward together to build an ever stronger business community.

As always I will keep you posted on the ICP's development.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Isanti City and County History display

I would like to welcome the public to visit City Hall and look at the two historical exhibits located in the glass displays by the Council Chambers. The north display was put together by the Isanti County Historical Society. This display presents the 13 Isanti county Townships. The exhibit on the south side was put together by City staff and includes many pieces of City memorabilia. It is quite interesting to learn our community’s history.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Future visit with State Senator Olseen and Representative Eastlund

I have asked Representative Eastlund and State Senator Olseen to come and speak at a future Council meeting, both have accepted. The date will be determined in the near future as schedules warrant. I look forward to hearing from our State Representative and Senator. Intergovernmental cooperation is critically important to many of our future achievements. Any questions please let me know. I will let you know as soon as the schedules have been determined.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Word of Thanks

I recieved a great comment of thanks from our Public Work guys. A lot of thanks to those people that cleared the snow from the fire hydrants in front of their homes.

This is a city responsibility but the guys were very thankful for the help. I thought it should be passed on.

Spring Fling Repost...just a few days away.

The Chamber of Commerce Spring Fling is coming up March 24th at Spectacular events.Social hour starts at 6 pm and dinner is served at 7 pm.

There will be a silent auction, live auction, raffles, DJ music with dancing and door prizes.Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Please contact the chamber offices at 763-444-8515 for ticket and event information.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tonight's Council Action regarding CM Larson

I am personally sadden that CM Larson has denied she has done anything wrong. She has continued to elaborate why she did what she did was right and just. She made comment to all the good she has done for the city. At no time does she state that what she did was wrong and apologize.

I have written and spoken to this a number of times and only wish to add a few points.

What CM Larson did is not allowed by law. Her actions were also in the capacity of a Council Member---these are not personal issues that have bled into her public role. Her basic argument tonight was 'I thought it was important to give the gifts to the individuals I gave them to for being kind to me and that the city should pay what I thought was the right amount'. First this is not what she claimed in the original mileage reimbursement. She ask for mileage expense and only mileage expense for a trip she did not drive and incurred no expenses. A Council Member or Mayor has no authority to spend a penny of tax payer money for a gift or simply to make up an amount to pay someone. This is so far beyond rational thought it is hard to comprehend why anyone would think this is ok.

She brought out a claim by the City of Cambridge for mileage reimbursement. She did not initially state that she personally asked for the billing after she was caught and after this whole episode went public. I had to add those details to which she agreed to.

This action of hers adds to the concern of how she is using her office to try to find alibis for her story.

The comment was made why are we talking about this again. The reason's are two fold. First many members of the public asked for the item on the agenda. Secondly CM Larson's continued statements and actions have made it clear further action was needed.

The comment was made that Council Members do activities that we are not paid for or reimbursed for. That is very true...it is part of the job we asked the public to elect us to. We serve the public. It is a hard and thankless job many days of the week...but we each asked to do it. CM Larson has been paid over $1,000 in mileage reimbursements the last couple years. Far more than any other member.

I am also concerned with thought of entitlement that was expressed tonight. I fear this sense of entitlement was at the root cause of this episode.

The first step to repairing the damage CM Larson has caused is if she will accept what she did was wrong. I do not know if the public trust or my trust will ever be repaired but I know for certain it can not be if she continues to make excuses and continues to put the city in jeopardy of breaking state law.

The following actions were taken tonight:

A vote of no confidence was passed on a vote of 3-1..Duff-Kolb and Wimmer voting in favor of no confidence in CM Larson and Johnson voting against.

A vote to remove CM Larson from all her Council appointments. Same vote totals as above.

There were several comments from citizens angry about CM Larson's action's including a petition asking her to resign.

I hope the city will be able to move on from this matter. The Council has taken as severe an action we are entitled to take. I did ask CM Larson to resign but she refused to do so. She will continue to serve her 4 year term unless she chooses to resign.

This will put extra pressure on the remaining Council Members to carry the full council load. This should be a measure of how strongly the majority felt action had to be taken.

My Statement on CM Larson's Actions

We all ran for office using words like integrity, honesty and transparency. I believe that what we say and the words we use mean something.

I have been waiting for over a month for CM Larson to accept her wrongdoing and to apologize. Instead, in her public remarks after the council’s initial actions she admitted no guilt. When I asked her if she would sign a similar erroneous mileage reimbursement from a CM she said she would. In her published comments, she makes it quite clear she does not understand conflicts of interest. She stated she could get around a conflict of interest by giving a gift to a spouse or children.

CM Larson’s actions continue to cause the City, this Council and me personally, immeasurable damage. CM Larson’s multiple acts of wrongdoing cast suspicion on this Council and how Isanti is governed. Isanti needs to be focused on the goals the council established of LTFP, Comprehensive economic growth and building our water treatment plant. We should be celebrating the newly formed Isanti City Partnership, which is the partnership between the City of Isanti EDA and the Isanti area Chamber. Instead we have had to answer questions from the State Auditor’s office numerous Citizens inquire of our accounting practices. I have been bombarded with hundreds of e-mails, phones calls and face to face complaints as I go shopping or simply walking with my family or playing in the yard with my children. I have been copied on several letters sent to the County Attorney asking him to investigate.

We have serious challenges and incredible opportunities in front of us. We need the publics’ trust now more than ever. The public deserves integrity, honesty and transparency from its elected officials.

I gave CM Larson the benefit of the doubt in 2006 for her personal misuse of a City of Isanti Credit Card. In return I was slapped in the face with an erroneous request for mileage reimbursement.

This Council’s reputation has suffered and my judgment has been called into question. This has weighed heavy in my mind since the beginning of February when I uncovered her trying to get reimbursed for expenses she did not incur.

I have lost trust and respect for CM Larson. CM Larson’s pattern of behavior and public statements prove to me there is only one option left to ensure the public trust. Tonight, I ask Miss Larson to take the honorable course and resign her City Council seat. Please spare our city from further shame and disgrace by stepping down. We need to move past this scandal so we can focus on the many positives in our great city. If Miss Larson chooses to stay on the council, I will ask for a vote of no confidence and to remove her from all committee assignments and from representing this council in the future. I also believe the past and present issues should be forwarded to the County Attorney to investigate to assure the public that if the level of misconduct is criminal it will be handled fairly and objectively.

We must rebuild the public trust that Miss Larson’s continued actions have damaged.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Communication

If you want your letters or e-mails read at Tuesday's meeting regarding CM Larson please let me know. I will also be trying to contact you to verify. I want to respect every one's confidentiality so if you did not explicitly ask me to read your comments at the council meeting I will not.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Council Agenda March 20th

I wanted to share a few of the March 20th Council agenda items. You can see the full agenda at: http://www.ci.isanti.mn.us/vertical/Sites/%7BDDAE1093-5A2F-4061-B896-4E2183E27B6E%7D/uploads/%7B9CBA072A-F792-4EA4-9CDA-776F5DE5278C%7D.PDF

The first item is the response to a citizen letter and citizen requests to give input regarding CM Larson’s erroneous mileage reimbursement request. Citizens will finally be given a chance to publicly voice their opinions. The Council will also be given a chance to respond to a citizen letter and citizen concerns on this matter. I will also make a statement on this shameful and irresponsible act. I will explain how it has and continues to affect the city, the council and me personally. I will layout the two options the city has to put the destructive acts of a Council member behind us. One option clearly allows us to move forward and the other option will help limit the damage from past and current events and hopefully lessen the harm from any future incidents.

The Council will be making the final decision on a variance request for a pawn shop located near a daycare and an apartment building. The Planning Commission held a public hearing last Tuesday. The Council has received the meeting minutes from this hearing and will be making the final decision.
Several developer requests for plat approval with long term consequences for Isanti’s future.

The last two items are Community Center improvements and consideration of charging property owners snow removal from sidewalks per ordinance.
I will be writing more in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Fling

The Chamber of Commerce Spring Fling is coming up March 24th at Spectacular events.

Social hour starts at 6 pm and dinner is served at 7 pm. There will be a silent auction, live auction, raffles, DJ music with dancing and door prizes.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Please contact the chamber offices at 763-444-8515 for ticket and event information.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Meals on Wheels

I will not be holding office hours Wednesday March 21st. I am delivering meals on wheels with Catholic Charities Senior Dining.

Please contact me if you have any questions. george@georgewimmer.com or 763-444-7158

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Correction for the County EDA Story

The Star report of the County Commissioner meeting has a proported statement from me stating Isanti had not voted to be part of the county EDA. The only remotely close statement I have ever made about this issue is a study Isanti and Cambridge commissioned was passed on to the County without City approval. I think a County EDA is a great idea so long as we are all represented fairly. I was not at this meeting.

I and only I speak for me. If you do not see it in writing from me or hear it from me then it is not from me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Closed Session/Previous Act and Process Questions Answered

I received numerous questions about this evenings meeting regarding the closed session meeting minutes and the waiving of client/attorney confidentiality. The closed session meeting minutes were approved with a few additions and clarifications. The waiving of client/attorney confidentiality was pertaining to a memo the City Attorney wrote last year about the misuse of a City of Isanti Credit Card for personnel expenses by Council Member Larson. This memo and the closed meeting minutes are now open to the public. The Memo speaks for itself. It was part of the closed session disciplinary discussion because it showed a prior fiscal issue.

I read a letter from an Isanti citizen asking why we have not ordered an audit of city records or handed this over to the county attorney. I received numerous requests to have the Council discuss CM Larson’s new statements in an article in the Isanti County News. The concerns center on her unwillingness to accept what she did was wrong, the statement she will continue to do what she does, and the new issue of her interpretation of what a conflict of interests is. Her stated belief that she can get around a conflict with a person by giving a gift to the person’s wife and/or children has also been questioned.

I understand these concerns but stated that in order to place an item on the City Council agenda it needs to be received by the Wednesday the week before the Council Meeting. The article appeared after this deadline. If a request is made and procedure followed, then the issue will be discussed. A Council Member or member of the public may request to have anything discussed.

I do believe that the written questions to the Council do deserve an answer and will be answered. I am also gravely concerned with the conflict of interest issue. It is in black and white in Isanti’s conflict of interest policy, the league of Minnesota handout given to each council member every year by the City Attorney; CM Larson is starting her 9th year and 3rd 4 year term.

I want these issues resolved as soon as possible. I do not want to have this be an issue every Council Meeting.

If you have any questions please let me know. George@georgewimmer.com or 444-7158

Two Council Actions With Long Term Impact

The Council voted tonight to delay the abatement process till May on the property at 441 and 444 Dual Blvd. I was disappointed that the Council on a vote of 4-1, I voted against, decided not to enforce City Ordinance. I believe this will lead to many more issues in the future. If we are not going to enforce our ordinance on a site that has dozens of junked boat trailers, boats and other junk since November of 2006 what message are we sending? The property owner is going to try to auction these items in April. I stated that the property owner knowingly violated ordinance by bringing this junk into the city, he did it several years ago causing the City to take legal action at that time. The question this leaves is what will the Council do in future cases and what message does this send to staff about enforcing future violations.

The other item I wanted to follow-up on tonight is the $200,000 in “excess” revenue. I wanted this to be used for tax reduction and debt reduction. The Council on another 4-1 vote, again I was against, voted to use $125,000 for tax reduction…which is great… but to put the remaining $75,000 into another fund to be spent. $55,000 of this amount was designated for warning siren and crossing arms on rail road tracks. Great use of money except these items should be placed in the budget. The Crossing Arms will not be placed till 2008 and 2009. Plenty of time for the 2008 budget process that will be completed this year.

The warning siren is again a good project but why is it only a needed item when extra dollars are available but not 3 months ago when we finalized this year’s budget? Again this could be budget for. I did say that if there was a matching fund amount or grant that could in the long run save us money then it might make sense to consider the expense. This is not the case to spending this money this year.

This process will create $75,000 in new spending beyond the 6% increase already approved for this year. $75,000 is about 2 ½% of our property tax levy. We need fiscal discipline to drive taxes lower and to stay on budget. These items need to go through the budget process so the Council will have to make the tough decisions on where to spend our taxes.

When I was asking for a special election to fill the vacant council seat the argument was made that the $600 to $2,000 would cause taxes to go up. Well $75,000 more was spent tonight than was budgeted…..and yet there was no concern about increased taxes. When there is “extra” money lying around government will spend it. Remember this when we go into budget talks this summer.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Arctic Plunge Pictures

Kenny Englund and the Englund Family cutting the ice on long Lake



Isanti County Ice Cubes


Just before the Jump


Taking the Plunge


Climbing out
It was cold but fun. All proceeds going to Isanti County Safety and Rescue. When I get the final dollar amount raised I will share it with you.
This is my second year and hope for many more. I want to thank the Arctic Plunge Committee and the Englund Family for all their hard work. The hundreds of hours put into this event is all voluntary. Great events like this makes living in Isanti County a privilege. Again thank you for all your efforts.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Council Agenda March 6th 2007

The main topics of interest are:

  • Approving the closed session meeting minutes for the disciplinary action against Council Member Larson
  • Nuisance Abatement public hearing for addresses 441 and 444 Dual Boulevard
  • Making Appointment to Planning Commission
  • Consider action on $200,000 in excess revenue over budget
  • Appointing new Mayor Pro-Tem and Finance Committee Member
The first item is the approval of the closed session meeting minutes. This item is even more difficult because there is no audio of the meeting. Staff informed Council this week that the cord from the mics was not plugged into the recorder. The Council vote to either go back into closed session to review and revise the minutes or do it in an open process. I will be asking that it is done in an open setting. After the minutes are approved then they will be available to the public. See http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2007/02/council-action.html for more details.
The next item deals with the junk yard that has appeared along Dual Blvd. The owner of the property has stacked dozens of rusted out boat trailers, damaged boats and other miscellaneous junk. This occurred late last fall. We can not allow this type of violation of our City Ordinances and community standards. It hurts all of us.
The Council will be interviewing three candidates for Planning Commission. I will be asking each Candidate identical questions. As one is being interviewed by the Council the other two will be asked to wait outside the Chamber.
The next item is the $200,000 in excess revenues There is a proposal to spend half this amount on capital projects. I could not disagree more. The items requested are items that should be budgeted. The requested items are needed items and are good items but they should be in the budget. My concern is the past and proposed continued off budget spending. This practice leads to higher property taxes and lax fiscal discipline.
Due to council Member Larson's actions and the ensuing Council discipline the position of Mayor Pro-tem and Finance Committee positions are open. I will be making my appointments at the meeting.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Memo on Snow Plowing

To: Mayor Wimmer and City Council Members
From: Irene Bauer, City Clerk/Assistant City Administrator
Date: March 1, 2007
Re: Snow and Snow Emergency Routes

With the current snow storm that is in progress, the Isanti City Public Works Department are addressing the situation as follows:

Plow crews will be winging back existing snow banks to allow for snow storage for ongoing clearing of the streets.

Streets will be continued to be plowed as weather permits.

Based on the duration of the storm; as man power and equipment are available the city will strive to keep the snow emergency routes open and passable.


Notice: As city crews work to keep streets passable, there may ongoing plugging of driveways. City residents are responsible for clearing out the snow plow that occurs at the ends of their driveways. The city recognizes the inconvenience this may cause; however is necessary to allow for passable roads.