Mark Dayton’s pick for Met Council Chair is, on the whole, good news for urbanists. The best sign that Susan Haigh will lead the Met Council back to the city is her credentials as an administrator, both at Habitat and as a commissioner at Minnesota’s most urbanized county. I have never heard of the Metropolitan Counties Light Rail Transit board mentioned in her bio, but even if it was made up it would be a good sign that she thought it to be a beneficial lie.
I always had a knee-jerk negative reaction to Habitat for Humanity because they seem to perpetuate that American myth that all you need is a single-family home and a mortgage (plus they’re Christian). They do, however, build some multi-family units, and are definitely in the trenches of the affordable housing crisis. Haigh says that she “would like to see the council do more work on housing.” Presumably, not a lot of that work would be with Habitat, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. There certainly is a lot to do; Housing Link says that in 2009, only a third of Twin Cities families that needed affordable housing could get it.
THAT MEANS 100,000 FAMILIES PAID MORE THAN THEY COULD AFFORD FOR HOUSING.
(sometimes I wish this blog could shoot lasers from the screen, you know, for emphasis)
Meanwhile, has-been Peter Bell claims to have overseen a “golden age” for transit. I sure hope not. The Strib article, while prefacing with the profound insight that Republicans are not generally disposed towards transit, give us hope that the “golden age” will soon be outshined:
In an interview Wednesday, Dayton said Haigh’s background on affordable housing makes it very important for her to select a senior staff “that has transit as a certainly, co-equal priority.”
Probably just politics, but Dayton has promised to fight for a billion-dollar bonding bill, which could get a lot of transit built (hint, hint, Minneapolis: it’s time for alternatives analysis on a Hennepin-University streetcar).
Susan Haigh says she’ll keep her day job at Habitat for Humanity, which is disappointing. She says it’s because both posts are “exciting,” but the $60k salary for the Met Chair’s part-time job kind of points to a different motive. Mark Dayton has said that he has had trouble finding commissioners since state law forces a $110,000 ceiling to their salary. How many multi-billion dollar companies pay their executives that little?