Archive for the ‘Eagan’


Trailer for a City Council Meeting is a Waste?

Here is the trailer that the City of Whitehorse in Yukon, Canada’s community cable station manager created to promote their televised city council meetings. While this has gotten some press as everything from pointless to riveting, one has to wonder whether or not it is really anything more useful than a silly viral video.

Yes, cities in the US fund community cable stations through the taxes paid by residents who choose to pay for cable TV and they need something to do with these dollars but are professional-ish videos promoting council meetings really what they should be spending their taxpayers’ money on?

What would you think if Burnsville or Eagan did something like this? Do you want your fees going to this sort of highlight reel? Would it make you more likely to watch an upcoming city council meeting? Do you think this would increase viewing of local council meetings if you or others in your community were to see it?

Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

County Commissioner Writes Like a 5th Grader

Dakota County Commissioner Tom Egan for the Third District recently submitted a response to this Letter to the Editor over at SunThisweek where he takes personal offense to his belief that unscientific survey results were manipulated in the public’s view. While he can be as upset as he likes, instead of his incorrect base claim, people should be more concerned with the fact that one of the people making decisions for the county cannot write worth his life.

From the Egan’s Letter to the Editor:

About a year ago, a very unscientific Survey Monkey survey conducted by Dakota County asked people what park uses they would support and one third answered paved trails. This was considered by county staff to be high considering the make up of respondents. The other two thirds didn’t oppose paved trails: They simply had different choices. Based on the findings of this unscientific survey, the writer might want to suggest that if I go out for diner with two friends and I order a steak but the other two order something else that it means two thirds of us are opposed to steak.

Earlier this year a poll was conducted for Dakota County by the National Research Center with a margin of error of 4 percent. When asked what uses they would support in Dakota County Parks such as Lebanon Hills, respondents were given eight specific choices and a ninth choice of “other.” Sixty-six percent selected the choice of “Trail networks for hiking, biking or skiing.”

Those who oppose paved trails in Lebanon Hills have an absolute right to their opinion; but they can’t create their own facts.

There are so many issues here I had difficulty even knowing where to begin:

    1. He uses contractions in his letter. This is a politician writing a Letter to the Editor which will be seen by the 10 or 11 people who don’t use SunThisweek as tinder for their fire pits and as such he should be trying to sound like an adult. “Can’t” may be acceptable for daily speech, text messages and e-mail, but keep it out of formal newspaper responses.

    2. Tom Egan should have asked someone to do a read through so he could have avoided misspelling “dinner” as “diner”.

    3. He should have carefully researched this ‘unscientific survey’ prior to berating the improper use of statistics by the previous letter writer. Egan ended up doing the exact same thing himself, unintentionally; it makes him look incredibly silly and unfit for office.

    4. Egan completely misunderstood the question being asked on the survey he chose to use as evidence that paved trails are a popular choice by County residents. No where in the question he notes does it state ‘paved’ and all of the uses provided as part of the question can and do currently happen on unpaved trails. Talk about creating facts!

Egan should post a follow-up Letter to the Editor where he apologizes for this one. He has proven himself uneducated, misguided, and misspelled and he should really think twice about his future decision-making, up to and including putting himself as a representative of Dakota County residents in the future.

What do you think about this one? Do you think Egan looks like a fool after what he wrote? Do you think public officials should be more careful with what they disseminate? What about his choice to misrepresent the survey question just as he had claimed the original letter had done with the results? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Regal Eagan Stadium 16: Eagan, MN

Special Edition: Movie Theater Reviews by Mikeh

Mikeh has offered to post the reviews he’s been writing on local theaters on the site over the remainder of the summer. This is the third posted and the rest will come up as he completes them. Enjoy!

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I’ve now been to my 3rd new theater and I’m starting to see some of the differences between them as well as starting to identify what I appreciate about a theater and what will bother me. Today I’m reviewing the Regal Eagan Stadium 16 theater, how will it stack up?

So far I have reviewed: Carmike 15 – Apple Valley and Marcus Rosemount Cinema

I yet plan to review the: Paragon Odyssey 15 and Lakeville 21

On Saturday July 6th I visited the Regal Eagan Stadium 16 in Eagan, MN with my son to see the movie This Is The End at the 10:30am showing. This theater does not have a “premium” large screen so we saw the movie on whatever is their typical screen size. Screen size seemed about the same size as the Marcus screen size.

Ticket Purchase and Lobby – Ticket price was $7.50 per ticket (weekend matinee price), the highest matinee price thus far for a movie at a normal (non-super sized) screen. Not well publicized but their weekday matinee prices are $6.00 per ticket. You can pre-order via Fandango.com (there is a surcharge) or get the tickets at the entrance. We paid for our ticket just inside the entrance where they have a person in a glass faced room. Once you pay you go through some more doors into the main theater lobby. The lobby seems more open than at the Marcus theater and has a single concession counter along the far wall. Entrances to the theaters are on either sides of the counter, 8 to the left and 8 to the right. Along one wall were videogames and off to the side were some tables and chairs for those waiting for their show, or others they are meeting. Like Marcus this theater has an abundance of extra stuff on display like candy and such. So much so that at one location some of it actually blocked access to the counter requiring you to lean over it to interact with the staff. This theater has Coke products, so the Pepsi folks will have to sneak it in. Prices include tax and overall seemed to be higher than I’ve seen thus far. One issue I found was they use HD television screens for their concession listings and prices. They cycle through an animation that causes all the screens to not show any items they have or their prices. For me that meant an uncomfortable answer to the clerk who asked what I would like, and I had to say I do not know, what do you have. Eventually the screens calmed down and I was able to see prices, and we settled for 2 large pops and a large popcorn. When asked, I was told that large popcorns did get one free refill, but not pop. Though I did notice on the screen when it stopped that it says large pop or popcorn get free refills. So, maybe I had a new guy? A large popcorn is about the same size as the Marcus large size. One further note, popcorn seemed to be well salted but seemed to taste more like Carmike than the Marcus flavor. Also if you want to add salt, your only option is salt packets. They don’t have salt shakers available to salt your popcorn. They do sell flavored popcorn salts and I did see someone buying some.

Theater Impressions – We arrived in the theater at 10:06 for a 10:30 movie due to having an unexpected number of green lights. No one was in front of us as we got our tickets, or as we picked up our concessions. We were in our seats in the theater by 10:10 finding ourselves all alone (turned out we had the theater to ourselves, almost). Lighting in the theater was good. When you walk in the lights are up enough to see clearly the seats and the stair treads were lit by orange LED’s. The size of the theater is what I would now call standard for a non-huge screen theater. Seats at the floor level and then seats rising up like a stadium with stairs on either side of the seat rows. This theater did seem a bit longer vs tall in the last normal size theater. The seats looked like a newer style and the first theater with seats (that I noticed) where the armrests could be lifted up to make one large seat. When I sat down I was surprised to find that in this theater seats do not move, there was no recline to the seats. On top of that the back of the seat seemed thin and did not support my back fully. The thin backs along with lack of recline did have me noticeably shifting in my seat during the movie. Seat covering was fabric and the seat backs were not high, but a bit higher than the typical back heights I have seen for normal theater seats.

The standard package of pre-show stuff wrapped up right at 10:30 at which time the lights dimmed a bit, and movie previews and the turn off your cellphones videos started up. At 10:45 the lights dimmed all the way and the feature movie started. 15 minutes of previews was not too bad. Overall the movie display and sound was good. During the pre roll there was no indication for the type of projectors or sound system they have. I assume it was Digital and DLP, but nothing was indicated. The only real issue I ran into was staff from the theater distracting me during the movie. Twice during the show a staff person walked into the theater and then under the screen and then stood in the far corner with a clipboard that had some white paper on it. He would make some note and then walk out. Since it was just me and my son in there the extra guy walking around by the screen was definitely distracting. I have no idea what he was doing but I haven’t seen that activity and any other film I’ve been at before, maybe I just haven’t noticed at other theaters.

Likes:

    One free refill on large pop and large popcorn.

Dislikes:

    Seats without recline and thin padding on backs.
    Staff walking in during the movie
    High weekend Matinee prices

The follow is a list of prices I noted and include tax.

Prices:

    Matinee Ticket – $7.50 (Fri/Sat/Sun) $6.00 (Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur)
    Large Popcorn – $8.00
    Large Pop – $5.75
    Large Water $5.25
    Large Slurpee – $6.75
    Couples Combo Large $18.50

Have you been to Regal Eagan Stadium 16? If so what did you think about it? Do you sometimes wish you had waited for a rental when the seating isn’t as comfortable as your furniture at home? Do you think that staff members should be walking in and out of movies while they’re playing? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as we’d love to hear what you have to say.

The Red Line and MVTA’s Customer Service Sucks


Note: this is not a BRT bus as we were originally led to believe

This past weekend I was without a car and wife but had both the kids. With the weather as it was, it was difficult getting out and about aside from a few hours between the rainstorms. However, on Sunday morning after hoping the weather report was correct, I decided to brave the elements and walk to the Apple Valley Transit Station to take advantage of my tax dollars being utilized for free rides on the joint venture by Metro Transit and the MVTA for the new BRT service running as the “Red Line” to the Mall of America. It was during this trip that all of my fears about the line were realized and then some.

I left the house at around 9:40 AM hoping to make it to the AVTS for the 10:20 AM bus. As I was passing the old AVTS which is stil being used as a reststop for bus drivers, doubling the taxpayer’s cost in operating two facilities instead of one which in 2010 was already 3x as expensive to operate than that of the old station, I saw a Red Line bus ready to depart for the new Apple Valley Transit Station. Knowing that they were running about 30 minutes apart on the weekends, I ran the rest of the way, boarding just before it departed 4 minutes earlier than I expected it to.

The northbound trip was more or less uneventful. While I was surprised that the Red Line, billed as “Bus Rapid Transit”, still has to exit Cedar at Diffley to get to the Cedar Grove Transit Station and head back along the same route to get back on Cedar. While there are the beginnings of plans to add another millions of dollars more to this already $100+ million project, currently the route adds 3 minutes Northbound and 5 minutes Southbound. While the northbound bus scraped the elevated walkway at the Mall of America as it arrived, nothing else was out of the ordinary from any other MetroTransit city bus as that’s exactly what this was! They weren’t even MVTA branded as was promised back in 2010 and especially did not meet the super special “Trains on Rubber Wheels” marketingspeak talked about so many times before (including in the 1950s when the oil companies bought out the streetcar lines and replaced them with buses). Where are our fancy train buses the County and MVTA were touting in 2008?

After spending a few hours at the Mall of America, we headed back to the Red Line. Now, this is where the problems begin:

    1. The Red Line access point is on the other side of the LRT vehicles and have very little signage. In fact, if I hadn’t come northbound I would have had no idea where to get on at all, incorrectly assuming these buses would pull up to the windowed area at the Mall of American Transit Station.

    2. The access to the Red Line from the direction pointed to by a single board noting the location on where to go (on the LRT platform) is not handicapped accessible. I had to navigate a narrow section of sidewalk between the concrete stanchions and the elevated edge of the platform only to find that I could not access the Red Line buses from there. I ended up having to hop the kids down into the parking lot and walk all the way around (more than 100 feet I’m guessing) to get to a handicapped accessible entrance. Cute. More signage and less ridiculous access points are needed immediately.

    3. As I board I am rudely admonished for not folding my stroller by an MVTA/Schmitty and Sons trainer (not the driver). This was not done in a professional or polite manner as I would expect from a public/private partnership when dealing with the customer/taxpayer. Admittedly I immediately went on the offensive in response as this was the first time I’d heard of the buried stroller policy (it takes 4 clicks from their main page to get there and in my 5+ years of riding the bus have never heard of this or heard of any driver asking for another person to fold their stroller).

    I find the entire policy to be in need of a revamp:

    1. Remove child(ren) from stroller(s).
    2. Collapse stroller(s) and make sure it/they are not blocking the doorway or the aisle of the bus.
    3. If strollers do not collapse for storage, we are unable to accommodate you on the bus.
    4. Strollers may not be placed in the wheelchair area on any bus. These spaces must be available to our mobility-challenged riders at any time.

    NOTE: Folding the stroller not only makes it easier for other customers to get on and off the bus, but it also makes the ride safer for you and your child. A child in a stroller runs the risk of being injured as a result of sudden bus movements. Thank you for your cooperation.

    Our double-wide stoller has a four-point harness for each child and four brakes. It is infinitely more secure than me having to have one child, unbelted and facing sideways in a seat next to me while another sits on my lap. When the bus driver slammed on the brakes as someone made an expected turn into White Castle in Apple Valley, my son nearly went flying out of his seat due to the lack of being as safe as he would have been in the stroller.

    4. After being rudely and unprofessionally admonished for my lack of following the unposted and buried rule on strollers, of which I begrudgingly complied, a woman approached the trainer to ask a question carrying a large drink. While there is a sign above the driver (on all buses) which asks for no eating or drinking, I made sure to mention that all rules must be equally applied including the no drinking clause. I was ignored.

    5. When I pointed out that the trainer was in violation of the placard which reads:

    Federal law prohibits operation of this bus while anyone is standing in front of the white line.

    I was told she was a trainer and therefore permitted to stand there.

    6. I asked for the driver’s name and badge number and alerted her to my intention to speak with Beverly Miller at the MVTA on Monday morning. She ignored me and I again asked for the information to which she rudely replied that she would provide it to me in a minute.

    7. As I was packing up the stroller to disembark, the trainer rattled off her name and badge number. I told her that I patiently waited for her and she would do the same for me. After rattling it off two or three more times before I got it all, I explained to her that the placard did not read “anyone except MVTA staff”, it read “anyone”. It was at this point that she turned her back on me and walked towards the back of the bus for no reason. I told her that she will listen to what I have to say and she continued to walk away. I mentioned again I would be contacting MVTA staff in the morning and then, after I had left the bus, I heard her yell something about wanting my name. She will learn soon enough I’m certain.

Now, the bus line itself is a problem. It’s nothing that it was originally promised to be all those years ago. It does not at all fit the true definition of BRT as it exists elsewhere, it is no different than any other city bus route or anything other than a more direct variation of the several MVTA routes which already head to the Mall of America from Apple Valley.

While the bus line is useless, the fact that after 1.5 years of not riding the bus and taking only two rides before running into some sort of customer service issue from the MVTA is disgusting. Riders are to be treated kindly, fairly, and as adults. All drivers must be reeducated on the stroller policy (including the one who allowed me to continue uninterrupted that morning) and Ms. Larson (#1134) needs to be told to stay behind the line when the bus is in operation and go to some sensitivity training to learn how to better meet the needs of her customers.

What do you think about the failure that is the Red Line (!BRT)? Do you think all rules should be evenly and equally applied? Do you think that MVTA staff should treat customers better than they do? Whatever you have to say about this oe go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.